Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions: A Tampa Bay View of the Matchup

Jeff Risdon@@JeffRisdonContributor INovember 21, 2013

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy #93 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rushes upfield with a loose football against the Arizona Cardinals September 29, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Arizona won 13 - 10. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

This week's guest in the "Know Your Enemy" series is well-known to football aficionados on Twitter. Joe Bussell is a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers front-office employee better known as @NFLosophy on Twitter. He is a must-follow for football fans.

Joe recently began writing for Pro Football Focus, and he also has his own website, NFL Philosophy.

I'm proud to say I knew him before he revealed his identity, and he's one of the most knowledgeable people to talk with about the NFL.

Here is his take on the Buccaneers and how they match up against the Lions


Is the two-game winning streak a result of something the Bucs are doing better, or was it more about whom they played?

Joe's take:

It's a little of both. The opponents certainly helped the Bucs' confidence, but they also played very well on the road in Seattle. The Bucs are running a lot more power football after inserting Jamon Meredith at left tackle. They're getting back to what they're good at, and the play-calling has stuck with what works until the opposing team stops it.

On defense, Revis is shadowing the opposing team's best receiver—he was on Roddy White almost exclusively last game—and he's playing more press-man coverage.

The coaching as a whole has evolved tremendously in my opinion over the last few weeks. The level of opponents helps, but the team has definitely progressed.


My take:

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 11:  Cornerback Darrelle Revis #24 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stretches for a 4th-quarter interception against the Miami Dolphins November 11, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Tampa won 22 - 19. (Photo by Al Messersch
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The first thing I noted in watching film was the difference in how the defense is deploying Revis. The Bucs are finally playing to his strengths, and that makes their defense a lot more dangerous. 

Having said that, they drew Miami in the heat of the Incognito/Martin fiasco and then caught the free-falling Falcons on the road.

I agree the Buccaneers are playing better, but the soft schedule has helped immensely. 


What is one thing Tampa Bay does well that deserves more attention?

Joe's take:

The offensive line has played better of late, but I would say interior pressure on the defensive front. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are tough to handle as a duo.

There's a lot of talk about the lack of edge pass-rushing, but McCoy's ability to split double-teams and collapse the pocket from the middle is even more disruptive than an edge rush. David can blitz through the B gaps with lightning-fast speed. He's a terror in the pass and run game.


My take:

I think one of the interesting angles to this game is the Ndamukong Suh versus Gerald McCoy battle, the second overall pick against the third overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Both are impact talents having very strong seasons. 

One thing that caught me by surprise in watching the last few Tampa Bay games is the progress of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon. I was a relentless and vociferous critic of Glennon in the draft process, but he's quietly playing pretty well. When he has time to survey his options, he looks like a legitimate starting quarterback. 


What is the Lions' biggest matchup advantage they can exploit against the Buccaneers?

Joe's take:

Reggie Bush on the linebackers. The Bucs really have no answer for Reggie. I suspect the Bucs would address this by assigning a safety to Bush rather than a linebacker, but I'm not positive.

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 17: Reggie Bush #21 of the Detroit Lions looks for running room during a fourth quarter run while playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 17, 2013 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Pittsburgh won the game 37-27. (P
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

They could use Lavonte David, but that would take him out of the blitz packages, and that's not really a help either.

Bush should have a big day unless the Bucs come up with an ingenious scheme to manage his receiving abilities.


My take:

I agree that Bush should have a big game, but I think it's more about the Detroit offensive line against the defensive front seven. Other than McCoy and David, the Buccaneers just don't have much talent or offer a lot of resistance.

This is a game where Matthew Stafford should have a lot of time to throw. I love the concept of running Bush and Joique Bell behind Larry Warford and LaAdrian Waddle on the right side, as well as working play action to Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson off those looks. 


Who wins the game, and why?

Joe's take:

Darrelle Revis is playing well, and I'm excited to see him match up against Calvin Johnson. I think Revis plays him tough, but it's hard for anyone to hold Calvin in check all game long.

The Lions' offensive line is better this year, and Stafford is getting the ball out more quickly. He'll be able to target the Bucs' second, third and fourth cornerbacks, who will see a lot of snaps because of how the Lions manage their personnel packages on offense.

I'm not sure Tampa's rookie QB Mike Glennon is ready for the pass rush he's about to face, and neither is the offensive line. Glennon's already showing a tendency to leave the pocket too early. If he gets banged around early, that will only heighten.

Glennon had his best game of the season last week against Atlanta, but this is a much different team he's facing this week. If Glennon can get time, Vincent Jackson could have a big game. If not, the Tampa staff will need to adjust and call plays that use shorter routes to get the ball out more quickly.

I don't think Tampa can contain both Bush and Calvin all game while sustaining an efficient offense in the face of the Lions' front four. The Bucs will need to run the ball early and often and be successful at it or this game will get out of hand quickly.

Even if the Bucs get up early, they've been an awful second-half team. I think the Lions take advantage of that and win at home.


My take:

I think that Calvin Johnson and Vincent Jackson will effectively cancel each other out. That leaves the game in the hands of the rest of the offensive weapons. In that regard, Detroit has a major advantage. 

As Joe noted, the Buccaneers tend to play very poorly late in games. Even if they take an early lead, the Lions have shown enough fortitude to mount a comeback. I think the home crowd is anxious to roar for a winner, and the Lions will feed off that energy. 

Detroit wins 33-24.