New England Patriots: 5 Keys To Being Successful Against The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 Keys For Success Against The Buccaneers
The New England Patriots welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into Foxboro this week for their Week 3 match-up. These two teams have records that do not exactly reflect the team that they are, which makes for an interesting game. The Patriots are 2-0 but have not played very well at all, and many people think they are lucky to have that record. On the other hand the Bucs are 0-2 with much of the blame being put on QB Josh Freeman. The Bucs have a very good defense and have some great players on offense, but they have not been able to get things going the way they hoped and Freeman seems to be the scapegoat for their lack of success.
Everyone knows the relationship Bill Belichick and Greg Schiano have, and it shows in Belichick’s press conferences when he has nothing but good things to say about the Bucs' players and coaches. This will be the second time these two teams meet each other this season, the first being a preseason game. It will also be the first regular season game that Aqib Talib and LeGarrette Blount face their former team. The Patriots have to hush the critics with a strong performance, and anything less than a win will be a disappointment even for a 2-0 team. The Bucs, on the other hand, are about one or two losses away from completely imploding and possibly making some big changes including either benching or trading their former first round QB who has been rumored to want out of Tampa.
Here are five keys for the Patriots to get the desired result in this Sunday's game.
Jared Smith is a Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @shmity91, "Like" him on Facebook, or add him to your network on Google./p>
The Patriots' defense like previous weeks is going to be key in this game. Freeman, who has been disappointing this year, does have the ability to beat a good defense when he is on his game. With the struggles that the Patriots' offense has had the first two weeks, the defense needs to step up and have a big game in order to give the offense a chance if they continue to struggle. Players like Chandler Jones and Aqib Talib need to continue to make big plays for the Patriots' defense, which looks like it could be one of the best in the league in 2013.
Tom Brady is a key to every game, since he is one of the best QBs in the NFL. But after showing his frustration on national TV last week against the New York Jets, Brady is going to have to step up and not only help his young receiving corps be better, but he has to be better himself. Brady missed a lot of throws last week and was clearly frustrated with everyone’s performance as a whole. The Jets' defense is no cakewalk, but the Buccaneers' defense has a lot more playmakers including some of the best defensive backs in the league. Brady will have to be smart with the football and limit turnovers if he hopes to have success against the Bucs.
I talked earlier this week about Vincent Jackson and what a nightmare he has been in the past for the Patriots. The last time Jackson played against the Pats in the regular season was 2011 when the San Diego Chargers came into Foxboro. Jackson had nothing close to a quiet game finishing with 10 receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Though the Patriots won the game, it was a shootout and it does not look like that’s the kind of game the Patriots want to play at this point in 2013. Jackson does play all over the field including the slot, but the Patriots will need to keep Talib on him all game since he is the only corner that is big and physical enough to keep up with the 6-foot-5 Jackson. Keeping Jackson from having a monster game will be key for the Patriots' defense.
Field position is going to be key in this game, especially for the Patriots who have struggled to score this year. Starting with good field position will increase the chance of scoring for any team, and it is huge for a team who can’t put up points. One thing that confuses me is the fact that Belichick has been using LeGarrette Blount as his return man. This does not make much sense to me considering he is not the fastest guy in the world and usually you don’t see a 250-pound RB returning kicks. The Patriots have a Josh Boyce who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft and ran a 4.34 at the combine.
They also have Julian Edelman and Leon Washington who has been a return specialist in the past. I think the Blount as a returner is more of an ego thing considering the Patriots traded Jeff Demps to Tampa when he was supposed to be the return specialist in the future. It seems Belichick is out to prove he can put anyone back there and be successful, but it has not been working well. With the importance of field position to a struggling offense, they should consider giving someone else a chance at returning kicks.
Eliminating Big Plays
As I said before, the Buccaneers have some very good players on offense with the ability to break off big plays. Josh Freeman led the league last year in plays over 40 yards, and both Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were among the league leaders for big plays. They also have second year RB Doug Martin who had a monster season last year and is currently second in the league in rushing yards. All three of these players can open up a defense and be a threat to score on a huge play. The Patriots' defense needs to limit these if they want to win the game. If Martin and Jackson can have their way with the defense and turn this into an offensive shootout, the Patriots could be in trouble.