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JOE THEISMANN

By ERNEST HOOPPER

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 19, 2000


I think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not one of these teams you have to worry about panicking over, "Oh my goodness, what has happened to them."

This team could have very easily been 5-1, except for a play here or a play there. But that only drives the point home that you have to be able to play 60 minutes of football. You can't play 59 plays and have one get away from you.

To me, the Bucs are a 10-6 football team, 11-5 if they play the kind of football they're capable of playing. I think, to a degree, they have to get back and establish their identity as a running football team. You change coordinators, you bring in three new players -- granted three of them are Pro Bowlers -- there still is a process of learning that has to go on.

To see Shaun King throw the ball 40 times when's the last time you ever saw that (on a Tampa Bay team). Is that the identity of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? I think that's a question they have to ask themselves.

Defensively, I think they really have to shut the Lions running game down. I think missing Germane Crowell is going to hurt the Lions. You lose the deep threat. Look at the games the Bucs have lost, the deep pass has hurt them. Are the Lions going to be able to do that?

It should be a close game. The Lions have an excellent kicker, the Bucs have an excellent kicker. The Bucs want to run the football, they brought in James Stewart to try and run the football.

So then it's going to be a question of which quarterback is going to be able to make the key throws in the game on third down to keep it going. That should be four plays by Shaun King and four plays by Charlie Batch. Which ever one can execute on three of those four plays is probably going to be the one that winds up winning.

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