What to look for: Tampa Bay offense

Published: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 26, 2003 at 1:37 a.m.

The Tampa Bay offense has always been an afterthought to the defense. Even with the arrival of offensive-minded head coach Jon Gruden, it still ranked 24th of 32 teams. But it's been able to produce points when needed, particularly when quarterback Brad Johnson (14) has been healthy. He's an efficient passer with tall targets - wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson (19), Keenan McCardell (87) and Joe Jurevicius (83), whose only catch in the NFC championship game was a 71-yard play that gave the Bucs momentum they never lost. Tight ends Ken Dilger (85) and Rickey Dudley (85) are also big targets, although none of the receivers has great breakaway speed.

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Tampa Bay wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, above, and the Buccaneers' offense has scored 58 points in two playoff games for a 29.0 average. During the regular season, they averaged just 21.6. Today, they face a Raiders' defense that has allowed 34 points in their two playoff games.

(AP Photo)


FYI: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Sept. 8 Saints L, 26-20
  • Sept.15 Ravens W, 25-0
  • Sept. 23 Rams W, 26-14
  • Sept. 29 Bengals W, 35-7
  • Oct. 6 Falcons W, 20-6
  • Oct. 13 Browns W, 17-3
  • Oct. 20 Eagles L, 20-10
  • Oct. 27 Panthers W 12-9
  • Nov. 3 Vikings W, 38-24
  • Nov. 17 Panthers W, 23-10
  • Nov. 24 Packers W, 21-7
  • Dec.1 Saints L, 23-20
  • Dec. 8 Falcons W, 34-10
  • Dec.15 Lions W, 23-20
  • Dec. 23 Steelers L, 17-7
  • Dec. 29 Bears W, 15-0

  • PROBABLE: G Cosey Coleman (knee); DT Chartric Darby (calf); WR Joe Jurevicious (knee); LB Nate Webster (ankle); WR Karl Williams (thigh); DE Ellis Wyms (ankle).

    Buccaneers are 5-7 in the postseason in franchise history, while Raiders are 25-17 (including 3-1 in Super Bowls). ... Tampa Bay led NFL in total defense and allowed league-low 196 points, fifth fewest since 16-game schedule was instituted in 1978. ... Bucs led league with 31 INTs and tied for first in turnover differential at plus-17. Raiders were one of five teams with fewer than 20 giveaways (19), and had plus-12 differential. ... Bucs QB Brad Johnson, 54-31 as starter, set franchise single-season records with 22 TD passes, 62.3 completion percentage (281-of-451).

    - Compiled from Sun wire reports

  • The running game is deceptive. Michael Pittman (32) led the team with 718 yards rushing but Mike Alstott (40), gets the key yardage. The Bucs ran for only 49 yards against the Eagles, but Alstott had several big short-yardage plays.

    The offensive line was a problem early but has improved late, especially left tackle Roman Oben (72), a journeyman who seems finally to have matured in his seventh season. The rest of the line has protected the quarterback well, but it isn't the best run-blocking unit in the league.

    The Raiders' defense has been rebuilt almost from scratch. Key acquisitions were defensive tackles Sam Adams (95) and John Parrella (97), who have solidified the run defense. DeLawrence Grant (99) and Rod Coleman (57) are the defensive ends, but the Raiders use a rotation system that also includes Chris Cooper (75) and Regan Upshaw (91).

    The linebacking has been upgraded with youngsters, especially rookie middle linebacker Napoleon Harris (58) and first-year starter Eric Barton (50), who added speed to what was a sluggish unit. But the key newcomer is 15-year veteran Bill Romanowski (53) who has four Super Bowl rings, two each with Denver and San Francisco. At 36, Romanowski brings experience and fire to the defense, and if the Raiders win, he will tie Charles Haley, formerly of the 49ers and Cowboys, with five Super Bowl victories.

    The other veteran is free safety Rod Woodson (26) who at 37 had his best season in nearly a decade, tying Kelly for the league lead in interceptions. He has helped the other five DBs who play a lot - cornerbacks Charles Woodson (24), Tory James (20) and Terrence Shaw (22) and safeties Anthony Dorsett (33). Woodson is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL when healthy.

