A new week in the real world begins on Monday. But in the NFL world, the new week begins on Wednesday. Games are played on Sunday, we digest and review the games on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday we flip the calendar to next week’s game.
Today is Wednesday, and that means the focus on vikings.com and at Winter Park will shift to preparing for this Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’ll delve into further detail about the Buccaneers over the next few days, but here are a few basics…
– Both the Vikings and Buccaneers suffered 7-point defeats on opening day. But the Buccaneers lost their game at home to the Detroit Lions. Although the Lions are a team on the rise, it was still a disappointing loss for Tampa Bay because they, too, are a young team on the rise and they’re coming off a 2010 season in which they won 10 games. Lions QB Matthew Stafford was 24 of 33 for 305 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT on the day, and he was able to lean on his top 4 weapons all day – RB Jahvid Best, WRs Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson and TE Brandon Pettigrew. The Buccaneers will need to do a better job of containing the Vikings primary offensive weapons this week, or else they’re in for a long day on Sunday.
– Tampa runs a 4-3 defensive scheme that, on surface level, looks very similar to the Vikings defense. The one thing I noticed that was very different, though, was that Tampa’s LBs don’t disguise their intentions in the same way the Vikings LBs do. With the Vikings, you routinely see Chad Greenway and E.J. Henderson showing a look pre-snap and then executing a different technique after the snap. With Tampa’s LBs, it was very straight-forward.
– The Buccaneers have a pair of 1st-round picks starting on their defensive line with 2010 #3 overall pick Gerald McCoy at DT and 2011 #20 overall pick Adrian Clayborn at right DE. McCoy is quick off the ball and is very capable of splitting double teams and being disruptive. But Detroit was able to contain him enough to register 126 rushing yards. Clayborn is also quick off the ball, but I noticed even more that he can shed blocks quickly and smoothly. Still, the Lions contained Clayborn well enough because Stafford wasn’t sacked one time all day.
– Offensively, the Buccaneers feature a young, talented nucleus with QB Josh Freeman, RB LeGarrette Blount and WR Mike Williams leading the group. But don’t sleep on TE Kellen Winslow, who was targeted 8 times by Freeman and hauled in 6 receptions for 66 yards against Detroit. Blount is a big, physical back who had a nice rookie season last year, but for some reason the Buccaneers were easily discouraged from running the ball against Detroit. Freeman threw 43 times in the game, meanwhile Tampa Bay picked up just 1 rushing 1st down and they ran the ball only 16 times all game, including just 5 carries for Blount.
– On special teams, K Connor Barth was 2 for 2 in FG tries, but the star of the show is P Michael Koenan, whom the Buccaneers acquired via free agency this past offseason. He’s a solid punter, but his value is on kickoffs. He was easily blasting kickoffs through the endzone, forcing the Lions to start at the 20-yardline. Across the NFL in Week 1, teams scored on fewer than 23% of drives that started at the -20 or worse.
We’ll have a lot more on the Vikings-Buccaneers matchup this week, so stay tuned to vikings.com.
Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 18 Comments »