Bucs need points to be a contender
Jeff Garcia (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Jeff Garcia (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Posted Oct 30, 2008


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-3 and in second place in the NFC South. But are they a true contender? That could be an issue, Jeff Garcia says, if the Bucs don't start scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. Plus, link to exclusive Bucsblitz.com content previewing Sunday's game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Bryant is having a resurgent season. But just how good is it? Bucsblitz.com takes you inside the numbers, most of which are only available to the media, to give you a clear picture of Bryant's worth to the Buccaneers' 5-3 start. Get the scoop right here.

Points. Points. Points.

That's all the Bucs are lacking to become a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC. More specifically, touchdowns.

Quarterback Jeff Garcia said Wednesday the Bucs need to be more aggressive in the red zone by allowing receivers a chance to go up and make plays.

The Bucs are 29th in the NFL in red zone production with 11 touchdowns in 31 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

Tampa Bay was limited to three field goals and saw the game end Sunday when they failed to convert on fourth down at the Dallas 18-yard line in a 13-9 loss to the Cowboys.

"We can't go into every single play like there's going to be a perfect outlet, that there's going to be a player that's wide open and I'm going to hit that player and he's going to be able to run and make a first down," Garcia said. "Sometimes, we need to be playmakers and we need to allow our playmakers - which are our receivers, our tight ends -- to sometimes go up and outfight a defender for a football. And we need to trust in that.

"I think we get caught up in being such a rhythm type team, looking for the best outlet, looking for the open receiver that we lose sight of just taking shots at times, just taking chances."

The Bucs will try to do just that Sunday at Kansas City. The Chiefs are 1-6 and riddled with injuries, particularly at the quarterback position, where second-year pro Tyler Thigpen will make his second straight start.

It won't be easy for him. The Bucs defense, which ranks second in the NFL in points allowed with 15 per game, eat inexperienced quarterbacks alive. And Thigpen will once again be without running back Larry Johnson, who faces a possible suspension from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for assault charges.

In fact, Thigpen will also be the Chiefs leading rusher entering the game if Johnson is unable to play as expected.

The danger for the Bucs is to take the Chiefs lightly. Tampa Bay is coming off a 13-9 loss at Dallas and wants to avoid back-to-back defeats before entering their bye week. The Bucs trail Carolina by one game in the NFC South and already have beaten the Panthers.

But Tampa Bay is a little beat up. Warrick Dunn is nursing a pinched nerve in his back and probably won't play. B.J. Askew has been out with a hamstring injury, forcing Earnest Graham to play some fullback. "They took the Jets to the brink," Gruden said of the Chiefs. "They had the Jets down inside a minute."

The Bucs have struggled on the road. They have lost eight of their past 12 games away from Raymond James Stadium and are 1-3 on the road this season while unbeaten at home.

What's the difference in how the Bucs play on the road?

"About 11 points," Gruden said. "They've been close games. It's not like we haven't played good football. We've played some pretty good opponents - at Denver, at New Orleans in the opener and certainly Dallas. We've played some good teams on the road.

"We've got to get more done. We've got to get more done offensively and generate more turnovers. We've got to coach better."


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