Bucs Drop To 0-5. Get It? “Drop”.
October 12, 2009 at 10:59am by Scott • 5 Comments »
I have started this entry three times now. It’s hard to know where to begin, partly because I don’t want to keep repeating the same damn things over and over each week, and also because there’s just so much wrong that finding the starting point is like looking for the loose end in a tangle of wires. Why don’t we start with something positive? Let’s be the only site that starts on a good note.
Josh Johnson looked like a man who had learned some lessons over the last week. That game against Washington provided some excellent experience and going over the game tape must have really helped in his development because he made some huge strides. Johnson was more decisive, less apt to pull the ball down and take off, and stood firm in the face of some exotic Philadelphia blitzes. Obviously there were mistakes. Two of the interceptions were completely his fault and he seemed to get the ball deflected quite a bit (this is known as “Chris Simms Syndrome”). I’m still not sure who is to blame for the fumbled exchange that became a turnover, but I’ll assume it was Sean Mahan. And he missed a couple wide open guys and chose to pass to receivers that were covered. His completion percentage should have been better if not for all the drops, although a couple catches were made where the throws were off-target. But if you’re looking for improvement at the quarterback position, I think it’s safe to say that you saw some. I’m looking forward to seeing how Johnson does against Carolina. The Panthers aren’t a high-blitz team and he may find their defense easier to deal with than the Eagles.
All right, we might as well get to the big topic that everyone is talking about. The drops were ridiculous and could have been the difference between the blowout and maybe keeping the game closer. But the one that really chaps me is the first one. The first play of the game where Johnson took the shot that everyone was telling him to take. And the throw was a little too long for sure, but Michael Clayton‘s lackadaisical extension of one hand to try and bring it is was embarrassing. There’s no way Antonio Bryant tries to one-hand that one. He lays out for it. Even Sammie Stroughter would have sacrificed his body for that catch. God, that would have been a huge catch. It would have set the tone for the whole game, gotten the Philadelphia defense to back off their blitzes a little and set the Bucs up for a quick score. But instead, it was just the first in a series of let-downs by Clayton. Bryant also had a couple drops, but at least it looked like it mattered to him that he dropped them. And then Bryant went out and was able to make up for them a little by finishing the game with five catches for 62 yards, including a sweet 31-yarder. Kellen Winslow was the most consistent receiver on the team, caught the only two scores of the game, and was HELPING OUT HIS QUARTERBACK by making huge effort on throws that weren’t always between the numbers.
When Byron Leftwich wasn’t getting the job done, he got demoted to third string. When Mike Nugent wasn’t getting the job done, they just cut his ass. Raheem Morris may be sucking huge ass as a coach, but he’s not afraid to replace a player who is fucking up. Clayton has to be the next example of a player who is either made inactive or outright cut. Are his excellent downfield blocking skills worth being let down by him on receptions? No. Now we see why Jon Gruden was lining him up as a tight end in some practices. Now we see why Clayton was in Gruden’s doghouse all the time. You don’t get a site dedicated to your failures like 80sucks.com without it being blatantly obvious that you suck. The very least that should be done is he should be in street clothes for a couple weeks. If Mark Dominik thinks he can get anything for Clayton in trade before the deadline, he should be hitting the phones. Admit re-signing him was a mistake and move on.
For a tight end whose main job isn’t to block, Jerramy Stevens seems to be ending up with a lot of holding penalties.
I would write something about the running game here, but the running game was pretty much just Josh Johnson scrambling for 40 yards and one awesome 28 yard run by Derrick Ward where he was dragging defenders with him down the field. There just wasn’t a lot of room to run. The Eagles had committed to blitzing and stopping the run and trying to make Johnson beat them on deep passes against their corners. And it worked. Sean Mahan kept allowing penetration, Jeremy Zuttah had maybe the worst game of his career so far, and Davin Joseph and Donald Penn both allowed sacks. To be fair to Penn, it was his first of the year. And I would like to congratulate Jeremy Trueblood for not getting penalized all game. Hey, you gotta take ‘em where you can get ‘em.
On the defensive line, there was Jimmy Wilkerson and then there was everybody else. Wilkerson had three sacks and two more quarterback hits, six tackles, one pass batted down and a forced fumble. Everyone else on the defensive line only barely got on the stat sheet. Chris Hovan, Tim Crowder, Roy Miller, Ryan Sims, and Greg White all had exactly one tackle each. Gaines Adams didn’t tackle anyone, but he batted one pass down, so fucking good for him. Was last week all we get from Adams? One week of great plays and then he can go back to treating the quarterback like he’s made of knives?
Barrett Ruud led the team in tackles again, but he got completely turned around by Brian Westbrook in the third quarter when Westbrook was going out for a pass. Ruud never saw it coming. And then to add to the insult, Westbrook bulldozed Ruud on his way to the endzone for a touchdown.
The secondary got burned yet again in this game. This week, the goats are Elbert Mack and Will Allen, both of whom allowed deep touchdowns to Jeremy Maclin. Maclin finished the game with 142 yards and two touchdowns. By the way, Maclin was selected #19 in this year’s draft, two spots behind Josh Freeman.
I think Raheem Morris was trying to make a point that he was playing to win when he kept going for those fourth downs instead of kicking field goals. I’m fine with that later on in the game, but he should have shown a little more faith in Shane Andrus to kick field goals and at least reward the offense a little for moving the ball down the field and getting three points. 7-6 looks a lot better than 7-0. And congratulations to Andrus for that nice onside kickoff.
I’m happy about Johnson’s progress and think that Greg Olson needs to stay on this path for his development. It’s not going to help the Bucs win any more game this season if the secondary keeps giving up huge touchdowns, but at least we’ll have something to look forward to next season.