No Vick, No Jackson, No McCoy, No Problem
December 11, 2012 at 01:46am by Scott • 7 Comments »
[The banner pic is there because it was the best part of the game yesterday. I really miss that team.]
For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to give a positive spin on the Bucs’ losses, knowing that none of us really expected them to do all that much this season and they’ve probably already exceeded what we could have hoped for. They’ve been beating the teams they should be beating and losing to the better teams in the league. But the excuses stopped making sense on Sunday when the Bucs lost to an obviously inferior Philadelphia team. And the fault lies squarely on Josh Freeman and the Bucs’ secondary.
Freeman was 14 for 34 on the day and his passes were as ugly as his stats. The incompletions weren’t dropped passes or good plays by the Philadelphia defense. They were just shitty passes. Some of it may have been bad receiver routes, I don’t know. Freeman certainly threw enough fits on the field to try and make us all think he was throwing to the exact right location (it started to get embarrassing with the number of times he bitched at his receivers) but if the quarterback and the receiver aren’t on the same page, guess whose fault that is. In case you didn’t get my meaning just then, it’s the quarterback’s fault. Freeman is generally pretty good at the beginning of the game, has a lull in the middle and finishes off well. This time, he started off as complete shit (5 for 16), came back and did awesome, and ended up pretty bad. If he connects on even a couple more of those passes and ends the day at 50%, they probably win.
And Freeman got lucky, too. At least two of his passes should have been picked and up to four had that opportunity. Bad day for Freeman. Let’s hope it’s out of his system.
The rest of the offense had a pretty good day. Doug Martin had a very solid 128 yards, Vincent Jackson had 131 yards and the offensive line was okay (although the run-blocking was better than the pass-blocking and the penalties came at the absolute worst times possible).
It was the same kind of story for the defense. There was one unit that had a spectacularly bad day and the rest were good. The secondary was, for the most part, awful. Nick Foles found open receiver after open receiver on Sunday. I’m not sure if it was breakdowns in coverage, bad technique or just worse athleticism than the Eagles had, but even without DeSean Jackson, they got scorched. After a three-picks-in-three-weeks stretch, Leonard Johnson is showing his greenness now and giving up some big plays, including the game winner yesterday. And Danny Gorrer could have won the game with an interception that he just flat dropped. Mark Barron continues to struggle in coverage. Anthony Gaitor actually looked pretty good for his first game, so there’s some potential there, but this unit lacks a playmaker and Ronde Barber can’t do it all himself (nine tackles yesterday, though, is a good try).
The defensive line did their part, sacking Foles five times and keeping him under pressure the whole day. Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett had two sacks each and three and four tackles for loss respectively. It was a great performance by a group that has been hot and cold this season. The only issue — and I put this on the coaches — is when Daniel Te’o Nesheim was flagged as the twelfth man on an obvious spike play. Who cares who’s on the field for a spike (unless you think it will be a fake spike, which is rare)?
The linebackers also had a great day, absolutely eliminating the running game from the Eagles’ playbook. I guess that’s what’s so frustrating. The Bucs sold out to stop the run, making Foles beat them. And he did.
If either Freeman or the defensive backfield had picked up their game just a little bit, this would be a win. As it is, the Bucs are essentially out of the playoffs now. And that doesn’t break my heart. I didn’t expect them to be there. But this game was a step in the wrong direction, most obviously Freeman. I don’t need the playoffs this year, but I do need the team to look better at the end of it than they did in the beginning.