Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘falcons’

Falcons Win. Barely.

November 26, 2012 at 10:46am by Scott   •  9 Comments »


The Bucs made it close, but ultimately couldn’t beat the 9-1 Falcons, leading some to conclude that this team is a bag of shit that deserves your scorn. But what this game really did was prove that the Bucs are exactly what we we thought they were coming into the game. They’re a decent team that can win against lesser teams and still hold their own against the better teams. The Bucs lost by one point to the Falcons, continuing that trend of keeping those tough games close. It sucks that they lost, but no one is bringing me down because of it.

All that said, it seems like everything was dialed down a notch yesterday. The intensity, the attention to detail, the pace all seemed just a tick less than they have been in recent weeks. Josh Freeman went 19 for 30 for 256 yards and a 90.4 passer rating, which is certainly a good day. But he was missing that signature strike that he usually has to put a game away. There was no kill shot. And he made a couple boneheaded throws that didn’t get picked, but could have made the difference if he had been on target or had seen his alternate wide open receiver.

The offensive line was okay, although the right side of the line broke down a couple times in pass protection and no one run-blocked very well. Penalties against the right side of the line erased Doug Martin‘s only breakaway run of the game and Martin was left with 50 rushing yards total with 2.4 YPC. He did score two rushing touchdowns, though. But for the most part, I’m blaming the line for Martin’s lack of production. You could see defenders peeling away from their blocks to fill gaps and stop Martin early. And seven tackles for loss by the Falcons is awful. Some of that is also blocking, and some has to be a bad play called for the defense the Falcons ran. Hang some of those on coaching. Not that Martin doesn’t carry some of that blame also, but I didn’t see that he could do much with what he was given.

Apparently LeGarrette Blount went on the field for at least one play, but I never saw him and he never touched the ball.

The wide receivers did their normal excellent job yesterday, with Tiquan Underwood really stepping up when Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were covered. And how about that sweet pass from Williams to Jackson? I loved the way Williams caught the lateral and just cocked his arm and tossed it. No hesitation, no contemplating on whether he should run with it — just confidence. Of course, it helped that no one was within shouting distance of Jackson and it made the decision easy, but you see those kinds of plays go wrong so often because the passer freezes in his decision making for a second. Not Williams. And Dallas Clark continued to catch everything thrown his way (literally). Luke Stocker is starting to become a disappointment, which makes me incredibly sad to say. But it’s true. Couldn’t catch the only ball thrown to him yesterday and his blocking duties have pretty much been taken over by Nate Byham. Byham is the best blocking tight end the Bucs have had in years.

If I don’t throw this is now, I’ll forget. Fuck you if you blame Connor Barth for the loss because he missed a 56-yard field goal. He made all his others and to hang the blame on him for such a long miss is ridiculous. Sorry, but I’ve seen it said already. Not here, of course, since my readers are all understand football. It’s amazing what some people will just blurt out, though.

The defensive line and linebackers kept the running game in check, with the exception of a breakaway run by Jacquizz Rodgers and a Matt Ryan scramble. But the line got no pressure on Ryan, who was only sacked once and that came from a corner blitz by E.J. Biggers. I think the announcer even said once that Ryan could have gotten out a rocking chair since he had so much time in the pocket, which is a funny line but sad if you’re a Bucs fan. For my money, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim was the best lineman out there yesterday.

The big play by Biggers and Ronde Barber‘s interception were splash plays in the secondary, but everything else was pretty terrible. Leonard Johnson couldn’t stop Julio Jones from scoring an 80-yard touchdown even though he was right on top of him. Roddy White burned LeQuan Lewis a couple times. And who the fuck is Danny Gorrer? Biggers had the best day of all the corners. Go ahead and read that sentence again.

And everybody missed tackles. Some because of bad angles, some because they’re out of position, and some just because they get out-muscled. It’s going to happen. It just seemed like it happened more than usual yesterday.

And that’s the story of the game. Like I said at the beginning, the Bucs just didn’t seem to be at their best. But it wasn’t an embarrassing loss. No one ran up 150 yards rushing and Ryan didn’t throw for five touchdowns. Be disappointed in the loss, but look at the kind of loss it is and compare it to how they were losing last year. Worlds of difference. Remind others of that when they complain after a 1-point loss.

