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PRIMARY REASON FOR SECONDARY PROBLEM IS ON THE LINE

We eavesdrop again on the week's e-chat between Sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano

JR: Gary, is this what teams mean when they talk about their defense disguising coverages. Because after watching Tampa Bay's secondary last week, I have no idea how they plan to cover people this season.

GS: That's the beauty of their plan, John. Last week, the Bucs were disguised as the 1931 Frankford Yellow Jackets. This week, they're going to be the 1925 Dayton Triangles. Let the Buffalo Bills find game films on those guys.

JR: Hmm, I would have guessed the '76 Bucs.

GS: They're saving that for Homecoming.

JR: So how big of a problem is this? I tend to believe these were screwups - a lot of screwups - that can be corrected. In other words, I still think there is enough talent in the secondary to recover. It's the defensive line I'm not so sure about.

GS: That's like saying you believe in Marie Antoinette's head, but you aren't sure about her body. The two are supposed to be connected. The defensive backs are good enough to cover for a few seconds, but if the pass rush is invisible, someone's going to spontaneously combust in the secondary.

JR: Let me put it this way: If the Bucs had an average pass rush, I think this secondary would be okay. And if Marie-Antoinette didn't have a big mouth, they would have cut her body some slack. Or would that be less slack?

GS: Just think of old Marie as the world's first offensive coordinator. So, are you disappointed you won't get to see that big offensive showdown between Jeff Jagodzinski and Turk Schonert?

JR: Like a child who spilled his lima beans. A week into the Greg Olson era, did the Bucs make the right audible at coordinator?

GS: Hard to blame Olson, isn't it? The Bucs scored 21, missed two field goals and had a pass dropped on fourth down. Then again, Alex Van Pelt, the spanking new O.C. of the Bills, had an 11-point lead in New England. I smell a rivalry.

JR: Oops, sorry. That's my feet. I took my shoes off.

GS: Well, I don't know about the Bucs, John, but your feet are going 3-13. And speaking of stinkers (ba-dump-bump), how many deep passes do you think the Bills will throw at Terrell Owens this week? Remember, they've been criticized for not throwing deep often enough.

JR: I imagine the Bills will try it early and often. But I also imagine Raheem Morris will come down from the mountain with a commandment to Sabby Piscitelli and Jermaine Phillips that thou shalt not get beaten deep. The Bucs may sacrifice some of their underneath coverage, and they may sacrifice some of their run defense, but I can't imagine they will give up a lot of deep passes. So what do you think? Are they 1-1 or 0-2 late Sunday?

GS: Let's see. The Bills are in a short week, and the Bucs are on the road. I don't see how either team can win. I'm going to pick the Bucs, simply because there aren't going to be a lot of opportunities to do so this year. That, and I like the offense. You?

JR: I agree. Which means Marie Antoinette has a better head on her shoulders than either of us.

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