After tough defeats, you leaned on your leaders to recharge the young players and refocus the players that had tough games. I remember as a former Buccaneer, after every loss there was one player, literally ten minutes after walking off the field and still in full gear, that would go up to each individual player in the locker room and tell them these words, "Let's go...it's one game....you got to turn the page and get ready for next week." Isn't it ironic that the leadership of that player, Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, would lead to him being inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor this Sunday as this Bucs team looks to turn the page against the St. Louis Rams.
Here's a few "Keys to the Game" in Week Two to keep your eyes on:1) PROTECT THE FOOTBALL
Last week's performance against the Panthers was a clear reminder that if you just take care of the football and don't turn it over your chances of succeeding go up exponentially. Winning the turnover battle is key, especially in this league. There are truly few things that separate one team from another week to week. A team's consistency to execute their offense throughout a game is hard enough. Just being smart with the football instantly creates a winning edge vs the Rams on Sunday.2) FAST START
For the Bucs to have success, especially at home, they need to start fast. Last week against the Panthers, the offense sparked late in the second half of the game. This week the Bucs need to find an identity as an offensive unit. It starts at the line of scrimmage. Our blocking in the run game and our pass protection needs to take the next step regardless of which player is in there. There's no skill involved in being aggressive and physical at the point of attack. It's an ATTITUDE.3) DEFLATE RAMS RB ZAC STACYThe Rams will want to hang their hat on one phase of their offense, the run game. RB Zac Stacy is a tough, strong, downhill runner. The Bucs will need to swarm to the ball as a unit and force the Rams into 3rd and 7 (or more) passing situations. I'll take my chances versus their second string or potentially third string QB this week. I'd be willing to bet the Rams QB's wouldn't be able to duplicate the amount of conversions the Panthers offense were able to achieve. When those 3rd down opportunities present themselves, we must collapse the pocket upfront and pressure the QB forcing him to make quick decisions and potentially big mistakes. Again sacks would be outstanding, but pressures and hurries will be enough for this Bucs defense on Sunday.**4) EXPLOSIVE PLAYS
Explosive plays are runs over 15 yards and passes over 25 yards. This Bucs offense features enough talent across the board to produce these types of plays. QB Josh McCown had his ups and downs last week, but I fully expect a bounce back game from him. I know his work ethic as a player and you as fans will bear the fruits of that hard work as this offense puts their prep in this week. For us to have success in this Rams game I'd like to see five explosive plays on offense. That would be a big jump from last week, but with the return of OC Jeff Tedford to the team, I expect a resurgent offense on the field Sunday.5) CORRECT & IMPROVEWhether it was a missed block, missed tackle, an INT, a miscommunication, or a dropped ball, the team must show signs of overall improvement. With a full game tape from last week for each player to self critique themselves and another week of preparation, each player and coach needs to get better. Everybody is in this together. The time that's put in each week to get ready for an opponent is taxing. There's always challenges to overcome, like injuries, moving new players in and moving some players out. But when that final second ticks off the clock on Sunday, the Buccaneers need to be a better team then they were a week ago.PREDICTION:**
The Rams are struggling across the board on offense and defense. With a pending QB issue and the lack of their defensive leader, DE Chris Long, it will be too much for this Rams team on the road to overcome.
Bucs get their first win of the season: Bucs 27 Rams 13