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Game Day: Dolphins at Buccaneers

Posted Nov 11, 2013

Prepare for Monday’s game with our preview, including injury reports, key matchups, series history, players to watch and more

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Miami's strength is in its defensive line but Tampa Bay's front four could be prominent, too, against a struggling Dolphins O-Line
  • LB Lavonte David's efforts to stop emerging Miami RB Lamar Miller may be a key to the final outcome
  • S Dashon Goldson is probable to play on Monday after missing the last two Buccaneer games
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take on the Miami Dolphins on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium.  The Buccaneers bring an 0-8 record into the game while the Dolphins are 4-4.

On offense, the Buccaneers hope that continued development and assertive throws from rookie quarterback Mike Glennon will help them earn their first victory of the season. Despite a prime-time, Monday Night Football atmosphere that could be intimidating for a first-year passer, Head Coach Greg Schiano wants Glennon to continue to play with a fearless attitude.

And considering Glennon has gone more than three games without throwing an interception, it’s clear that the rookie thrower is playing the type of smart but aggressive football for which his coach is hoping.

“I think taking care of the football, three games without an interception in a row – I don’t think there’s a quarterback in the league who’s done that in the last three games – so that exceeds expectations for a veteran, rookie, whoever,” Schiano said. “You don’t ever want to do that at the risk of not trying to fit it into windows, though. I don’t want him to ever play apprehensive in any way, so we keep telling him, ‘You’ve made it here by drilling it in there’ and I think he’s done it very well. He’s drilled a few in there.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bucs will square off Monday night against a tandem of Dolphins receivers with nearly identical stat lines – yet vastly different styles and skill sets.

Brian Hartline (38 receptions for 477 yards on the season) is a technical route-runner and more of a possession receiver, while Mike Wallace (36 receptions for 480 yards on the year) was brought in as a big-name free agent signing this offseason to provide the speedy deep threat the Miami offense was lacking.

Despite the differences between the two receivers, Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis says both are talented and equally capable of making big plays.

“They’re both fast,” Revis said. “I think Hartline doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does. He’s a consistent receiver. I think he’s their best route-runner. He can kill you with double moves, and he runs smooth and crisp routes. I think he doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. And Mike Wallace, I’ve played against him a couple times [when he was] with Pittsburgh – [he’s] a fast guy as well. He can blow the top off the coverage and he can get open with his speed. I tip my hat off to those guys. I’ve played against them before. They’re familiar with me as well, too. It’ll be fun come Monday night.”

Of course, Hartline and Wallace will need someone slinging the ball their way, and that task will fall to Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill may not be the same dual threat in both the rushing and passing games that Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are (the Bucs’ last two opponents at the quarterback spot), Tannehill still has the ability to make plays outside the pocket when necessary, a fact the Bucs defenders have been keying in on all week in practice.

“Ryan Tannehill, he can extend plays with his feet,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “He’s more of an athlete than people give him credit for. They say he’s not a running quarterback. Yeah, right. He played receiver in college for a reason, he can run if he wants to he just chooses not to. He can make the necessary throws. With him, we have to keep him in the pocket. You like to keep quarterbacks in the pocket, but it’s kind of one of those things where a lot of quarterbacks, if you let them sit there, they can kill you. He’s not one of those guys; he plays better moving around, so we need to keep him sitting in the pocket. He’s not as short as the last guy we played; he’s not as elusive or as huge as the guy before that, so let’s see if we can get to this one.”

Defensively, Miami’s strength is the play of its line, headlined by defensive end Cameron Wake (5.5 sacks). The Dolphins have rung up 25 sacks on the season and will surely be looking to make life difficult for the Bucs’ young backfield duo of Glennon and his fellow rookie, running back Mike James.

-- QB M. Glennon and WR V. Jackson have established a productive connection
“That’s going to be a key battle in the matchup,” Schiano said. “Their front four is certainly the strength of their defense and in the run game they move a lot. It’s going to be real important that we gather everything up and get on blocks to prevent negative runs. When you talk about the pass, rush the ends, Cameron Wake is an elite-level guy. It’s not hard to know where he is because he’s in the same spot every time, but that doesn’t make it easier. You’ve got to dedicate resources to block him. The issue is the other guy, Olivier [Vernon], is a really quality rusher as well. The big guy in the middle [defensive tackle Paul Soliai], he really can push the pocket as well.

