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The sky isn't falling for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

“It’s kind of a Chicken Little complex,” Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says of the reaction of some to a Week 1 loss.

DIRK SHADD | Times

“It’s kind of a Chicken Little complex,” Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman says of the reaction of some to a Week 1 loss.

The Bucs play the Vikings today at Mall of America Field, the first game at the venue since the Teflon roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow in December.

But the sky was seemingly falling last week for both teams.

Nothing invites more of a knee-jerk reaction than the results of Week 1 in the NFL.

"It's kind of a Chicken Little complex," Bucs QB Josh Freeman said. "Lose the first game, the sky's falling. 'You guys are never going to win again. You can't start. The defense can't do this or can't do that.' Within the building, we know what kind of team we are.

"We know we let one get away this past weekend, and we know we can go out and play better football and win games. There's no panic within this building; within our locker room."

The 27-20 loss to Detroit was a downer for Tampa Bay fans particularly because of the ineptitude on both sides of the ball.

The defense couldn't get off the field. The offense couldn't run the ball and was bad in short-yardage situations. Coach Raheem Morris second-guessed himself for starting the second half in the two-minute offense, effectively taking RB LeGarrette Blount out of the game plan.

Things should go much differently for the Bucs today largely because both teams have similar approaches. The Vikings want to pound the ball on the ground with Adrian Peterson and set up play-action passes by Donovan McNabb, who threw for only 39 yards with one touchdown and one interception in last week's 24-17 loss at San Diego.

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier also experienced his share of bandwagon jumpers after Week 1.

"I was telling one of our executives the other day I can remember a team a few years ago that started off 6-0 and everybody was crowning this team and saying how great they were," Frazier said. "And they didn't even make the playoffs.

"So you have to be careful about coming to conclusions after one week into the season. There's so much football to be played. And when you consider this offseason (shortened due to the lockout)? If there was ever a year you don't want to overreact, this would be the year."

But if a loss in Week 1 produces panic, following it up with another in Week 2 is reason for concern. Why? Because since 1990, only 12 percent of the teams that started 0-2 have reached the postseason.

Again, a 0-2 start doesn't necessarily define a bad team. But the pressure to get that first win — regardless of the opponent — becomes the focus, and the anxiety of fans can be felt throughout the locker room and front office.

"Everybody expects to win most games, but then there's reality," Bucs RB Earnest Graham said. "It's the game of football, and typically in first games, you find out a lot about yourselves win or lose. The league is about progression; about which team is going to be consistent about coming in and getting the job done."

MR. INTENSITY: The Bucs will be without WR/KR Sammie Stroughter, who is out at least four weeks with a broken foot. Either Preston Parker or Micheal Spurlock will handle kickoff return duties, and Parker likely will replace Stroughter as the slot receiver.

"Preston is an intense player," Freeman said. "You talk about a guy who goes out there and just hits linebackers in the face and gets up and laughs about it."

TACKLE DRILLS: Peterson puts a lot of pressure on a defense, especially cornerbacks, who have to be relied upon to tackle or force the play inside toward the pursuit.

"We're prepared for that," Bucs defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said.

"There's going to be times when the corners have to make tackles. They're defenders just like everybody else, but we've also got some defenses in which they won't be making the tackles. (The Vikings) create some tough downs with what they do."

The sky isn't falling for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 09/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, September 17, 2011 3:42pm]
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