Tampa is Carolina's turn-around Thursday game - as Carolina goes from
celebrating in the ice tubs right to watching film, metaphorically.
I'm not going to jinx the game if I can help it, but Tampa can't get
out of its own way. So far this season, Tampa has featured the
*A players-only meeting before the season even began
*controversy over whether the team cooked the vote on starting QB Josh
Freeman not being captain
*open feuding between coach Greg Schiano and Freeman, followed by
*they're now playing a rookie at QB, with old-school rookie results
*a reported three full cases of MRSA, four if you count that G Carl
Nicks had a reoccurrence. An antibiotic-resistant infection, the CDC
claims there is more than one strain of MRSA going around.
*their defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan, mouthed off to fans this
month, suggesting they should try to do better
*they just lost starting RB Doug Martin for the year
*no wins in six attempts, if you're more into statistics than
So, it's not like they're playing the Broncos four days after their
last game, at least. And hey, Time Warner and the NFL Network are good
with each other now, so you can watch this from wherever.
They still have some pieces there - Vincent Jackson, for instance, and
a good secondary of Darelle Revis and Dashon Goldson - but they're also
a wayward mess of problems. Three of their first four losses came at a
total of six points, but the other three (so, three of their last four)
were by an average of 13. Things are not trending upward for Tampa.
That said, it's never good to take any team lightly. Tampa does have
enough playmakers to bust one open - Jackson and Revis, specifically,
are the type of player that can turn a game on their own. They're a
good enough defense statistically - with a strong run defense, they're
rated 13th overall in points and yards - and Carolina's three wins have
all come against bad defenses, not good. They're going to have Cam
Newton beat them, and through the air only. That can be fantastic, or
it can be scary, depending on consistency, but the play action game
might not be there.
They won't have much offensively, but with Carolina's defense playing
the way it is, that's to be expected anyway.
So, let's not celebrate a win just yet. Are they a bad team? Sure.
They're also a rival, and a team that Carolina couldn't beat in two
tries last year.