This isn't the 2002 Superbowl winning defense that held opponents to under 200 points in the regular season. Tampa Bay is the 24th ranked defense in yards and 19th in scoring. Although they are slightly better against the run, this is probably due to the fact that teams have led against them and protect that lead with heavy doses of runs. The Bucs gave up 500 yards rushing against Atlanta and the Eagles.
Defensive Line: The only team with fewer sacks than the Washington Redskins are the Tampa Bay Bucs, with just 12 sacks after 9 games. Much of that can be blamed on an aging defensive line, especially at the end position. Greg Spires and Simeon Rice are 32 years old each, although the latter might be replaced by Julian Jenkins due to a shoulder injury. The two have 3 combined sacks.
On the interior are former Viking Chris Hovan and Ellis Wyms. Hovan hasn't recorded a sack since playing for the Vikings back in 2004. Ellis Wyms is the best player on this line and has 4 sacks, but he is questionable with an ankle injury. Backing him up is Jovan Haye who has not recorded a tackle this season.
Depending on what happens with those injuries, this should be a line we can push around. Even with Rice and Wyrms in, Jason Campbell should be given ample time to throw the ball and maneuver effectively in the pocket.
Linebackers: Derrick Brooks leads the team in tackles with 72 and is still a force to be reckoned with on the right side. Although this defense, like Washington, is miserable at causing turnovers, Derrick Brooks does have one of the team's 5 interceptions. Here's to running against their left side.
At middle linebacker is Shelton Quarles who has missed two games this year and is questionable with a knee injury. The backup, Barrett Ruud, has been playing well, so don't bank on the injury as a plus, necessarily.
On the left side is Ryan Nece who is the only linebacker with a sack. He's also the weakest link and should be run at profusely. These linebackers have been untested in the passing game and could be exposed with passes to the middle of the field. Cooley should have a big game if Jason Campbell can get him the ball.
Secondary: This is where Tampa Bay is strongest and could win the game defensively. Ronde Barber is still one of the best cornerbacks in the league and has more touchdowns than Antwaan Randle-El and Brandon Lloyd combined. Both of the touchdowns came in a win against Philly where Barber was one pick-6 shy of being a marked beast.
Their other cornerback, Juran Bolden, has more picks than Carlos Rogers, Mike Rumph, Sean Taylor, Adam Archuleta, Troy Vincent, and Shawn Springs combined -- with one. He's questionable with a hip injury, which is appropriate, as he's kind of old. Let's pass away from Ronde Barber.
All in all this is a mediocre defense. Because of Barber and Derrick Brooks, they're capable of winning games, but 2 players cannot consistently carry the other 9. The double headed Betts-Duckett monster should see the light of day this weekend and will hopefully record 150-200 yards total rushing. I expect our offensive gameplan to focus heavily on the run to aid in Campbell's adjustment to the speed of pro ball.
Tampa is also "questionable" accross the board injury-wise and will suffer defensively pending those injuries. Even if everyone comes out playing on Sunday they won't be 100%. There will be some matchups worth exploiting defensively. Let's just stay away from the right side, where both Brooks and Barber lurk.