“We have a big challenge and it’s going to take everybody. It’s not just going to be the offensive line, it’s going to be the [running] backs, the tight ends, and the receivers recognizing, because not only do they straight rush but they have an extensive pressure package. So it’s going to be 11 against the pressure for sure and it starts and ends with [quarterback] Mike [Glennon] really. Mike Glennon’s got to make the ID and know where he’s got it covered and he doesn’t. It’s going to be a team effort.”

Click here for more on what the Dolphins will bring to the table on Monday night.

**

SERIES HISTORY

The Buccaneers will attempt to even up their all-time series against Miami on Monday night, as a victory would make it five wins apiece.  Tampa Bay has won three of the last four, but the Dolphins moved back on top in the head-to-head battle with a 25-23 decision in their last meeting in 2009.  That game was in Miami; the Bucs are 3-2 all-time against the Dolphins in home games. That includes a 23-17 win for Tampa Bay in 1982 that happens to be the team’s first-ever win in a Monday Night Football game.

It has been a very close series overall, with the Buccaneers scoring a total of 206 points to the Dolphins’ 203.  Exactly half of the 10 games have been decided by three points or less, including the two teams’ first meeting in 1976, the Buccaneers’ inaugural season, when lopsided final scores were more of the norm.  In 1985, the Dolphins won another three-point decision that ranks as one of wildest games in Buccaneers franchise history, as TE Jimmie Giles caught a team-record four touchdown passes in a 41-38 shootout loss.

Click here for more details on the all-time Buccaneers-Dolphins series.

**

INJURY REPORT


Buccaneers

Player

Injury

Game Status

LB Mason Foster

Elbow

Probable

S Dashon Goldson

Knee

Probable

CB Danny Gorrer

Groin

Probable

G Davin Joseph

Knee

Probable

FB Erik Lorig

Toe

Probable

G Carl Nicks

Foot

Out

WR Chris Owusu

Foot

Doubtful

DT Akeem Spence

Wrist

Probable

S Keith Tandy

Ankle

Probable

LB Dekoda Watson

Shoulder

Probable


Dolphins

Player

Injury

Game Status

CB Nolan Carroll

Concussion

Probable

S Chris Clemons

Hamstring

Probable

LB Dannell Ellerbe

Calf

Probable

T Nate Garner

Knee

Probable

LB Jelani Jenkins

Foot

Questionable

T Jonathan Martin

Illness

Out

LB Koa Misi

Knee

Questionable

CB Dimitri Patterson

Groin

Doubtful

TE Dion Sims

Toe

Probable

K Caleb Sturgis

Right Groin

Probable


**

BUCCANEER PLAYER TO WATCH: RB MIKE JAMES

A pleasant surprise for the Buccaneers in 2013 has been the emergence of rookie running back Mike James, whose importance to the offense has gone through the roof in recent weeks. The Bucs’ sixth-round pick out of Miami has stepped up in the wake of Doug Martin’s season-ending shoulder injury and will now enjoy the chance to take the stage in front of a national audience Monday night, against a close college teammate, and as the Bucs’ starter at running back, no less.

“It’s a blessing, I thank God for it every day, but I’m still a piece to the puzzle,” James said. “I’m just a part of an offense who’s trying to get us moving, trying to get us going and trying to help this team get a win.”

James has started each of the last two games, and he put on an impressive display last week in Seattle. Against a stout Seahawks defense, James blasted for 158 rushing yards and even threw a touchdown pass.

Now, with Martin officially done for the season, James looks to have earned the No. 1 spot at running back for the rest of the year. Regardless of his newfound perch atop the depth chart, James says his preparation in practice and in the meeting room hasn’t changed a bit.

“I approach every day like I’m a starter,” James said. “I approached college, high school, ever since I’ve played this game like I was going to play 60 to 70 plays and that’s how I still approach it. [If] I wasn’t playing as much, [if] I was only getting one carry, I [would] approach it the same way.”

James was also quick to credit his offensive line for the success he had in Seattle last week, and knows that continued consistency along the offensive front will only help him as he continues to grow as an NFL rusher.

"I love it,” James said. “We’ve got a great front line. They do everything they need to do to get on guys, no matter what the scheme is. I love the way they get on guys. I love how physical they are. I love how they finish blocks. I’m sure going to continue to keep doing that and hopefully I can do what I’m supposed to do and handle that accordingly.”

James, the O-line, and all the rest of the Bucs will be under the spotlight in this week’s Monday Night Football matchup, and ironically enough, James’ counterpart for the Dolphins will be a fellow Miami product, running back Lamar Miller.

I’m just a part of an offense who’s trying to get us moving, trying to get us going and trying to help this team get a win.
-- RB Mike James
A first-ever Monday night matchup, against a close friend and former teammate, and with the starting running back job to his name – all of it has James raring to go for the contest against Miami.

