If You’re Bitching About This Loss, Go Home
November 08, 2010 at 11:59am by Scott • 14 Comments »
Gah! The Bucs lost! I knew it! I knew they would choke because they suck so bad! This team sucks and has always sucked and will always suck for time eternal!
There, you can just read that and not have to wade through the local papers this week. It’s all going to be the same shit. “We knew the Bucs couldn’t compete with the real best teams in the NFC” and “Raheem Morris shouldn’t have shot his mouth off and given the Falcons bulletin board material.” None of it is true, of course. Once again, the Bucs had horrible stats but were still less than a yard from pulling yet another victory out of their asses. An interception here, a drop there, a missed blitz pickup — if any of those mistakes aren’t made, we may be talking about a whole different outcome. We all knew the Bucs weren’t going to go 14-2 this season, so anyone who is upset about this loss needs to check the plan and realize that they’re still way ahead of it.
Josh Freeman followed up a great game against the Cardinals with a pretty bad game against the Falcons. He had two interceptions, both of which were squarely on him. Even though the one at the top of the third quarter was tipped, he never should have thrown that ball in the first place. Taking a sack is not a capital crime. Sometimes you just have to eat the ball and live to play another down. And the announcers described the second pick perfectly. Freeman never once looked away from the receiver and Brent Grimes just read his eyes and stepped in front of the pass. He also had a couple of his trademarked overthrows and a couple other passes that could have easily been picked off if the defense had been paying attention. But it’s not all bad. Freeman laid a beautiful pass into Arrelious Benn for a touchdown, hit a couple nice first down passes and scrambled 19 yards on one busted play to keep a drive alive. The stats have him at exactly 50% completions with a 72.0 passer rating. Not great, but the good news is that Freeman is smart and a hard worker and will learn from all this. He won’t be nearly as likely to stare down a receiver again next week.
So I guess now we know why Cadillac Williams gets so much playing time despite the fact that he can’t run anymore and even his best runs look like they happened by accident. LeGarrette Blount, in for a passing play in the first quarter, stood stationary like he was playing freeze tag and watched Mike Peterson run by him and sack Freeman. It’s a shame the Bucs don’t have a running threat that can also pass protect, but all this means is that Blount is also on a learning curve along with every other Buccaneer. He’s just going to have to develop his blocking skills with experience and practice. In the meantime, Cadillac will continue to get reps to keep Freeman clean and will get carries that go nowhere. Seriously, his average yesterday was 1.6 YPC. Blount wasn’t that great with a 3.5 YPC average, but at least he peeled off a long 21-yarder when the Bucs were backed up at their own 9. But I don’t understand why, on the last Buccaneer offensive play of the game, Blount didn’t get a full head of steam behind his fullback (defensive end Roy Miller, by the way) and grind out the half yard he needed instead of running laterally and stretching the play out. For that matter, I don’t understand why the Bucs’ huge quarterback didn’t just sneak it forward himself. It seems like one of the situations in which you love having a quarterback that big. Morris addressed it in his post-game press conference, basically stating that he’s always going to be second guessed and that he’ll trust Blount all day long to get an inch when he needs it. Which is fine, maybe it’s Blount’s fault. But for such a short distance to get a first down… I really, really didn’t get the playcalling at the goal line.
Mike Williams continues to make phenomenal plays and also pants-shittingly frustrating drops. There was one or two where the pass was too far above Williams’s head to reasonably expect him to catch it, but at least two were in his hands and dropped. Micheal Spurlock had a clutch grab (off a fantastic Freeman throw) to get the Bucs off their own goal line as well as a kickoff return for a touchdown and a 66-yarder that almost went to the house, too. What I have yet to hear an explanation of is why the Bucs had Preston Parker fielding a kickoff after Spurlock broke that big one in the second quarter. Maybe it was a medical thing, but Spurlock was fine when he ran for the touchdown later in the game. Parker got 12 yards on his kickoff return. The drive ended in a touchdown, so it didn’t matter, but it seemed like a really questionable personnel call to pull Spurlock from that situation.
Again, the offensive line looked pretty good in pass protection (Freeman was only sacked once and it wasn’t the line’s fault) but the running game didn’t go anywhere. I won’t put the last play of the game on the line because I think it was either a coaching decision or a mistake by Blount. Jeremy Zuttah on more than one occasion got tossed aside to allow a tackle for no gain. The good news is that the line had zero penalties all game. No false starts, no holding… nothing. Has that ever been done? And is it a coincidence that Jeremy Trueblood is injured at the same time?
The defensive line was pretty much the same as they have been in the last couple games. They’re not getting to the quarterback, but he’s feeling pressure and having to release the ball early. It didn’t result in any interceptions yesterday, but there were a number of incompletions because of that pressure. Matt Ryan got hit several times (the stat sheet says only three, but I know I saw more hits than that) but still no sacks. Gerald McCoy was the most active that I’ve seen him this season, but he also got flagged twice for being offsides. But as far as stopping the run, the line came up short again. The Falcons ran for 130 yards and Michael Turner had a solid 4.5 YPC average with only a 19-yard long.
Ronde Barber was burned by Michael Jenkins for a long gain and Tony Gonzalez had some frustrating catches and Aqib Talib let an interception slip through his hands, but overall the secondary wasn’t bad. None of the Atlanta receivers had a real huge game. But seriously, Michael Palmer?
One other thing: The onside kick was fucking great. Even if it didn’t work, I applaud Morris for going for the throat. Connor Barth came very close to pulling it off and now it gives other teams one other thing to think about during every Buccaneer kickoff. Maybe a half-second of hesitation on their part because of this will be the key to another kickoff return for a touchdown down the road.
As I said, this loss doesn’t bother me at all. The Falcons have been a strong team all season and the Bucs were only a couple yards from beating them. This is a hell of a lot better than the Steelers or Saints games and showed some real progress. A couple coaching decisions aside, fans should feel good about the direction the team is going.