By Max Luckan
At 3-9, it is hard to predict what exactly the Philadelphia Eagles are playing for and whether they are still dangerous or not. The Eagles will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday in what should be a very interesting matchup given the current situations of both teams. The Eagles are in a downward spiral and haven’t won since in the last eight weeks or so. Meanwhile, the Bucs are, surprisingly, still in the midst of a playoff run even though they haven’t played well the past two weeks. Both teams will try to get back on track this Sunday, which is why this game is so intriguing.
Cornerback LeQuan Lewis is the latest Bucs player to sustain an injury. Lewis apparently injured his knee late in the game against the Broncos, but he did ride the stationary bicycle on Wednesday, so it appears his injury isn’t as severe as originally thought.
“Not as bad as maybe it appeared, initially,” coach Greg Schiano said of Lewis’ injury. “I don’t know if it will be this week, but I don’t think it will be long-term.”
Obviously, the Bucs are depleted in the secondary with Eric Wright’s suspension, but they will be getting CB Anthony Gaitor, who has practiced with the team for the past couple of weeks, back for the game against the Eagles. Gaitor played well at the end of the 2011 season, but hasn’t seen any action this year, as he’s been battling injuries.
The Bucs will look to limit penalties in this week’s game after committing 11 penalties for 80 yards against the Broncos, many of which were actually quite costly. Schiano agrees that they have to be reduced.
“We have to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot,” Schiano said. “I think there are things that can be done. A lot of times, if you get yourself in a little bit better football position, a lot of those holds and DPIs (defensive pass interference calls) don’t happen. We just got to make sure we’re paying attention to the fundamentals.”
Discipline has been emphasized so far this season, so the Bucs will look to get back to limiting unnecessary penalties that have cost them points in recent weeks.
Also interesting is the fact that the offense has cooled off a bit in recent weeks. While this was inevitable, teams have also been making adjustments. For instance, the Broncos limited the deep ball last Sunday and WR Mike Williams noticed.
“When you have corners playing 15 yards off the ball, it’s hard to connect on those,” Williams said. “I mean, they game-planned, too. Maybe they’ve seen us hit the deep ball and said, ‘We’re not giving up the deep ball today.’ They don’t ever bail like that, but they did Sunday.”
It will be interesting to see whether or not the Eagles pursue a similar strategy with their corners.
The Eagles have become extremely unpredictable, so the Bucs will have to be ready for everything, and definitely shouldn’t take Philadelphia lightly because of a poor record, as they’re still a dangerous team.
There have also been rumors swirling around that Bucs special assistant to the head coach Butch Davis is one of the leading candidates for the opening at Florida International University. However, the Bucs aren’t aware of any new developments regarding Davis, according to a source aware of the situation. This essentially means that all rumors about Davis are currently extremely preliminary, if even that.
So the Bucs will be commemorating the 2002 Bucs squad that won the Super Bowl on Sunday, and hope to back that up with a win over an Eagles team that is desperately looking for a win itself.
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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.