REAR ENTRIES: Opinions Are Like…

December 29, 2011 at 11:35am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Rear Entry 110

PEREIRA HAMMERS GRUDEN: Former head of officiating and current Fox Sports analyst Mike Pereira has a reputation of being a voice of reason and a cool head when others are shouting about how had the officials on the field suck. But some things are so loud and infuriating that they can even crack the great Pereira’s calm exterior. Jon Gruden is one of those loud and infuriating things.

I am not a fan of Gruden’s. Not today, not yesterday, not when I worked for the NFL and not when I was working on the field as a side judge. He was a loudmouth as a coach who constantly disrespected officials and he is a blowhard in the broadcast booth who spouts off when he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

I respect his knowledge about the X’s and O’s when it comes to coaching and playing the game of football, but I have very little respect for him when it comes to officiating and his knowledge of the rules.

Gruden disrespectful to officials? The hell you say. Shit, he disrespected officials from the stands when he was watching his brother play arena ball. The only thing Gruden didn’t do on the sideline was chuck batteries at officials, and after all his time in Philadelphia, you know that was a hard temptation for him to resist. So, yeah, I get Pereira’s objection to Gruden as a person. But everyone knows Gruden isn’t on MNF for his encyclopedic knowledge of the rulebook. He’s there for color, and that’s what he’s bringing. Gruden, like most real fans of the game, thinks the NFL has pussified football beyond recognition and laments the days when guys like Ronnie Lott and Jack Tatum could patrol the middle of the field and lay dudes out for trying to catch a ball in their zone. And Gruden has a platform on which to voice those opinions, so he does. And so does Pereira. The difference is that Gruden’s opinion is usually fun to listen to whereas Pereira’s makes him sound like the cantankerous old asshole who calls the cops when someone drives by with his radio too loud.

[Banner pic: Pereira being treated very respectfully by Bill Parcells.]

WE NEED DUNGY PT 2: Just in case you thought Pat Yasinskas was the only delusional sportswriter who would opine out loud about the return of Tony Dungy, here’s Gary Shelton‘s take on the exact same thing.

“I’m not coaching,” said Dungy, 56. “I’m not looking at coaching. I’m not thinking about coaching. I had a great job in Indianapolis, but I wanted to be home more. That hasn’t changed. It’s not going to change.”

But, but… what about all the fat writers swinging from your dick? Don’t they get a say?

“You hear about just about every job that comes open,” Dungy said. “Usually, it’s from someone who is not officially with the organization. Sometimes it’s a head hunting firm that wants to gauge your interest. I’ve never been interested. I’ve had people say, ‘You write the check out’ or ‘You write the terms out.’ It doesn’t have any draw to me.”

Isn’t there any chance at all you’ll come back to not win another Super Bowl?

“I miss the players. There are times I miss the excitement of winning…”

Stop right there! That’s plenty to get us through the next coaching regime. Thanks, we’ll see you in a few years, Tony.

ATLANTA WILL PLAY TO WIN: According to Mike Smith, the Falcons will not rest any starters and will treat this upcoming game against the Bucs like any other game, which is actually a compliment to the Bucs because they could very easily rest their starters and still win by 30.

“It’s business as usual around here,” Tony Gonzalez said. “We’re going to try to go out and win a football game against a really good team that beat us earlier in the season.

Much earlier. Much, much earlier. Like, not even the same season. That game could have actually taken place in a parallel universe.

A Day In The Press Box

October 03, 2011 at 07:17pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

The view from my seat in the press box.

Earlier this summer, I had been invited by the Bucs to attend a home game in the press box. I picked the Falcons game because the timing worked out well for me and it’s a divisional game, so I knew it would be a good one regardless of either team’s record. Plus, and I’m not ashamed to admit this, I knew I’d be able to rub it in the faces of my friends who are Falcons fans. So I made my way down to Tampa on Friday, spent Saturday with friends and family and got myself ready for the game on Sunday. After a short lunch at the Kilt with some cats who frequent this site, I made my way down Dale Mabry to One Buc Place, following the instructions sent to me almost in the form of a scavenger hunt. I had to ask one person for a parking pass, another for a press credential and enter through the right door in order to get to my destination. I love it when life becomes a game!

