Can the Buccaneers' Defense Hold Up Against Peyton Manning?

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer INovember 28, 2012

Peyton Manning may be chomping at the bit for Sunday to come.
Peyton Manning may be chomping at the bit for Sunday to come.Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Eli erased 'em, a strong Brees blew them aside and Matty put them on "Ice" last Sunday.

The given fact is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proven extremely vulnerable to elite quarterbacks, such as the aforementioned Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.

And given the weakened condition of their defensive secondary, you'd be hard pressed to come up with any valid argument for them not getting taken to the cleaners by one Peyton Manning this coming Sunday at Mile High Stadium.

The air up there is thin, and the Buccaneer secondary is equally as thin.

Eric Wright has taken up residence for four games at the Adderall Halfway House, leaving seventh-round pick E.J. Biggers and undrafted free agent Leonard Johnson as Tampa's starting corners.

Not sure either of those guys will cause Manning to lose any sleep this week.

Neither will the rest of the resident Buccaneer corners.

Care to name them?

Well, you have LeQuan Lewis, no relation to Ray. Then there's another Lewis—Myron "Burnt Toast" Lewis, again, no relation to Ray. Then there's Danny Gorrer. 

Can't you just hear Manning sitting in the meetings this week begging for the offense to go four-wide?

There's a reason the Buccaneers have such a good run defense: No one needs to run the ball against them.

Just pass, then pass, then maybe pass a little more.

That's what Ryan did last week. The football rarely hit the ground after leaving his right hand.

His uniform had one grass stain from that hit by E.J. Biggers. Otherwise, Matty Ice went relatively undisturbed by Buccaneer defensive linemen.

So you have to ask yourself this question: If Manning goes undisturbed by those front-line forces on Sunday, what's the outcome?

These Bucs are 6-5 and sure, everyone will say they're right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Of course they are.

They lost to a playoff team last week, and they'll face another playoff team this week. So if they lose to Denver, what playoff team might they take down if they did sneak in?

The fact that the Bucs can even breathe the "P" word is somewhat miraculous.

Let's examine the Injured Reserve list for a moment.

Sound off, please: Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks, Adrian Clayborn, Quincy Black, Arrelious Benn, Danny Noble, Sammie Stroughter, Des Wynn, Jeremy Trueblood and Cody Grimm.

It's almost easier to list who isn't on IR.

Add the now-suspended Eric Wright, and it's a miracle, a testament to the coaching staff, a huge compliment to Greg Schiano. Heck, this guy could probably repair Cadillacs with rubber bands.

Asking the Bucs to win in Denver is asking a lot. Especially with the state of the secondary.

It's not exactly All-World, it's more like Third World.

That simply doesn't bode well when the opposing quarterback is elite.

And Manning's title comes with a capital "E."