Josh Freeman

Still Losing To Good Teams

November 29, 2010 at 10:45am by Scott   •  8 Comments »

And the worst part is, you're in Baltimore. That place sucks.
Aaaaand I’m back. I intended to post some more during the holiday, but it didn’t work out quite like I wanted it to. There’s some weirdness going on around the homestead that required my (ultimately fruitless) attention, but that shit is depressing and doesn’t need to interfere with the business of Buccaneer football.

Although we were all hopeful that the Bucs could pull this one off, I don’t think anyone is surprised that they lost. The good news is that they made it a close game at the end and it’s the second time in a row they’ve played a playoff-caliber team where it came down to one score. That’s a hell of a lot better than the blowouts to Pittsburgh and New Orleans earlier in the season. But it’s evident that the Bucs need Josh Freeman to play well against good teams in order for them to win. The defense can’t bail them out just yet, even though the defense played relatively well. In the future, each of them will be able to lean on the other if they’re struggling. But right now, everyone — especially the quarterback — have to bring their best game in order to beat the good teams.

Freeman was off most of the day, and the blame should be shared between himself and the offensive line, who played pretty poorly. Freeman was never sacked, but that’s only because he was able to break tackles and throw the ball away. Freeman took five quarterback “hits”, and it looked like he was on the run most of the day. And when he did have a clean shot, he was overthrowing open receivers. And when he finally did get a great pass off, Micheal Spurlock drops it in the endzone. How many of you broke your remotes when that happened? Freeman looked his best when they went to the hurry-up, but that may have also been because the Ravens were nursing a 14 point lead and were content to give up some short stuff. Still, they scored on that drive and Greg Olson should consider working the hurry-up earlier into the games.

Running back numbers aren’t spectacular, but I thought they did pretty well. Cadillac Williams was the team’s leading receiver with five catches and LeGarrette Blount had a really sweet run where he dragged Dawan Landry behind him like Aunt Edna’s dog Dinky. He probably kept up for a mile or so. The running backs did what they could with what they had, but there just weren’t a lot of holes to run through, and when you’re down 14 points in the fourth quarter, you kind of forget about running the ball. The Ravens defense is known for shutting down the run, and against the Bucs’ offensive line, they really didn’t have a problem.

From what I saw, the Ravens’ defensive line consistently won against the Bucs’ offensive line. Freeman was under pressure all day and the run game never really got going. After Davin Joseph got hurt and Jeremy Zuttah came in for him, I didn’t notice any real change in how the line was performing, which I guess is good that Zuttah didn’t have any real screw-ups, but he didn’t elevate the line play, either. Both Ted Larsen and James Lee allowed pressure on Freeman more than once and Jeff Faine had a bad snap. At least there were no penalties on them, though. Think positive, people!

The most improved group over the last few weeks has to be the defensive line, and Gerald McCoy is the leader in that group. With two sacks for the day, he’ll likely be nominated for Rookie of the Week and will not win because Buccaneers never do. The Bucs got a total of four sacks on Joe Flacco, three of them by the defensive line, as it should be. Ray Rice ran for 85 yards, and a lot of that can be put on the line, but consider how many yards the running backs got in the Bucs’ other losses. Rashard Mendenhall, Chris Ivory and Michael Turner all broke 100 yards, and runners also got big yards in Buc wins — Cedric Benson and Steven Jackson in particular. This defensive line is coming along well. Is it a coincidence that the line improvement began in earnest when Kyle Moore was replaced by Tim Crowder? The answer, of course, is no it isn’t. Moore has no sacks in his career, and he’s been given every opportunity as a starter. Crowder has three sacks just this season in backup and spot duty. Whenever Moore gets healthy, he should be the backup and let Crowder continue to improve and produce in the system.

It would be easy to blame the defensive backs for the long touchdown to Todd Heap, but the tight end is generally the responsibility of the linebackers, and it sure looked like Quincy Black was supposed to be covering Heap. Black disengaged off Heap and took a step forward, maybe looking for a swing pass or screen, and Barrett Ruud couldn’t close in time to make up for that mistake.

Cody Grimm broke his ankle after he got rolled up on a tackle and, although the team hasn’t made the announcement, will almost definitely go on injured reserve. Aqib Talib had a sweet interception that he trapped between his calves to keep it from hitting the ground and still got 25 yards in return yardage before getting tackled. Ronde Barber almost had an interception but the ball bounced right out of his hands. It looked like Barber played one of his most aggressive games of the season yesterday even though he only had three tackles. Sean Jones got beaten by Derrick Mason for a touchdown but did get a sack. Flacco racked up almost 300 yards passing, so while the secondary did have its moments, it wasn’t a good day for them.

So everyone who said that the Bucs weren’t that good because they hadn’t beaten a winning team yet, congratulations, you know how to read a game book and regurgitate stats. Feel good about yourself? It’s not that we the fans didn’t know this, we just chose not to define the Bucs by this. This game was written off by most people as a loss, and still the Bucs brought it to within one touchdown with three minutes to play and two timeouts. One catch by Spurlock, one less overthrow by Freeman, one very shady pass interference not called and this could be a different story. The Bucs may not be beating these teams yet, but they’re getting close. They were close in Atlanta and they were close in Baltimore. So enjoy all your naysaying and negativity while you can. It won’t last forever.

