Alan Dell

Commentary | Subplots fill stat sheet in Tampa Bay Buccaneers' road opener at New York Giants

There are enough subplots in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers-New York Giants matchup to keep Sherlock Holmes busy, and, in case you haven't noticed, he is already working overtime these days.

At the top of the list is how much value Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan can be to his team after serving as Eli Manning's quarterback coach the past two years.

Then there is the hunger factor, which has Giants defensive linemen acting as if they haven't had a meal since the Dallas Cowboys took away their lunch 10 days ago while averaging more than five yards per rush in a 24-17 victory.

Which brings us to another puzzle; Who has the advantage? The Giants, who haven't played since Sept. 5, or the Bucs, coming off their 16-10 victory over Carolina last Sunday.

Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan held the same position for the Giants in 2009 before he was fired and might be seeking a little revenge, always good for the

game plan.

But this might all be secondary to the "Schiano factor."

The Bucs' new head coach will be home today in New Jersey, where he coached Rutgers for 11 years until the Glazer family offered him an opportunity last winter to straighten out the chaos at One Buc Place.

Reports say Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has been studying Rutgers game film. Bucs fans are hoping he won't pick up any vital tidbits from watching all those games in which Rutgers tore the heart out of USF.

There is a lot more fodder, including a rumor going around that Bucs GM Mark Dominik outsmarted the Giants to move up in the draft and take running back Doug Martin. The defending Super Bowl champs were left to choose David Wilson. Not a bad running back, albeit not as versatile as Martin, who is said to have the entire package.

The Giants dispute that, but who can blame them? Nobody wants to admit they were duped by Dominik.

Bucs running back D.J. Ware, who played for the Giants last season, also has offered his advice on how to slow down Manning and Victor Cruz and the rest of the men in blue.

Schiano is grateful, but says none of that matters. The important thing is how people perform on the field and, in particular, the trenches, he stresses.

It all brings us back to point one. The Giants have one of the best defensive front fours in the league, but in the Dallas loss this unit somehow got lost, with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, probably the best recruit Jim Leavitt ever signed at USF.

The Giants front four wants atonement for the Dallas game, and the Bucs offensive line looks like a casualty list with an assortment of injuries.

But the "green dot" caper might make all of those subplots mundane.

Which Bucs linebacker will wear the green-dot-helmet transmitter, which allows coaches to talk to him during the game and make defensive calls, is right up there with the best work Woodward and Bernstein ever produced.

The Bucs gave it to rookie weakside linebacker Lavonte David last week, which surprised a lot of people who thought second-year middle linebacker Mason Foster would be the logical choice.

But Foster was a confused young man last year, and the other linebacker, Quincy Black, has enough problems trying to tackle people.

In keeping with his cloak-and-dagger dialogue, Schiano says a number of players could get the "green dot," though David would seem to be the preferred choice.

As we learned last week, the best way to reduce Black's missed tackles is to keep him off the field.

Foster showed a lot of improvement against Carolina and Schiano likely doesn't want to stymie his progress by giving him added responsibility.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.