Josh Freeman

(Almost) Officially out of the playoffs

October 09, 2014 at 02:43pm by jarldg   •  1 Comment »

Lots of these.

Lots of these.

Several plays were left on the field this week because of penalties.  It’s somehow still surprising as Lovie Smith is known to discipline his squads.  Our hearts are broken, as Atlanta lost and Carolina continues to frustrate.

The offense performed pretty well against a haggard defense.  Mike Glennon continued to look good and made some great anticipation throws, which is what a developing quarterback should be able to do.  The ground game was never there unfortunately to help out.  I’m hoping it’s a line issue insofar as scheme adjustment.  We still don’t know what we have in Tedford because he’s yet to be able to do his job.  It will be interesting to see if and how the offense changes upon his return.

The defense pressured Brees all day and that was a relief.  It’s unfortunate, however, that the coverage team never left the plane.  Except for Johnthan Banks, he had a great interception when breaking to the ball as Brees was being dragged down by McCoy.  Verner dropped at least three picks until he was able to snag one at the end of the half, and I’ll give credit to Lansanah for his catch and TD.  I didn’t expect that out of Danny.

Once the game headed into overtime there really wasn’t much of a chance- we knew the Saints were going to drive right down the field and score.  No one could have predicted it would occur in such horrific fashion (a hurricane of missed tackles and shitty angles).

Now that the season is lost, we can look forward to player development.  Charles Sims will be playing sometime next month and by then Tedford should be in the fold.  We’ll have a peek as to what they’re cooking up for next season around Thanksgiving.

Buccaneers v. Saints: Week 5 Preview

October 05, 2014 at 10:38am by jarldg   •  1 Comment »

Break his arm again.

Break his arm again.

Tampa going to Louisiana usually results in a loss.  I’m not confident that a different outcome will betide them today, however, I do expect the game to be competitive.

Mike Evans being out of commission does wonders for the Rob Ryan.   The offense is going to have to rely on Murphy and Seferian-Jenkins in the rookie’s absence. New Orleans’ defense doesn’t threaten with a lot, it’s just that the Bucs need their whole offense to come together in order to score. As we see, this happens in spurts.  Doug Martin should have a better day against this squad, and with a secondary that has performed awfully, Tampa has a shot to keep pace with Drew Brees.

McCoy changed the game last week and Michael Johnson is one week further from injury.   Johnson proved effective last week for the first time in a Buccaneer jersey, and can hopefully collapse the pocket from his position.  With Bowers lining up opposite of McCoy on passing downs this could be a formidable rush.

Foster has a good chance to be back this afternoon now that his shoulder is squarely back in its socket.  This would be a considerable gain, because for as good as Fletcher has played, he is bereft of any coverage skills.  The Buccaneer secondary is going to be at a disadvantage today with Goldson out and Barron questionable.  Obviously, Foster’s presence is needed.

Carolina and Atlanta face opponents that could very well beat them.  The winner of this game would set all three teams at 2-3 and actually make the division a race.  Week five has a chance to be the most interesting by far in the short season.

The bad news is that Brees and Graham are going to play–the good new is I have them both in fantasy.  Expect each to have a banner day against the injury riddled secondary.

Although the Saints have been playing like hell, I believe they’ll have a morale rush while at home.

Score Prediction: 27-21 Saints

Be shocked

October 01, 2014 at 03:08pm by jarldg   •  3 Comments »

Eat shit, Steeltown.

Eat shit, Steeltown.

I’m not alone in saying that I couldn’t believe what I just saw. Clearly I’m referring to the first and last five minutes of the game because everything in between was the garbage we’ve come to expect.

We should all take a moment to thank Pittsburgh for giving up on their running game so early. Bell got stuffed several times yet had just as many infuriatingly productive touches. That 3rd and 13 flat route was an embarrassment. However, it seemed Ben and Brown were just successful enough through the air (very) to keep putting the ball up.  Had they leaned more heavily on Blount and Bell, Tampa would probably be winless.

So Michael Johnson showed up. The LT apparently watched his tape and was not impressed enough to even look at him on the third play of the game, gifting a sack/fumble. Mike did legitimately beat his man for another sack on the day which gives some optimism that is sure to sour when he goes another four weeks without one.  Hell, even Da’Quan Bowers got a sack from the nose position on a well executed stunt.

Gerald McCoy decided his broken hand could go fuck itself as he blocked a pass with it on 3rd down during Pittsburgh’s second series. His sack on the second play of the game forced them to pass on third down, leading to the fumble. He was at least double teamed for the remainder of the afternoon. I caught two occasions where he clearly timed the snapcount and was in the backfield before the running back got the ball. Christ, he’s great to watch. McCoy is the defense, what the hell is taking so long on that extension?