8 Comments to “Still Losing To Good Teams”

BamBamBuc

BamBamBuc (November 29, 2010 at 12:00pm:

I haven’t seen it verified yet, but I’ve heard that Grimm actually broke his fibula, not his ankle. If so, this is good news, as the bone tends to heal better than the joints. It would be about a 6 week recovery if it’s the bone. I hope it’s true, he’ll be ready for OTAs for sure if that’s the case. If it’s the ankle, that could bother him for a LONG time.

PeaceDog5294

PeaceDog5294 (November 29, 2010 at 12:21pm:

I’m torn between being a dreamer (playoffs and more)and being a realist (progress every game in some facet). As of today I can still straddle the line between the two, thanks to the vast improvement we have seen from the defense these last few weeks. Better against the run again, better pass rush from the line overall, 2 sacks from McCoy. These are critical improvements we are getting from the D-line. If they continue to play this well through the end of the season, the Bucs will still be in it at the end.

Slow Joe

Slow Joe (November 29, 2010 at 01:17pm:

Raheem Morris has a saying, something along the lines of “First it’s a mentality, then it becomes a reality.” I actually like the saying, which blows my mind because I’d never thought something Morris said would affect me. That’s not really a dig on Morris. I like Rah, but we’ve ALL made fun of how he speaks at press conferences.

Anyway, I love the improvement we’re seeing in the Bucs, and the brand of football they’re beginning to play, but we have to beat one of the “good” teams on our schedule. Not to convince the media or fans (I don’t really give a shit about that), but to convince the team itself that they can.

When they got down 17-3, I detected a feeling of “here we go again” from the young team. They started pressing. Freeman start splaying his throws all over the field, and heaving desperation bombs to covered receivers on 3rd and 2.

What I fear is that there’s a growing mentality among the young players that they can’t play with the good teams, and then it’ll become a reality. They need to win the upcoming Falcons game–badly.

By the way, I LOVED how the defensive line played so well, that Morris had the confidence to kickoff lat ein the fourth quarter rather than attempting an onsides kick.

Of course, I hated that the defense then collapsed against the run–really for the first time all game–and failed to get the offense back the football.

Slow Joe

Slow Joe (November 29, 2010 at 01:27pm:

Damn, according to PFT, we lost both Grimm AND Davin Joseph for the year. That hurts.

Weirdly, enough, I woke up Sunday morning with the theory in my head about how the Bucs have suffered so few injuries this year, which must be because they’re so young and their bodies haven’t broken down yet.

So, uh, never mind and shit.

Culvermiser

Culvermiser (November 29, 2010 at 01:33pm:

I have to wonder about Kyle Moore also. It seems Raheem has some favorites and maybe Moore is one of those guys that shows up in practice to earn playing time but disapears during the game.
Though Flacco had some yards, the D really kept us in the game and shut down alot of drives. They could not do it at the end, but really, we should have gone to 4 wide/shotgun on offense alot earlier. Maybe we would not have been in that situation.
I don’t know if I can handle 5 more weeks of Sabby, but he does get a high grade for the “woe is me” arms up in the air acting job on that holding call. I hate to say it, but that was a return gift for that pass interference call on Myron Lewis.

Mark S

Mark S (November 29, 2010 at 02:22pm:

Lots of what ifs in this game. What if the secondary play was elevated by the improved defensive line play? What if we had started the hurry-up offense one series earlier? What if Davin Joseph had not got injured? (I thought the O-Line pass protection did deteriorate after Joseph was out. Maybe not, but Josh’s completion percentage certainly deteriorated after Davin was injured.) What if Cody Grimm had not got injured? What if the refs had called a good game? What if the Bucs had not pressed, tried to hard, played tight until the end of the game? Honestly, I think we are just a very small step away from being a playoff team. I like watching this team and that is a far from last year. This team is never out of a game. There are not many teams in the NFL that can say that. I have not written off this season but we got hammered by injuries Sunday. Also, I would not be surprised if Aqib got suspended for a game. So lots of key players out. Luckily we still have Detroit on the schedule. :)
Oh, and for all of the doubters, all hail Gerald McCoy.

jampersand

jampersand (November 29, 2010 at 08:44pm:

Honestly, I think it’s very obvious where the Bucs are as a team right now. We beat bad teams, we lose to good teams. Now, there are probably 10-12 good teams in football altogether, so if we’re the 13th best team in the league, that makes us “above average.” But that doesn’t mean we’re actually a GOOD team.

Heck, if we win three of the next four games (including very winnable ones against the BAD Panthers, Redskins, and Seahawks), we might even make the playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean we’re GOOD.

Slow Joe

Slow Joe (November 30, 2010 at 12:12pm:

@jampersand: I think we’re good. Just not “elite”. We have weaknesses, but because we’re young, those weaknesses are fading.

I like our chances against the Falcons this week, because I have a feeling the Bucs will be playing hard, like they have nothing to lose. Most media outlets have the Falcons ranked as the #1 team in the league. Atlanta is supposed to beat the Bucs this week. But we nearly won in the ATL, so we should feel very confident in Rayjay.

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