Bucs Are Over .500 In November
November 13, 2012 at 12:10am by Scott • 13 Comments »
Well, what do you know. The Bucs can win even without Doug Martin running for a dozen touchdowns with the whole team on his back. This time with Martin running just enough to keep everyone out of his quarterback’s grill, Josh Freeman did it with efficient passing and a whole lot of help from the defense and special teams and Philip Rivers.
I have heard some criticism of the defensive line over this game, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. According to Gerald McCoy, the line was being asked to do too much stunting in the first half. When McCoy asked the coaches to let the line go up the field more, they said yes and the whole dynamic of the game changed. Rivers was under pressure for most of the second half, causing his passer rating to drop by almost 50 points from the first half. After the defensive line clamped down, the Bucs took the game over.
Part of the credit goes to the linebackers, too. I say this every week, but Lavonte David was everywhere and did everything. Sadly, Quincy Black was having his best game of the year before he sustained a neck injury and had to be carted off. And while Mason Foster did give up a touchdown in coverage, he got after Rivers quite a bit, sacking him once and also notching a tackle for loss.
The secondary continues to suck for a good portion of the game, then has a couple splash plays to make it all seem okay. It’s not all okay. E.J. Biggers gives up at least one touchdown every game. I think he’s a solid backup right now but not starting material. He has had good games, but not recently. Leonard Johnson is really starting to make a name for himself with three interceptions in three games. And that’s all well and good, but let’s not pretend yesterday’s interception was a great feat of coverage. He hauled in a desperation pass that Rivers just chucked up for no good reason. Remember Larry Brown picking off Neil O’Donnell? Yeah, that’s what happened. Johnson was the beneficiary of being where he was supposed to be, and that’s better than the alternative. But before we go crowning him Johnson Island (which would be a great name for a gay reality show), let’s let him play a few more games. But so far, so good. Do you want to know how little faith the Bucs have in Myron Lewis? LeQuan Lewis was put in instead of Myron and looked pretty sweet in his first action as a Buccaneer (besides fumbling a kickoff in the endzone). One interception (a better one than Johnson’s, even though the pass was underthrown) and another pass broke up in relatively limited playing time. Even Ronde Barber played some corner instead of putting Myron back on the field. Ahmad Black missed a couple tackles, Mark Barron was beaten for a couple completions… it just wasn’t consistent.
Mike Sullivan has just about given up the charade that he has any other running backs besides Martin. LeGarrette Blount had one run for 3 yards and D.J. Ware botched a direct snap that lost a yard. That’s it. Martin was everything else on the ground, with 68 rushing and another 51 receiving. Not as impressive as his last couple games, but it was enough to remind the Chargers who he was and that they needed to respect the run.
Josh Freeman was excellent. He only threw the ball 20 times (completing 14), but 2 of them went for touchdowns, none of them were picked and he ended the day with a passer rating of 137.5. With a productive running game, that’s all he needs to be. He’s more than a game manager, of course, but I think he is identifying his strengths (the long ball with a solid pocket) and playing to them. That’s the mark of a mature quarterback. He may not have thrown for 400 yards yesterday, but I really thought it was one of his best games as a pro.
And hats off to Dekota Watson and Adam Hayward for that blocked punt. There are fewer things more satisfying than seeing a punter get laid out on a perfectly legal play. They flop and draw so many bogus penalties so much, it’s nice to see one just get hammered every now and then. I know he looked hurt and he started staggering and shit, but he was well enough to continue punting and holding, so he’s fine. If you put on a helmet and take the field, you’re a target.
Awesome game. The Bucs have 7 more of them. The Panthers, Rams and Eagles should be wins. If they can beat New Orleans (which they have done even when the Saints were a better team and the Bucs were a worse team) and get just one of the Falcons games, that’s a 10 win season. Whether or not that makes them a playoff contender is anyone’s guess right now. But if you had heard that a 10 win season was a real possibility back in March, you’d be ecstatic. Props to the players, coaches and management for making this happen in such short order. There’s a long way to go, but I’m much more impressed than I thought I’d be at this point.