|FOOTBALL Regular Season|
|Sept. 8||At Jets||
|Sept 15||Vs Saints||
|Sept 22||At Patriots||
|Sept 29||Vs Cardinals||
|Oct 13||Vs Eagles||
|Oct 20||At Falcons||
|Oct 24||Vs Panthers||
|Nov 3||At Seahawks||
L 24-27 OT
|Nov 11||Vs Dolphins||
|Nov 17||Vs Falcons||
|Nov 24||At Lions||
|Dec 1||At Panthers||
|Dec 8||Vs Bills||
|Dec 15||Vs 49ers||
|Dec 22||At Rams||
|Dec 29||At Saints||
By Tom Krasniqi
Over the last month or so, the Bucs have turned their play around. In particular, the defense is starting to make plays to close games out. As a result, the Bucs have won 4 of their last 5 and they’re feeling good about themselves.
The Bucs have beaten two teams with a winning record—the 7-6 Lions and the 7-6 Dolphins. Solid teams for sure, but not elite. On Sunday, the Bucs get a crack at one of the better teams in the league—the 9-4 San Francisco 49ers come to Raymond James Stadium for the final home game of the season.
If you want other teams in the league to step up and take notice, a win over the Niners would certainly grab headlines. Head coach Greg Schiano knows it will be a physical game.
“They’re a run-first team. How do you cover big chunks of yardage? Throwing the ball, right? They will grind it out,” Schiano said. “They enjoy bullying you up and down the field. That’s part of their shtick, so we’ve got to match it hit-for-hit, play-for-play and kind of what we like to see ourselves as. I think it’ll be an exciting game.”
The Niners are riding a 3-game winning streak and they are indeed a smash-mouth football team. They’re 6th in the NFL in rushing offense (133 rushing yards per game). Running back Frank Gore is nearing another 1,000 yard season and quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a big guy who can run and throw. Since 2011, the 49ers are 11-0 when Gore rushes for 100 yards. The Bucs must contain the run game in order to have a shot. The Bucs rush defense has been very good. Last week, they held the Bills to 67 yards rushing. For the season, the Bucs are 8th in the NFL in stopping the run.
Defensively, the 49ers are about as good as there is. They haven’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Their passing defense also ranks 4th overall as they give up an average of 204 passing yards per contest. To sum it up, the Niners are an elite team.
No one in the Bucs locker room is buying into the idea of a “signature win”, but there are some who believe a win on Sunday would be a major accomplishment. A win would also be damaging to San Francisco’s playoff hopes. Right now, the Niners have the 6th seed in the NFC, just one game up on 8-5 Arizona and two ahead of Dallas and Chicago.
“A win is a win. I don’t really look into a signature win. I mean it would be special if we win because they’re one of the top teams in the NFL, but at the same time a win is a win,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “We’ve got 16 weeks to perform and try and get to the playoffs. I just look at every game – win or a loss, you move on and prepare for the next week. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers, they’re defending their NFC Championship and they’re one of the top teams in the league, they’ve got a lot of talent and we’re looking forward to it.”
As far as the Friday injury report for the Bucs, Schiano said every player on the injury report practiced in full, and that means WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring). Jackson is probable and should be good to go. The full practice list includes C Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder), DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee), RG Davin Joseph (shoulder), DE William Gholston (head), DT Gary Gibson (calf), LB LaVonte David (back) and DT Akeem Spence (wrist). LG Carl Nicks (foot) didn’t practice.
News & Notes:
By Tom Krasniqi
Anytime you go against your former team, it’s not just any other game. Last week, Bucs kicker Rian Lindell admitted it was a strange feeling when he faced the Bills. This week, Bucs safety Dashon Goldson is going through those same emotions.
For six years, Goldson roamed the San Francisco 49ers secondary and became one of the premier safeties in the NFL. Along the way, he was a two-time Pro Bowler and was named an All-Pro in 2012.
When free agency came after last season, the Niners let Goldson walk. The Bucs were more than happy to sign him as they made the man they call “The Hawk” the highest paid safety in the game to the tune of 5 years and $41.25 million with $22 million in guaranteed money. Head coach Greg Schiano believes it was money well spent.
