The Dallas Cowboys will be taking on a young and talented team when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. While the memory of the Seattle game is still lingering in our minds, it's time to move on and see what is on our plate in front of us.
This game becomes very important after the Cowboys dropped to 1-1. There is no reason to hit the panic button yet, but it is important for the Cowboys to show up and play good football. Right now, that is all we can ask for.
The Buccaneers are coming off a tough loss themselves after blowing a 14-point lead in the third quarter to the New York Giants. Eli Manning had a career day, throwing for 510 yards. Both teams in this game will be looking to get back on track this Sunday.
What should we be watching for this Sunday? Take the jump to find out more...
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the middle of a transformation. They thought they had found the winning formula after head coach Raheem Morris led them to a 10-6 record in 2010, but they failed to make the playoffs. Morris was canned after another lackluster season in 2011, and the Bucs needed to go back to the drawing board.
Greg Schiano was a successful college coach at Rutgers, but now he is the man responsible for turning the Buccaneers into contenders again.
Schiano has brought with him a physical approach to the game that demands hard work and fighting until the "end". He needed to make his presence felt on the personnel side of the football, and that began with his first NFL Draft. The Buccaneers took Schiano's advice and drafted three very good football players who will bring immediate change to that franchise.
Many on here should remember Mark Barron pretty well. For months we talked about Barron as a potential pick for the Dallas Cowboys, but we traded up for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Tampa could have drafted Claiborne, but they opted to trade down when Jacksonville made them an offer to move up for Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon.
Honestly, I think Barron really wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy. He looked pretty upset when the Cowboys traded up for Claiborne, but now he is the safety Schiano needs to run his defense.
Barron made his physical presence felt in the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. He also racked up 13 tackles against the Giants and continues to get more comfortable with more experience. Other than one mental lapse in coverage against the Giants, he looked like he has real range at the safety position.
We will get our first look at Barron in action against Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Keep your eye on #24.
Schiano had a workhorse running back at Rutgers when he had Ray Rice. It was important for Schiano to get his running game on track in Tampa, so the Buccaneers traded back into the first round to get Boise State running back Doug Martin. Schiano may have found a Ray Rice "clone" in the form of Martin.
Martin was on the Cowboys' radar during the pre-draft process. The Cowboys are starting to develop an eye for talented running backs. They were very high on DeMarco Murray, and they were also highly interested in Doug Martin.
With a short and compact build, Martin is a physical runner who hits his holes with amazing burst. He can be the bell cow type of running back who can take over late in games. The Cowboys had trouble with Marshawn Lynch last week. Lynch ran for 122-yards and kept the Seahawks' offense on the field. It wouldn't be surprising to see Martin be a big part of the gameplan this Sunday.
Pay close attention to Martin this game. He is really the key to the Tampa offense. If the Cowboys can shut him down, it makes the Buccaneers' offense one dimensional.
The last young player to keep an eye on this Sunday is third-round pick Lavonte David. David was a monster at Nebraska, and he is the perfect fit for the Tampa Two defense. Schiano really had a smart plan entering the draft. He got the running back he wanted, but he also shored up the middle of his defense by taking a playmaking safety and an athletic linebacker.
David is already reminding some people of Derrick Brooks. The rookie linebacker is making the calls in the huddle, which is unheard of for a rookie player. Gerald McCoy was really impressed by his rookie teammate.
"Hey man, that's not easy to do," said McCoy. "That's not easy to do in college, to go out there and get all your reads and make all the calls. That guy came in and did it in the NFL, opening day, and wasn't shaken at all. He never looked nervous. [Fans] can just see what's happening; you don't see everybody's eyes and faces out there. He never looked shaken, never looked nervous, and now I see why we drafted him. He's going to be around for a while."
That is very impressive, and I expect to see David play for a long time in the NFL. He is another player leading the youth movement in Tampa, so be sure to watch him when the Tampa defense is on the field.