TE Dave Moore believes his downfield passing opportunities will increase as the Bucs' running game gains steam
From a fan's perspective, Aaron Stecker's 35-yard touchdown reception against Minnesota took awhile to develop into one of the game's biggest plays.
In a way, it was like a series of surprises as it turned from a potential disaster into a breakaway score. One can imagine the observer in the stands:
'Shoot, looks like a sack…oh, it's a screen pass…looks like he'll get the first down…hey, he's got some blockers…he might get in…touchdown!'
But what an onlooker couldn't know, and what is really the most surprising aspect of the play, was shared with Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans across the country by tight end Dave Moore on Monday night. According to Moore, the Vikings knew it was coming.
Moore isn't sure what tipped Minnesota off – perhaps the offensive alignment – but when the Bucs lined up for the play, several of the Viking linebackers began hollering, 'Screen, screen!' to the rest of the defense. That the play worked despite that correct guess is a tribute to the excellent blocking on the play and strong evidence that, as the coaching staff has insisted, execution is more critical than play selection.
This type of revelation is the beauty of the Pewter Power Hour, a weekly interactive show on Buccaneers.com that affords Tampa Bay fans across the country an opportunity to talk directly to players from the Buccaneer locker room.
On Monday, it was Moore's turn, and the 10th-year veteran had the great fortune of appearing on the show just a day after one of the most exhilarating victories in recent Buc memory, the team's 41-14 downing of the Vikings on Sunday. Besides his on-the-scene insights on specific plays, Moore discussed his role in the offense, play-calling inside the red zone, Buc quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Shaun King and much more.
You can listen to the entire show, and those from previous weeks with other prominent Buccaneer guests, by visiting the Pewter Power Hour archive. Please check back with Buccaneers.com later this week to learn the time and guest for next Monday's Pewter Power Hour.
Stecker's touchdown was one of five on the day for Tampa Bay, and though it was the first of his brief NFL career, the other four scores went to Bucs who were used to being there. FB Mike Alstott found the end zone three times, giving him 43 touchdowns on his career, and the other score went to 'Touchdown' Dave Moore, the 22nd of his career.
Alstott (second) and Moore (tied for 10th) both rank in the team's top 10 all time touchdown producers, and Moore's 22 scores are the fifth-highest career mark in touchdown receptions. With the Bucs finding different ways to put the ball in the end zone on Sunday, the topic of play calling in the red zone was a natural on Monday night.
"Unfortunately, we haven't spent too much time in the red zone," said Moore in response to an e-mailed question from a fan in Tampa. "A lot of people talk about the red zone and the lack of touchdowns. For a couple games there, we didn't spend any time in the red zone; the touchdowns we scored, we ran through it.
"The play-calling has been a little difficult because we haven't had a steady diet of it to see what kind of things we're going to be able to run well. This past week, we got into some short passes, taking some shots in the end zone here and there. With a solid run game, though, it's hard not to pound Mike or Warrick in there and let them run it in. I'm certainly happy that they've given me the opportunity to work down in there."
A few other topics addressed by Moore during his 40 minutes on the Pewter Power Hour:
You obviously had more opportunities to catch the ball on Sunday against Minnesota. Did that represent a change in offensive philosophy?
Moore: "What's happening now is that Clyde likes to use more wide receivers and spread guys out. He likes what they call the 'weak side' passing game. We have a combination of routes. There are usually three guys in what they call a 'route concept' – two wide receivers and usually a tight end if it's strong side. If it's weak side, they use a back, and that's why you're seeing Warrick involved very much in the passing game. When they go to the weak side, you always see Warrick as the third guy or the 'check down' guy.
"This past week, we did a lot more to the strong side and that's why I was more involved. Actually, the past couple of years, I probably caught the same number of balls this far into the season, but they were more down the field, more significant yardage type of plays. Hopefully, that will come, especially if we start running the ball like we did yesterday. The play action is certainly going to open up down the middle for me, and that's where I've been able to make those plays in the past."
This weekend will be the Bucs' last trip to Green Bay as a member of the NFC Central. How badly does the team want to win on the 'frozen tundra?'
Moore: "This will be my ninth trip up there personally and I haven't won there. I know there are a lot of other guys that don't want to change divisions and not have an opportunity to win in Lambeau. I think we're going to do everything we can to do that."
Rookie fullback Jameel Cook seemed to play well on Sunday. Has thought been given to expanding his role as a blocker even when Warrick Dunn returns?
Moore: "I think they'd have a hard time taking Mike out of the game in general because he's a threat in both the run and pass games. Jameel's young. I think he's blocking very well, but it would be hard to take Mike off the field because of the added dimensions he brings. Plus, he's a pretty solid blocker as well. With Warrick in the game, I'd say it would be Warrick and Mike. As time goes on, I don't know if that will hold true. As Jameel grows and learns what he's doing and becomes more of a consistent blocker, he could certainly take on the role."