October 18, 2010 at 01:18pm by Scott • 3 Comments »
Josh Freeman continued his development and made some good throws yesterday, but it seemed like he spent a good amount of the first half overthrowing his receivers. I understand he wants to get guys like Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow to go up for the ball and keep it away from defenders, but at some point those are going to turn into tips that land in a safety’s hands — the same kind of play the Bucs have been the beneficiaries of this season. A couple of his passes should have been intercepted as it was. To be fair, he also had a couple great passes — Williams down the middle, Sammie Stroughter down the left. The good thing is that he still hasn’t had an awful game. I know that seems like cold comfort, but think about how many quarterbacks have already laid huge eggs this season.
Last week, Cadillac Williams was sitting at 2.6 YPC and with yesterday’s performance he still managed to bring down that average. He got 18 yards on 10 carries — with a long of 8! Barry Sanders could get away with having negative plays because he could be counted on to rip off a 50-yarder pretty regularly. The offensive line didn’t do him any favors, but he seems to lack the ability to bounce to the outside when things get thick in the middle. And after his fumble, I found myself thinking for the first time this year, “He’s done.” Remember when we were all talking about phasing him out? Now would be a good time.
Remember when Raheem Morris talked about getting LeGarrette Blount more carries? He must have meant pads or Gatorade because Blount was inactive yesterday. Maybe he knew Freeman would be passing all day and didn’t want to subject Blount to possible pass-protection, especially when the word is out that all you have to do is blitz against the Bucs and good things happen. But if Blount or anyone could have provided at least a minor threat of a run, maybe it wouldn’t have been so lopsided. At the very least, the game would have been shorter and the New Orleans offense wouldn’t have had the ball as long. So maybe it’s a more respectable 24-6 or something. I dunno — I’m kind of grasping here. What we do know is that Kareem Huggins hurt his knee and looks like he’ll be out for a good stretch. Too bad he’s on the same team with Cadillac. Any other team, he could go on injured reserve, but if it’s anything short of his knee actually exploding into a million little bone fragments, he’s going to be called a pussy for walking with a limp let alone missing any time.
Kregg Lumpkin and Chris Pressley were also inactive and Earnest Graham went in with a bad hamstring and re-aggravated it in the game. That explains why Erik Lorig was playing some fullback. Do the Bucs have anyone at all that can run the ball besides the quarterbacks?
The wide receivers were unremarkable yesterday. Mike Williams only had four catches, but Freeman made it too hard on him sometimes. Stroughter had a sweet 27-yarder and Micheal Spurlock had his little 2-yard touchdown, but there was nothing you’d put on a resume. The Bucs’ leading receiver was Cadillac Williams, who had seven catches for 63 yards. Of course, five of those came in the fourth quarter when the Saints didn’t mind conceding the dump off to the running back.
Hey, Jerramy Stevens caught a pass and leads the team in receiving yard average with 14.3 YPR.
The bad news about the offensive line is that the running game was complete shit. The longest run was 11 yards by Josh Johnson at the end of the game and the whole unit gained 42 yards total on 18 carries. The good news is that Freeman was never sacked in the game and wasn’t even hit that much. Considering Freeman dropped back to pass 45 times yesterday, you have to hand it to them for holding up. Freeman had to scramble a couple times, but for the most part the pass-protection was very good. And there was only one penalty called on the line, and it wasn’t even serious. It was a false start on Keydrick Vincent (again). I really wish I knew who to blame for the running game.
The defensive line got no pressure at all on Drew Brees. That’s not my opinion, that’s a statistical fact. Brees may not have needed a shower after the game. And for the third week in a row, they were gashed for huge and consistent running yards. Against Pittsburgh, it was Rashard Mendenhall for 7.5 YPC, last week it was Cedric Benson for 6.2 YPC. and yesterday is was the highly touted superstar that we’ve all heard of, Chris Ivory, for 10.5 YPC. Usually I like the word “gash”, but not in this context, and not when the announcers are using it time and time again to describe what’s happening to a group of players who were supposed to be the strength of the team this season. As I said in an earlier entry, I don’t mind the rookies coming along slowly. Take your time, really. If it took Warren Sapp a couple years to really get up to speed, I can wait for Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. But there should be something from the other guys. There were some tackles — McCoy had three (one for loss), Tim Crowder had three , Ryan Sims, Greg White and Roy Miller each had two — and some of those were assists. Brian Price had one. That’s it, guys. That’s the sum-total production of the defensive line. They were pushed around and embarrassed, and when that happens, the whole thing falls apart. Ronde Barber knows how it works.