Doug Martin had a few good carries while Bobby might not have gotten out of the backfield. The touchdown was enabled by a flagrant hold on the other Bengal bust, though Antonio Brown’s shove in the endzone made it a solid no call. Doug had better keep improving against the Saints “defense,” though his pass blocking was actually great.

All things considered we should be happy about this win beyond the obvious reason that it wasn’t a loss. Mike Glennon made some great throws and reads as Louis Murphy broke Owusu’s heart time and again. If not for one game, the brass made the right choice with the switch.

Glennon, of course, still exhibited the problems that plague him. He almost threw the game away to Polumalu, despite his best efforts, and STARED VINCENT JACKSON DOWN at every opportunity. He had a considerably easier endzone throw in the right flat to a wide open man if he hadn’t turned completely away from him at the snap.

Ultimately, Tampa can win with Glennon playing like that. The blame for his sole interception can be placed squarely on Mike Evans’ groin (a familiar letdown for some of us), and as suspected he took shots downfield all game. The forty yarder to Evans at the edge of the sideline stands as a prime example of what McCown was supposed to do. Unfortunately, Mike is done until Halloween.

I will hand it to Arroyo, a well called fourth quarter. He put a ton of faith in Glennon and Murphy which paid off in spades.

Lovie called a decent game defensively. With one healthy safety we expected a few plays to go over the top, yet that doesn’t excuse Miller for being open the whole goddamn afternoon. Those second/third and long conversions were maddening.

Let’s all just enjoy the rhetoric that Glennon beat Roethlisberger, and we’re one game out of first place.

 

Buccaneers v. Steelers Preview: Week 4

September 28, 2014 at 11:25am by jarldg   •  2 Comments »

He's not going to have to do much this afternoon.

He’s not going to have to do much this afternoon.

Fuck the Falcons.

Tampa is going to lose today, but take solace in the fact that it’s going to look nothing like last week.  Doug Martin is back and needs to play well to have any semblance of an offense in the three hours this is going to take.  Glennon gets the start, and at least will push the ball downfield to make for a couple exciting plays that may or may not involve turnovers.

Fortunately, Gerald McCoy will be suiting up.  He’s not going to be what he was week one but he should still handle himself well.  I read that Michael Johnson was “eager” to play again, which makes him the only one.  His is a signing that the Tampa legal team should already be poring over in an effort to get out of it.

Antonio Brown is going to have a solid outing, fantasy owners can be sure. At this point I’m just rambling.  My birthday was last night and I got adequately drunk to endure what will betide me at 1:00 pm.

Score prediction: 27-14 Steelers.

0-3, here we come

September 18, 2014 at 10:10am by jarldg   •  7 Comments »

What you see above is atypical.

What you see above is atypical.

Lovie Smith is going into the Georgia Dome with an ultra conservative offense against a sub par defense.

Now that all of the optimism is out of the way the focus can shift to Altanta’s offense.  The team is not what they used to be, however Roddy White is healthy and Julio Jones is looking to put up big numbers.  Without a pass rush to at least suggest Matt Ryan to move, it’s not going to matter that Tony Gonzalez is absent- the Falcons are going score frequently.  Michael Johnson is back, which doesn’t matter, and Gerald McCoy probably won’t play.

I’m going to spare you the “winnable matchup” blindness that I would pursue with a healthy lineup and a less shitty first two games, because frankly I don’t have the energy.  The rookie left tackle can be indifferent toward his direct opposition this evening because of the pedestrian depth behind Johnson, and the fact that Johnson himself doesn’t do much of anything even with a healthy McCoy taking on two blockers.  While I don’t anticipate a ton of deep plays, it’s going to be difficult to enjoy each pass going for ten yards a pop after Matt spends 5 seconds in the pocket.

Doug Martin looks like he’s going to play.  I’m starting to become skeptical of him, which even surprises me.  That one year under Schiano was groundbreaking, it just doesn’t seem he’s capable of duplicating that performance.  If he had the start against the Rams I’m unsure he would have done too much better than Rainey, and Bobby doesn’t get hurt.  Tonight I’ll be watching for Martin to abuse a piss poor run defense, even with our healthy “offensive line” in front of him.

