With the Eagles and Buccaneers scheduled to face off on Sunday (at least, so far) I reached out to SB Nation Bucs site Bucs Nation for an opponent's perspective. Sander Philipse, head guy over at BBV, did the same when he asked me a few questions earlier this week. Check out the questions I answered for him at Bucs Nation by clicking here.
Let's see how he answered my questions:
1) The Bucs are 0-4, but they have lost a number of close games. Do you think they're better than their record indicates?
Yes, I do. The passing offense is a complete disaster this season, but the defense is a top 5 unit in the NFL and all but one of their losses has come by three points or fewer. Games like that are often decided on a few lucky bounces, and those really haven't gone the Bucs' way this year. They made plenty of mistakes to lose those games, of course, but they're not that many plays removed from being 3-1 rather than 0-4.
The issue is with Greg Schiano's authoritarian style of coaching is that if you don't win, there's a real danger of losing the team. The Bucs may be a better team than their record right now, but that doesn't mean it will stay that way.
2) The Bucs defense is good (tied for least amount of points allowed) but that offense is terrible (least amount of points scored). That's kind of how the opposite of how the Eagles are, since their offense is good but their defense is bad. How do you think that could play out on Sunday?
I would foresee a low-scoring game, which would probably result in a close Tampa Bay loss given how the games have ended so far this year. As you say, the Buccaneers defense is good and I think they have the talent to limit the Eagles offense. After all, they held down Drew Brees, too. Schiano has plenty of experience going up against very high tempo offenses in college, so he shouldn't be too troubled by what Kelly is doing schematically. With Vick out, too, part of the read-option threat goes out of the window, which probably helps.
Then the question is whether the Bucs offense can score. Carl Nicks is likely out, which really hurts the team's running game. Mike Glennon should at least have Tom Crabtree back to throw to this week, but when Crabtree is seen as a potential savior, you know you have issues on offense. The Eagles defense may be bad, but the Tampa Bay offense has been a disaster, and I don't really see that changing even after a bye week.
3) Speaking of the Bucs defense, how can the Eagles hope to exploit it?
That is not an easy question to answer. The Bucs defense is very solid all-around with quality players at every position. They've been a bit worse against the pass than the run, but it's not a big difference. Tom Brady had some success attacking the Bucs' zone defense, where they tend to suffer from some communication breakdowns. The Bucs don't consistently play zone defense, so that may not be an option.
The best thing to do may be to spread out the Bucs defense and try to get them away from their blitzes, which is where almost all of their pass rush comes from. They can't really get an edge rush going this year, so if you can remove some players from the box you should be able to get something done.
4) Mike Glennon is the new Bucs starting QB. How do you/Bucs fans feel about him? What should Eagles fans know about him?
Mike Glennon was a bit up-and-down in his first game. He's been generally accurate, but he's a pocket passer only with limited mobility whose play really collapsed in the second half of his first game. As with most quarterbacks, getting in his face is crucial to get him to make mistakes. He had some issues throwing with anticipation and with the right ball placement, but that's to be expected of a rookie quarterback.
Overall, he has some impressive tools and could turn out to be a good quarterback, but he just isn't there yet.
5) To what extent are you satisfied with Bucs head coach Greg Schiano? Chip Kelly was almost the Bucs head coach, but ultimately declined the offer before the Bucs hired Schiano. Would you rather have Kelly?
Yes, I would rather have Chip Kelly -- but then, I had that opinion back when he turned down the Bucs. Greg Schiano's approval rating in Tampa is at an all-time low right now. Losing nine of the last ten games is bad enough, but all of the off the field drama that's surrounded the team for months has perhaps been worse. It seems we can't go a day without some kind of negative story on the Bucs coming out, and one way or another, that is ultimately Schiano's responsibility.
Bonus: The Eagles drafted DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim with a third round pick back in 2010. A lot of fans weren't happy with the pick. After cutting him only after one year with the team, how do you feel about him starting for Tampa?
I wouldn't call him a starting caliber defensive end, honestly. He's starting mostly because he plays hard and he sticks to his assignments, but he isn't a very capable pass rusher. The Bucs have used him all over the defensive line, including at defensive tackle, and he can do all of it adequately, but none of it well. Him starting is mostly just a result of a dearth of quality at the position rather than his own achievements.
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