|This week's Cheerleader of the Week comes from our playoff opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.|
Big Blue View: The Buccaneers rested guys for the most part and lost their last two games. Do you worry at all that the team won't be sharp when the game starts on Sunday?
Buc 'Em: As soon as I start to worry, I remember that we have veterans in QB Jeff Garcia and WR Joey Galloway; a mature RB beyond his years in Earnest Graham and nothing but experience on the defensive side of the ball that knows when to get up for a game. Just for argument's sake, I believe Gruden would have played his guys had injuries not been a major concern for this ball club (we have something crazy like 13 guys on IR).
BBV: Tampa Bay is first in the league in pass defense, giving up just 170.5 yards per game. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is the Giants go-to playmaker. How will the Buccaneers defend him?
Buc 'Em: In order to eliminate huge chunks of yardage going to receivers like Plaxico, the front four must pressure QB Eli Manning. CB Brian Kelly has to stay on the field and blanket Plaxico, staying healthy has been an issue. Like any receiver who likes his space, Kelly will have to crowd that space and disrupt Plax's routes. It will be unfortunate for the Giants if Manning has to throw off his heels, with human interceptors like Cato June and Ronde Barber roaming the field, looking for balls to snatch out of the air.
BBV: What is the Buccaneers' biggest strength? Conversely, what is their biggest weakness?
Buc 'Em: Our biggest strength is obviously the defense and its ability to disrupt opposing offenses. The defense isn't quite circa '01 Buccaneer Defenses, but it's getting there, which is a great thing.
Our biggest weakness tends to be a lack of focus which eventually turns into complacency. At times we'll have a good drive going and for whatever reason, the Center-Quarterback exchange will get muffed or an offensive lineman will get called for a false start. Receivers start to drop balls and once this team gets down by a score or two, complacency starts to set in. It happened against the Seahawks and against the Colts (who didn't even dress Marvin Harrison, Bob Sanders, or Joseph Addai). It's frustrating as a fan, because you know it's something that won't be fixed over the course of the game, its embedded in the players' minds. It could get ugly quick if we fall behind early on.
BBV: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster and put him in Tampa Bay's lineup who would it be? Why?
Buc 'Em: This is an easy one, I would take Mr. Plaxico Burress. WR Joey Galloway is our ONLY deep threat and he pretty much has to break one to really go deep, plus he's on the backside of his career. With Plaxico, you pretty much toss him the rock and he brings it down. He looks like Gumby jumping in the air with his body contorting in every which way. Our receiving corps is the weakest asset on the field and bringing a game changer like Plaxico into the fold would do wonders for our offense.
BBV: I know you watched the Giants play the Patriots. Looking at New York is there one thing that scares, or one thing the Giants do that you think the Buccaneers will have difficulty stopping?
Buc 'Em: I can't lie, by the time I realized the Giants were playing it was too late ... I was too busy figuring out how to delete songs off my iPod and I was working on my site. I was hoping the Giants would take the Patriots to the limits and they didn't disappoint.
That BIG Offensive line scares me. It's no secret the success that the Tiki Barbers and Brandon Jacobs of the world have experienced is due in most part to that offensive line they run behind. If our front four can't bust through that o-line and pressure Eli Manning, it's going to be a long day. Our defense lives off the ability of the front four to get to the QB and allow our defensive specialist to do what they do. Brandon Jacobs is a big boy, but I think Barrett Ruud and Company can equalize him and who knows, maybe make him turn the ball over.
BBV: So, how do you think the game will turn out? Let's have a prediction.
Buc 'Em: After the high scoring affair with the Patriots, I don't expect Sundays match-up to be all that high-scoring. I expect the Giants to lead the game most of the way, but then in Jeff Garcia fashion, I expect the Bucs to steal a game they had no business winning from your New York Giants!
Bucs 23, Giants 20