By Kevin McGuire
For the second straight week the Philadelphia Eagles will visit a team looking desperately for their first win of the 2013 season. After turning aside the New York Giants, the Eagles head to Tampa Bay to take on a Buccaneers team that has already parted ways with their starting quarterback and sees a head coach on a hot seat as hot as any in the league.
So who exactly are these Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
The season started on a low note for Tampa Bay, with a poorly timed penalty allowing the New York Jets to steal a victory out of nowhere in Week 1. The following week the Bucs did everything they needed to do on defense against New Orleans but still wound up on the wrong side of a close battle. A 20-point road loss the next week at New England was then followed by a tough loss at home against Arizona. New England game aside, Tampa Bay has lost three games by a combined total of six points. Anyway you look at it, Tampa Bay is off to a 0-4 start coming off a bye week to prepare for the Eagles.
Philadelphia owns the all-time series lead at 7-5, including a 2-2 split in the postseason. The Eagles have won two straight meetings with wins in 2009 and 2012.
Bucs on Offense
Tampa Bay owns one of the worst offenses in the NFL entering the week. The Bucs are ranked 30th in overall offense and ranked dead last in the league in passing. The quarterback situation has been closely scrutinized as the relationship between former starter Josh Freeman and head coach Greg Schiano deteriorated out of control. Freeman was recently released by the team and has already signed with Minnesota, while the Bucs will continue to move forward this season with rookie Mike Glennon out of North Carolina State.
Doug Martin is leading the team in rushing with 342 yards and has the team’s only rushing touchdown of the season.
Bucs on Defense
The strength of the Bucs is clearly their defense. Overall Tampa Bay is ranked 12th in the NFL in defense and eighth against the run allowing just 94.2 yards per game. The defense has five interceptions this season but has forced just three fumbles. The Eagles should be pretty dependable holding on to the football if the win over the Giants was any indication. Tampa Bay is also struggling to bring pressure on opposing quarterbacks, with just 9.0 sacks in four games and they have just 17 pass deflections, third fewest in the league.
Bucs Players to Watch
Mike Glennon, Quarterback: Rookie Mike Glennon will make another start for the struggling Bucs. What to watch will be how Glennon comes out leading the offense out of a bye week. With only one game under his belt, with a touchdown and two interceptions, Glennon could easily be rattled if the Eagles can get in his face and force him to move in to uncomfortable situations.
Darrelle Revis, Cornerback: Once considered one of the game’s top defensive backs, Darrelle Revis has not quite lived up to the hype that surrounded him not so long ago. He can still cause problems though, with one interception this season. The Eagles should try to attack him sparingly but not be afraid of him. If the Eagles can find some success against him early on, he could become less of a factor pretty quickly.
The Giants may have been the worst team the Eagles have faced this season, but the Bucs are almost as much of a mess right now. Schiano is likely to be looking for a new job at the end of the season unless he can pull a miracle this season. If the Eagles can drop the Bucs to 0-5, the chances of that happening are not good at all. The Bucs do play some close games but they have yet to prove they can win a tight game. This is probably not a game the Eagles want to have lingering in the fourth quarter, but they should have the upper hand if it comes down to needing one more score.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.