As you can read in the “Enemy Lines” feature on Buccaneers.com today, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has respect for the Buccaneers’ 2012 defense despite having had nothing but success against Tampa Bay in the past. Clearly, the feeling is mutual.
Already this season Tampa Bay has faced the NFL’s young run-pass dual-threat nightmare in Cam Newton and Super Bowl-winning pocket passer Eli Manning, with mixed results. Week Three takes the Bucs to Dallas and confronts them with yet another type of QB challenge. In this case, say the Buccaneer defenders, the key is keeping Romo in the pocket.
“We have to keep him in the pocket,” said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “I don’t believe he likes to sit in the pocket because he’s not that tall of a quarterback. But he’s so elusive. He’s got eyes in the back of his head, the side, everything. He knows how to step, slide to the side, see what he wants to do and make the pass. He’s one of the most accurate guys on the run that we have in this league.”
Added cornerback Eric Wright: “They have a high-powered offense and Tony Romo does a good job of extending plays and he makes a lot of explosive plays, not only with his feet but obviously throwing the ball downfield.”
Of course, containing Romo is easier said than done. He is indeed known for making huge gains after the initial play has broken down and he has bought time for his receivers to find gaps in the defense. He’s obviously succeeded in that regard, givenhis 96.9 career passer rating and his 153-74 TD-INT ratio. McCoy feels for his teammates like Wright in the secondary because he knows their job gets infinitely tougher if the front-line defenders do not succeed in keeping Romo under wraps.
“It’s not easy taking one person with 4.3 speed, giving him all this space and then saying [to the cornerback], ‘Hey, I want you to run wherever he runs and make sure this ball doesn’t get to him,’” said McCoy. “That’s not easy, and we’ve got to take it upon ourselves up front to make sure that if that is the case we’ve got to do a better job of making the quarterback uncomfortable and making him make a bad throw. The guy we’re facing this week – people say he does well in the pocket. I don’t believe that. I’m not saying he’s not a good pocket guy. I believe he steps up and then finds his way out, then makes the play. If we don’t contain this guy, he can kill us.”