Rams @ Buccaneers preview (AKA McCoy vs. Joseph)

Gerald McCoy vs. Davin Joseph

Davin Joseph (#69) played for the Buccaneers at right guard as a starter for 8 years. He is now starting at right guard for the Rams. He was drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers in 2006 with the 23rd pick. During his tenure with the Buccaneers he was selected to the Pro Bowl twice. He missed the 2012 season with a knee injury after signing a 7-year $52.5 million contract in 2011. He was a stalwart of our offensive line for many years until Lovie Smith was hired this year and decided to release him along with the rest of our offensive line. Many claim that Joseph’s play has declined and his salary was too high. He was slated to earn $6 million this year.

Gerald McCoy (#93) has played for the Buccaneers at defensive tackle for 4 years. He was drafted in the first round by the Buccaneers in 2010 with the 3rd overall pick. He has registered 19 sacks and 90 tackles with 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries  in those four years. He has also had 10 passes defended. He was injured in 2010 and missed three games and then he was injured in 2011 and missed 10 games. Since then he has been healthy and playing almost every down on defense. Last year was his best year stat-wise with 9 sacks and 35 tackles. He has also been voted to the Pro Bowl twice. In 2010 he signed a 5-year $55 million contract including a $3,600,000 signing bonus, $20,812,500 guaranteed with an average annual salary of $11,000,000. McCoy is now in his last year of that contract and looking to cash in on an even bigger contract.

It can be argued that the offensive line that the Buccaneers had consisting of LT Donald Penn, Joseph, T/G/C Jeremy Zuttah and C Ted Larsen, all who were either released or traded by Lovie Smith this year, were the leaders of this team. Penn in particular was very vocal and domineering. Lovie, who is a defensive minded coach, got rid of the whole unit in a possible attempt to give the defensive unit more of a leadership role. The argument that he released the offensive line because of poor play and cap space does not make any sense when you consider that the offensive line we have now is playing poorly and cost just as much. In any case, what we are going to see Sunday is two ex-teammates who know each other pretty well on the field going at it.

McCoy and Joseph practiced against each other for four years. It can be assumed that they know each other’s skill set very well. McCoy is held up to be the banner carrier for the Buccaneers and our alleged leader of the team. Joseph, I am sure, has a chip on his shoulder over being cut. Both men have something to prove this weekend and I think we are going to see a veritable clash of the titans. With last weeks horrid performance, on defense especially, McCoy should play like he is a rabid dog. He has got to start shining instead of simply being the best on a bad line. McCoy is also in a contract year. It would be devastating for his chances at another big money contract if he gets whooped by a supposed washed up player that we cut. It is the biggest matchup of the game.

Sibling rivalry

I have always seen the Rams and the Bucs as a sibling rivalry. The Rams could be considered the big brother seeing as they have been in the league for longer than the Bucs but both of them have similar attributes. Both have about the same size fanbase and market share. Both have the same number of Super Bowl wins. And, boy, did we fight it out in the late 90s and early 00s. The Buccaneers v Rams games in that era are some of the best games I have ever watched. The 1999 NFC Championship between the two teams is considered by some, myself included, as one of the best games ever in the NFL. The Monday Night Football game between the two teams the next year was ranked in the top 3 of the best MNF games.

But these are not the same two teams. Both teams are playing in the toughest divisions in football. And both teams have been holding down the last place position in their division. Both teams are having quarterback problems. Both teams are consistently losing games that they should be winning. Both teams desperately need a win. Neither team can afford to go 0-2 and have any chance at a decent season.

Threats

DE Robert Quinn (#94) has got to be stopped. That is the number one priority of the offensive line for the Buccaneers. I would even suggest that they give help to whatever tackle is going to be facing Quinn on any play. Slide some protection over his way with a running back or tight end or, hell, even a bag of sand. Whatever it takes to stop him or at least slow him down. He is a beast and last year he destroyed our team with 3 of their 7 sacks against us in that game. Now, I do not expect to contain him all game. He is too good and is going to make plays. But, with their other pass rusher, DE Chris Long (#91) out this game, we can hope to at least make Quinn’s play a bit less destructive for us.

The next biggest threat is RB Zac Stacy (#30). He is quick, shifty and tough. He can catch the ball and is a good blocker. Our run defense was not so great at tackling last week and if that continues then you can expect to see Stacy garner many yards against us. He is the type of runner that is hard to tackle even when you are good at tackling. If you slip up he will make you pay for it. And with the Rams playing their backup quarterbacks, you can expect Stacy to get a large percentage of touches.

WR Tavon Austin (#11) is the third weapon that we have to slow down. He has good speed and can get behind our cover guys quick if we slip up in protection. We cannot have the mistakes in coverage that we had last week or Austin will surely be celebrating in the endzone.

Turnovers and sacks

Our team is built, supposedly according to Lovie, to create turnovers and generate sacks. Yet, all through the preseason and into last week we have lost those battles. So far this season we are -3 in the turnover ratio and -2 in the sack ratio. Those numbers have to rise. If our team is built to create turnovers and sacks yet our opponents are getting more than us in both categories, then our team is a failure. This is going to be a mantra every week in the game preview that we must get turnovers and sacks. If our team is beat again by another team using their backup quarterback then it can easily be said that this is going to be a long season for Buccaneer fans.

The team also explicitly stated that they wanted to go undefeated at home this season. Numerous interviews and comments were made along those lines. It is impossible now that they have lost their season opener at home. A victory against the Rams would greatly cheer up the fan base and maybe wash that bad taste out of our mouths from Week 1.

Luckily for us, the Rams do not play as many misdirection and trick plays that the Panthers do. Our defense is very susceptible to those type of plays but I do not expect to see as many as we did last week. Unless, of course, the Rams staff has noticed that our defense is falling for those type of plays. If we do see an increase in play action, misdirection, bootlegs, etc. then we can be assured that the league has identified that as a weakness of ours and something that we are going to have to battle every week with teams. Hopefully we can get better at not being outsmarted but I do not think that will be as much of a problem this week as it was in Week 1 against the Panthers.

Summary

  • Gerald McCoy must beat Davin Joseph.
  • Robert Quinn must be slowed down. No tackle in the league is good enough to stop him so we need to give our tackles help.
  • Tavon Austin must be covered well. Do not put linebackers or safeties in coverage on him.
  • Turnovers and sacks. We need to get some. Preferably more than the other team.
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