I pulled up to the security guard’s house (I assume he lives there) and asked for my parking pass. He asked me my name and started looking over his list. This is usually the time in one of these scenarios where I start thinking of good alternate names that I can make up. This time around I was trying to think of a good Atlanta sportscaster name. “Oh, did I say ‘Scott’? I meant Hank. Yep, Hank Pigskin’s the name, host of the Sports Spittoon. We’re on 1610 on your AM dial, broadcasting at a cool 1,000 watts out of Cumming, Georgia.” But it turns out all that was unnecessary because my name was actually on the list. He went into his desk, pulled out an envelope with my name on it and asked for my ID. After rejecting my Federal Booby Inspector card, he took my license, wrote something on a clipboard and handed me my envelope. I opened it up to reveal my official parking pass for Lot 5 — the media lot. It was a FULL COLOR pass complete with a notch so it would hang on my rearview mirror. These guys thought of everything! And the lot was just around the corner, so I left One Buc and a mere 45 minutes later I was there. That green arrow from MLK onto Dale Mabry lasts about 84 microseconds, by the way.

I finally get directed into Lot 5 and guided into my parking space. It’s close to the stadium right across Tampa Bay Blvd, so it’s a short walk. The media has its own entrance next to Gate D, right under the huge picture of Josh Freeman. There were no chicks dressed in showgirl outfits waving feather fans at us like I was led to believe. There’s a table just inside the entrance where media people receive their media credentials — after another ID check, of course. Media folks talk about being credentialed like it’s this huge deal. I had assumed once you get a job at a newspaper or TV station that you get a tattoo of a barcode that gets you into important functions. No, it’s a cardboard pass you hang around your neck. Mine had my name and this web site on it, so I asked the girl handing them out if I needed to wear it at all times. She said it wasn’t necessary but it was probably a good idea. I went ahead and put it in my pocket. God forbid Fennelly sees it and tries to eat me right there in front of everyone. Did you know he can unhinge his jaw like an anaconda? It’s true.

We also get patted down like anyone else entering the stadium. They wave the magic wand around me and then a very polite man touches various parts of my body with the back of his hand. No cupping — very classy. I look around for a minute, but there’s not much to see. The locker rooms are ahead and to the left, there is the “Media Dining” room in front of me where they will hold the post-game press conference (still not sure why they call it a dining room) and the elevator to the press box is to the right. I walk over to the elevator, which is guarded by a woman checking to make sure I’m authorized to be there. I flash my credential like I’m a secret agent and BOOM! She presses the button. There’s no turning back now.

I step off the elevator and walk through a small hallway into the press box. “Box” is only accurate in that it has six sides. This place is HUGE. It pretty much takes up the full length of one side of the stadium. Against the glass facing the field, there are three rows of seats and tables for members of the media to set up. There are all assigned and there is a key where you look your name up and find where you’re supposed to sit. I had my own space with my name on it and various media materials waiting (rosters, starting lineups, history, etc.) Behind all that are various food areas — tables set up with sandwiches and desserts, a carving station with brisket (To. Die. For.), someone serving bananas foster, and pretty much anything you want to drink (no booze). I had no idea or I would have worn my oversized trench coat with the huge pockets or maybe even brought along my hollowed-out wheelchair to smuggle some of that sweet, sweet catering out and live off that for a couple weeks.

There are televisions everywhere. Most are on the Bucs game, but there are several tuned to other games being played around the league. Sadly, none are tuned in to porn. During the game, when the rest of the world is watching commercials, those TVs display fantasy stats from around the league. Some people seemed more interested in those.

Beyond all the press seating, there are various rooms where TV and radio people do their broadcasts, one room for team management and one room for the instant replay official. The sign on that particular door says “POSITIVELY NO VISITORS” in 100-point type and is signed by Roger Goodell. An armed guard would have been a nice touch. One room is the open-air press box where all the beat reporters sit and watch the game with their laptops in front of them. They take notes and post stuff on Twitter and pretty much just keep to themselves. It’s feels more like a football game in that booth because you can hear the crowd and aren’t looking at the game through a pane of glass. To my right, I could see Gene Deckerhoff calling the game.

This is about the time Mark Dominik was basically running through the box trying to get somewhere in a hurry. Still, he recognized me and took the time to say hello. I thought that was pretty cool. I wish I had thought to run alongside him and just go into which ever room he was going to as if I belonged there or even knew where I was. Would have been worth a shot.

