Tampa Bay Bucs
8.30.02 | 7pm
August 29, 2002
Texans Try to Buc Losing Trend
by Jimmy Mohr
The Texans wrap up their preseason play this Friday when they entertain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Reliant Stadium. Last week’s performance against the Dolphins was a definitive step backwards for the team. The offense failed to score a touchdown for the second week in a row, and the defense had no clue as to how to stop the Miami running game. The situation does not improve this week with the Buccaneers in town. The Tampa Bay defense ranked sixth last season, one spot behind the Dolphins and have averaged 4.3 yards a carry on offense.
Last week, against the Washington Redskins, the Bucs turned the ball over seven times en route to a 40-10 flogging. The forty points are deceiving in that the Redskin defense scored fourteen points on fumble and interception returns. In the two games prior to last week, the Bucs defense surrendered ten points combined. The Texans’ offense will have trouble scoring their first touchdown in three weeks.
First year Head Coach John Gruden replaced Tony Dungy to improve Tampa’s floundering offense. With a stout defense already in place, the Bucs are expected to challenge for the Lombardi Trophy, assuming can Gruden can make this offense better. Big if.
When the Texans have the ball…
Expect more of the same. There has been a huge emphasis on the running game in the preseason so far. James Allen and Jonathan Wells are vying for the starting job, and this is their last week to make their case. The offensive line is once again short Tony Boselli and Ryan Young, and now Steve McKinney will be held out to nurse a calf muscle. Earl Campbell would have trouble gaining yards with the guys left blocking for him. The lack of a running game is pressuring David Carr into too many third-and-long situations, allowing opposing defenses to tee off on him. Carr better have Warren Sapp on his radar or trainers may have to peel him off the turf.
When the Buccaneers have the ball…
Expect to see a stream of running backs barreling towards (through?) the Texans’ front seven. With the departure of Warrick Dunn to the Atlanta Falcons, veteran Mike Alstott and rookie Travis Stephens will have to provide most of the punch for the Bucs. The QB position is still unsettled; Brad Johnson is the starter and Shaun King and Rob Johnson are battling for the second string slot. Coach Gruden believes any of the three are capable of starting, so look for regular season intensity out of the QB’s.
Granted, kicker Kris Brown was brought in to kick field goal, but this is ridiculous. Can the Texans please score at least one touchdown this week? Two would warrant a downtown parade. After last week’s performance, David Carr could use a Jim Petersen confidence booster. What better way than with a touchdown pass?
2. Yards per carry
The Texans averaged 2.2 yards per carry last week. That kind of paltry production result in too many third-and-long’s, which further leads to turnovers and sacks. James Allen was brought in to be the featured back in Chris Palmer‘s offense, but Jonathan Wells has outplayed him. This week is the last chance for Allen to prove that the Texans were justified in signing him.
3. Field position
Both the Texan and Buccaneer offenses struggled last week. This week, the field position battle could prove to be the deciding factor. The Texans finally settled on Chad Stanley as their punter, who had been the most consistent in camp. With Stanley punting full time, Coach Capers expects to see an improvement with the special teams unit.
Texans WR’s v. dropped balls
Starters Corey Bradford and Jermaine Lewis have been plagued by dropped balls the past two games. No matter how fast these receivers are, if they don’t catch the ball, their speed is meaningless. Rookie David Carr cannot afford to have his quality pass attempts tumble to the ground. It is time for the receiving corps to step up and become an asset, not an additional liability.
Warren Sapp v. Fred Weary & Jimmy Herndon
Sapp has got to be licking his chops this week. With the Texans O-line decimated by injuries, it’s anyone’s guess how many times Carr will have Sapp in his hip pocket. Weary and Herndon will have to kick it up a notch to give Carr time to throw.
Texan fans v. traffic jams
Last Saturday, fans waited for hours attempting to park. This week’s game is on Friday night, during the tail end of rush hour. The Texans starters will play only the first quarter before making way for the backups. If you’re going, hopefully you like Tony Banks and Kent Graham a lot because if you’re late, even by a little bit, you’ll likely miss Carr and the starters.
HoustonProFootball.com’s hard working… working staff weigh in with their predictions for this week’s game.
Bob: At least we didn’t squander two #1’s to get a coach; starters likely play little, Banks gets fans hopes up with TD pass. Bucs 20, Texans 10
Dave: It’s the battle of guys who won’t see Week 1. Bucs 27, Texans 13
Jimmy: The Texans finally score a touchdown, but the Bucs score three. Bucs 24, Texans 10
Keith: Texans buc trend, offering glimmer of hope for Sept. 8th showdown
Texans 17, Bucs 16
Ric: It’s the last preseason game, meaning the traffic jam outside the stadium will likely be more enjoyable. Bucs 14, Texans 6
Warren: Johnson, King and the Bucs’ reserves trump Banks, Graham and the Texans’ collection of prosepcts and stopgaps. Bucs 16, Texans 9 TEXANS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 61 32 383 1/3 TEAM 116 62 668 2/6 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 41 158 3.7 1 TEAM 113 307 2.7 1 REC NO YDS AVG TD Lewis 7 100 14.3 0 TEAM 62 668 10.7 2 BUCCANEERS PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/INT BJohnson 31 17 195 1/2 TEAM 93 54 456 4/4 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Stephens 31 147 4.7 0 TEAM 75 319 4.3 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Dilger 5 104 20.8 0 TEAM 54 456 8.4 4 PRESEASON 8.05 GIANTS 17-34 8.10 @ Saints 13-10 8.17 @Chiefs 9-19 8.24 DOLPHINS 3-24 8.30 BUCCANEERS 13-17 REGULAR SEASON 9.08 COWBOYS 19-10 9.15 @ Chargers 3-24 9.22
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review