The Buccaneers’ pass defense surrendered a big day to Eli Manning and the Giants last week. The Dallas Cowboys offense ranks sixth in the league in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards and has had a 72-42 ratio in play-calling in favor of the pass so far.
So, yes, the Buccaneers expect Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to turn QB Tony Romo loose on Sunday in Dallas.
“Oh I would think so, yeah,” said Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano. “They’re a run-pass mix anyway but they’re not afraid to throw the ball. Until we stop it why wouldn’t they?”
Indeed. Of course, Schiano and his crew believe they will be able to stop the Cowboys from getting anywhere near the Giants’ numbers. And, in fact, the members of the Bucs’ secondary are not-so-secretly hoping Romo does try to test them. From their point of view, it’s a good thing that last week’s game tape is probably going to lead to more of an aerial assault from the Cowboys.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to get a lot of picks, that’s how I look at it,” said cornerback Aqib Talib, who had 17 interceptions through 54 games in his first four NFL seasons. “If I can get eight plays a game I like myself to do better in the weeks ahead. You don’t want to go out there thinking that you’re not going to get any action this week. I want to go out there, guard whoever and get all the action.”
There are plenty of serious challenges Talib could face on Sunday, from Miles Austin to Dez Bryant to Kevin Ogletree, a wide receiver trio that has already combined for 25 catches, 378 yards and four touchdowns. For rookie safety Mark Barron, the main task may be veteran tight end Jason Witten, who has six catches so far and usually ends the season somewhere around 80.
“They’re probably going to be looking to come in and get the passing game established early,” said Barron. “So we’re looking forward to that challenge. I look forward to covering whoever the coaching staff wants me to cover. Any time a team feels like it can come in and pass on us, that’s an opportunity for us to make plays and show that’s not going to happen. So we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Schiano has really drilled into his players the importance of treating each week like a whole new season and quickly moving on from one game to the next. Fortunately, that is particularly easy for defensive backs, whose job description makes the occasional win for the other side almost inevitable.
“You’re dealing with a position where naturally the guys have a lot of confidence,” said Wright, who had 60-yard pick-six against the Giants. “We just go out there and get geared up, get ready for practice, try to clean some things up and take it like any other day. We work hard every day at practice, so we’ll get things corrected, get things cleaned up and go out there and play.”