Coming off the team's bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to Raymond James Stadium for a critical match-up on Sunday, October 14. Though the Bucs stand at a disappointing 1-3, Coach Greg Schiano's team has been competitive throughout the early season. This is a substantial change from last year's squad and offers hope as the season enters its second quarter.
Tampa Bay has now dropped 3 consecutive contests, but each witnessed the Bucs grabbing an early lead and preventing the deficit from exceeding a touchdown. While quarterback Josh Freeman has not been consistent, he continues to show potential as the team's leader. Nevertheless, it can be argued that this young club still needs to learn how to win. With a clutch play at the right team, the Bucs could easily have earned 2 or 3 more wins on their record. Yet, Tampa Bay failed to execute in such a timely manner and work certainly remains to turn the corner.
Fans hope that process can begin against a 1-4 Chiefs' team, which has been beaten soundly in 3 of 5 games, and will play without primary quarterback Matt Cassel. However, Kansas City is coming off a mere 3 point loss to the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens. The game demonstrated that despite earlier failures, the Chiefs are capable of stout defense. Here is a look at 3 key aspects of the Bucs-Chiefs contest in order to decide which team will gain its second win of 2012.
Brady Quinn vs. the Tampa Bay pass rush: Once a promising 1st round selection, Brady Quinn has found himself in the NFL's backup quarterback shuffle. The Chiefs are the Notre Dame product's 3rd team in 4 years and this will be his first start since December 20, 2009. Quinn has always possessed a strong arm, but the 27 year-old has been hampered by poor decision making. Waiting patiently for this opportunity, Quinn will be anxious to impress, since Cassel has already struggled in 2012, prior to going down last week with a concussion. The Bucs must ground Quinn's ambitions by putting pressure on a collapsing pocket. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy have posted a combined 7 sacks and transformed a much-maligned defensive line into a fierce unit. This duo must harass Brady Quinn and unkindly welcome him back to game-day action.
Dwayne Bowe vs. the Bucs' secondary: In 28 year-old Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs possess one of the better wide receivers in the NFL. Despite not playing with a star quarterback, Bowe has exceeded 1,000 yards through the air in 3 of his 5 pro seasons. His gaudy 15 touchdowns were rewarded with an All-Pro selection in 2010. Expect a rusty Brady Quinn to lean on the 6'2" stud, who returns to his home state of Florida. The Bucs will have to carefully devise attempts to limit the combo, since they will play without top cornerback Aqib Talib, who was suspended 4 games for a violation of the NFL's controlled substance policy. Talib will be replaced by 4th year player E.J. Biggers in the starting lineup, but much of the pressure to stop Bowe may fall on Eric Wright. The veteran is listed as probable and has struggled with a head illness throughout the week. The free agent has failed to make a significant impact in his first 4 games with the Bucs and this could be his best opportunity.
Doug Martin vs. the Kansas City front 7: After embarking on a rapid start to his rookie campaign, Doug Martin's performance has steadily diminished for 3 consecutive weeks. In the team's last game against the Washington Redskins, the Boise State product only accrued 33 yards on the ground. Even more discouraging, after earning as many as 24 carries earlier in the season, Martin only carried the ball 8 times in the home loss. These numbers must improve if the Bucs are to end the 3 game losing streak. Kansas City will likely seek to control the game on the ground themselves, as Jamaal Charles has emerged as one of the better backs in the NFL and posted 140 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. In response, the Bucs must develop a running game of their own against a team that largely contained Ray Rice last week. Fans also await popular back LeGarrette Blount receiving a greater opportunity to assist the offense. Blount has only been given 13 carries through the team's first 4 games, but his size could help penetrate the front of the Chiefs' bulky 3-4 defense.
More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Contributor Network:
Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Brady Quinn
- Tampa Bay
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- Dwayne Bowe