Game Preview: Seahawks at Buccaneers

The Seahawks head east for the second straight week to face another foe from the NFC South. This time it's to face off against the team that joined the league with them in 1976...The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What: Game two of the regular season
When: Sunday, September 19th, 1 pm (PST)
Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida


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Buccaneers Key Players:

QB Brad Johnson: Johnson has led the Bucs to a Super Bowl title and is a very accurate passer, but his lack of mobility could be his undoing. Against a mediocre Washington Redskins pass-rush the "cement-shoed" Johnson was sacked four times and harassed several times with one ending up in an interception. Johnson's 65% completion rate was solid in head coach John Gruden's offense, but he has few playmakers around him.

RB Charlie Garner: Garner is quick to the hole and he has the jets to get outside and take it to the house. Last week against the Redskins he was held to 25 yards on 11 rushes mainly because the line wasn't opening holes. Because the Bucs lack a deep threat at wideout he will be seeing a lot of eight and nine-man fronts.

WR Michael Clayton: Clayton is only a rookie but a lot is going to be asked from the youngster from LSU. Clayton runs good routes for a first-year player, has strong hands and has good speed. He won't get deep much but he excels when he has the ball in his hands. His seven catches for 53 yards led the Buccaneers receivers and with WR Joey Galloway out with a groin injury he will need to grow up fast.

DE Simeon Rice: Rice is arguably the most dangerous pass-rusher in the NFL. He continually plays in the opponents' backfield and helps to cause mistakes by the quarterback. He did not have a sack against the Redskins but he pressured Redskins QB Mark Brunell all day.

LB Derrick Brooks: Brooks is the leader of the defense and he plays sideline-to-sideline. He is a sure tackler and his speed and ball-hawking ability are difference makers on the stop unit. Brooks is a seven-time Pro Bowler who has led the Bucs in tackles in six consecutive seasons. While he makes all the calls and leads by example he is also the emotional leader pumping up his fellow defenders after almost every play.

LB Shelton Quarles: While Brooks gets the headlines Quarles just makes plays. He finished third on the team in 2003 with 80 tackles in only 11 games and he started off the 2004 season with a bang, registering 13 tackles (10 solo). Quarles is solid in pass-coverage and plays the run with abandon. He is also a solid blitzer when called upon.

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Key Matchups:

Tampa Bay WRs vs. Seattle CBs: Seahawks CBs Marcus Trufant and Ken Lucas both had solid days against the high-octane passing game of the New Orleans Saints last week. Clayton and WR Tim Brown had lackluster days against a mediocre backfield in Washington. This battle looks like a win for the Hawks but don't count the Bucs out so fast. Gruden is an excellent play-caller and his offense is designed to get the ball into the wideouts' hands so they can make plays with their feet.

Tampa Bay Offensive line vs. Seahawks Defensive line: The Buc offensive line was pretty sorry in their week one performance against the Redskins and Gruden and offensive coordinator/line coach Bill Muir have been working them hard this week in practice. LT Derrick Deese is better at pass-blocking than at run-blocking and he might have seen his better days. Seahawks DEs Grant Wistrom and Chike Okeafor had good days against the Saints front wall and harassed Saints QB Aaron Brooks all day. Rookie DT Marcus Tubbs has been added to starters Cedric Woodard and Rashad Moore, along with backup Rocky Bernard to fortify the interior of the defense and they should be able to contain the anemic Buc running game.

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. Buc Safeties Dwight Smith and Jermaine Phillips: Hasselbeck started the season off shakily early against the Saints but settled down and finished with 246 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL and his cover-two defensive scheme can cause headaches. Smith and Phillips are solid players who break on balls well and excel at reading the quarterbacks eyes. Hasselbeck must be patient and take what this conservative defense gives him in order to be successful.

Seahawks LT Walter Jones vs. Rice: Rice can bull-rush you or he can speed-rush you to the outside. Jones, who played well in his first action of the season last week, is a Pro Bowler and this is why he makes the salary he makes…by keeping guys like Rice out of the Seahawks backfield. Jones seemed to be in great shape and he didn't allow a sack last week against a talented Saints defensive front.

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News and Notes: Tampa Bay is trying to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1998; Seattle leads the series 4-1, but this is the first meeting between the teams since 1999 when the Buccaneers beat the Seahawks 16-3 in the Kingdome; While Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren was coach of the Green Bay Packers, Gruden served as the Packer's receivers coach from 1992-94; Gruden is one of four current head coaches in the NFL to serve under Holmgren…the others are Andy Reid (Eagles), Steve Mariucci (Detroit) and Mike Sherman (Green Bay).

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Injuries:

Seahawks:
Probable: DT Rashad Moore (shoulder); DE Chike Okeafor (toe)
Questionable: RB Shaun Alexander (knee); LB Solomon Bates (groin); S Terreal Bierria (quadricep)
OUT: LB Chad Brown (fibula)


Tampa Bay:
Probable: S Dwight Smith (ribs)
Out: WR Joey Galloway (groin)


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Prediction: Seattle 21 – Tampa Bay 10



.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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