Let’s call a spade a spade: Lovie’s defense has been touted as a turnover machine, and his defenses need to be.  With the exception of an errant throw not forced by pressure, the Bucs haven’t even gotten a chance at an interception in the first two games, and their sole fumble against the Rams wasn’t exactly by the book, either.  Something in the gameplan has to change- stunting and blitzing will have to be further incorporated in an attempt to mask the inadequacies of the pass rush.  I’ve noticed guys really going after the strip, which is inspiring, yet only does so much.

Tampa is going to do what they always do in Georgia, and I’m hoping the nation (and to a greater extent, myself) can find something redeeming in tonight’s play.

Score Prediction: 31-17 Falcons

*****UPDATE*****

It looks like Doug Martin isn’t going to play.  Or Gerald McCoy.  Oddly enough, the score prediction didn’t change.

The Bucs have reached a new low.

September 14, 2014 at 08:19pm by jarldg   •  2 Comments »

 

You're letting us all down.

You’re letting us all down.

It was refreshing to watch Tampa move the ball better than last week, though it was far from enough.  McCown threw another egregious interception on the five yard line, and that was the difference in the game.  Should the line have held on that blocked field goal the game could have also ended differently- but it’s much easier to reproach the quarterback for making a ridiculous decision that he was fully capable of avoiding.

Rainey filled in well for Martin, again, which was expected.  I didn’t forsee him stacking up 150 on the ground, which was a pleasant surprise.  A great performance wasted.

Holy hell the defense was bad.  Brian Quick was perpetually open.  Almost all of the receivers were as they found gaping holes in the zone.  Once McCoy left the game there was a noticeable drop in pressure and Davis stood unmolested for almost the entire afternoon.   Each third down conversion became impossibly hard to watch.  If this stable of receivers performed so well, Atlanta is going to run up the score on Thursday.

For the second straight week the Buccaneers refused to win.  While the playcalling was more imaginative today they didn’t take shots down the field until there was less than a minute left.  There was no point in spending the top pick in the draft on a receiver if the offense refuses to take shots downfield.  McCown is never going to have a lot of time to throw due to his line, yet they ran well enough today to at east have employed the use of play action to stretch the field.  To make the loss even more heartbreaking (aside from witnessing the defense being far worse than advertised), the injury 10 second windoff ended the game.

The Bucs are 0-2, and that’s the last game I’ll be favoring them for a while.  It looks like they’re gunning for another top ten pick.

 

Buccaneers v. Rams Preview: Week 2

September 13, 2014 at 06:58pm by jarldg   •  2 Comments »

Thank God.

Thank God.

Tampa played a solid quarter last week, which means about as much to fans as an above average halftime show.  Winning games is going to require them to play coherently for at least a couple of quarters.  A quick glance at the schedule suggests this is going to be the most winnable game of the season.  Tampa is at home, facing a Rams team that has had zero good news so far.

Defense

Defensively the Buccaneers should easily be able to keep St. Louis to 14 points.  Beyond outliers, it would be unacceptable and difficult to explain giving up much more than that to an offense that is the worst in the league.  Their weapons include Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Jared Cook, Zac Stacy, and Austin Davis.  Apparently, one of those is a quarterback.

Analysis is not required here.  The Rams should not be able to run or pass on anyone, and Gerald McCoy should have a multiple sack performance.  The offensive line is their best asset on that side of the ball and they are only average- even less so now with guard Barrett Jones scratched.  This, of course, means we’ll be seeing Davin Joseph in action.  Again, McCoy should have at least a couple of sacks.

Offense

The Rams have the best defensive line in the NFL.  Fortunately, there is no one else worth mentioning and that vaunted line took a hit when they lost Chris Long.  Janoris Jenkins should be overmatched by either of the starting receivers.  That might not matter much if Vincent Jackson can’t shake his case of the dropsies, but let’s dare to be optimistic.  This is an opponent that Josh McCown simply must not hold the ball against.  Throws are going to have to come out immediately after the end of his drop, and if he only throws one pick that’s a marked improvement.

Tedford is going to be calling plays so theoretically the offense should open up.  Here’s to hoping he’s willing to abandon the run when it flounders.  Tampa should, and really needs, to win this handily.

Score Prediction: 24-13, Bucs

Fuck you, Derek Anderson

September 12, 2014 at 06:20pm by jarldg   •  No Comments »

We lost to a probowl quarterback.  That is how I have chosen to assess the situation.

We lost to a probowl quarterback. That is how I have chosen to assess the situation.

