3TFO: Buccaneers @ Seahawks, Week 9
Two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum will square off this weekend as the 7-1 Seahawks host the 0-7 Buccaneers. Our current Power Rankings have Seattle as the second best in the league, whereas Tampa Bay sits second from the bottom. The Seahawks barely escaped St. Louis with a win on Monday night, and they showed some vulnerability against the power running game. They come off a short week, while Tampa Bay played last Thursday and has had plenty of time to recover and prepare for the Seahawks. Greg Schiano remains on the hottest of hot seats, and he recently expressed that the Bucs would use Darrelle Revis in more man coverage against the opposing team’s top receiver. Will everything come together for the Bucs to pull the upset? For that to happen, they’ll likely need to get the best of the matchups below.
Mike Glennon vs. Seahawks Pass Defense
Plenty of factors will come into play as Mike Glennon faces the tall task of poking holes in Seattle’s elite secondary, while also finding time to throw against a relentless pass rush. Glennon just lost Mike Williams for the year, and at this point the wide receivers behind him aren’t exactly going to strike fear into the Seahawks. In Glennon’s four games, he has targeted Vincent Jackson 58 times (14.5 per game), but has completed only 26. Jackson does have four drops in that time, but those numbers suggest that he’s being force fed the ball because Glennon doesn’t have enough trusted receivers to target. However, one emerging bright spot in recent weeks has been rookie tight end Timothy Wright. Since Glennon took over at QB, he’s connected on 19 of 25 passes thrown in Wright’s direction for 195 yards and a TD. If Seattle’s pass defense has a weakness, it’s the shallow and intermediate area in the middle of the field. Wright has the ability to work that area, and he’ll need to continue to improve his chemistry with Glennon in order to help Tampa Bay move the ball.
Seattle’s pass rush has a chance to make a huge impact on this game, like they have in many others already. The Seahawks are loaded with pass rushers, as Michael Bennett, Chris Clemons, and Clinton McDonald all rank in the Top 5 at their positions in Pass Rushing Productivity. A host of other Seahawks rank in the Top 20 at their positions as well, and they have the depth to be able to keep everyone fresh throughout the game. For the Tampa Bay offensive line, tackles Donald Penn and Demar Dotson have held their own in pass protection this season, but pressure from the interior has been somewhat of an issue. When operating from a clean pocket this season, Glennon has completed 68.1% of his passes, averaged 6.7 yards per attempt, thrown five TDs to one INT, and achieved a QB Rating of 97.4. When pressured, those numbers drop to 41.5% completions, 3.4 yards per attempt, one TD, two INT, and a 43.3 QB Rating.
Of course, when facing Seattle you always have to worry about the Legion of Boom. To this point in the season, Earl Thomas has arguably patrolled the deep middle of the field better than any other safety in the league. QBs are just 9 of 16 for 50 yards with no TDs and four INTs when throwing into his coverage. That amounts to a 22.4 QB Rating when throwing at him. Richard Sherman remains one of our top graded cornerbacks, as both his overall grade (+8.7) and his coverage grade (+6.6) rank seventh-best among corners. Add the solid play of Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, and Walt Thurmond to the mix, and it gets difficult to find open receivers. Mike Glennon will need to be extra sharp and precise in order to move the ball consistently.
Buccaneers Running Game vs. Seahawks Defensive Interior
So far this season, Tampa Bay has not established much of a running game. Far too often they’ve gotten behind and had to abandon the run due to both playing catch-up and flat out ineffectiveness. Having been without Carl Nicks for much of the season, and now missing Doug Martin, it’s difficult to commit to the ground game. However, last week the Rams did a great job of establishing the run against Seattle, and they did so with a rookie who began the year third on the depth chart. Tampa Bay rookie Mike James has yet to accumulate many touches, but in the few he has had, he’s shown some good elusiveness and potential. The Bucs need him to break out this week.
The interior of Seattle’s defense features Brandon Mebane, whose +15.1 run defense grade ranks second in the league among defensive tackles. Mebane tends to get great push, clog lanes, and occupy blockers so that others can roam free. He does an excellent job of this, and he’ll be going against a Tampa Bay interior offensive line that has struggled this season. Additionally for Seattle, guys like Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald (whom I like to refer to as “the Big Mc’s”) have held their own, while Bobby Wagner has not been himself to this point. Wagner has battled a high ankle sprain, and he looks to rebound back to last year’s form.
Doug Baldwin’s increased role
Pete Carroll noted Thursday that Percy Harvin will not play here, which means Doug Baldwin should see an uptick in playing time and likely targets with Sidney Rice (torn ACL) out for the year. At 5-10 and 189-lbs, nobody will be mistaking Baldwin for Calvin Johnson. Still, all he seems to do is make the most of his opportunities. On the season, Baldwin has caught 23 of 30 targets without a single drop and he has graded positively as a run blocker. In fact, Baldwin’s +5.3 overall grade ranks 21st in league among wide receivers, and he’s only been on the field for 64.3% of the team’s plays. With Darrelle Revis likely to track Golden Tate, Baldwin will have a great opportunity to make an impact, and make a case for more involvement in the offense.
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