Ladies And Gentlemen, We Have A Bona Fide Superstar
November 06, 2012 at 12:50am by Scott • 13 Comments »
Me: Wow, the Bucs’ offense is productive. I feel so full of… what’s the opposite of shame?
Mark Dominik: Pride?
Me: No, not that far from shame.
Mark Dominik: Less shame?
So this conversation never happened and is actually just ripped off of a Simpsons episode, but it illustrates how I felt after the Raiders game. The Bucs have had four games of outstanding offensive production, which isn’t just a change from what we’ve come to expect over the last year or two — it’s pretty much completely foreign to Bucs fans for as long as the team has been around. Even offensive genius Jon Gruden didn’t have a full month of breakout offensive performances like this.
Of course, Gruden didn’t have Doug Martin. It’s a little early to crown Martin as anything other than a breath of fresh air (remember, Cadillac Williams had a pretty great rookie season, too) but from what we’re seeing so far, Martin is the whole key to this offense. Remember when everyone was saying it’s all about #5? That may have to be modified. Even without his two Pro Bowl guards grating the road for him, Martin rushed for 251 yards yesterday, and would have had more if he hadn’t taken losses on the last drive of the game to grind down the clock. He also scored four touchdowns on runs of 1, 45, 67 and 70 yards. And he added four receptions for 21 yards just to let you know he knows how to catch the ball, too. The country has Martin fever and the NFL is finally acknowledging the Bucs for something positive.
When you have a 250+ yard runner, things might just open up in the passing game. And Josh Freeman threw for a respectable 247 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks for a passer rating of 108.6. But honestly, his level of production isn’t as important as the decisions he made and some of the individual passes he threw. His two touchdown passes were perfect and indefensible. No one could have thrown them any better than he did. The only issue I saw with Freeman yesterday was the missed handoff to LeGarrette Blount that turned into a fumble recovered by Oakland. John Lynch blamed Blount three times but it was clearly Freeman not placing the ball correctly. Other than that, a great performance by Freeman who is probably relieved it isn’t all about him anymore.
I expected Martin to have a tough time running the ball because Jeremy Zuttah was taking over at guard, but after a couple early game problems, he was pretty solid. No one is going to release Carl Nicks at guard completely, but Zuttah held his own, especially going into the second half. If I’m not mistaken, it was Zuttah who got pushed back for the blocked field goal, and that sucks, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time bitching about it when Martin had the day he had.
The defensive line had a marked improvement and even though they didn’t get to Carson Palmer a bunch, they caused a lot of disruption. Gerald McCoy didn’t get much on the stat sheet but he was the focus of a lot of double teams. Da’Quan Bowers continued his comeback and had a sack and two tackles for loss. The real trooper was Michael Bennett who kept coming back even though the Raiders kept trying to knock him out of the game. One time he was hunched over on the field after a play and I just knew he was going to turn into a Transformer. Alas, he hobbled off the field and into the locker room where they tried to take x-rays of him but couldn’t because the x-rays can’t penetrate his titanium armor. Then he told the doctors to all go fuck themselves because he was going back to play. Which he did. Sorry, I’ve been writing this entry on and off for about 12 hours and I’m getting a little punchy. What was I talking about again?
All the linebackers were excellent yesterday, but Lavonte David was on another plane. He had 16 tackles, 2 for loss, and may have actually had a clone out there on a couple plays. The only linebacker who deserved any criticism for anything really is Adam Hayward who pretty much tackled the Raiders punter after the ball was away. I usually think roughing the kicker penalties are bullshit but that one was unmistakable. Even still, it must be nice to get a lick in on a player who is under more protection than the President.
The secondary was hot and cold yesterday, especially E.J. Biggers. Biggers gave up a big play to Darius Heyward-Bey and another one to Rod Streater and a 2-point conversion to someone whose name I didn’t bother to learn. But he also caused a fumble that went out of bounds and made an interception late in the game. Leonard Johnson looked even better against the Raiders than he did last week against the Vikings and Myron Lewis looked like a bag of asses. All the safeties were decent except for Ahmad Black who was outstanding. So basically, the two least experienced players in the secondary were the best ones.
There really isn’t a lot bad to say about this game. It was fun to watch, it showed even more improvement as a team and more than anything gave us some young stars to watch in the coming weeks. Doug Martin is every fantasy player’s wet dream right now and the Bucs are the league’s top scoring team in the last month. If you find something to really bitch about, you’re looking too hard.
And this is going to sound cliche and corny, but seriously, vote. I know most of you live in Florida and the lines there suck donkey balls and it’s a real pain in the ass, but you have to. You absolutely have to. I will not get political here, but most of us are never really called upon to serve our country. We sit here in the comfort of liberty that other people provide for us, complaining when our internet connection is too slow or Kroger is out of our particular flavor of Fritos. And for 99.9% of the time, that level of sloth is acceptable. But once every couple years, we are called upon to put pants on, stand on line for a little while and exercise the very right that those chosen few lay their balls (or tits — this isn’t a contest) on the line to defend. It really, almost literally, is the least you can do. Thank you.