Tale Of The Tape: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThere are still plenty of issues for the Bucs at the quarterback position with Josh Freeman, but they are in quarterback heaven compared to the position the Jets find themselves in. Freeman has size, strength, athleticism and a big arm, but he is often troubled by a lack of consistency. That has to be maddening to head coach Greg Schiano.The Jets appear to be ready to move on from the disastrous regime of Mark Sanchez, who has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league in recent years. The problem is that rookie Geno Smith has not demonstrated the kind of accuracy or consistency that would be needed to make the Jets comfortable. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg supports Smith and believes he has the tools to be productive.
- OffenseThe Bucs discovered a legitimate ground game last year with hard-nosed Doug Martin. If he is ready to go against the Jets, he will take a lot of heat off of Freeman. Vincent Jackson is a dominating receiver who will test the Jets’ vulnerable secondary.The Jets’ quarterback troubles takes the focus off the rest of the offense, which is below average. Bilal Powell is not going to give them consistent production on the ground and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot) is not 100 percent. Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley are only going to get open occasionally and lack game-changing ability.
- DefenseThe Bucs made a huge move with the acquisition of Darelle Revis from the Jets during the offseason. He appears to be fully recovered from last year’s knee injury and he is anxious to get back on the field against his old team. Middle linebacker Mason Foster (105 tackles) is a steady performer who does not make a lot of mistakes.The Jets may be in a state of shock when they look across the field and see Revis in a Tampa Bay uniform, but that’s the new reality in MetLife Stadium. Inside linebacker David Harris will provide a steadying influence and consistent tackling. Strong safety Dawan Landry is disciplined, smart and a big hitter.
- Special TeamsThe Bucs picked up former Buffalo Bill Rian Lindell to take over at the PK position. Lindell made 21-of-24 FG attempts last season. Michael Koenen has a good leg as a punter – he averaged 45.3 yards per punt – but the Bucs struggled in coverage a year ago.The Jets will no longer have vociferous special teams coach Mike Westhoff to exhort special teams. Punter Robert Malone will have to show improvement after averaging a net of 38.5 yards last year. Nick Folk is ordinary as a kicker after making 21-of-27 FG attempts last year.
The Bucs are not yet a finished product, but they made progress under Greg Schiano last year and they are moving in the right direction. The same cannot be said of the Jets. They appear to be a mess and if they don’t shock the experts, this will be Rex Ryan’s last season leading Gang Green. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor