Last week in our pre-game preparations, we spent an entire six days interviewing the folks at Pats Pulpit about the then-upcoming Monday Night Football game. For the rest of the season, we'll be doing interviews in this format - five questions on Thursdays, and predictions on Saturdays.
The Buffalo Bills have a massively important rebound game - it's also their home opener, by the way - coming up this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs opened their season with a 34-21 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and are making the trip to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time in franchise history this week. Here to help us understand a bit more about the Bucs are Buc Wild and Niko521bucs, big dogs at SB Nation's Buccaneers blog, Buc 'Em. Our conversation with these two Bucs bloggers are after the jump, and make sure you drop by Buc 'Em for the reciprocating Bills-centric interview/conversation.
The Bucs gave up three touchdown passes of 40+ yards to Tony Romo and the Cowboys this past Sunday. What happened on those plays?
Niko521bucs: It was a combination of inexperience in Jim Bates' new defense and inexperience on the part of safeties Sabby Piscitelli and Elbert Mack - two young guys in our secondary. Another major contributor to the problem is free safety Tanard Jackson, who is suspended for the first four weeks.
Buc Wild: He's right. Sabby Piscitelli got caught out of position on two of the big plays. It's a case of a young player not being disciplined enough in coverage. The other long TD came from a missed assignment by Elbert Mack, as he whiffed on the bump at the line of scrimmage.
Dallas did a great job of neutralizing DE Gaines Adams, who did not record a stat in Week 1. Beyond Adams, how does Tampa's pass rush look?
Niko521bucs: Not really that good. Honestly, neutralizing Gaines is not as hard as it sounds. Head Coach Raheem Morris has told him straight up that anything less than double digit sacks will label him a BUST. As for the rest, they did an adequate job against the run, but we have to improve against the pass.
Buc Wild: I hate to keep echoing Niko's thoughts here, but our pass rush is just not very strong right now. We have no premier pass rushers, and in Jim Bates' scheme, pressure comes from the DEs and LBs while the DTs clog the middle. This leaves it up to Adams, Jimmy Wilkerson and the linebacking crew. While they are young and talented, you just can't count on all the pressure coming from linebackers in a 4-3 scheme.
Byron Leftwich was efficient in Week 1, and the offense as a whole was excellent, picking up 450 total yards. How confident are you that that production will continue?
Niko521bucs: The biggest worry we have is losing Jeff Faine, center. But free agent pickup Jonathan Compas played in his absence pretty well. Left guard Jeremy Zuttah can play center, too. The trend should continue somewhat, especially once Faine returns in about four weeks.
Buc Wild: I'm confident that the offense can remain efficient; not so much in the 450 yards. I'm hoping our defense can cut some of the mistakes, thus allowing our offense to grind out some more yardage and clock. Leftwich shouldn't be throwing 40 times a game.
If you had to game plan against the Bucs, give us your brief strategies on offense and defense.
Niko521bucs: The Bucs like to run the ball, and will run with three if not four running backs, and then throw the ball on play action fakes.
Buc Wild: There are two ways to beat our offense - you either pressure Leftwich and force him off his spot, or you put eight in the box and stop the run. We're a pretty balanced offense, and throwing that balance off will kill us. On the defensive side, you beat the Bucs by throwing. I think we can stop the run fairly well, but with three young members of the secondary and Ronde Barber, there are holes to be had.
I'll admit that I was, and remain, a huge fan of Raheem Morris and his potential as an NFL head coach. But he's made some controversial moves early in his stint. How do you think Morris is coming along as a head man?
Niko521bucs: You will get different answers from different people, even probably within our site. I like Coach Morris, and do not feel he has really done anything all that crazy. Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks, Alex Smith, and Ike Hilliard are all still looking for work.
Buc Wild: My opinion is still being shaped, but as of now, I'm not sold. I think he's done some good and some bad, but he's making rookie mistakes. Problem is, we have no seniority to help him lead the team.