Josh Freeman

0-3, here we come

September 18, 2014 at 10:10am by jarldg   •  6 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.

You’re Doing It Wrong

November 26, 2013 at 11:27am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

Tim Wright Is Pretty Good

October 18, 2013 at 03:06pm by Scott   •  25 Comments »


Nice article on Tim Wright, who is making the splash that I had hoped Luke Stocker would have made but never did.

The undrafted rookie tight end who was converted from receiver has emerged as a favorite target for new Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, catching seven passes for 91 yards in Sunday’s loss to the Eagles.

That’s a far different arrival than under coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers, where Wright didn’t catch a pass until his fourth year on campus and had only one game to rival what he did Sunday, albeit against the NFL’s second-worst pass defense.

The Bucs took a Rutgers player? The hell you say!

In Schiano’s final season, 2011, Wright had 11 catches for 147 yards. But he more than tripled those numbers as a senior. His best game, coincidentally, came at Raymond James Stadium, where he had eight catches for 125 yards in a win against USF.

I would like to thank author Greg Auman for not using the word “ironically” there. I just had to point that out since no one seems to care if they use words properly anymore. Wright having his best game at Raymond James is definitely a coincidence and is not ironic. Thank you, Greg.

This year’s draft saw 16 tight ends drafted. Only three have more receiving yards than Wright’s 138 (one also has 138) and none more than his 132 over the past two games.

The Bucs tradition of finding gems in the undrafted pool continues. This isn’t to say that Wright is the next Jason Witten, but the offense works better when they have a reliable tight end to go along with the receivers. Kellen Winslow may not have bought into the system, but his catches in clutch situations have been harder for the Bucs to replace than they thought. Hopefully Wright is someone who can fill that role. Anyway, there are some interesting nuggets in the article along with the small addendum where we learn that Wright was the team barber (small b) at Rutgers and is continuing to do so for some guys on the Bucs. If anyone can get the championship hair back to Tampa, it’s Wright.

Second Half Struggles

October 18, 2013 at 02:32pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

If you cannot be turned, then you will be destroyed!
I was reading this article about Mike Sullivan, but the first sentence kind of distracted me:

The Bucs offense is stuggling and has not scored a touchdown in the second half this season.

Now, if the Bucs had been scoring four touchdowns per game in the first half, that would be acceptable. But this is a symptom of a team that not resilient and cannot battle through adversity. I don’t know that moving Sullivan up to the press box is the solution to that.

“It’s something that gives an added vantagepoint that I think it’s helpful from the standpoint of not seeing it at ground level but having that bird’s eye view.”

John McNulty was already up there, but if Sullivan thinks it gives him an advantage to planning a better offensive strategy, fine. But it still doesn’t solve the issue of getting the players up for the second half.

I know what some of you are going to say. It’s the coach’s job to motivate his players — it’s another knock on Greg Schiano if the offense is flat in the second half. And you’re right, it’s a point that needs to be addressed. But it’s still not a reason to pull the plug on him yet. Give him time to deal with all these issues. All the stuff being written here and elsewhere about being done with the Bucs for now needs to be put on hold at least until the end of the season. Give Mike Glennon a chance and re-evaluate the whole team then. Look, I’m already eating the suck salad of being a Tennessee Volunteers fan this season. It’s pretty much adding bacon bits to it by being a Bucs fan too. And if I can still watch all the games, so can you.

Calm Down People

October 08, 2013 at 09:52am by Scott   •  20 Comments »

calmdown1

There’s been a lot of talk about the state of the Bucs and the how this team is spiraling out of control and how Greg Schiano needs to be fired now and blah blah blah. It’s all over sports radio and the web that this team is already dead and buried and it’s Schiano’s fault. I don’t know how we became so impatient that a coach needs to be successful immediately in order to not get fired.

I realize there are arguments to be made that Schiano isn’t doing well. The Bucs are 0-4 to start the season and they have that record with a ton of talent on the roster. They seem to be regressing in certain aspects of their game. And there are more leaks and drama on the team than there has ever been in the past. But I’m going to lay most of that on Josh Freeman. We all knew Freeman was inaccurate and made bad decisions coming out of college (like, for example, coming out of college). We discussed it on this site and so did every other outlet. But he was big and strong and mobile and Raheem Morris really liked him and he was finally a chance for the Bucs to have their first true franchise quarterback in decades. And with the youth movement, there’s no way they were going to stick with someone like Jeff Garcia or Brian Griese. So I get it. But three and a half years of starting games and never finding consistency is long enough. You can blame the multiple offensive coordinators and quarterback coaches if you like, and there’s some validity to that. But when you combine his lack of productivity with his apparently lackadaisical approach to team obligations, it just wasn’t going to work.

This write-up by Roy Cummings gives an account of the last few weeks of the Josh Freeman era. Missed obligations by Freeman followed by leniency by the Bucs led only to more missed obligations. I had always heard that Freeman was a hard worker and forced other players to be accountable. Whether that was always exaggerated or used to be true but fell off in later years, I’m not sure. Whatever the case, Freeman ended his tenure as a Buccaneer as a slacker. And if Greg Schiano is intolerant of anything, it’s being a slacker.

(As much as I’ve ripped on Cummings over the years, that is a very even-handed look at the situation. But if you don’t trust Cummings, maybe you’ll believe Ronde Barber’s assessment of the situation: “The best thing that they did was release Josh. Somehow, someway that situation had to end. It had gotten toxic from both sides. Josh was manipulating, everybody felt like Coach was manipulating, but I don’t feel like Greg was that kind of guy. Greg wants what’s best for this team. I think he can get the locker room back. I want to see him get the locker room back.”)

Now that Schiano has Mike Glennon, the quarterback he wanted, he’s on the hook for the team now. But he’ll still need a couple years to groom Glennon. And this bullshit about Mark Dominik being on the hot seat has to end now. This team is stocked with talent at every level of both the offense and defense. Everybody keeps pointing at his drafts like they’re failures, but he has found some excellent players over the last couple years. The top end of the 2012 draft looks especially awesome. And it’s not just drafts. He also signed some free agents that have produced good numbers. It’s Dominik’s job to give Schiano the pieces he needs to succeed and I think he has done that. Glennon is really the only unknown piece (and unfortunately the most important one). Everywhere else — running back, offensive line, linebackers, secondary, wherever — he’s got legitimate stars.

The only issue now is that all three of the main guys — the general manager, the head coach and the quarterback — are all tied together. If Glennon fails, the team fails and that will fall on Schiano who will have not been able to succeed with tons of talent and his own quarterback. And if Schiano fails, that will fall on Dominik who will have hired two coaches who couldn’t get it done. But again, I think Glennon needs to have the rest of this year and all of next year to be tested before any real assessment can be made of any of them.

So listen, the Bucs aren’t going to the playoffs. They can’t win the division unless Drew Brees spontaneously combusts and I can guarantee there will be two teams better than them when the wildcards shake out. So the pressure is off, and you’ve got to watch the games with that attitude. When Glennon makes a mistake, look at it as a learning experience for him. Watch Gerald McCoy get better every week and watch the defense go from good to great. If they win, hey that’s awesome. If they lose, that’s a better draft slot next year. If you’re a Bucs fan from way back, you’ve been through this before and you know the possibilities are wide open. But continue to watch and continue to support. They’re still our team.