Patrik Nohe the editor of Fansided’s The Pewter Plank recently took the time to answer some questions posed by Lombardiave.com about Sunday’s upcoming tilt between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
His insight into the state of the Bucs is found in his answers which follow:
Q. It’s been a couple years since the Packers and Bucs have met. Has there been any mention in Tampa Bay about the last meeting when the Bucs thoroughly embarrassed the Packers – a game many are saying helped start the Packers’ run to a Super Bowl title?
A. Well it was the Josh Freeman debut game and arguably the high point of the Buccaneers’ 3-13 season. Do Bucs fans look back at that game nostalgically? Maybe, but just for Freeman. Other than that, most fans try to forget 3-13 years, which wasn’t difficult considering the Bucs went 10-6 the very next season.
Q. Josh Freeman has been a fairly consistent quarterback for the Bucs, but does he read defenses well? Most likely the Packers will throw a lot of looks at him.
A. No. Josh Freeman is a very good quarterback who got away with murder last season. He statistically only threw six picks last year, but he made dozens more bad decisions which he wasn’t really held accountable for. This year it actually looks like Freeman digressed when in fact he’s going out making the same plays he did last season, just whereas last year it worked, this year it’s not. The problem is he didn’t learn his lesson last season, so in his mind he can go out and make some of those throws that in reality he shouldn’t even be attempting because it happened last year without incident. Freeman is developing, don’t get me wrong, just not at the mercurial pace it seemed like last year. So he will be head and shoulders better than two years ago when you saw him, but you give him enough looks and he’s still just a 23-year-old in his second full season as a starter.
Q. There hasn’t been a defense yet that has been able to stop the Packers’ offense. What differently do you think the Bucs might do to slow Rodgers and company?
A. The Bucs aren’t going to stop Aaron Rodgers, next question.
Q. The Packers defense pitched what would have been a shutout last week had Randall Cobb not muffed a punt to give Minnesota the ball inside the Packers’ 10 yard line. It seems the Pack’s defense might have come alive … Does that cause the Bucs’ offense to scheme differently?
A. No, the biggest detriment to the Bucs offense is themselves. Throw aside the mistakes and penalties for a moment and they have weapons and playmakers when they can simplify things and just play, but Greg Olson the OC has really been a hinderance. Perfect example – the Bucs have scored three points on their opening drive all year, those came week one thanks to a 78-yard kick return. Opening drives are scripted in the NFL. Do the math there. The Bucs are best offensively when Olson gets out of the way and lets them run a hurry-up with a simplified approach. That’s about the worst thing you can say about a coordinator is his unit is better the less he’s involved. But that’s the Bucs.
Q. What offensive and defensive players for the Buccaneers could have big games against the Packers? Why?
A. Defensively Aqib Talib is a guy I’d watch. He’s had a rough few weeks and will be looking to make a few plays. I don’t think the Bucs can stop what the Packers do on offense, but Talib is gifted enough to pick off a pass or two if Rodgers gets lax. That could be a much-needed spark for Tampa. Offensively, if LeGarrette Blount has a big day that will be the way the Bucs win. If he doesn’t, forget about it.
Q. With their remaining schedule, do the Bucs still have a realistic shot at a playoff spot or are they playing for next year?
A. They do, but they’re not playing well enough to make it happen at this point in the season.
Q. Tell us how the Bucs do what nobody else has been able to do and beat the Packers?
A. First of all, the youngest team in football needs to play like a group of veterans. No dumb penalties, no MA’s, no mental errors. Those cannot happen. Second of all, run the football. If LeGarrette Blount can have the type of day he’s capable of, the Bucs may be able to control the clock and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. Make no mistake about it, Blount is the most underrated offensive player in Tampa. Nationally he’s known for punching a guy, but watch him on Sunday, he’s 6’0, 250 and he can run. If he gets 25-30 carries, I don’t care who the Bucs are playing that defense will wear down. If Tampa, and this is a big if, can run the ball and Blount can carry the offense, they have a shot.
Q. Prediction for the game? Final score?
Packers win, probably by a lot. 38-17.