This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
In the years leading up to the Eagles' superbowl appearance in 2004, Tampa Bay was probably their biggest non NFC East rival. The Eagles have remained pretty good, Tampa not so much. Still, the thought of Tampa Bay brings up some bad memories... The NFC title game that closed the Vet, the 65 yard Matt Bryant FG... I shake just thinking about those games.
Is this going to be a leisurely win or could we be in for another Tampa inspired heartache? Check out Dave's insights after the jump.
The 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday October 11th in a 1:00 P.M. start against the 2-1 Eagles who are coming off a bye week. If Tampa has any hope to avoid losing their fifth in a row they will have to play the game of their lives as under head coach Andy Reid, Philadelphia is a perfect 10-0 after having a week off. A loss to the Eagles would also complete the NFC East sweep as they have already lost to the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins. Heading into this week, the Buccaneers are coming off a loss to Washington where they jumped out to a 10-0 lead but were unable to do anything from that point on, eventually losing the game 16-13. The Redskins held Tampa to 229 yards of total offense only allowing the Bucs to convert 2-of-15 attempts on third down. I do not attribute this to an overwhelming Washington defense, rather an inept Tampa Bay offense.
Tampa Bay’s season got off to rough start when new head coach Raheem Morris decide to fire his offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski just ten days before their opening game. After their first three games, he then decided to bench his starting quarterback, Byron Leftwich in favor of second year man Josh Johnson who had never started an NFL game in his short career. Johnson’s stats for the Redskin game were nothing to write home about as he went 13 for 22 for 106 yards. He did have 1 TD, an 8 yard pass on his first throw of the game to WR Antonio Bryant. Unfortunately, that play is basically his entire highlight reel. It is undecided as to whether Johnson will get the start against the Eagles, but in all actuality I hardly think it matters. Tampa’s offense has been horrible no matter who is behind center and I do not see that changing in a week’s time. They were able to run the ball against Washington gaining 118 yards on the ground led by RB Cadillac Williams who had 77 yards on 16 carries. Overall, I would not consider their running game a major strength as they are still ranked 23th overall averaging only 97 rushing yards per game.
Defensively the Buccaneers are not much better than their offense. While they only gave up 16 points to Washington, they are ranked 25th overall in points allowed and 31st yards given up per game. The fact that the Redskins only scored 16 points should not really be credited to the Buccaneer’s defense, rather the fact that Washington’s offense is just not that good. The only highlights for Tampa’s defense on Sunday were CB Aquib Talib’s three interceptions of Redskin QB Jason Campbell and DE Gaines Adam’s recovery of a Campbell fumble on Washington’s 10 yard line early in the first quarter that led to their only touchdown of the game.
With the Eagles coming off the bye, in all likely hood Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook should be back in the starting lineup. This game would provide the perfect opportunity for both these players to get back in the groove to help get their game ready for the meat of the schedule that starts in earnest in a few weeks. A familiar face is back in Philly, LB Jeremiah Trotter and should see some significant action in this game that is sure to fire up the home town crowd. All this adds up to another long day for Tampa Bay. There are just too many holes on this team for them to come into the Linc and have any chance of winning this game.
Check out more of Dave's insights at Eagles Lincs.