Cam Newton didn’t take a snap and the offense still moved the ball whenever they wanted to.  Michael Johnson looked like ass, and Adrian Clayborn couldn’t do anything from the left side (we don’t need to worry about Adrian playing another down for Tampa again).  This freed up the interior offensive line to double team McCoy for four quarters, making him as close to irrelevant as he’ll ever be.  The fact that he was able to get a sack and a few hurries screams volumes of his ability, and again casts a harsh light on the inadequacies of those around him.  The defensive performance further solidifies it’s dependence on McCoy, as it would have been obliterated without him.  By the way, he’s in a contract year and hasn’t been extended.  Get your shit together, Jason.

Kelvin Benjamin is not that good, but thanks to Lovie Smith playing Mike Jenkins, he had an outstanding debut.  Luckily, Jenkins is on IR so Banks can get those snaps.  Meanwhile, Greg Olsen dropped a second touchdown behind the safeties and seemed to find plenty of coverage breakdowns throughout the afternoon.  Forget that Derek Anderson was throwing the ball with all kinds of time, too, as DeAngelo Williams averaged over 5 yards per carry.

“Can’t stop a pass, or a run.  Otherwise we’re in great shape.”  - John McKay

I love that quote in the offseason.  Watching a haggard offense look anything but only to barely win the game is about as bad of a loss as a  spectator can stomach.  It was disgusting, and the Bucs’ offense was a close second.

For three and a half quarters everyone with a headset thought it was a good idea to run the ball at the expense of the passing game.  There might have been six runs for a positive gain in the entire first quarter (absent the goddamn fullback), but that didn’t stop Tampa from going to the dry well early and often in the second.  The line was pushed back every single time they ran the ball, even when Mankins put his his quarter of work.  It was embarrassing to see the lineman get stood up time after time, only for the OC in training to keep doubling down.

Let’s not take the focus away from Josh McCown looking like an idiot on three unforgivable occasions.  It takes longer for him to throw the ball than it did for me to get my first girlfriend to climax, and believe me I was at it all fucking night.  Sure enough, the end came around for the strip and the sack.  Each interception was an abomination.  There was an instance in the first half where Josh was getting thrown around and managed to dump the ball off for a positive gain.  Needless to say, that only inspires so much confidence after seeing the fake screen and subsequent pick go far worse than the coaches imagined when drawing them up.

Refusing to end on a low note, I’ll get the bottom line out of the way.  Tampa lost a game they should have won, and in this supposedly turnaround year it’s only going to leave a caustic taste should they finish anywhere close to a wildcard spot.  I realized the absurdity of that sentence after typing it.

We should take away that the offense moved the ball extremely well as time became a factor.  The fourth quarter offense was in stark contrast to the garbage strewn onto the field throughout the previous portion of the afternoon.  Without a late fumble, they might have escaped themselves.   I’m running out of positive things to say- let’s hope they can get their act together for a team who may not even field a quarterback.

Buccaneers v. Panthers Preview: Week 1

September 03, 2014 at 04:42pm by jarldg   •  13 Comments »

Not that I don't think he could kick the shit out of me, but those guns aren't big enough to use that as a celebration.

The only player still on the team when I searched “panthers” in the media section.

Minds and hearts will be broken when people see that this isn’t a post by Scott- if anyone is even still frequenting this site.

I’m going to do my damndest to at least post a game preview and review each week.  This site used to be my go-to, like many of it’s readers, for Bucs related news.  For the regular season I’d like to see it get off life support (or exhumed).

Week one is going to determine whether Tampa is going to realistically contend for a wildcard spot come January.  It will be hard enough in the NFC to do that, and even harder if they drop what is to be their best shot at the Panthers this weekend.  Let’s see how Lovie Smith fares, hope Tedord’s offense works, and pray a real defense can get the most out of Gerald McCoy.

Half of Carolina’s talent on offense either retired or walked in free agency, and there’s no better time to catch them out of sync than the first Sunday of the season.  On top of the questionable offensive line, receivers, and use of their running backs, the Panther’s have to worry about Cam Newton’s fractured rib and bum ankle.  Not that I’d be disappointed to see Derek Anderson start in his stead, I’m just being realistic in expecting Cam to show up regardless of what ails him.

Though Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are back to full strength, I don’t see an offense where the only receiving threat is Kelvin Benjamin being able to put too many points on the board against Tampa’s defense.  The front four should be able to put pressure on Cam, especially with Jordan Gross out of the picture, and the secondary only has to contain the rookie.  Unless Newton and the running backs have a big day on the ground, they shouldn’t be frequenting the endzone.

Josh and the boys (I briefly thought of Freeman only to both shudder and shake my head) face a supremely talented front seven.  The lackluster secondary, I feel, is going to be a difference maker.  Melvin White and Antoine Cason should be overmatched by Vincent Jackson and (even a raw) Mike Evans.  If Seferian-Jenkins gets in on the action then McCown should have a lot of flexibility moving the ball.  McDermott is also going to have to respect a healthy Doug Martin.

