Week 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackAfter a miserable 2011 season, athletic Josh Freeman has given an indication that 2012 will be a bounce-back year for him. He has made several good throws and he led the Bucs to a win over the Panthers in the opener and nearly got it done in Week Two against the Giants. He has a strong arm but may not be as instinctive as you would like.Tony Romo is under pressure. There was some talk last week that the Cowboys were working on a contract extension for him after the Week One win over the Giants, but he is still an up-and-down quarterback who lacks consistency.
- OffenseGive credit to Greg Schiano for making good use of the Bucs’ somewhat limited talent. The Bucs have a credible ground game with Doug Martin running the ball and Vincent Jackson is a big-play receiver.The passing game was firing on all cylinders in the opener against the Giants, but the Cowboys were ineffective against the Seahawks. Dez Bryant is the top Dallas big-play threat, but they also depend on tight end Jason Witten to make key plays.
- DefenseThe Bucs did a good job containing explosive Cam Newton in Week One, but after frustrating Eli Manning for a half the secondary fell apart against the Giants. Greg Schiano has to make sure that this defensive generosity doesn’t become a trend.The Cowboys should be one of the best defensive teams in the league, but rookie quarterback Russell Wilson got the best of them in Week Two and the Seahawks’ running game pierced them as Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and a touchdown.
- Special TeamsPlacekicker Conner Barth has a strong enough leg but it’s his accuracy that makes him a valuable asset to the Bucs. Punter Michael Koenen is a dependable fourth-down weapon and he can also boom the ball on kickoffs for the Bucs.Felix Jones did not break any big returns against the Seahawks but he is capable of giving them a lift as a kickoff returner. Punter Chris Jones has shown some proficiency at dropping kicks inside the 20.
The Cowboys pulled off a major surprise when they beat the Giants in Week One on the road and then laid an egg against Seattle. They have struggled to find consistency and this year appears no different from any recent season. The Bucs are playing hard for Greg Schiano, but his end-of-game shenanigans against the Giants when they were taking a knee may get them labeled as a dirty team.