NFL Round Up: Observations From Week 2

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  1. It’s time to meet the Arizona Cardinals Defense.  You proabably know who Patrick Peterson is.  You might know Andrian Wilson.  Possibly Darnell Dockett.  But do you know Calais Campbell ? How about Daryl Washington?  The Cardinals may not have household names on defense but they are talented unit.  After the Cardinals upset win over New England, I’m sure Tom Brady knows who they are.
  2. Aqib Talib’s Rough Day.   Everyone has been talking about proper victory formation etiquette after the New York Giants thrilling come from behind victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, over shadowing the miserable day cornerback Aqib Talib had.  Talib shadowed Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks the entire game and was left with grill marks.  Nicks finished with 10 catches for 199 yards including plays of 40 and 50 yards.
  3. Is Reggie Bush A Late Bloomer? When Miami Dolphins’ running back Reggie Bush was drafted in 2006, many compared him to Barry Sanders.  After Bush struggled as a traditional tailback early in his career with the Saints, he gained a reputation as being soft.  Well now in his seventh season, Bush is looking like the franchise running back he was when he dominated in college.  He had his first 1000 yard rushing season last year, averaging six yards a carry.   This season he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, averaging 120 yards per game over the first two weeks.  Maybe all Bush need was some time.

Superbowl Sleeper: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Superbowl Sleeper series is a look at five teams that finished below .500 in 2011 — the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, and the Buffalo Bills– and what it would take for each team to get to the Superbowl in 2012.

What happened in 2011?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers collapsed after a promising 2010 season to 4-12.  Quarterback Josh Freeman regressed, throwing 22 interceptions.  The defense was a disaster, finishing last in sacks and 30th overall.  The poor season lead to a change in leadership, with former Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano taking the reigns.

The Good

The front office was aggressive in the off-season, opening their wallet to sign high profile free-agents WR Vincent Jackson and G Carl Nicks, and using shrew maneuvering in the 2012 NFL Draft to obtain S Mark Barron and RB Doug Martin.  Barron and Martin should contribute immediately despite being rookies and Jackson and Nicks represent significant upgrades at their respective positions.   Despite his bad 2011 campaign, Josh Freeman is an immensely talented quarterback.

The Bad
To this point the Buccaneers young defensive line has been a disapointment.  Defensive tackle  Gerald McCoy and defensive end Da’Quan Bowers were supposed to be the linchpins of an athletic attacking defense but Tampa defense has been the exact opposite.  The are soft up front, ranking 28th and 32nd against the run the last two seasons.

Blueprint to get to the Superbowl
The Buccaneers will have to lean on their big, physical offensive line and dual headed running attack to provide balance.  Defensively the undersized front seven and the defensive line especially, must mature and play up to their ability.

Outlook

Tampa is playing in possibly the toughest division in the NFL playing six games against the Saints, Falcons and Panthers.  They should be able to compete offensively, but their defense has too many holes up front to be a viable contender.