Here are the questions I sent to Josh Hill from the Pewter Plank and the responses he gave back:
1. What did you expect from VJ when he came to town and how has he met or exceeded expectations?
I expected everything I’ve gotten from his thus far. When he came to town he was supposed to be a deep threat that both performed at a high level and took pressure and coverage off of Mike Williams. Williams is having a career year thanks to VJax and, with the addition of Doug Martin, the running game has exploded thanks to the fact that Jackson is one of the main focuses of defenses on Sundays. I never expected Randy Moss type numbers, but the way he’s worked his way into the offense and helped it flow has really been great.
2. How do you slow down Doug Martin?
At this point, you have to blitz and hope Josh Freeman freaks out and doesn’t burn you. This offensive line is a patchwork line held together by scotch tape and mud. Davin Joseph is out, Carl Nicks is out and Donald Penn is a pillow as always. Martin’s had an amazing past few games but I know it’s going to stop as soon as the Bucs face a rough defensive front. The Chargers don’t strike fear into anyone with their line, but they’re not dumb guys and if they can work the Bucs suspect line, the NFL will see that Martin may be a great back but only against bad defenses or when he’s got his regular line working for him. Don’t get me wrong, Martin is the real deal but how he’s been torching defenses behind this line is beyond me and sooner than later someone’s going to figure it out.
3. How do you slow down the Tampa offense?
This sounds so hilarious to hear given how the last year has gone. Really the only way to slow down the Bucs defense is let it play itself out under above average pressure. Josh Freeman is still a bit timid under center when he’s constantly seeing blitz packages, and this offensive line isn’t going to keep giving Doug Martin insane holes to run through. If you can fluster Freeman, and get him to start thinking too fast, this offense is a boring, 30 second three-and-out offense. Tampa has had a few good weeks strung in a row, but I still need more consistent proof before I’d consider it explosive enough to have to worry about slowing down.
4. Where are the weak spots of the Tampa defense?
The secondary is a mess as it has been for a year now. Aqib Talib was overrated, Eric Wright is serviceable at best and E.J. Biggers ha more Bucs fans who hate him than love him. They cut loose Brandon McDonald and called up some practice squad guys to try out and Leonard Johnson, the only thing close to a rising star, is hurt. The secondary is just all over the place and if they face a good quarterback they’re going to get shredded. Heck, Carson Palmer went over 400 yards on them and almost brought the Raiders back to win the game last week all because of this secondary. From the game where Eli Manning threw for a million yards to Carson Palmer torching them, the secondary is clearly the weakest part of this defense.
5. If you could have one player from the Chargers to place in your roster, who would it be?
Either Quentin Jammer or Eric Weddle. Jammer because the Bucs desperately need a cornerback and Jammer has been pretty consistent his whole career. But if I’m picking for sheer epicness, I’m stealing Weddle. If you pair Mark Barron in the same secondary as Eric Weddle, and you run a defense with two hard hitting safeties who can also cover, that’s pretty hard to stop. Ronde Barber won’t be around forever and as good Barron is, if he can get a running mate at safety, this defense is going to get back to the John Lynch days of just being depressing to face.