All the nuts and bolts to Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams will battle for the right to call themselves the least bad team of the two on Sunday. The Bucs will need a win to help Greg Schiano earn his way back as head coach in 2014, and the Rams..well, they just want a win. I would assume. With just two games remaining in the season, this is your penultimate chance to catch some Buc ball this year.
Here's everything you need to know to watch Sunday's game.
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
TV Channel: FOX
Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Do you get the game? Click here
Odds: Rams by 4
Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get their fifth win of the season against the struggling St. Louis Rams, or will they just improve their draft position a little?
On Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the St. Louis Rams. Once upon a time, when the skies were still blue and the world was as it should be (that is, the Bucs were good), this would have been a top notch matchup. Rams vs. Bucs is an old rivalry, generally forgotten in time, but it has led to some amazing games: the 1979 and 1999 NFC championship games, the 2000 Monday Night game with that ridiculous Warrick Dunn touchdown, the 2002 pounding the Bucs delivered on the Rams -- all memorable affairs.
Tomorrow's game is less likely to be remembered as momentous, but it's going to be very important for at least one person: Greg Schiano. A win would go a long way toward securing his position as head coach for 2014, while a loss (especially a blowout loss) could all but guarantee his firing.
This is also a matchup between two very similar teams: struggling offenses with good if not dominant defenses. This is likely to be a low-scoring but tight and hard-fought affair. A 1999 NFC Championship redux -- with significantly worse play.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now once again incapable of running the football. After a brief flare-up during the middle of this season, they've gone back to being largely incompetent -- one 80-yard run against the Buffalo Bills being the only evidence to counter that observation. That's an issue
It becomes a bigger issue when facing good run defenses, which is exactly what the St. Louis Rams have. They're ranked fifth against the run, per Football Outsiders' metrics. Led by a dominant defensive line and a fast and disruptive (if at times undisciplined) linebacking corps, teams have had little success on the ground against St. Louis. There's little reason to think things will be any different for the struggling Buccaneers tomorrow.
Good news: the Rams do not have a dominant pass defense.
This, sadly, sounds like a recipe for disaster for the Bucs. That said, there are some areas where the Bucs could win, but they'll need Mike Glennon to be on his game. Specifically, they need him to be willing to throw contested balls to Vincent Jackson. He'll come down with them, as the Rams are one of the worst teams in the NFL against true #1 receivers. And Mike Glennon likes to target Vincent Jackson. Who wouldn't?
Still, for Glennon to target Jackson he needs time, and he needs to pull the trigger. With Robert Quinn terrorizing Donald Penn the former will be an issue, while the latter has been a problem all year long. To make matters a little worse, St. Louis has been outstanding defending tight ends, which means Glennon likely won't get a lot out of his second-best receiver Tim Wright.
Kellen Clemens is not a good quarterback. The Rams' offensive line is awful. Their receiving corps is a minor disaster, and their leading receiver is a tight end who can't block.
Meanwhile, the Bucs' pass defense has improved significantly over the past month as Gerald McCoy has been allowed to straight rush more (and has become the NFL's dominant defensive tackle doing so), while Darrelle Revis and company have done a good job limiting if not shutting down receivers.
One issue may be Mark Barron's injury, who is struggling with a hamstring problem and may miss Sunday's game. Even if he suits up he's unlikely to be 100% and with Jared Cook being the Rams' top receiver, that could lead to a big day for the tight end. Still, overall the Bucs should be able to should down Clemens and co.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been awful tacklers this season, which usually leads to a terrible run defense. Not so for Tampa Bay, however, who have been relatively efficient stopping the run, even though they're not the dominant force they were last season.
And fortunately for Tampa Bay, the St. Louis Rams have been pretty bad at running the ball, even though Zac Stacy got a lot of hype. They just haven't been able to be consistent or efficient about it. Then again, they did manage over 100 rushing yards for seven straight games, so it's not like we can write them off, either. Still, this should be a matchup favorable to the Bucs.
Final score prediction: Bucs 10, Rams 13
It's bowl season! Three bowl games today: Washington State vs. Colorado State, Buffalo vs. San Diego State, Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and the highlight being USC vs Fresno State. Mocking the Draft has some draft watch notes for you for the latter game here and the first three here.
Two of those players could very well end up being the Bucs first-round pick: Buffalo's Khalil Mack and Fresno State Derek Carr.
Here's your open thread for today.
All the Tampa Bay Buccaneers news.
Bucs Teammates, Coaches Making a Case for Lavonte David | Sports Talk Florida
Won't win DPoY, though.
Bucs offensive line seeks to reach higher standard | Tampa Bay Times
That shouldn't be too difficult.
Bucs, Rams to litter the field with 'upside' | Tampa Bay Times
But not a lot of wins.
Bucs’ O-line takes share of blame
As well it should.
Bucs hot reads: Pass defense slowing big plays
The defense has certainly improved.
JoeBucsFan.com » Blog Archive » “I Don’t Know How To Pass Rush” - Tampa Bay Bucs Football
Gerald McCoy teaching the rookies.
NFL agents recruiting draft prospects can be cutthroat, shady business | The MMQB with Peter King
Raise your hand if you're surprised.
