Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘lavonte david’

Bucs Have Player*s* Of The Month

November 29, 2012 at 02:22pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

Not that I don't think he could kick the shit out of me, but those guns aren't big enough to use that as a celebration.
It’s gotten to be so routine that Lavonte David leads the team in tackles and is constantly around the ball that I’ve kind of stopped mentioning it in game write-ups. “Ho hum, another 15 tackles, 2 for loss, a pass break-up, he saved a basket of kittens from drowning. Just another day.” It kind of sucks when you’re so good that it becomes expected and stops getting recognized. Well, the NFL has my back on this one because David won the November Defensive Rookie of the Month award.

What’s even more impressive is that David doesn’t have a lot of “spectacular” plays, and I’m using that word literally. He doesn’t have a bunch of interceptions or even a string of bone-crushing tackles that would have been featured on “Jacked Up!” if ESPN was still a real network. David is just consistently making solid play after solid play, and it’s a testament to whoever is handing out these awards that they didn’t go for style over substance with him.

But if we did care about style points, it didn’t get much more stylish than Dekoda Watson laying out a punter to get the ball blocked and returned for a touchdown by Adam Hayward. That’s why they gave Watson the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. In addition to the punt block, Watson also recovered a fumbled punt by the Panthers and had a couple special teams tackles too. It’s good recognition for a player who has been around for a few years but hasn’t gotten a lot of the glory even though he has been solid and made his share of plays. Congratulations to David and Watson.

Bucs Beat AFC Champs!*

August 27, 2012 at 03:47pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

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* may not mean as much now as it would have in February.

NFL Network finally broadcasted the Bucs/Pats game Sunday afternoon after airing a couple other games twice (#BuccaneerConspiracy) so I got around to watching it last night. I came away much more impressed with many aspects of the team, obviously concerned about some others, and disgusted at the amount of cheering Pats fans there were in the stands.

Losing Davin Joseph for the year is huge. Like, super huge. It may be the biggest loss the team could have, and I’m including Josh Freeman. There was so much hinging on the run game this season and Joseph and Carl Nicks were going to be those bookend guards to give Doug Martin the cracks he needed to break his big runs. I assumed Ted Larsen would be the starter in Joseph’s place, and that would have been a big step down. Larsen is good, but he’s not at Joseph’s level. But now Greg Schiano is saying that they’re going to try a few different things out. No one else on the roster is any better than Larsen, so that probably means he’s going to see who gets cut this week and bring in a couple guards to compete with Larsen to start.

You may object to me saying that Joseph is a bigger loss than Freeman would have been, but have you seen anything from Freeman this preseason so far that makes him stand out? Several passes off-target, a seemingly rebellious refusal to run when there are yards and yards of green in front of him, just doesn’t look sharp. He had a couple good passes Friday, but just not sucking isn’t enough. Not for a fourth year franchise quarterback. Dan Orlovsky has been more precise with his throws and more productive. I’m not advocating for Orlovsky to be the starter and I recognize that Freeman is generally playing against better competition than Orlovsky, but Freeman should be clearly better than him at this stage, and he’s not.

Doug Martin has Emmitt Smith-type balance. You see it in just about every run. No defender is going to bring him down with an arm tackle or by throwing themselves at his feet. He can spin and twist and stumble but his knee never touches until he gets hit squarely. He’s a living weeble.

It was good to see Vincent Jackson catch some balls and be a big part of that first drive. He is as advertised and that’s good because he’s going to need that big radius to catch some awkward balls if the offensive line isn’t going to give the quarterback the time he needs to step up.

Speaking of which, is it just me or did Donald Penn look sluggish? Seems like he got pushed around some on Friday. He definitely let Chandler Jones get inside him on the play where Joseph as injured. Not that it’s Penn’s fault or anything, but Penn allowing that kind of pressure is unusual.

Though I wasn’t keeping an exact count, I do remember a lot of bullshit penalties, too. False start, delay of game, illegal formation… all useless penalties. It may be a useless statistics, but it can’t be helping.

