Bucs Beat AFC Champs!*
August 27, 2012 at 03:47pm by Scott • 2 Comments »
* may not mean as much now as it would have in February.
NFL Network finally broadcasted the Bucs/Pats game Sunday afternoon after airing a couple other games twice (#BuccaneerConspiracy) so I got around to watching it last night. I came away much more impressed with many aspects of the team, obviously concerned about some others, and disgusted at the amount of cheering Pats fans there were in the stands.
Losing Davin Joseph for the year is huge. Like, super huge. It may be the biggest loss the team could have, and I’m including Josh Freeman. There was so much hinging on the run game this season and Joseph and Carl Nicks were going to be those bookend guards to give Doug Martin the cracks he needed to break his big runs. I assumed Ted Larsen would be the starter in Joseph’s place, and that would have been a big step down. Larsen is good, but he’s not at Joseph’s level. But now Greg Schiano is saying that they’re going to try a few different things out. No one else on the roster is any better than Larsen, so that probably means he’s going to see who gets cut this week and bring in a couple guards to compete with Larsen to start.
You may object to me saying that Joseph is a bigger loss than Freeman would have been, but have you seen anything from Freeman this preseason so far that makes him stand out? Several passes off-target, a seemingly rebellious refusal to run when there are yards and yards of green in front of him, just doesn’t look sharp. He had a couple good passes Friday, but just not sucking isn’t enough. Not for a fourth year franchise quarterback. Dan Orlovsky has been more precise with his throws and more productive. I’m not advocating for Orlovsky to be the starter and I recognize that Freeman is generally playing against better competition than Orlovsky, but Freeman should be clearly better than him at this stage, and he’s not.
Doug Martin has Emmitt Smith-type balance. You see it in just about every run. No defender is going to bring him down with an arm tackle or by throwing themselves at his feet. He can spin and twist and stumble but his knee never touches until he gets hit squarely. He’s a living weeble.
It was good to see Vincent Jackson catch some balls and be a big part of that first drive. He is as advertised and that’s good because he’s going to need that big radius to catch some awkward balls if the offensive line isn’t going to give the quarterback the time he needs to step up.
Speaking of which, is it just me or did Donald Penn look sluggish? Seems like he got pushed around some on Friday. He definitely let Chandler Jones get inside him on the play where Joseph as injured. Not that it’s Penn’s fault or anything, but Penn allowing that kind of pressure is unusual.
Though I wasn’t keeping an exact count, I do remember a lot of bullshit penalties, too. False start, delay of game, illegal formation… all useless penalties. It may be a useless statistics, but it can’t be helping.
I don’t know what happened to Preston Parker during the offseason to make him not be able to hang onto a punt, but he should not be allowed to field punts ever again. If the Bucs keep six receivers and ditch Arrelious Benn, he will probably stick. But guys on the back half of the roster need to be able to do something on special teams and his value is declining quickly if he can’t field punts.
Someone said something during the broadcast about Dallas Clark not being able to block. I saw him block a couple times and he was fine at it. No pancakes or anything, but the guy he was blocking got moved away from the flow of the ball. That’s all they need him to do.
Both Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn got tweaked during the game and left early. Still, the defensive line showed some life with Michael Bennett and Roy Miller. Beyond that, despite the numbers, the depth on the line gets pretty thin. The Bucs will be scouting for this position as well this week, and if they don’t find anyone they like, guys like Wallace Gilberry and E.J. Wilson will be getting roster spots, which seemed incomprehensible last year.
The Patriots ran for 168 yards with an average of 5.4 YPC. That’s a lot — in fact, it’s more than Freeman’s yards per attempt. It didn’t actually seem that way during the game since Adam Hayward and Lavonte David were always around the ball, Hayward especially making some big plays. And Mason Foster, the starting MLB, wasn’t playing. Jeff Demps did his share to boost their average with a 29-yard run and that was against backups, so maybe it isn’t as the stats. But I’ve got a real feeling that teams are going to test the Bucs’ run game early in the season. They’ve got a reputation of giving up a lot of running yards, and until they prove everyone else wrong in a regular season game, that’s going to be the assumption around the league.
One factor other teams will have to consider now is Mark Barron. He can flat-out hit. He’s been equally impressive in run support and pass coverage and has shown so far that he was worthy of the #7 overall pick. If the Bucs can have a true intimidator patrolling the secondary like they did when John Lynch was around, they’ll get part of that nasty edge back that they had all those years ago. Barron might be that guy.
The last preseason game is Wednesday night. My DirecTV schedule says it will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet, channel 642. We’ll see if that actually happens, but hopefully I’ll be able to review the game less than a week after it happens this time.