Friday, October 20, 2006

Tampa Bay Shouldn't Be Taken Lightly

While most feel that the Eagles will be involved in nothing more than a glorified scrimmage, here's a word of caution - the Birds can't just beat Tampa Bay by simply showing up.
Sure, the Bucs are 1-4 and are starting a rookie quarterback in Bruce Gradkowski. Yet this is the same team that beat Cincinnati last week 14-13, at home which means the Tampa Bay defense is beginning to round into form.
Not only that, but in Gradkowski's first start, the Bus lost 24-21 at New Orleans. If you're counting, the Eagles also lost by three points at New Orleans, with a slightly better quarterback, Donovan McNabb.
And the Bucs lost a 26-24 decision to Carolina, which might be the best team in the NFC.
Should the Eagles win this game?
No question.
But they are not the type of team that they were in 2004 when merely showing up was enough in most weeks.
Tampa Bay has a subpar offensive line and the Eagles, who didn't earn a sack last week against the quick three-step drops of Saints QB Drew Brees, will have to put heat on Gradkowski.
Tampa Bay suddenly feels much better about itself following the win over a Bengals team that some have picked to go far this season.
If Tampa Bay, with standoutout second-year back Cadillac Williams, is able to run the ball, then it could be an interesting afternoon.
This doesn't appear to be a rout. The Eagles should win and if they don't, they might as well kiss their postseason chances goodbye.
The schedule will get much more difficult beginning with next week's game against Jacksonville, so the Eagles have to be able to win games while they are favorites.
That doesn't mean that it will be easy. Then again, very little should be easy for the Birds from here on.