I don’t know what happened to Preston Parker during the offseason to make him not be able to hang onto a punt, but he should not be allowed to field punts ever again. If the Bucs keep six receivers and ditch Arrelious Benn, he will probably stick. But guys on the back half of the roster need to be able to do something on special teams and his value is declining quickly if he can’t field punts.

Someone said something during the broadcast about Dallas Clark not being able to block. I saw him block a couple times and he was fine at it. No pancakes or anything, but the guy he was blocking got moved away from the flow of the ball. That’s all they need him to do.

Both Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn got tweaked during the game and left early. Still, the defensive line showed some life with Michael Bennett and Roy Miller. Beyond that, despite the numbers, the depth on the line gets pretty thin. The Bucs will be scouting for this position as well this week, and if they don’t find anyone they like, guys like Wallace Gilberry and E.J. Wilson will be getting roster spots, which seemed incomprehensible last year.

The Patriots ran for 168 yards with an average of 5.4 YPC. That’s a lot — in fact, it’s more than Freeman’s yards per attempt. It didn’t actually seem that way during the game since Adam Hayward and Lavonte David were always around the ball, Hayward especially making some big plays. And Mason Foster, the starting MLB, wasn’t playing. Jeff Demps did his share to boost their average with a 29-yard run and that was against backups, so maybe it isn’t as the stats. But I’ve got a real feeling that teams are going to test the Bucs’ run game early in the season. They’ve got a reputation of giving up a lot of running yards, and until they prove everyone else wrong in a regular season game, that’s going to be the assumption around the league.

One factor other teams will have to consider now is Mark Barron. He can flat-out hit. He’s been equally impressive in run support and pass coverage and has shown so far that he was worthy of the #7 overall pick. If the Bucs can have a true intimidator patrolling the secondary like they did when John Lynch was around, they’ll get part of that nasty edge back that they had all those years ago. Barron might be that guy.

The last preseason game is Wednesday night. My DirecTV schedule says it will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet, channel 642. We’ll see if that actually happens, but hopefully I’ll be able to review the game less than a week after it happens this time.

Bucs Win First Game Since Last October

August 13, 2012 at 11:56am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

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I finally got a chance to see the Miami preseason game last night since NFL Network insisted on waiting until yesterday morning at 7:00AM to air it for the first time. Add to that the fact that every single write-up about this game focused on the Dolphins with barely any analysis of Tampa Bay and my theory that there is an anti-Buccaneer conspiracy within the NFL starts to make sense. Someone call Jesse Ventura and tell him to get on this.

* Josh Freeman looked pretty sharp, but Dan Orlovsky was on fire. Every pass was on target and his 100% completion rate showed it. He’s really one of the only guys I have to make fun of this season, so if he keeps doing well this preseason, it’s going to really screw me over.

* Greg Schiano and Mike Sullivan were making a point with his play calling. This is a running team and they run when they feel like it. The Bucs ran the ball 34 times and passed it 24. They only got 2.5 yards per carry, but a lot of that had to do with the poor run blocking in the second half. Michael Smith had nowhere to go. But when the starters were in (sans Donald Penn), LeGarrette Blount looked great. One time he was even split out at receiver. Some backups came in and Doug Martin also looked good with a sweet ten yard run showing off his balance.

* Speaking of Michael Smith, his kickoff return for 74 yards was a great display of vision and body control, but I thought he was supposed to be the fastest guy on the field. He got chased down from behind. Here’s a tip: If your greatest asset is your speed, you are not allowed to get chased down from behind.

* Luke Stocker‘s one catch was super sweet and was a great example of the kind of play he can make when they need him to. Between two defenders and behind him, Stocker still snagged it. Go Vols.

* Tiquan Underwood caught all three passes thrown his way, including one that never should have been thrown. The Miami safety should have had that pick, but Underwood kept his eyes on the ball and came down with it when everything shook out. Awesome concentration and hands.

* In the middle of my typing this review, the Bucs defense was called for another offsides penalty. Schiano isn’t going to stand for penalties, especially bullshit ones that are totally avoidable like offsides. Some dudes are going to be running gassers today so they can remember to wait until the ball is snapped.