    Meet the Bucs

  • Brad Johnson (14), QB, 6-5, 226, 11th year, Florida State. Has second-best winning percentage (.646) among active passers, behind Brett Favre. ... Led NFC with 92.9 rating, first Buc to do so. ... Had 15 TDs and one INT in final six games of season. ... Threw for 22 TDs.

  • Michael Pittman (32), RB, 6-0, 218 fifth year, Fresno State. Signed last year as free agent. ... Led team with 718 yards rushing and had 59 receptions, but generally was disappointment. ... Best numbers were 21 rushes for 90 yards vs. Chicago in season finale. ... Not a breakaway threat.

  • Mike Alstott (40), FB, 6-1, 248, seventh year, Purdue. Made Pro Bowl as fullback, but is more like a big tailback. He is now a six-time Pro Bow player. ... Powerful runner, especially near goal line. He has three postseason TDs. ... Had seven TDs this season and ranks atop Bucs' career list with 57. ... Also a good receiver.

  • Keyshawn Johnson (19), WR, 6-4, 212, seventh year, Southern California. Tall, gutsy receiver who will go over the middle for tough catches. ... Averaged 14.3 yards for his 76 receptions, scored five TDs. ... Ranks fifth in receptions in the National Football League since 1996 with 558. ... Traded from the New York Jets.

  • Keenan McCardell (87), WR, 6-1, 191, 11th year, UNLV. Excellent addition as complement to Keyshawn Johnson. ... Signed as free agent after release from upstate rival Jaguars. He is the Jaguars second all-time leading receiver ... Scored six TDs on 61 receptions. ... Missed two games with back contusion.

  • Ken Dilger (85), TE, 6-5, 250, eighth year, Illinois. A favorite receiver of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, joined Bucs as free agent last year. ... Solid blocker who also made 34 catches, scored twice. He is second on the team in receiving during the postseason. He is backed up by Rickey Dudley.

  • Kenyatta Walker (67), RT, 6-5, 302, second year, Florida. In '01, he became first rookie to start all 16 games on Buccaneers' line since Paul Gruber in 1988. ... Was first-round choice after winning SEC's award as best blocker in junior year as a Gator. ... Was benched earlier in the season.

  • Warren Sapp (99), DT, 6-2, 303, eighth year, Miami. One of NFL's premier defensive players. ... Nonstop mouth, nonstop motor. ... Was 1999 Defensive Player of the Year. ... Has made six Pro Bowls. ... Had 7 1/2 sacks and 78 tackles. ... Has spent entire career with Tampa Bay after a stellar career at UM.

  • Simeon Rice (97), DE, 6-5, 268, seventh year, Illinois. Had brilliant season to make All-Pro team. ... Had two or more sacks in five straight games, an NFL record, and finished with 15 1/2, tops in NFC. ... Signed as free agent in 2001, and had decent season. Was much better this year, however.

  • Derrick Brooks (55), OLB, 6-0, 235, eighth year, Florida State. League's defensive player of the year. ... All-Pro who makes plays all over the field. ... Has made six consecutive Pro Bowls. ... Had five interceptions, is only LB to return three INTs for touchdowns in a season. ... Finished with 170 tackles.

  • Brian Kelly (25), CB, 5-11, 193, fifth year, Southern California. Led the National Football League with eight INTs. ... Also defensed 23 passes, easily beating career best. ... Made 78 tackles, also career high. ... 2002 was breakthrough season. ... Forms one of the league's top tandems with Ronde Barber.

  • Ronde Barber (20), CB, 5-10, 184, sixth year, Virginia. Comes off spectacular NFC title game. ... Had two interceptions and three sacks. ... Teams tend to throw away from him, but Eagles didn't and he had 92-yard interception return to clinch conference championship. ... Twin brother Tiki plays for Giants.

  • John Lynch (47), SS, 6-2, 220, 10th year, Stanford. San Diego native considered among best safeties in NFL history. ... Superb in run support. ... Longtime leader of secondary, made fifth Pro Bowl this year. ... Had three INTs, 96 tackles. ... One of few Buccaneers to have played prior to the Malcolm Glazer era.

  • Martin Gramatica (7), PK, 5-8, 170, fourth year, Kansas State. Very consistent. ... Set team record with five field goals vs. Chicago. ... Made 32 of 39 field goals.

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