“It absolutely starts up front. It always has,” Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. “They have to get better. We have to get better on the second level as well. To be a dominant run defense you have to have dominant players up front.”
You hate to see players calling each other out, but there’s no way to avoid this answer. It’s just that evident. Hell, the Saints were #31 in the league in rushing before yesterday’s game and they absolutely schooled the Bucs. Step one: Knock off this 3-3-5 shit. It’s not working. Any quarterback is going to be able to pick you apart if you don’t get pressure on them, and if the Bucs can’t get pressure with a 4-man line, it sure as shit ain’t happening with a 3-man line. Unless you install and practice a true 3-4, a 3-man line is silly.
Quincy Black had an excellent game. Seven tackles, six solo, plus one on special teams for a loss in the second quarter. And a forced fumble that unfortunately went out of bounds and a tip that turned into an interception. Congratulations to Quincy Black for being the best defensive player on the team yesterday. The other linebackers must have gotten caught up in traffic or overslept or something. I don’t recall seeing them in the game.
The secondary was pretty miserable, too. Aqib Talib gave up two touchdowns, the first one of which I have no idea what went wrong with him. He never stumbled or broke stride — he just kind of drifted away and let the ball land right in Lance Moore‘s hands. And then it happened again against Robert Meachem, although to be fair, he expected the backside help earlier from Cody Grimm. Still, it looks like we can count on Talib giving up a big touchdown in every game. Big, long bombs that you’d think a guy with his speed and range could break up, and it looked like he just gave up on them.
Grimm had a decent day with an interception off of Black’s deflection and a forced fumble. I can’t say I agree with that lateral to Sean Jones. Those things almost always turn into disasters and although it worked out for them for an extra 14 yards, I’d say he got away with a bad decision rather than he made a good play. Still, the awareness to get the pick was good.
How many people was Myron Lewis going to fight in that melee over Freeman’s late hit? I just knew he was going to get a flag for pushing so many Saints around. Myron Lewis is this year’s Jeremy Trueblood.
Robert Malone‘s first game at punter looked good, I guess. His 40 yard net average was significantly better than Paul Hogan’s (I forget his real name now) and the coverage team let him down once or else it would have been higher. Connor Barth sucked huge grizzly ass by knocking his two attempts off the right upright. If someone had offered him a million dollars to do that on purpose, there’s no way he would have been able to. And his mustache is fucking awful. Did you see him twisting it on the sideline after a miss like Snidley Whiplash? Is he an evil impostor working for the other team?
I was about to write something here about perspective and how the Bucs have lost to two of the best teams in the league and that it’s still an improvement that they have beaten the Browns and Panthers and Bengals because we all know they would have lost at least one or two of those last year and we should all be patient. And I’m all for “the plan”, but the problems with the team seem more fundamental than just lack of experience. Run the ball and stop the run — the maxims that almost all football teams are built on — are completely absent. The coaches are going to have a hard time convincing anyone that these huge, breakaway runs against them and these abysmal rushing totals for the offense are just a symptom of a young team and will improve over time. It really seems more like basic flaws either in raw talent or strategy. Were Raheem Morris and Greg Olson being outcoached or are the Bucs’ lines being outplayed and out-physicaled? A missed tackle is a performance error, but being out of position may be a coaching error. I can’t know because I’m not in the meeting rooms, but those defensive linemen rotate around a lot and the result is always the same. And no runner has better than a 3.0 YPC average except Graham and his 61-yarder (which, if removed, brings him down to 2.2 YPC). Is it more likely that every player is sucking ass, or that maybe they’re all being led in the wrong direction? Something to think about.