October 21, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) huddles up with the offensive against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Now that the Chargers have completed the first half of the season, I figured this would be a good time to look ahead and see what the third quarter of the year looks like for the team. The next four games will most likely decide our season. They will also give the team a chance to show that they can perform against a higher level of competition. The Chargers will be tested and must prove that they can play a complete game for all four quarters.
Our next game is on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The defense will have the task of covering former Bolt Vincent Jackson.
Jackson is up to his old tricks and averaging 21.6 yards a catch while snagging 5 touchdowns with his new team. It goes without saying that the secondary will have their hands full with VJax.
Despite Jackson’s impact on the Bucs’ offense, I am even more concerned with the presence of rookie running back Doug Martin. The first year running back had a coming out party of sorts against the Minnesota Vikings last week. Martin racked up 214 total yards. He also had a run of 41 yards coupled with a 64 yard screen pass that he took to the house for his second touchdown of the game. Martin is a gamebreaker and will definitely provide a tough test for the defense.
One more note about the offense of Tampa Bay. Josh Freeman is having a pretty good year of his own. Freeman boasts a 93.3 quarterback rating while throwing for 14 touchdowns. Freeman has done a good job of distributing the rock amongst the likes of Jackson, Mike Williams, and Martin.
The key to stopping Tampa Bay is forcing the team into obvious passing situations by containing Martin in the running game. If the defense is able to do that and pressure Freeman, the Chargers will be able to rely on the Bolts’ offense to build a lead and hopefully keep it until the clock reads zeros.
On defense the Bucs are rather young with the exception of 146 year old Ronde Barber. Barber helped invent the game of football…. ok, enough joking.
The young trio of Mason Foster, Lavonte David, and Mark Barron pace the team in tackles by ranking one through three respectively. Both David and Barron are rookies.
The player to watch on the Tampa’s defense is the unheralded Michael Bennett. Bennett has five sacks and three forced fumbles in seven games. The defensive line of the Bucs is pretty solid and keeping them out of the backfield will be a chore for the Chargers’ offensive line.
Tampa Bay’s secondary has taken two interceptions back to the house for six. Both Eric Wright and Ronde “Father time” Barber have one a piece. I expect Rivers to have a strong performance against the Bucs’ defensive backs.
If the Chargers were to string together back to back wins going into the Denver game, the team would be riding the ever so important momentum needed in a rematch with Peyton and company.
Stay tuned for parts 2-4 previewing the following games: @Denver, vs. Baltimore, and vs. Cincinnati. The other three portions of the prevew will be out tomorrow.
Thanks a lot for reading.