As the game gets ready to start, a voice comes over the PA instructing everyone that no rooting for either team is allowed and can get you kicked out of the box. I’m sure there is a good reason for this, but I can’t think of one. Maybe because it would be embarrassing for the Bucs if other people saw the local beat reporters rooting for the other team? Not that they were doing it right in front of me, but when Josh Freeman was intercepted on the first offensive series, a couple of them got a smug smile on their faces as if they knew it was coming if someone had just asked them. The voice announcing the warning is the same voice that calls the play by play for the press box. He almost sounds like KITT from Knight Rider. There’s very little emotion to his voice, but it’s very soothing. This guy could call a kid’s birthday party or a lethal injection and everything in between. And yet Joe Buck is still employed.

I watched the game from various vantage points around the box, depending on which table had the best food at the time. There are no bad seats, but the open air box is the best because it’s the closest to the 50. Halftime is mostly spent checking out the fresh selection of food and desserts and catching up on other games. After the game is basically decided, there is a mass filing to the one elevator to get to the locker room and then to the dining room where the post-game press conference will be held. I got off the elevator and followed everyone to the tunnel under the stadium leading to the locker room. If I had looked closer at my credential, I would have seen that it allowed me access to that locker room and also the field. But since I didn’t, I kind of hung back and chatted with players as they came in off the field. It probably would have been a little weird having this awkward dude hanging around the locker room not knowing where to look. Do you stare straight up so as to not accidentally catch a glimpse of some strange dong? I wasn’t going to ask any questions while I was in there and I definitely wasn’t going to take pictures, so there probably wasn’t any point except to say that I did it. Oh, and NO PICTURES IN THE TUNNEL! I found this out when a stadium employee shouted it at me as I snapped off a shot of Corey Lynch.

I found my way back to the dining room and they were setting up the podium for Raheem to speak at. Various cameras were set up as were several rows of chairs for the reporters. I hang back around the cameras. Raheem eventually makes his way in and starts addressing the reporters. I’m listening intently when… sigh… my phone rings. It’s in my back pocket and not loud enough for anyone but me and whoever I was standing next to to hear it. I’m holding a bunch of stuff with one hand and I want to get this thing shut off in a hurry, so I quickly walk backwards away from everyone while simultaneously squeezing my left ass cheek trying to shut this fucker off. I never was able to do it, but it finally went to voice mail and I thought I was in the clear. Until the caller tried me again. This time I pulled it out, shut it off and caught the gaze of the only other person to hear it, who was utterly disgusted with me. These are the protocols you have to learn the hard way, I suppose. The funny part was that someone else’s phone went off during that same press conference and he made a joke of it. After Raheem is done talking, he leaves and so does everyone else.

But I’m not done and there are still people doing things, so I hang out for a couple minutes longer. As I’m watching various players come out of the locker room, a large door to the left rolls up and several cars drive through the tunnels and out of the stadium. Did you ever wonder where the Glazers parked their cars on game day? Now you know. They keep them inside the stadium. I guess if I owned a stadium, I’d do the same thing.

There was a group of military people outside the locker room and the players were taking pictures and signing things on their way out, which I thought was very cool. The soldiers were obviously happy to get a chance to talk to the players and the players were gracious and humble and generous with their time. Someone else hanging out after the game was Warrick Dunn, who was chatting up a couple people I didn’t recognize. I stood in the background and wasn’t going to say anything, but when we made eye contact, I just had to stick my hand out and hope he shook it. He did! I told him I had just finished reading his book and thought it was excellent and then I asked him for a picture. He obviously wasn’t there to meet and greet anyone, but he smiled and said sure and I got my picture with him. And now some thug in north Atlanta has that picture. But it really happened, I swear.

The rain had stopped and after meeting Warrick, I didn’t figure anything else could top it, so I took off. I guess most media types take this kind of access and pampering for granted, but to me it was like being in the world’s coolest luxury suite. Big big HUGE thanks to Jonathan Grella and Kelly Schutz for making this happen and not kicking me out when I let out small, happy squeaks after Buccaneer touchdowns. It was an awesome experience.

