Mike Glennon and Mike James lead Tampa Bay's offence. Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com/All Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Florida franchises Tampa Bay and Miami are basket cases for very different reasons at the moment, but the two troubled teams go head-to-head on Tuesday morning (AEST) as they look to put off-field matters behind them, temporarily.
You would think a team like the winless Buccaneers, with an under-fire coach in Greg Schiano, and a number of players who have contracted the, at times, antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection, would be front-runners to take the NFL’s team in the most turmoil award. They were, until Dolphins offensive tackle Jonathan Martin left the team and accused veteran linemate Richie Incognito of incessant bullying, raising an issue which has created headlines nationwide in the US.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has come out in defence of Incognito, but on the field Miami will need a similar performance from their second-year man as he pulled out in the 22-20 overtime victory against Cincinnati last start. Tannehill completed 20 of 28 passes for 208 yards, while he also ran for a touchdown. The Dolphins also got quality time out of running back Lamar Miller who racked up 105 yards on 16 carries without a turnover against Cinci. Tannehill needs more protection from his offensive line, though, as he has been sacked a league-high 35 times. Don’t expect any better given what has happened with Martin and Incognito.
Tampa’s offence has been deconstructed for a number of reasons through the first eight weeks of the season. Josh Freeman started the season under centre but he now resides in Minneapolis, while injuries have robbed the Bucs of running back Doug Martin and wideout Mike Williams. Mike Glennon has been serviceable replacing Freeman while rookie running back Mike James was a standout in the three-point overtime loss to Seattle last week running for 158 yards on 28 carries with a TD reception thrown in.
The Bucs should have got their first win on the board in that match-up with the Seahawks. They scored the first 21 points of the game but surrendered a 24-7 lead midway through the third team as Seattle posted the biggest comeback win in franchise history.
The interstate rivals have met just nine teams in the regular season. The Dolphins won the last match-up 25-23 back in 2009, and the majority of clashes have been low-scoring, close affairs. Seven of the nine have finished with a margin of ten points or less and five have been decided by a field goal.
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