DT Warren Sapp knows Joey Galloway's presence could change the game plan
Seattle wide receiver Joey Galloway averaged 65 receptions for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns during his first four NFL seasons. This year, Galloway has five receptions for 106 yards and no scores as the season heads into it's 12th week.
Of course, this is the function of an extended holdout on Galloway's part, not on a sudden decline in his skills. As the Buccaneers will tell you, the fifth-year wideout out of Ohio State remains one of the most explosive weapons in the NFL, perhaps even the 'X factor' on which tomorrow's game could turn.
What Tampa Bay players and staff cannot tell you is exactly how much of an impact Galloway will have in tomorrow's tilt, when the Bucs take on the Seahawks in the Kingdome at 4:05 p.m. EST. Galloway has played just two games since ending his holdout, catching four passes for 88 yards in his first game versus Denver (11/14) but following up with just one 18-yard catch last week at Kansas City (11/21). The resulting game film has not shed significant light on what Galloway's role might be on Sunday.
"We haven't seen enough yet of where Mike Holmgren is going to incorporate Galloway," said Head Coach Tony Dungy, speaking from the Bucs' team hotel Saturday evening. "(Holmgren) has just sort of tinkered with him so far. He's going to make a big difference in that offense."
Seattle, ranked 19th in the league in overall offense but sixth in scoring, has prospered by the big play, and that is certainly an area in which Galloway can help. The Buccaneers, however, have been adept at keeping their opponents from completing long plays, and see the surpression of Galloway as a key element tomorrow.
"Hopefully, we can hold number 84 down long enough that they get frustrated," said Dungy. "We can't be concerned that they are checking off and dumping passes to Ricky Watters or the tight end. We think if they get frustrated, they'll try to force it in to (Galloway), and hopefully we can get some turnovers."
"He's special," added DT Warren Sapp. "I kind of like it when teams want to go deep on us, though, because I have confidence in our corners. They're not going to get beat by 10 yards right off the line, so it's going to take a seven-stop drop (by QB Jon Kitna) to try to hit a long pass. That's when we come into play on the defensive line."
It is not unusual for a team to be focused on a particular offensive threat of their opponents. Against the New Orleans Saints on November 7, Buc defenders John Lynch and Derrick Brooks spoke of the extra attention that RB Ricky Williams would draw. Tampa Bay held Williams to 41 yards and a 2.9-yard per carry average in the Bucs' 31-16 win. Against the Packers a month earlier, Tampa Bay wanted to stifle the improvisational genius of QB Brett Favre but couldn't stop Favre from leading the Green Bay Packers to a last-minute 26-23 win on October 10.
The difference in this situation is that Williams and Favre and their roles in their respective offenses were well-defined and easy to predict. Galloway's extended holdout has made him a bit of a mystery; after all, Seattle has rolled to an 8-2 record with very little contribution from their established home run threat.
"It's just hard to say how far along he is," said Dungy. "You just don't know when (Holmgren) is going to just put him in the offense and say, 'You're a part of it and we're going to roll with you."
The Buccaneers don't know just what to expect from Joey Galloway on Sunday. They just know they aren't going to forget about him.