Before the events of this week involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, the only thing the Buccaneers and Dolphins would have in common is being NFL teams that reside in the state of Florida.
Now, both squads have had their locker room leadership and chemistry questioned, along with discussions of whether their coaching and management regimes will stay in place. They also will both be having noticeable absences in terms of the star players on the team that won’t be on the field.
In the case of Tampa Bay, running back Doug Martin has been placed on season-ending injured reserve, joining starting wide receiver Mike Williams, also out for the season, as another weapon rookie quarterback Mike Glennon will not be able to utilize. For Miami, the reasons are obviously more complicated for the absence of two components side of their offensive line in Martin and Incognito, but an offensive line that has allowed more than 35 sacks will have to play Nate Garner at left guard. Garner hasn’t started a game for the Dolphins this season, and has only 13 starts in his career.
Along with the present situation on the offensive, Miami will also have to deal with someone missing from their coaching staff. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported yesterday that assistant offensive line coach Chris Mosley has left the team. Coach Joe Philbin said that Monday’s game is very important that kicks off the second half of the season, and wouldn’t get into if he felt the organization’s current reputation was fair.
“Again I’m not concerned with any of that stuff,” said Philbin. My focus is on Tampa Bay. Getting our players, to help them reach their potential individually and as a football team. That’s really all I’m concerned about, that’s all I control.”
Philbin said that he feels a responsibility for the entire locker room, but also said that the comments of his players about both Incognito and Martin should stand on their own, and the players are accountable for them. That being said, Philbin says that his team has a “great locker room.”
“This is a tremendous organization that I’m privileged to represent,” said Philbin. “I’ve gotten a ton of support from people within the organization, outside the organization and I’m fortunate to be in the position that I am. I love coming to work every single day. I’m going to represent this franchise the right way every single day I’m here and nothing has changed.”
The Buccaneers may be hoping for an emotional boost from Hall of Famer defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor on Monday night. Darrelle Revis is among those who believe his presence could have an impact.
“I think it’ll be great,” said Revis. “We’ve got Veteran’s Day coming up as well, so there’s a lot of things tied into this game. I think, for our team, especially us being 0-8, and then Veteran’s Day and then Warren Sapp going into the Ring of Honor, it should be a very emotional night. I think guys really see that as being an emotional night. We’ve got to throw everything into this game to get a win.”
Revis thinks Tampa Bay still is playing as a team, and that their will be some success sooner or later.
“I think we’re just sticking together,” said Revis. “Being 0-8 or having a losing record, usually guys start thinking about other things or are not really focused in on what we’re trying to do and accomplish, but guys have been focused. We’ve just been trying to get better as a team, I think that’s what we’ve been trying to do, and not try to point the finger here or there or say it’s offense, say it’s defense or special teams. We’ve just been sticking together. We know we’ve got good players on this team, and we know we’ve got some great talent, so we’ve just got to put all the pieces together. Soon, once we get a win, it’ll cure a lot of things and we can, hopefully, get on a winning streak.”
For the Buccaneers to get their first win of the season, they will need to depend on a trio of rookies on the offensive side that have continued to improve. Glennon has thrown five touchdowns without an interception in the last three games, while sixth-round pick Mike James has filled in admirably for Doug Martin in the backfield, rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown against Seattle on Sunday. Undrafted free agent Tim Wright, who played for Bucs Coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, has been a revelation at tight end, catching 24 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, one of each of the last two games.
As these rookies could be the key to making the most of the rest of the season, Greg Schiano said that he addressed the potential second-half of the season rookie wall with all of the rookies this week.
“I just met with them one day earlier this week,” said Schiano. “We had the rookie meeting and I sat them down, I said ‘Okay your college season is over’ and they looked at me kind of puzzled. I said ‘Yeah, the four preseason games which you guys played a ton in and then the eight regular season games, that’s it, that’s your 12 game college season. Now what do we have left?’
“They all smiled. It’s being aware first, this is uncharted territory for these guys. Then, what can I do? The benefit is you don’t have class to go to. You don’t have to take care of these other things. Get your rear end in bed, get your rest, study your playbook, do your pre-hab and your rehab, and then get in bed. The tough thing for rookies is all the other catchings of the NFL. Everybody wants to do something every night and that’s where we try to educate, but at the end of the day it’s still an individual choice for all those rookies.”
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