This is a very winnable game, and to make things better it’s at home.  Barring injury, I think Tampa comes away in a close one.

Score Prediction:  17-14 Bucs

Two And Out

January 05, 2014 at 03:00pm by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Lovie Smith will not have interesting press conferences.
When the news came down about the Bucs firing Greg Schiano and Mark Dominik, my first reaction was one of disappointment and absolutely no surprise. No NFL head coach is allowed to take a step backward. Raheem Morris went 10-6 then followed it up with a 4-12 season. Gone. Greg Schiano goes 7-9 in his first season and follows it up with 4-12, and he’s gone too. I was happy to see Morris go because I ultimately didn’t think he was the right guy for the job. But I thought Schiano deserved some more time. These days, head coaches are expected to be perfect and no one is given enough time to get their system to work or instill a culture into the locker room. Rob Chudzinski was fired from the Browns the day before and had only been in Cleveland one season and I didn’t think that was right either even though I couldn’t possibly care less about the Browns. I thought Schiano had brought some discipline and accountability to the team that had been lacking for the past few seasons and that the 2013 season was a necessary step to a better future.

And that shows you exactly how little attention I paid this season.

Story after story came out this year about how Schiano was this huge jackass with no working understanding of how to relate to players who over the age of 20. It was like he was really trying to earn his “World’s Biggest Tool” coffee mug. Whether he was kicking school children out of practice for being too distracting to the players or former Bucs comparing the Schiano regime to Cuba or Schiano himself saying after he was canned that the Tampa Bay situation “needed Greg Schiano“, the guy was an Olympic-class knob. I’ve looked for articles expressing sympathy for Schiano or at least a small “he wasn’t so bad” sentiment after his firing. Nothing. Everyone is happy to see him gone and most everyone predicts he’ll turn up as a high school weight lifting coach, yelling at students who haven’t given enough effort to pop a hernia through their navel yet.

I have different feelings about Mark Dominik, though. I thought throughout the season that the Bucs had enough talent on the field to win. The running back depth was solid all year long even though they were reduced to playing the guy that even Cleveland didn’t want. The linebacking corps is stellar. And the secondary, once the bane of the team, is much improved. Yes, of course there are problems (QUARTERBACK), but all teams have problems. Dominik is a good evaluator of talent and has kept the Bucs in good cap shape so as to be able to afford some of the pricier free agents. His one flaw is apparently hiring head coaches — and that’s a big one. Unless you’re the one writing the checks (like Jerry Jones), you can’t just hire any old schmuck who will take the job (like everybody Jerry Jones hired) and get away with it when the team keeps on losing (like Jerry Jones’s team). So I get it. I just don’t like it. DISCLAIMER: I have spoken with Dominik on several occasions and like him personally. I know being a nice guy doesn’t put your team in the playoffs, but if it did, his team would always be a contender.

Now the Glazers went on their own and hired Lovie Smith, the most average NFL coach ever. Seriously, if you lined up everyone who has ever coached in the NFL in a single line ordered by how good they were, Lovie Smith would be in the dead center. But they weren’t going to go with a college name again after Schiano leg-whipped their team into another top ten draft pick. And they certainly weren’t going to go with another up-and-comer coordinator after Morris went on to define “youngry” as “inexperienced and bad at our jobs”. And there are no former Super Bowl-winning coaches who want to leave their cushy gigs for the sidelines at the moment (although it has been reported that both Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher had been approached). So who’s left? Former NFL head coaches who had recently been fired. And Smith is at the top of that list.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Smith. He’s got Tampa roots, he’s a high-character guy and he will command the respect of the players without anyone using the term “Napoleon complex“. He coached Chicago for nine years, went to the playoffs three times including one trip to the Super Bowl and was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012. He’s just not very exciting. But that’s okay. Nothing is more exciting than winning, so Smith can have the personality of a bag of wet hair as long as he’s racking up victories. It is being reported that Smith will bring in former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator and former Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier as his defensive coordinator. That’s a solid core of coaches. Boring, but solid.

So there you go. Smith will fill in the vacancies with the rest of the coaching staff soon and at some point the Glazers will hire a general manager who is compatible with Smith (right now, Chris Ballard, who was GM in Chicago while Smith was there, is the name being bandied about — not that it matters a whole lot since Smith has final say on the roster) and we’ll fall back into another offseason with a new regime. Only about six weeks until the combine.