By Jeff Berlinicke
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Buffalo Bills today, there are two things all Bucs fans need to remember:
1. Being 1-0 on the season doesn't guarantee a trip to the Super Bowl.
2. These aren't the same Bucs you grew to know and loathe last season.
The Bucs surprised everyone, going up to Minnesota last weekend and upsetting the favored Vikings Brian Kelly's two interceptions certainly showed that he's finally emerging as more than the underrated defensive back playing tin the shadows of the Bucs' much-lauded defense.
Today, the Bills represent a far different challenge. Instead of the Vikings' high-flying offensive machine, the Bucs will take a Bills offense that likes to grind it out behind Willis McGahee and hopes second-year quarterback J.P. Losman simply doesn't make too many stupid mistakes.
Bucs coach Jon Gruden has tried to downplay the 1-0 start, especially after the turmoil the team experienced this week, but another win could make tickets for the Bucs Bandwagon an especially hot one in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs will try to blitz Losman out of his game, putting pressure on all day and forcing the youngster to make bad decisions. Losman was a first-round pick out of Tulane in 2004 and was so promising that the Bills dumped incumbent Drew Bledsoe at the end of the season, turning the reins over to Losman whose season was pretty much decimated after a broken leg in 2004. With his lack of experience at the helm, the Bucs defense will be salivating and you know defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will have some new schemes to throw at Losman.
If the Bills resort to the run, McGahee obviously has the talent, and the Bucs are weak up the middle. McGahee likes to go end to end, but if the Bills can open some holes in the Bucs' weak middle, McGahee could run wild.
As far as the Bucs' offense, they certainly showed promise last week when Cadillac Williams ran for more than 100 yards and rookie Alex Smith caught two touchdown passes. It will be interesting to see if Michael Pittman gets a few more calls since the Buffalo defense is what makes the team go. Williams was impressive, but there's a big difference between the leaky Minnesota defense and the Buffalo defense that is its signature.
With the Bucs offensive line still not 100 percent healthy, don't look for quarterback Brian Griese to o to the long game. He simple won't have time. Look for a lot of swing passes, probably to Pittman and MikeAlstott to set up the long pass to Michael Clayton or Joey Galloway. This also might be a big day for Ike Hilliard to come through as a third-down possession receiver, picking up the short over-the-middle passes when Griese feels the heat.
Today is the chance for the Bucs to prove they are for real. Obviously Week 2 is too early to judge, but with a trip to inhospitable Green Bay looming next week, it's obviously a key game.
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