Take A Picture, It’ll Last Longer

September 26, 2011 at 12:00pm by Scott   •  6 Comments »

I told you you'd have to get used to it.
I’m probably going to wait until tomorrow to post anything about the game or my experience as a real, live credentialed media person (which was AWESOME). I got in late last night and have more real world things to catch up on. I’d love to post all the cool pictures I took, too, except my car was robbed last night after I got in and they took the camera that I stupidly left in there. I was tired and didn’t think I lived in a neighborhood where I had to set my alarm every single night. By the way, my alarm is a bear trap that I set and carefully place by the driver door under some leaves.

The game itself was fantastic. Both lines played outstanding, Josh Freeman is playing like he’s letting his hair grow out, the running game was consistent, Mason Foster looked like a force to be reckoned with, Adrian Clayborn came up huge…. the list goes on of impressive units and individuals. The only one who looked pretty bad was E.J. Biggers. Biggers was on Roddy White most of the day and White exploited him.

I’ll write up more later. Right now I have to dust for prints. Use this post for your initial thoughts on the game.

Oh, I had a good time at the meet up Sunday afternoon. EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE. Chicks in schoolgirl skirts and low-cut top serving you booze and food while football plays 360 degrees around you? What could the rest of you possibly have been doing that was better than that?

This Again?

December 06, 2010 at 01:21pm by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Mughelli used to be a mime. This is him sucking the world's largest cock.
That stuff about the Bucs being the best team in the NFC was cute for a week or two, but isn’t it time to let this shit go?

“Tampa’s a good football team,” Falcons FB Ovie Mughelli said. “They’re not the best team in the NFC, like they said they were, but I like their spunk. Their defense made us work for every yard we got today.”

Yes, Raheem Morris said that — two months ago. Shit changes. Things happen. It’s good Mughelli is a fullback because he’d be terrible at any other job. Like waiter. You could never get him as a waiter twice because he’d just assume everything you ordered last time is what you want now. “You ordered the prime rib back in October, so here you go.” He thinks the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl this year because Joe Namath guaranteed it.

Freeman Leads A Comeback (Except In Reverse)

December 06, 2010 at 11:09am by Scott   •  13 Comments »

You got your ass kicked by a dude wearing creamcicle orange.
For the fifth time this year, the Bucs lost to a team with a winning record, and for the third time in a row, they kept it close. That makes the loss hurt worse, but it’s still good news for the future. It’s nice not getting blown out anymore

Josh Freeman didn’t have a great game, although I thought it was better than Baltimore. He was off on a lot of passes (especially to Arrelious Benn, whom he evidently needs to develop better chemistry with) and made some bad decisions, one particular one being his decision to not just run a couple yards for a first down and instead throw the ball to Cadillac Williams who fell down while getting open. Can’t we learn anything from Brett Favre‘s playoff game last year? He missed Micheal Spurlock and missed Ryan Purvis and got picked a couple times (even though that one got reversed, it doesn’t make the decision to throw it any better). His receivers dropped a couple and he did make a couple nice throws, but in the end it was a second game where he looked human. A GIANT HUMAN WALKING THE EARTH. Also, I love it when a quarterback gets called for a personal foul. The game was essentially over at that point anyway, why not blast the guy who picked you off?

I made fun of the reporters who were comparing LeGarrette Blount to Mike Alstott after one game (remember the “B-Train”?), but every time he drags tacklers around for ten yards, you can’t help but see the similarities. Blount is still hesitant on some carries and lets the penetration get to him in the backfield, but that should go away with experience. Cadillac Williams is pretty much an afterthought in the running game now and spends the bulk of his snaps in pass protection. And Earnest Graham threw a touchdown pass, which I thought was awesome at the time, but then when the game was over I remembered that play and realized they probably couldn’t run it again this season and that it was kind of wasted on a loss. It was set up perfectly, too. There was no one on the right side of the field. Graham could have done The Worm into the endzone before anyone touched him down.

Mike Williams was targeted 14 times by Josh Freeman. He caught five of them for 59 yards, which is still a good day, but maybe, I dunno, spread that thing out a little more. Kellen Winslow, still the best receiver on the team, was targeted four times and caught three for 26 yards. I think other teams have figured out that Williams is the #1 receiver and are taking him away. Seven different receivers caught the ball and eight were targeted, but it just seems like Freeman is forcing it to Williams when there are other options on any given play. Maybe if Freeman had thrown better balls I wouldn’t be thinking this way.

