Freeman Leads A Comeback (Except In Reverse)
December 06, 2010 at 11:09am by Scott • 13 Comments »
For the fifth time this year, the Bucs lost to a team with a winning record, and for the third time in a row, they kept it close. That makes the loss hurt worse, but it’s still good news for the future. It’s nice not getting blown out anymore
Josh Freeman didn’t have a great game, although I thought it was better than Baltimore. He was off on a lot of passes (especially to Arrelious Benn, whom he evidently needs to develop better chemistry with) and made some bad decisions, one particular one being his decision to not just run a couple yards for a first down and instead throw the ball to Cadillac Williams who fell down while getting open. Can’t we learn anything from Brett Favre‘s playoff game last year? He missed Micheal Spurlock and missed Ryan Purvis and got picked a couple times (even though that one got reversed, it doesn’t make the decision to throw it any better). His receivers dropped a couple and he did make a couple nice throws, but in the end it was a second game where he looked human. A GIANT HUMAN WALKING THE EARTH. Also, I love it when a quarterback gets called for a personal foul. The game was essentially over at that point anyway, why not blast the guy who picked you off?
I made fun of the reporters who were comparing LeGarrette Blount to Mike Alstott after one game (remember the “B-Train”?), but every time he drags tacklers around for ten yards, you can’t help but see the similarities. Blount is still hesitant on some carries and lets the penetration get to him in the backfield, but that should go away with experience. Cadillac Williams is pretty much an afterthought in the running game now and spends the bulk of his snaps in pass protection. And Earnest Graham threw a touchdown pass, which I thought was awesome at the time, but then when the game was over I remembered that play and realized they probably couldn’t run it again this season and that it was kind of wasted on a loss. It was set up perfectly, too. There was no one on the right side of the field. Graham could have done The Worm into the endzone before anyone touched him down.
Mike Williams was targeted 14 times by Josh Freeman. He caught five of them for 59 yards, which is still a good day, but maybe, I dunno, spread that thing out a little more. Kellen Winslow, still the best receiver on the team, was targeted four times and caught three for 26 yards. I think other teams have figured out that Williams is the #1 receiver and are taking him away. Seven different receivers caught the ball and eight were targeted, but it just seems like Freeman is forcing it to Williams when there are other options on any given play. Maybe if Freeman had thrown better balls I wouldn’t be thinking this way.
Benn’s 28-yard run after the catch was brilliant. It’s no wonder they want to get the ball into his hands more. That kid has a long stride. It looked like he was covering five yards with every step. And Sammie Stroughter‘s catch while falling backwards was, no shit, one of the best catches of the season. It’s not going to be on a highlight reel because it wasn’t one-handed or a toe-tapper on the sideline, but it was brilliant.
The only problem I saw with the offensive line was when Ted Larsen got blown up by Jonathan Babineaux and Freeman got sacked. Otherwise, aside from some pressure here and there, they looked pretty good. Blount had a good day running the ball and Freeman stayed pretty clean (officially the Falcons had 3 QB hits). It was especially impressive since Jeff Faine went out for a while and had to be replaced by Jeremy Zuttah, which made Derek Hardman come in at right guard. Despite all the changes, there were no penalties called on the offensive line. I thought it was a good game up front.
Up front by the offense, I mean. Up front on defense seemed to be lacking. Gerald McCoy, specifically had a bad game. No sacks, no tackles, and a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty which took the Falcons out of 3rd and 17 to give them an automatic first down on a drive that ended with a touchdown. Matt Ryan wasn’t sacked at all. The best thing you can say is that Michael Turner only rushed for 88 yards (3.7 YPC), which is an improvement over the last Falcons game, but this game still felt like a step backwards for the defensive line.
If Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber don’t drop their interceptions, I think the Bucs win this one. That said, I thought it was a great game by the secondary except for Myron Lewis, who got beaten for a touchdown to Michael Jenkins even though it wasn’t a great pass by Ryan. After Talib went down, E.J. Biggers filled in for him and did an excellent job. The only real big play he let Roddy White have was a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter. Sean Jones got his first interception and had a nice runback while Corey Lynch filled in pretty well for Cody Grimm and even had an interception of his own. Ryan’s passer rating was 62.8, which is pretty bad for a guy as highly touted as he is.
Unless the rest of the NFC starts to fall apart, this game probably puts the nail in the coffin of the playoffs for the Bucs. They may go on a three game winning streak starting next week, but they have too much ground to make up and the tiebreakers don’t fall in their favor, either. I guess it could happen, but the Packers, Saints and Giants would all have to go on historic losing skids for the playoffs to be possible for the Bucs. The next few games are very winnable, though, and the Bucs could finish the season strong going into next year, which really helped them out this season. And the first person to start wishing for losses to get them a better draft pick in 2011 is getting kicked in the throat. You know it’s gonna happen.