* Another avoidable penalty: Preston Parker‘s personal foul. It was a scrap with a Dolphins player and might have been overlooked if he hadn’t muffed that punt. Stars can get into fights and get flagged and get away with it. Guys who drop footballs can’t.

* I think the Bucs had more big plays during this game than they did in the last ten games last season.

* Lavonte David is fast. Did you see him make that tackle on punt coverage? He got down there before the ball did.

* Adrian Clayborn is so fast off the ball. He didn’t post any stats in the game, but he’s going to be tough to block this season.

* Myron Lewis started the game but looked hesitant and lost. I’ve heard good things about him in camp, but he was invisible during the game. I’m guessing this is his last chance with the Bucs and he may not survive the cut to 53. But at least he’ll have one more chance with the Redskins when Raheem Morris convinces them to pick him up.

* But Anthony Gaitor looked great. Passes broken up, solid tackling, tight coverage. It’s not even a contest right now if the decision is between Lewis and Gaitor.

* Mason Foster had three tackles and played for less than a quarter. There is a new dedication to stopping the run and it looks like Foster is going to be leading that charge.

I thought it was an impressive showing and a great indication of the direction the Bucs are headed. Your impressions in the comments.

REAR ENTRIES: Into The Fold

May 21, 2012 at 10:03am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

Rear Entry 125

BUCS SIGN DAVID: One of the wonderful benefits of the new CBA is the total lack of drama involved in signing draft picks. They just sign. I think the rookie wage scale only technically affects the first-rounders (and maybe not even all of them), but everyone below them are seeming to fall into line earlier this year. And the Bucs just landed their second-rounder, Lavonte David, leaving only their two first-rounders left to go. David was second-string WLB for the one OTA that the media was allowed to observe, but that’s not going to last. If he doesn’t start at WLB for the first game of the regular season, I’ll eat my hat. Although you should keep in mind that all my hats are made of bacon.

WILLIAMS AND JACKSON: Mike Williams expanded on his comments the other day about Vincent Jackson‘s veteran presence and learning from his experiences.

“I call him, ‘Old Head,’ ” Williams said of Jackson.

I love old head! Especially when they’re missing lots of teeth so there’s no unfortunate scraping.

“He’s like the vet out there. We get advice from each other but mostly from him. He’s going out there and showing us what he’s seen throughout his long career, his 1,000-yard seasons and his Pro Bowl seasons. He’s letting us know what we’re going to see. We’re trying to work together as a group to compete.

“Basically, (he said) to keep working on my game. Don’t ever think you’ve mastered it. Keep on working on it. If you catch a pass 1,000 times, he wants you to catch it 1,005.”

Jackson was generally seen as a talented malcontent in San Diego, and some brain-dead bloggers even went so far as to say the Bucs shouldn’t trade for him in a million billion years (although to be fair that was for the price the Chargers were asking), but Jackson seems to be taking his position as the #1 receiver seriously and passing on what he knows to the young guys.

“It’s like, ‘Double (cover) someone now. We dare you,’ ” Williams said. “Having Vincent on the field, you get more confidence in a vet like that and him telling you what to do and how to do it. You get confidence, and we get out there with kind of a swagger.”

And wide receivers coach P.J. Fleck stands on the sidelines nodding and taking imaginary notes to make it look like he has something to do with it.

WHORING: I posted the question on Twitter, but I’ll go ahead and ask it here, too. How many of you dear readers would buy a Bucstats T-shirt if it was available? Or are hats better? Maybe both? What about nice big Bucstats magnets to stick right on your computer or even your backup hard drive? I’m just throwing out ideas here. Let me know what you think in the comments. If enough people are interested, I’ll get on it so everyone has their stuff before training camp. Thanks.

Draft Wrap Up

April 30, 2012 at 10:42am by Scott   •  9 Comments »

2012 Draft Roundip

With the Bucs having traded away their second-round pick in order to move back into the first to take Doug Martin, most people thought Mark Dominik would stand pat and wait for his third-rounder to hit. But Dominik is a sniper who sees what he wants and just fucking takes it. And what he wanted was LB Lavonte David out of Nebraska and he didn’t think think David was going to be there in the third for him. Someone in the chat on Friday called David as the next pick. I forget who it was, but bully for him. Nice call.

