Properly Assigning My Rage
October 23, 2012 at 10:22am by Scott • 12 Comments »
Okay, now that I’ve had a day to think about it, I know who I’m the maddest at. At first I thought I was mad at the officials for denying Mike Williams the game-tying touchdown on such a stupid rule. But the rule is the rule and they have to enforce them. And then I thought I was mad at Vincent Jackson for somehow making a 95-yard catch-and-run but somehow not getting in the endzone. He honestly looked like he was jogging for part of that run and Malcolm Jenkins isn’t extraordinarily fast. But I forgot Jackson has been nursing a calf injury for a while now, so that may have played a part in it. Then I was mad at LeGarrette Blount for not being able to pound the ball into the endzone after several attempts. And I’m still a little mad about that, but the offensive line messed up on their end, too. New Orleans has one of the worst run defenses in the league and somehow they stonewalled the Bucs on the doorstep of the goal line. And then I got mad at Mike Sullivan for calling all those goal line runs in a row when it was obvious that they weren’t working. But there’s a good chance I would have done the same thing. I’m always saying stupid shit like, “If you can’t gain one yard when you need it, you don’t need to be playing” and I very likely would have continued to feed the ball to Blount behind that line since they have Carl Nicks and Donald Penn and Blount is big and powerful. So I was mad at myself, too.
Then it hit me. All those guys are offensive players. But the offense wasn’t necessarily the problem. It was the defense that allowed Drew Brees to come back after being 14 points down twice. Specifically, it was the defensive line that got NO pressure on Brees. And that’s not some subjective indictment I’m putting on the line. That’s statistical fact. There were no sacks and no quarterback pressures recorded for the game. Do you know how hard that is to do? The closest they came was the batted ball early in the game that Ronde Barber returned to the 13. After that the Bucs stayed away from him like Tennessee stays away from SEC victories (or the Crimson Tide stays away from showers). Any quarterback worth a shit will make a completion if you give him a clear look at his receivers. But Brees being Brees will absolutely eat you alive if you give him that kind of time. He’s too accurate and he knows his receivers too well. And sometimes just to make their point that they didn’t want to disturb Brees’s concentration, the Bucs rushed three. Really. No one was going to get there — their offensive line gets paid, too, you know. If that was an effective strategy, someone would have invented Cover 11 by now where there is absolutely no rush. No one does that. You know why? Because rushing the quarterback makes a difference.
So, yes, I blame the defensive line and whoever is in charge of telling them what to do. The 28 points the Bucs scored should have been enough.
The secondary was pretty much shit, too, except for Ronde’s heads up play. Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright both got burned for big gains or touchdowns. Even Mark Barron wasn’t really sharp, which is a big surprise. I honestly don’t have a single note about the linebackers, which means they didn’t play great but did enough to not get noticed. But it all starts at the line. If Brees has to hurry his throws and can’t get set, the rest of the defense looks a lot better.
The offense looked actually pretty good. Josh Freeman was sharp for most of the game and didn’t throw a pick while racking up a career high in passing yards. Doug Martin had the best game of his short career and is finally starting to break away on some of these runs. The receivers played a great game and the tight ends showed up, with Dallas Clark scoring a touchdown and Luke Stocker making a nice catch. I’ll also mention the tight ends blocking here because Clark doesn’t get enough credit for it. He had a nice block on Martin’s TD run. The offensive line had a nice game pass-blocking but their run-blocking obviously needs something since they couldn’t help Blount score from the 3-yard line on three tries. And Jeremy Zuttah‘s rolling snap came at the worst possible time.
The Bucs’ kick return game looked like hell again and Connor Barth missed another field goal, but Michael Koenen continues to impress with his punts and kickoffs. Maybe it’s time to activate Michael Smith and see what he can do to get the Bucs better starting field position. He didn’t look that hot in preseason, but can he be any worse than what they’re getting now?
It was a heartbreaking loss and it shouldn’t have been that way, but the defensive line has looked really good in other games and I’m willing to chalk this one up to… I dunno, mild food poisoning or something. We knew we’d be having conversations like this this season, so let’s not get all indignant now that it’s actually happening. It’s too early to start calling the season a washout. I think six wins is what I’m expecting. Eight wins and it’s a great season. Let’s continue to be realistic here.