Amongst the speculation this week regarding the status of Raheem Morris’s job, there actually is a football game to play Saturday night against the Dallas Cowboys, and it’s one that could have a direct result on Raheem’s employment status. Beat a good Cowboys’ team, and maybe it’s the start of something good to end the season. Lose, and the downward spiral continues. Lose badly again, and, well…….
Looking at the matchup itself, it’s a bad one for the Buccaneer defense, coming off a spanking in Jacksonville against a Jaguar team that was averaging 12.7 ppg. The Jags have a receiving corps of Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard. The Cowboys will trot out Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten, with Tony Romo spreading the ball around to them.
Despite being oh-for-December so far and receiving more criticism that he can’t win in December, Romo hasn’t necessarily been the problem. In both of their losses to the Cardinals and the Giants, Romo put his team in position to win, but K Dan Bailey went 0-for-2 on game tying/winning kicks.
And what does Romo do so well? According to S Tanard Jackson, who will have to read the quarterback’s eyes most of the day, Romo looks off his receivers well and disguises where he will throw the ball.
“From what I’ve seen, he does a real good job looking away from where he wants to go. So, whether that’s moving the zone, whether that’s moving the safety in the deep middle to create opportunities and space for his receivers.”
Although CB Aqib Talib will be back on the field and will line up across from Dez Bryant, the Cowboys will still be able to spread the field with Witten, Robinson, and Austin in man coverage on the Bucs’ cornerbacks and create some matchup problems. One might think that would lead the Bucs to roll with more zone coverage out of necessity, but Jackson told ESPN Florida that they will run their defense the way they normally would.
“Does it affect it? No. Obviously we’re going to run our stuff and scheme according to their offense. But it’s about us in the end. It’s about us and our fundamentals. Making the plays when the opportunity presents itself.
And if and when the Bucs do go with a zone scheme, the man they will have to account for in zone coverage is Witten.
“He does great in zone coverage finding a hole in the defense,” Jackson told ESPN Florida. “Against man, he’s tough to guard. He’s big, he’s physical, he can shed you out. So it’s a matter of us again stopping the run and putting them in a situation where they’re one dimensional and we’re keyed in on it.”
If Jackson and the Buccaneer defense can indeed stop the run and key on stopping Witten, Romo, and the Dallas passing attack, maybe the Bucs can shock the football world and give their coach a leg to stand on in keeping his job down the stretch. Of course, that’s much easier said than done for a team that’s struggling to even compete with bad teams right now.
Otherwise, the uncertainty and speculation will continue to churn on Monday at One Buc Place.