David is 6-0, 233 and runs a 4.65 40. Most people would call him undersized for a linebacker, but that would be his only drawback. He was super-productive at Nebraska and made all-conference after transferring from a junior college. He’s smart, athletic and closes on the football quick. It’s going to be tempting to compare him to Derrick Brooks because he’ll probably play the same position and because Brooks had the same “undersized” knock against him when he was drafted. This kid obviously has a long way to go, but just keep it in the back of your mind. This is why the Bucs felt comfortable passing on a linebacker in the first round. Dominik knew David was going to be there in the second and that freed him up to do what he did in the first.

I feel the need to point this out since there was so much Dominik bashing on Friday. Dominik traded down two spots to #7 and picked up a fourth-rounder, a price most people said was too low. Dominik took that fourth-rounder and used it to trade back up in the first to grab Martin. But all he did was swap fourths to do it. He still had a fourth-rounder going into the second. He then took that fourth to trade back into the second round for David. He used one fourth-rounder to trade up twice. That’s some expert wheeling and dealing, and if you don’t think so you’re just hater who enjoys being miserable and should pick another team to root for or bitch about as you please. But leave my Bucs out of your sphere of depression.

The rest of the draft I found underwhelming, mostly because I didn’t know any of the players. The Bucs took LB Najee Goode in the fifth and CB Keith Tandy, both from West Virginia. In fact, Goode and Tandy were roommates in college, so they should give the second-team back seven some continuity walking into camp. Greg Schiano played both these guys several times while at Rutgers (both WV and Rutgers are in the Big East), so he obviously spent some time scouting them even before he got to the Bucs.

“Obviously, I know a lot about both the West Virginia kids playing against them for four years,” former Rutgers coach Schiano said. “They were both a royal pain in the rear. As I told them, it’s good to be on the same side now.

“Those two guys are football maniacs. I mean, they love the game, and they play it with such passion.”

With his first seventh-round pick, Dominik grabbed Michael Smith, a running back from Utah State. Smith’s pick is all about speed and he is a true change-of-pace back. In fact, another team liked him so much that they offered Dominik a sixth-rounder next year for Smith right after he was drafted.

“I never had that happen before,” Dominik said.

Smith claimed to run a 4.26 at some point, but he was clocked at 4.32 at his pro day. That probably translates a few hundredths higher at the combine, but is still faster than anyone the Bucs currently have. Smith is 5-9, 207 and had a recent groin injury, so there’s going to be some talk about his size and durability, but for a seventh-rounder, he sounds like a steal. So I won’t hold it against Dominik for not drafting Tauren Poole out of Tennessee with this pick. Poole, by the way, went to Carolina on a UFA deal, so we’ll be seeing him soon enough.

The Bucs’ last pick was Drake Dunsmore, a tight end out of Northwestern who probably projects as a fullback. Erik Lorig and Luke Stocker already have the jobs of “white guys who can block” filled, so I’m going to say Dunsmore doesn’t make the team. Everyone else, though, I think has a real shot of sticking.

With nearly 48 hours passing since the draft ended, it seems like a good time to look at draft grades. Of course that’s dumb, but people do it anyway. SI gives the Bucs an A-, Ira Kaufman gives them a B+, Mel Kiper gave them something good (I’ll never know because I won’t pay for it, but the Bucs did well enough to be the team they push on the home page), and CBS gives them a solid B. All the draft reviews have the same complaint, though: that the Bucs should have just taken Morris Claiborne. But without the trade down, the trades back up don’t happen. Barron is a solid player at a position of huge need for the team. And again, if the Bucs thought Claiborne was better than Mark Barron, they would have taken him. But the Bucs were in a unique position to know a lot about Claiborne and they went ahead and picked Barron anyway. That’s the last time I’ll beat that horse, but it seems so obvious that I don’t know why more people aren’t realizing it.