Benn’s 28-yard run after the catch was brilliant. It’s no wonder they want to get the ball into his hands more. That kid has a long stride. It looked like he was covering five yards with every step. And Sammie Stroughter‘s catch while falling backwards was, no shit, one of the best catches of the season. It’s not going to be on a highlight reel because it wasn’t one-handed or a toe-tapper on the sideline, but it was brilliant.

The only problem I saw with the offensive line was when Ted Larsen got blown up by Jonathan Babineaux and Freeman got sacked. Otherwise, aside from some pressure here and there, they looked pretty good. Blount had a good day running the ball and Freeman stayed pretty clean (officially the Falcons had 3 QB hits). It was especially impressive since Jeff Faine went out for a while and had to be replaced by Jeremy Zuttah, which made Derek Hardman come in at right guard. Despite all the changes, there were no penalties called on the offensive line. I thought it was a good game up front.

Up front by the offense, I mean. Up front on defense seemed to be lacking. Gerald McCoy, specifically had a bad game. No sacks, no tackles, and a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty which took the Falcons out of 3rd and 17 to give them an automatic first down on a drive that ended with a touchdown. Matt Ryan wasn’t sacked at all. The best thing you can say is that Michael Turner only rushed for 88 yards (3.7 YPC), which is an improvement over the last Falcons game, but this game still felt like a step backwards for the defensive line.

If Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber don’t drop their interceptions, I think the Bucs win this one. That said, I thought it was a great game by the secondary except for Myron Lewis, who got beaten for a touchdown to Michael Jenkins even though it wasn’t a great pass by Ryan. After Talib went down, E.J. Biggers filled in for him and did an excellent job. The only real big play he let Roddy White have was a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter. Sean Jones got his first interception and had a nice runback while Corey Lynch filled in pretty well for Cody Grimm and even had an interception of his own. Ryan’s passer rating was 62.8, which is pretty bad for a guy as highly touted as he is.

Unless the rest of the NFC starts to fall apart, this game probably puts the nail in the coffin of the playoffs for the Bucs. They may go on a three game winning streak starting next week, but they have too much ground to make up and the tiebreakers don’t fall in their favor, either. I guess it could happen, but the Packers, Saints and Giants would all have to go on historic losing skids for the playoffs to be possible for the Bucs. The next few games are very winnable, though, and the Bucs could finish the season strong going into next year, which really helped them out this season. And the first person to start wishing for losses to get them a better draft pick in 2011 is getting kicked in the throat. You know it’s gonna happen.

The Great Radio Controversy

November 09, 2010 at 09:45am by Scott   •  8 Comments »

During the final drive of the Atlanta game, Josh Freeman looked toward the sideline and started tapping his helmet and raising his hands in the universal symbol for “I can’t hear what the fuck you’re saying.” We speculated on the chat that the coach-to-quarterback speaker system had gone out, and it turns out that’s exactly what happened.

“I think they made a mistake,” Morris said. “We’re in Atlanta and somehow our headsets went out in that play. We had to run out there and tell our quarterback and ran out of time. We had to use our timeout because we didn’t have enough time to get to the line of scrimmage and snap the play because our headsets were out.”

At that moment, huh? The most critical drive of the game, Tampa down inside the Atlanta red zone and about to take the lead with very little time left, somehow that’s the moment that the transmitter goes out. Oh, and the home team controls all communications for both sidelines. TOTAL COINCIDENCE. Nope, no shenanigans there. I’m not saying that that’s the reason why the Bucs lost — there were several of those — but it sure would have been nice to have that timeout that they had to burn so Raheem could challenge that spot if he had wanted to. What bullshit. I hope when the Falcons come to Tampa that the Bucs put live, rabid panthers infected with hepatitis in every visitor locker. Home field advantage is a bitch.

If You’re Bitching About This Loss, Go Home

November 08, 2010 at 11:59am by Scott   •  14 Comments »

Micheal Spurlock on the 66-yard return that somehow got him benched for the next kickoff.
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.


November 04, 2010 at 12:44pm by Scott   •  8 Comments »

Rear Entries 45

FAINE AND TRUEBLOOD STILL OUT: Jeff Faine and Jeremy Trueblood practiced yesterday, but are missing from today’s practice at Tropicana Field. Earnest Graham is also missing practice today. My guess is that Faine will miss the Atlanta game and Trueblood is 50/50, but the Bucs will be more cautious with him than they might have otherwise been if James Lee hadn’t done a good job against the Cardinals. James Lee did fine against the Arizona 3-4 and all their shifting fronts, I think he can handle Kroy Biermann.

