Cowboys @ Buccaneers: 5 Questions with Buc 'Em

To help prepare us for NFL Kickoff 2009, Blogging the Boys chatted with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' SB Nation blog, Buc 'Em. Here are our five questions and their five answers.

Blogging the Boys: After firing Jon Gruden, is the organization trying to return to a defensive-minded philosophy behind head coach Raheem Morris? How did offensive coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski, not fit with the Bucs' coaching staff?  

Buc 'Em: The team seems to want to establish a smashmouth team, both on offense and defense.  The team is gearing up to just pound the rock (to quote ex coach Gruden) and then hit you with play action.  The defensive will be more aggressive with Bates' relying on corners hitting receivers at the line of scrimage, and getting pressure to the QB before anyone gets open. Also,  some blitzing schemes that we haven't seen in Tampa for awhile.  Let's not be fooled here, the team was always reliant upon the defense, as they faded, so did the team.  This is more of a return to fundamentals, away from the glitz and glamour of the shifting offense to a more simplified approach.

Make the jump for the rest of the Q & A.

Coach Jags did implement the zone blocking scheme and the basic playbook.  The general fall out seemed to be in attention to detail, or lack thereof.  There were multiple rumblings that he (Jags) didn't get very detailed and wasn't as in tune, in touch, or involved as he should have been.  When he was at  Boston College, it was Our running back's coach, Steve Logan,  who called the plays. Jags team meetings were more like little chat sessions, and the playbook was more like a pamphlet.  At the end of the day, Jags wanted a more west coast based offense, and Morris wanted a more vertical team.  Former QB coach Greg Olson has taken over the role and has installed some other options and routes to supplement what was already in place.

Blogging the Boys: The team seems impressed with first-round pick Josh Freeman. Do you see him taking over the starting quarterback job from Byron Leftwich this season?  

Buc 'Em: As a fan, I don't want to see Freeman at all this year.  To me, the only way we see him is due to injury (a bad thing) or being out of the playoff hunt (another bad thing).  He is the #2 QB right now and is "one snap away" as every one says, but the idea is to sit him for as long as possible, let him learn from the sideline and get his feet wet when the season doesn't hinge on QB play.  Short answer:  I think he's in by week 12, which would signal we're out of the playoff hunt. The one key reason that he was put at number 2 was because the #2 QB gets 5-15% of the reps in practice with the starting unit. The #3 guy is relegated to the scout team. 

Blogging the Boys: Like Dallas, Tampa Bay looks to have three good running backs in Earnest Graham, Derrick Ward, and Cadillac Williams. How do you see the carries between the three being divvied up?

Buc 'Em: Morris has come out and said he wants to use a 2-2-1 approach.  Meaning the starter gets two series, the back up gets two series and the third stringer gets one series.  At that point, it will either revert to said format, or he will roll with the hot back.  Frankly, I'm excited by the depth at running back, which fits our offensive scheme well.  

Blogging the Boys: With all the changes in the off-season and the recent firing of the offensive coordinator, what are the expectations of the Bucs fans for the season?

Buc 'Em: Bucs fans definitely fall on the more pessimistic side of things right now.  The expectations typically lay right around a 4 win season.  With the new general manager, new head coach, two new offensive coordinators, new defensive coordinator, new schemes on both sides, new quarterback, new kicking game, and the re-introduction to the creamsicle uniforms, you can see why that might happen.  All in all, the fans expect the team to have a rocky go at it this year, in hopes that it means long term success, but now is a good time to hop on the bandwagon.  It's pretty empty at this point. Occasionally you find someone who predicts a winning season, but he is quickly ridiculed by the majority.

Blogging the Boys: The NFC South boasts some rather potent offenses. How do you think Morris and his defense will handle the passing attack of the Saints, the running attack of the Panthers, and the balance of the Falcons

Buc 'Em: If the defense has their way, we'll be able to attack each offense differently.  The Saints are a high flying attack predicated on time for Brees and playmakers down the field.  With former first rounder Gaines Adams bringing the heat, the idea is to get to Brees early and force some bad throws to ball hawks like Ronde Barber and Sabby Piscitelli.  The Panthers running attack is a tough one to stop, but with the speed we possess at linebacker and some run stuffers in the middle, the job can be accomplished.  This is more of a team style of play with everyone flowing to the ball.  The Falcons can hit you deep with Roddy White, over the middle with Gonzo, and up the gut with Turner.  This will require discipline and sticking with your assignment.  Ultimately all three come down to that.  You have to know your assignment, stick to it and not free lance.  Morris has been hounding the guys on discipline, being physical, and being in shape.  This should be a more well balanced defense in team in terms of preparation, physical toughness, and durability. This team practiced with pads on from the get go, and it shows with good results so far in preseason. By clogging up the middle to prevent the run, the pressure will come f rom the  ends and somewhere else, by choice, either LB, CB, or safety blitz.

Looking forward to the game on Sunday.  We're hoping for a good game, and not too much hospitality on the field to your Cowboys!  Best of luck guys.

Thanks Buc 'Em!

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