Falcons See Explosive Bennett on Videotape

Michael Bennett racked up his seventh sack of the season last Sunday in Carolina, giving him the Buccaneers’ lead in that category by more than double the next player.  According to a chart we’ve referenced several times on the excellent FootballOutsiders site, Bennett is also one of the hardest defensive ends to run on in the NFL.  (The chart lists Tampa Bay as the top defense in running plays aimed at left end, where Bennett takes the vast majority of the snaps.)

The Atlanta Falcons, who will be visiting Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, have spent much of this week watching videotape on the Buccaneers.  What they’ve seen of Bennett matches up nicely with what the above status would suggest. Continue reading

Te’o-Nesheim Has “Passion” to Help the Team

Daniel Te’o-Nesheim will have something specific to be thankful for on Thursday, an anniversary that has led to a second chance in his NFL career.

It was November 22 of last year when Te’o-Nesheim was signed directly off Philadelphia’s practice squad to the Buccaneers’ active roster.  He would go on to play in just one game over the next six weeks, and thus it wasn’t a roster move that many Buc fans likely gave much thought as the disappointing 2011 season was coming to an end.  Tampa Bay made a rather large amount of moves on its defensive line in the second half of that season, thanks to a rash of injuries, and most of the other newcomers proved to be short-time Buccaneers.

However, not only has Te’o-Nesheim stuck around, but he has emerged as a rather valuable asset on the Buccaneers’ defense, something the Eagles might have envisioned for themselves when they drafted him in the third round in 2010.  Continue reading

Gaitor Gets Good Start on His Return

Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan watched Anthony Gaitor practice for the first time since August on Wednesday and thought the second-year cornerback picked up right where he left off.

“He seemed fine,” said Sheridan.  “He reminded me of what he looked like in camp before he got nicked up. I think he will be fine.”

If Sheridan’s words seem more matter-of-fact than gushing, they still are a very good sign.  That’s because Gaitor was indeed playing very well before he suffered the hamstring injury that has cost him roughly three months of action. Continue reading

Bowers Workload, Production Increasing Steadily

The Buccaneers could finish the 2012 regular season with their first 10-sack player since Simeon Rice in 2005.  Starting left end Michael Bennett got his seventh QB takedown of the season in Sunday’s road win over the Panthers, and thus has six remaining games to get three more and break into double digits for the first time in his career.

Tampa Bay actually had two sacks in Sunday’s game (not to mention quite a few other plays on which it put Carolina QB Cam Newton under duress).  The other one belonged to second-year defensive end Da’Quan Bowers.  Bowers is not a good bet to get to 10 sacks this season – barring an unreasonably hot streak over the next six weeks – but there’s a very good reason for that.  He only started playing at midseason. Continue reading

Tails Never Fails

As you’ve probably heard, Sunday’s game in Charlotte marked the first in the Buccaneers’ 37-season history that they have won an overtime game with a touchdown.  Doug Martin, Josh Freeman and Dallas Clark were the main heroes on the final march, but there were actually two other factors that were to the Bucs’ getting that first OT TD:

1. The NFL’s new overtime rules, and;

2. The Carolina Panthers’ logo.

Allow us to explain.

Continue reading

Unsung Hero: Adam Hayward

It’s “Unsung Hero Week” here in the Captain’s Blog, and already we’ve shined a little light on an under-the-radar lead-blocker, an unselfish lineman holding a battered group together and a specialist who is one of the best field-position weapons in the NFL.  Now we turn our attention to a player who may not be able to stay “unsung for long.

Adam Hayward has given the Buccaneers five-and-a-half years of yeoman’s work, and has become so valued that he is a 2012 team captain.  Because of what he brings to the team, however, Hayward doesn’t have the national profile of some of his teammates.  He is an extremely valuable special teams asset, both for what he contributes himself and how he helps the largely young cast around him each year, and he solves about a million depth issues on the defense all by himself. Continue reading

‘Battling’ O-Line Produces Impressive Streak

The Carolina Panthers have the highest-rated pass rush (in terms of sacks per pass play) that the Buccaneers have faced this season.  And, sure enough, in their Week One meeting, Carolina was able to sack Josh Freeman as many times as he’s been dropped in a game all season.

Twice.

That’s right: Nine games into the 2012 season, the Buccaneers have not allowed Freeman to take more than two sacks in any game yet.  Specifically, he has been sacked twice in four of the games and just once in five of them, including each of the last three. Continue reading

McCoy Doesn’t Need Numbers to Dominate

View the numbers in a vacuum, and it would seem as if Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has barely contributed to his team’s impressive three-game winning streak.  In victories over Minnesota, Oakland and San Diego, McCoy recorded exactly one solo tackle, two tackle assists and one pass defensed.  DE Da’Quan Bowers, just off the PUP list and playing a limited role at this point, has three tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and two quarterback hits in the same span.

Fortunately, McCoy is not judged by the numbers alone, at least not by the people who decide where and when he plays, and the people who determine how well he did so at the end of the game.  According to Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano, McCoy has been indispensable in his team’s rise into playoff contention.

“I think it’s more than just if I’m happy with [McCoy's production], it’s if it helps us win,” said Schiano. “That really is the ultimate goal. I think he can see how what he does helps us play better defense. We aren’t anywhere where we want to be but without Gerald we wouldn’t be where we are.” Continue reading

Bucs Finish Strong Again

The Buccaneers started the second half of their suddenly very intriguing 2012 season with a dominant second half of action against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Trailing 21-17 at halftime and having surrendered 254 yards and three sustained scoring drives, the Buccaneers came out after the break and controlled the final 30 minutes of football.

They finished, in other words, and that’s a significant step forward from the season’s first quarter, in which the Bucs went 1-3.  Tampa Bay has won four of its last five to move solidly back into the NFC playoff hunt, and they have consistently found ways to put their opponents away in the end.

“Confidence and sticking to our training, that’s what it’s about,” said WR Vincent Jackson after the Bucs finished off a 34-24 win over his former team. Continue reading

Military Family Helped Jackson Learn to Adapt

Vincent Jackson arrived in Tampa in March, quickly scoped out what was expected of him and what he needed to do to meet those expectations, then simply went to work.  It’s a process he’s been through before, even though this was the first time had switched NFL teams.

You see, Jackson was a self-described “military brat” as a child, and he is thus well-practiced at adapting to a new home and a new environment.  With two parents in the U.S. Army, he was born in Louisiana, spent a year in Arizona, lived in Germany for three years and spent his his teenage days in Colorado before heading off to college at Northern Colorado.

“I was used to moving around, having to be the new kid in school, things like that,” said Jackson.  “So coming here I knew what to do – just keep quiet, do your job, go about your business the right way and you earn the respect through your actions.  Continue reading