Robert Quinn of St. Louis Rams makes Defensive Player of the Year push | The MMQB with Peter King
And Gerald McCoy keeps leading the defensive tackle pressures list.
Jon Gruden doesn't belong on college sidelines -- he's a myth - CBSSports.com
He's never coming out of that comfortable booth.
Joe Philbin deftly guiding Miami Dolphins through turbulent ride - NFL.com
And more NFL notes.
Another week, another installment of this feature: which opponent would you add to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? This time, the St. Louis Rams are on tap.
Cook's a receiver only, really, and a shamefully pathetic blocker in the run and pass game -- but he's a very, very good receiving tight end. His experience would help Tim Wright and the passing game as a whole, although he wouldn't do much to get the team's struggling run game off the ground.
Quinn is arguably the best pass-rushing defensive end in the NFL right now. He's absolutely dominant, and could be a major factor in the Bucs' fortunes this week as he'll match up with Donald Penn, who struggled against the San Francisco 49ers last week. The Bucs, of course, are missing a capable edge rusher, let alone a dominant one. Any NFL team could use Robert Quinn, and the Bucs more so than most.
The Rams don't have a lot to be envious of at the skill positions, but Tavon Austin is an intriguing weapon. Slow to get going in his rookie season, Austin has shown his explosive traits at several points this season, especially in more recent games -- but overall, the Rams have failed to get the most out of him. The Bucs probably wouldn't do much better with the current coaching staff, but they could certainly try.
So, which Ram would you add to the Bucs?
Both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis Rams have a few injuries ahead of Sunday's game.
The St. Louis Rams are likely to be without wide receiver Tavon Austin and running back Daryl Richardson on Sunday. Neither player participated in practiced this week, and both are listed as questionable on the injury report. Richardson's absence shouldn't matter a lot, as the running back has been out since week eight and Zac Stacy has comfortably taken over the lead back role.
Austin's absence would be a bigger deal for the Rams. While he hasn't been a big part of the St. Louis offense, he brings an explosive, game-breaking element to the table, which is always useful -- especially for a struggling offense. Janoris Jenkins also missed Friday's practice, but the cornerback is listed as probable and should suit up for Sunday's game.
For the Buccaneers, Da'Quan Bowers will miss Sunday's game, which will hurt the team's pass rush packages, though not significantly so. Mark Barron's potential absence would be a much bigger deal, especially given the fact that the Rams' leading receiver is tight end Jared Cook.
|Bowers, Da'Quan||DE||Knee||Limited||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Out|
|Nicks, Carl||G||Foot||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Out|
|Austin, Tavon||WR||Ankle||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Questionable|
|Richardson, Daryl||RB||Thigh||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Did Not Practice||Questionable|
|Jenkins, Janoris||CB||Back||-||Limited||Did Not Practice||Probable|
|Person, Mike||T||Illness||-||Did Not Practice||Full||Probable|
|Witherspoon, Will||LB||Illness||-||Did Not Practice||Full||Probable|
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may miss some key defensive players against the Rams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will miss defensive end Da'Quan Bowers against the St. Louis Rams, while Mark Barron's participation is in doubt as well, Greg Schiano announced today. Bowers has been afterthought on defense after being seen as the likely starter at strongside defensive end during the offseason. Instead, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and more recently William Gholston have taken over that role, although Bowers has outperformed both of them on a per-snap basis as a pass-rusher. Regardless, given his low amount of snaps his absence should not be a big problem against the Rams. The bigger question becomes whether Bowers will even be a Buccaneer next season.
The defense will face bigger issues if it's to miss Mark Barron, however. The safety missed a large part of last week's game after being beaten twice on deep balls to Vernon Davis. A hamstring issue has limited him and could now cause him to miss his first career game. That could be a serious problem for the Bucs, who will have to find different ways of dealing with Jared Cook. The tight end is the Rams' leading receiver with 44 catches for 614 yards.
We'll have the official injury reports for both teams for you later today.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to finish the season as they've played it: without their best offensive lineman.
This should come as no surprise, but it looks like Carl Nicks will not be suiting up again this season. The All-Pro guard has played in just two games this season due to a recurring MRSA issue, and has not suited up since week four of the regular season. The Bucs have kept him on the active roster all this time, presumably in the hope that he'll play again, but Schiano noted that that was unlikely at this point.
With Nicks ruled out for Sunday's game and just one game remaining after that, the man may have a point.
Nicks' career with the Buccaneers has been marred by injury issues, with a chronic foot injury sidelining him for most of last season while the MRSA infection kept him out of play this year. Nicks has played in just nine games
Thankfully, those injuries should not be issues going forward. Although Nicks is likely to play with pain for the rest of his career due to the plantar plate injury he suffered last season, he should be able to get on the field, and he did look very good in the two games he played this year. The MRSA infection is not expected to be a long-term problem and should be resolved well before the start of next season.
While some will call Nicks a bust so far, and his injuries have certainly been disappointing given his five-year, $47.5 million contract, that shouldn't prevent him from being productive going forward. The Bucs will need him, too, given the fact that Davin Joseph at right guard has looked like one of the worst starting guards in the NFL this season.