The New England Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off today for a 1:00 PM ET week three match-up. This is a game that features perhaps two of the most scrutinized teams through two weeks of the NFL season.
For the 0-2 Buccaneers, most of their questions have surrounded quarterback play, where second year head coach Greg Schiano and veteran Josh Freeman have both come under fire. There have been questions about exactly how much Schiano's players like playing for him. While in Freeman's case, there is a capable youngster in Mike Glennon waiting in the wings. The Buccaneers do have talent on offense. They have a very strong offensive line led by left tackle Donald Penn, a capable ground attack with workhorse Doug Martin, and a solid 1-2 punch at receiver in Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. For the Bucs, it's a matter of putting things together on a consistent basis.
For the 2-0 Patriots, the questions haven't been about their quarterback or coach, but rather the chemistry their quarterback Tom Brady, has had with his receivers. In the first two weeks of the season, the Patriots offense has missed out on countless opportunities due to Brady and his receivers not being on the same page. Those struggles were really amplified during the team's week two win over the Jets.
Against the Jets, the Patriots were coming off a short week and their receivers were thrown into the fire against a solid Jets defense. They didn't have an opportunity to practice that week, and considering their limited experience in the offense, it became a detriment. The Patriots have now had ten days since their last game, and plenty of time to practice as a result. All eyes will be on tight end Rob Gronkowski, and if he returns after being labeled as questionable on the injury report.
Regardless of if he plays, this game will be a good barometer of where the progress of the Patriots' offense is at. The Buccaneers don't have a tremendous pass rush, but they have a very fast linebacker corps led by Lavonte David and Mason Foster. Their defensive backs are also talented. At cornerback, their depth chart includes All-Pro Darrelle Revis, second year man Leonard Johnson, and rookie Johnthan Banks. At safety, they have one of the best tandems in the league with former 49er Dashon Goldson and second year stud Mark Barron.
While these teams have opposite records, the Buccaneers, even this early into the season, will have a sense of desperation. Combine that with the most talented roster the Patriots have faced this year, and this match-up promises to be a good one.
Here are the details for today's game:
Game Time: 1:00 PM ET
TV Schedule: FOX, regional audience (TV Maps here)
Streaming: NFL.com Game Rewind following the game, NFL Sunday Ticket Broadband
Buccaneers Coverage: Bucs Nation