A first glance of the Eagles' next upcoming opponent is misleading. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 0-4. Cutting their former franchise QB Josh Freeman in-season. Starting a mid-round-pick rookie QB. Controversy with head coach Greg Schiano. And so on.
That certainly doesn't look too intimidating. First impressions can be misleading, however.
TB is a desperate team. They are itching for a home win while they try to put all of this season's early drama behind them. Consider that the Buccaneers have had an above average schedule in terms of difficulty: at Jets, vs. Saints, at Patriots, vs. Cardinals. Then consider the Bucs lost 3 games of these games when they had a 95% chance of winning with less than 5:00 to play. (h/t r/NFL)
Bottom line, the Bucs may be better than they appear. At the same time, they have significant weaknesses.
Tampa Bay's offense is pathetic. 44 points in 4 games (11 points per game) is second worst in the NFL, with only the Jacksonville Jaguars being worse (10.2 ppg). It's not like TB doesn't offensive talent. Starting wide receivers Vincent Jackson (6-5) and Mike Williams (6-1) are big targets. They have a talented running back in second year player Doug Martin. He certainly "doesn't suck".
On the other side of the ball, it's a different story. The Bucs' defense is good. Allowing 70 points through 4 games (17.5 ppg) is tied for the second best in the NFL. Contrast that number with the Eagles who have surrendered a league fourth worst points per game (31.8). Tampa's defensive prowess shouldn't be surprising as there's no shortage of talent. Darelle Revis, Gerald Mccoy, Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Mark Barron, and Dashon Goldson are some players who will seek to limit the Eagles explosive offense.
It will be interesting to see how the Eagles offense performs against a seemingly strong defense, even more so with Eagles QB Nick Foles likely making the start in place of Michael Vick. It remains to be seen if the run game will be effective with Foles in at QB or if Kelly will dial up the passing attack. Passing on the Bucs secondary won't be easy considering the talent TB employs. Kelly and a number of Eagles players have stated the PHI offense won't look too different than it has with Vick, though it would be best to wait and see before accepting them at their word.
Philadelphia's defense has been poor, but playing an inept Bucs offense could help their woes. Rookie QB Mike Glennon needs to be exploited. Pass rush is an area where the Eagles have struggled, but if they find a way to generate pressure they need to capitalize on those opportunities. One of the areas where the Eagles defense struggles the least is run defense (16th best). Keeping Martin in check could make life harder on Glennon.
A win for the Eagles is crucial. 3-3 looks a lot better than 2-4 and it would give the Eagles a 3-0 record against the NFC. Meanwhile, the divisional rival Cowboys are also seeking the quest back to .500 football as they take on the Redskins in Dallas.
Nothing about this PHI-TB game makes me think it will be easy for either team. Both sides will have to fight hard for victory. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top: the good offense/bad defense combo (Eagles) or the bad offense/good defense combo (Bucs).