By Max Luckan
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a tall order this Sunday against the Denver Broncos, winners of six games in a row. The Bucs will travel to Denver to face the 8-3 Broncos, who are playing extremely well on both sides of the ball.
After losing last week to the Atlanta Falcons, the Bucs currently sit at 6-5 and are in dire need of a huge win over the Broncos. Denver is coming off a 17-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which they did not put up the big numbers that they have in past weeks. This upcoming matchup will certainly be a challenge for a young Bucs team that’s looking to rebound after a tough loss.
Bucs DT Roy Miller missed Wednesday’s practice due to an illness, according to coach Greg Schiano. Miller was sent home after experiencing some symptoms.
The Bucs are very aware of all the things the Broncos bring to the table. It certainly won’t be easy, but they are preparing for everything. And it would be wise to start with Broncos QB Peyton Manning, who according to DT Gerald McCoy, is one of the best to ever play the position.
“I just can’t keep doing this interview without saying, ‘I’m really looking forward to this. It’s Peyton Manning!’” McCoy said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t care what you all write, but arguably, I think he’s the best QB to ever do it. I’m just being honest. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If someone wants to write bad about it, oh well, I don’t care.”
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying Peyton Manning, who undoubtedly is in the top five to ever play quarterback, is the best ever because there’s a strong case to be made for that. It would be inaccurate to not include Manning in a discussion about the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL.
Even with the prospects of facing a quarterback of Manning’s caliber, however, the Bucs aren’t going to change many things on defense.
“Well, I think you have to be careful,” Schiano said, “because you can’t try and, in four days, create a whole new defense so you can confuse him (Manning). That won’t work.
“We just got to go out and play our defense and play the best we can, and know that they’re going to make some plays.”
With Manning being the main focus this week, the Bucs have to be careful not to forget about the threat of the Broncos’ defense, which features players such as Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Miller and Dumervil have forced 10 fumbles combined this year, and Schiano said a main focus in practice this week will be making sure quarterback Josh Freeman doesn’t cough up the football.
“They are really good at sack-fumbling,” Schiano said, “so we got to really make sure we protect the football.”
Indeed, turnovers would be devastating against a team as good as the Broncos, so protecting Josh Freeman and the football will be priorities in practice this week for the Bucs.
Schiano also said that the Bucs currently aren’t thinking about moving safety Ronde Barber back to corner because he feels comfortable going forward with the status quo. However, he did not rule out making in-game changes.
The Bucs have their hands full with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but they aren’t shying away from this matchup. They are preparing like it’s business as usual and working hard as usual, which is something Schiano likes to see.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.