By Max Luckan
The on-field production in Tampa Bay continues to be horrible. Things are bad for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs have lost some very close games this season, but their inability to score points in the second half has really been a problem. Every week, the Bucs start off the game strong, but then fade away as the game progresses. Head coach Greg Schiano is definitely on the hot seat at this point, with the Bucs having lost 10 of their last 11 games.
This week the Bucs travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, who have had some struggles of their own.
Falcons Season Record
Up to this point, the Falcons are probably one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season. Atlanta is currently on a three-game losing streak and holds a 1-4 record overall this season.
The Falcons only win came in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams, and they have losses against the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets. All four losses came against pretty good teams, but the Falcons were supposed to be much better this season. With the team coming of its bye week, they will look to get back in the win column against a struggling Bucs team.
Falcons on Offense
Quarterback Matt Ryan is having a fantastic year so far. Ryan has thrown for 1,649 yards while completing 69.3 percent of his passes and racking up 10 touchdowns. And the offense ranks eighth in the entire league in total offense with an average of 391.4 yards per game.
Scoring points hasn’t been the problem for the Falcons. But running back Steven Jackson has battled injuries and the offensive line has struggled, which has led to some problems, especially in the passing game. Top receiver Julio Jones will miss the rest of the season with an injury, and Ryan’s other key target, wide receiver Roddy White, is also banged up.
With injuries at the receiver position, the Falcons have to get the running game going, which is something they haven’t been able to do so far this year.
Falcons on Defense
On defense, the Falcons are giving up an average of 372.2 yards per game, which is good for 19th place in the NFL. At first glance, Atlanta appears to be an average team on both sides of the ball, but their record does not reflect that.
The Falcons have multiple injuries on the defensive side of the ball and have deeply missed linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who is not due back for a while. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora has stepped up on the defensive line, but no one else has. Rookie cornerback Desmond Trufant has struggled at times, but has also shown flashes of brilliance.
Given the injuries, Atlanta has held up quite well on defense, but they just quite haven’t been able to get it done in crunch time.
Falcons Players to Watch
QB Matt Ryan: The Bucs will have a hard time with Ryan no matter what. But they have to try and limit the damage this week.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers: With Steven Jackson out because of an injury, Rodgers has stepped up and been Atlanta’s equivalent of Darren Sproles. The Bucs linebackers will have a hard time slowing down Rodgers.
Osi Umenyiora: Umenyiora already has four sacks and one interception this season. With the Bucs offensive line struggling, Umenyiora will surely be a top priority.
Last time these teams met, the Bucs won the meaningless game. The Bucs lead the all-time series with the Falcons 20-19, but both teams are trying to get their seasons on track in this matchup.
For more Bucs news and updates, visit Bucs Central.
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. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.