What kind of name is Kroy Biermann, anyway? It sounds like an alias to me. If we descramble it, we see it really spells, “I R BONERMAN. KY?” I suggest Lee not turn his back to Biermann.

FREEMAN PUTTING TOO MUCH ON MIKE WILLIAMS’S BALLS: Pat Yasinskas should just keep harvesting statistics for a living and forget all this writing crap. Stats is clearly where Pat has value. I didn’t even realize ESPN or anyone else was keeping track of how a pass wasn’t completed, but it turns out that, yes, there are other stats geeks with no redeeming social skills besides myself that find this kind of shit interesting. Pat unearthed a good one here.

On throws 15 yards or more, Freeman has overthrown Williams 10 times this season, the second most in the league in that category.

In those situations, Williams has been targeted 29 times, which ranks second in the league. He has 11 catches (tied for sixth in the NFL) and three touchdowns (tied for fifth in the league) in those situations.

Is Freeman overestimating Williams’s speed or underestimating his own arm strength? Or is it just a timing thing that needs repetition and experience to improve? Or maybe Williams just needs to learn to jump higher. It’s called TRYING, Mike. Do you want to win or not?

RODDY WHITE KEEPS YAPPING: Roddy White just can’t let go of Raheem Morris‘s “best in the NFC” claim. Did he get inside your head that bad, Roddy? Is Raheem toying with your fragile ego?

“Their coach is digging them a big hole, saying that stuff, man,” Falcons wideout Roddy White told FanHouse. “Best team in NFC? C’mon. They lost to New Orleans — bad. And they still have to play us. It looks like they got a pretty good quarterback down there, but he ain’t no Matt Ryan.”

Matt Ryan is excellent, there’s no doubt about it. But Ryan’s passer rating so far this season is 89.6 and Freeman’s is 87.1; they’re basically the same. And I would say that Freeman has significantly more long-term upside than Ryan. Ryan may be very good for a long time, but Freeman has the potential to be great. Last year I probably would have traded Freeman for Ryan straight up. Now? No way.

“We’re going to go out and try to make a statement about the best team in the NFC.”

Make a statement? White went to UAB. He’s lucky he can read the name on the back of his jersey. Making statements at UAB usually involves a Master’s thesis. I’m not saying they’re all dumb down there, but they just last year gave upon trying to find a real live fire-breathing dragon to have as their sideline mascot.

White Would Rather See Talib Than Barber

November 03, 2010 at 12:00pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

Roddy White always has such great ideas.  I CALL HIM THE IDEANATOR!
The Falcons have a plan to beat the Bucs. A PLAN! It’s a crafty one, filled with nuance and strategy that would make the lovechild of Alexander the Great and Sun Tzu cower in fear and beg for absolution.

“If we hit them [the deep throws], we won’t have any problems the rest of the game,” White said.

Throw deep. I can’t believe Roddy White just up and gave it out to the public. That’s like the Girl Scouts giving up the Thin Mints recipe. It’s quite a unique and interesting position for a #1 wide receiver on an NFL team to take. All Matt Ryan has to do is huck the ball as far as he can and they’ll win 59-0. Of course, Aqib Talib is on track to have more than ten interceptions this season, but that doesn’t bother White. Hell, he’d rather have Talib covering him than Ronde Barber anyway.

“On the other side of the ball, you have a guy who’s made [five] Pro Bowls,” White said. “Talib he [hasn’t] made [any]. I’d rather go against Talib than the guy who watches film and is real crafty and knows that if the inside receiver goes to the flat, then he’s going to jump the inside route.”

First, let’s keep in mind that Barber didn’t go to his first Pro Bowl until 2001, his fifth season. Talib is only in his third season and well ahead of where Barber was at this point in his career. Second, the Bucs don’t let Talib in the film room? He’s not also aware of how to break on a pass to the flat? Oh man, I really hope White continues to underestimate Talib right through to Sunday. Talib is every bit as athletic as White and, at least from what we can tell from the Cardinals game, has gotten over his whole give-up-one-big-play-per-game thing. So go ahead and keep poking the bear, Roddy.

UPDATE: Aqib Talib was just announced at the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. Suck on that, Rod. Or suck on that rod. Whichever.