"I’m very excited,” James said. “I get to go, my college roommate, I get to go against him, get to see him. We’ve been texting all week so it’s going to be fun.”

**

KEY MATCHUP: BUCCANEERS LB LAVONTE DAVID vs. DOLPHINS RB LAMAR MILLER

Dolphins RB Lamar Miller is coming off the best game of his two-year career…it just happens to have been 11 days ago.

It feels like two NFL weeks since Miller’s 105-yard outburst against Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football in Week Nine, but in fact he is sitting on something of a hot streak.  Before his big game against the Bengals, which helped produce an overtime victory that stopped a four-game losing skid, Miller also ran for 89 yards on 18 carries at New England and 43 yards on nine totes versus Buffalo.  He has topped 4.8 yards per carry in three straight games and on six occasions this season.

Miller clearly has the speed to turn any run that makes it to the second level of the defense into a big play.  And that’s where David comes into play for the Buccaneers.  Also a second-year NFL player, David has similarly stepped up his game in 2013. The former Nebraska linebacker is emerging as one of the NFL’s best all-around linebackers, adding five sacks to his game this year, but what he does best is chase down ballcarriers from sideline to sideline.  If he is on his game, David could be the perfect antidote to a big-play threat like Miller, shutting the Dolphins back down before he can find open space and turn on the jets.  If David and his teammates can shut down Miller and the Miami rushing attack, they’ll force second-year QB Ryan Tannehill to throw into the teeth of a Buccaneers defense that has a significant amount of big-play talent in the secondary.

Click here to read about other head-to-head matchups that will help determine Sunday’s outcome.

**

TEAM RANKINGS

The Dolphins have picked off a lot of passes and are one of the league’s best punting teams, but they have struggled to post yardage and have given up a high number of first downs.  The Buccaneers have been good at avoiding interceptions and have defended the run relatively well but need to score more points.

OFFENSE

BUCS RANK

DOLPHINS RANK

Points Per Game

31

19

Yards Per Game

31

28

Rushing Yards Per Game

18

22

Average Per Rush

17

13

Passing Yards Per Game

31

21

Sacks/Pass Play

12

31

Interception Pct.

9

24

Third-Down Efficiency

16

21

Punt Return Average

16

27

Kickoff Return Average

7

11


DEFENSE

BUCS RANK

DOLPHINS RANK

Points Per Game

17

16

Yards Per Game

17

23

Rushing Yards Per Game

13

21

Average Per Rush

14

13

Passing Yards Per Game

15

22

Sacks/Pass Play

23

15

Interception Pct.

16

8

Third-Down Efficiency

23

18

Punt Return Average

28

17

Kickoff Return Average

6

4


OTHER

BUCS RANK

DOLPHINS RANK

Turnover Differential

11

16

Gross Punting Average

29

1

Net Punting Average

26

2

Field Goal Percentage

21t

29


**

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

  • LB Lavonte David has five sacks on the season and with one more can tie for the fifth-most sacks in a season by a Buccaneers linebacker in team history (Kevin Murphy, 6.0, 1989).
  • David has recorded double-digit tackles in consecutive games and can become the first Buccaneer to post three consecutive games with double-digit tackles since Barrett Ruud in 2010 (11 vs. CAR 11/14; 11 at SF 11/21; 10 at BAL 11/28).
  • QB Mike Glennon has eight touchdown passes on the season and needs two more to pass Bruce Gradkowski (nine in 2006) for second-most and three more to pass Josh Freeman (10 in 2009) for the most passing touchdowns by a rookie in team history.
  • Glennon has 1,165 passing yards on the season and needs six more to pass Doug Williams (1,170 in 1978) for the third-most passing yards by a rookie in team history.
  • LB Adam Hayward will play in his 100th career game, all with the Buccaneers, becoming only the 36th player in Tampa Bay history to play in 100 games with the team.
  • K Rian Lindell has 1,296 career points and needs four more to reach 1,300 for his career, making him one of only six active players to reach that mark.
  • TE Tim Wright has recorded a receiving touchdown in two consecutive games. With one against Miami, he can become the first Buccaneers rookie to record a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games since Mike Williams (2010), the first Buccaneers tight end to do so since Dave Moore (1997) and the first ever undrafted tight end to do so in team history.
With one more receiving touchdown this season, Wright can tie Calvin Magee and Jim Obradovich as the only rookie tight ends in franchise history with at least three receiving touchdowns.
Game Rewind: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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