The Talking Plank – Week 16

Published: December 23rd, 2006
By Buccaneer Harbour
The Talking Plank - Week 16: At Cleveland

Woof. Yeah, right. Well, needless to say the dog pound ain't quite what it used to be, and the Bucs are getting some gratuitous weather heading in, as the high will be 46 degrees. Almost unheard of for this time of year. With both teams playing out the string, what can we look forward to seeing in this game? The Browns have 14 players on the injury report and look like they will be fielding a M*A*S*H unit.

On Offense, the Bucs will be starting Tim Rattay at QB, but will be without Caddy. Nevertheless, the Bucs are facing one of the worst defenses in the league. The Browns are ranked 31st overall, 29th against the run and 17th versus the pass. They've notched just 24 sacks this season, and Ted Washington may not play. If he does, he'll likely be hampered by his knee. Andra Davis, one of their inside LB's (they run a 3-4) is out, and McGinest has a pectoral injury, so that may limit his ability to tackle. With the Bucs likely to give the Browns a heavy dose of Alstott and Pittman, the Bucs should be able to establish the run on the Browns, and let Rattay take advantage of the Browns' secondary, which will be without starting LCB Bodden. The guys remaining are young guys who likely haven't seen an offense as complex as Gruden's. If the Bucs get the ground game going, it should be easy pickings in the secondary if Rattay has anywhere near the type of performance he had against the Bears. The Bucs' offensive line is giving up a sack on every 16.6 pass attempts, which is 12 best in the league, with the Browns getting a sack once every 19 pass attempts. That means that Rattay should have time to throw, and that should result in quite a few points, so long as he watches out for Sean Jones who has 5 picks and 11 passes defensed.

On Defense, the Bucs will be facing a Browns team that has given up 50 sacks (1 every 9 pass attempts) and is 29th ranked overall. The big difference between the two teams' offenses is one has a lot of talent at the skill positions but was being held back by a rookie, while the other one just lacks talent. The Browns have Jurevicius and Edwards starting at receiver, making a solid combo, but nothing spectacular (Jurevicius may not play has he's been suffering from a concussion). They have Droughns at tailback who's averaging a whopping 3.2 yards per carry. They also of Winslow at tight end, and they will likely try to use him like the Bears, but I have a feeling that Monte plans to throw some wrinkles in to stop the tight end and try to get heat on the passer, who will be QB Derek Anderson, a second year player with just 2 starts under his belt. I expect the Bucs to take full advantage of the Browns' offensive line and force them to either keep Winslow in to block, or watch Anderson get pounded. Andruzzi, the left guard, is dealing with a knee injury, while our buddy Cosey Coleman is dealing with a toe injury. Neither guy is likely to be a force in the running game or anything more than a speed bump in pass pro. If either is out, both of the guard backups are rookies. Cleveland is also a mess at the RT spot. So, if the Bucs can't get the heat on against this line, they might as well just pack it up and run home to their mommies for the holidays. I expect the Bucs' defense, which took a step back last week after getting up to the 16th spot on defense (they are back down to 23rd), to really step it up this week. I think the Browns will have a hard time sustaining drives and will likely have to rely on deep plays against our secondary for any chance of success.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will be facing a team with solid punt and kick returners, but the coverage teams have been pretty damn good all year, and I expect that to continue. Both punters are in the same league, but the Bucs appear to have a slightly better kicker. Special teams will be huge, in that the Bucs need to make sure that the Browns don't get good field position or cheap points off returns. If they can hold the Browns return teams down, then the defense should be able to come in and stuff that offense. Overall, I look for us to have an ever so slight edge in this area of play, but a slip up could turn this around.

For once this season, the Bucs will be facing a team that is not anywhere near as talented as them. However, the Browns have won one more game than the Bucs, which means they aren't rolling over and they play hard every game. If the offense comes out playing like it did during the second half of last week's game, then this won't be a contest. Anything else and it could be a struggle. I'm hopeful that Rattay comes out and chews that bad Browns defense apart, and the Bucs pick up their 4th win.

Bucs 27 Browns 17