“In my opinion, he’s definitely worth the investment,’’ Schiano said after Thursday’s practice. “Yeah, I’d do it over again in a heartbeat.’’
While some say Goldson hasn’t been living up to the contract thus far, Schiano points to the intangibles that Goldson brings to the table—namely his leadership abilities. When Goldson talks, other players listen. Even star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“When I used to play for the Jets and he played for the 49ers, you hear about guys around the league and he was a guy I always paid attention to,” Revis said on Thursday when asked about Goldson. Revis says the biggest trait Goldson brought to the Bucs was his leadership.
On Sunday, Goldson gets to face his former team for the first time since leaving as a free agent. Goldson says he has no regrets about leaving San Francisco for Tampa Bay.
“I don’t regret my decision to come here at all. I think I’m in a great place,” Goldson told reporters on Thursday. “I’m happy to be here.”
Bucs coaches and players have been picking Goldson’s brain all week for insight into his former club. That intel has proven to be valuable.
“He’s been giving us everything,” Revis said. “He’s been spilling the beans. We definitely appreciate that. We want to get his win for Dashon.”
As for the emotional aspect of it, this won’t be just another game for Goldson. What kind of feelings will he have on Sunday?
“I'm trying to keep my composure. I know there's a lot behind everybody asking me about being there, but I'm just looking at it as another football game,” Goldson said. “I understand that's where I spent the last six years, but it's just another team that we've got to play, at the end of the day, and that's the way I'm trying to keep it."
As far as the Thursday injury report for the Bucs, Schiano said that WR Vincent Jackson (hamstring), C Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) and DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee) were limited. The rest of the bunch turned in full practices—RG Davin Joseph (shoulder), DE William Gholston (head), DT Gary Gibson (calf), LB LaVonte David (back) and DT Akeem Spence (wrist). LG Carl Nicks (foot) didn’t practice.
News & Notes:
By Dory LeBlanc
The Bucs had their first full-day work out in preparation for their final game at Raymond James Stadium this Sunday when they host the San Francisco 49ers.
Click below for the audio, including press conferences and conference calls with San Francisco personnel.
49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
By Tom Krasniqi
Over the last two games, Bucs rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has hit a speed bump. Glennon has completed just 50% of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Despite the bad numbers, head coach Greg Schiano is still a believer in Glennon.
"I think he's progressing," Schiano said after Wednesday's practice. "I think he's understanding things better and better. We're playing better defenses each week-- better pass rush. So it's become more of a challenge for a rookie quarterback, without a doubt. I'm pleased with his progress and we just have to keep moving him on that trajectory."
Glennon passed for just 90 yards on just 9 of 25 completions against the Bills. The Bucs amassed just 28 yards of offense in the second half. Schiano attributes the low completion percentage to more downfield passes.
"We've taken some more down the field throws which obviously the percentage is going to be less," Schiano said. "We've had some more pressure. I think one of the things you look at is not taking any sacks."
Glennon was sacked just once by Buffalo last week. Schiano says the rookie has faced two good defenses the last two weeks. Schiano told Glennon to take the day off on Tuesday just to get away from it.
"It felt a little weird," Glennon said about his off day. Glennon said not having to set his alarm clock was a nice change of pace.
If Glennon thought the Bills had a good defense, he hasn't seen anything yet. The 9-4 Niners come to town on Sunday in front of a sold out Raymond James Stadium. San Francisco has won 3 straight and have held their opponents to an average of 12 points per game over that span.
"We know that we're going against a tough defense," Glennon said of the 49ers defense. "We have to keep grinding away and stay patient."
Despite his recent struggles, the Bucs coaching staff still believes in the rookie signal caller.
"At the end of the day, I think the arrow continues to go up with him with what we've seen out on the practice field and what we've seen him do in some games," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said on Wednesday. "I think that has helped him mature-- the fact that there's been some tough sledding."
The going has been rough lately. We'll see if Glennon can bounce back against a terrific Niners defense.