Bucs' gameplan against Colts could look familiar
Bucs coach Raheem Morris made no bones about it: His defensive gameplan for last week's game against the Falcons was to load up against the running game and pressure the quarterback, forcing Matt Ryan to win with tough throws against man-to-man coverage.
Morris hasn't given any clues about tonight's matchup with the Colts, but don't be surprised if the gameplan is very similar to last week's successful scheme.
The Bucs will be facing first-time Colts starter Curtis Painter. While he made a handful of impressive throws against the Steelers last week in relief of injured Kerry Collins, every defensive coach loves to see a newbie at quarterback.
The fact is, the Bucs don't fear Painter, so they'd probably rather take some chances in other areas working under the assumption that he won't beat them. That means the Bucs could opt to sellout against the run and tailback Joseph Addai, who is averaging a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. If the Bucs can succeed in making Addai a nonfactor, that would put more pressure on Painter to make throws in second-and-long and third-and-long situations. Those scenarios work in the Bucs' favor.
Look for safety Sean Jones or, perhaps, whoever is playing the other safety position (Corey Lynch or Larry Asante) to frequently come up in run support. And the linebacker blitzes we've been seeing the past couple of weeks could continue as well. Quincy Black, Dekoda Watson and Mason Foster have shown ability to be disruptive as pass rushers. Morris also has a new respect for his defensive line, which collapsed Ryan's pocket and took him to the ground throughout the Falcons game.
Morris, if he so chooses, can take these chances because he trusts his secondary. The loss of free safety Cody Grimm is a big factor and would compromise this plan a bit, but Morris put a full loads on the plates of cornerbacks Aqib Talib, Ronde Barber and E.J. Biggers last week against the Falcons. They were charged with covering Roddy White, Julio Jones and sometimes tight end Tony Gonzalez in man-to-man matchups much of the day and the plan worked. The Bucs gave up their fair share of passing yards, but the Falcons' running game was nonexistent and Atlanta faced many third-and-long situations.
Today's matchups in the secondary are challenging, though arguably not as daunting as last week's. The Colts have receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon in addition to tight end Dallas Clark. Fortunately for the Bucs, Talib and Barber are playing a very high levels and seem up to the task.
By the time the night's over, we'll know whether any of this played out. But heading into the game, it seems very possible you could see a repeat of what you saw last week.