Posts Tagged ‘panthers’
November 20, 2012 at 01:22pm by Scott • 9 Comments »
I’ve been waiting years to write that headline.
At about the beginning of the fourth quarter, I was pretty sure the Panthers game was going to be one of those that we all expected the Bucs to drop because they’re still not a great team yet and I was all prepared to console everyone and let them know that they’re still ahead of where we thought they’d be and winning three in a row is a great accomplishment and verbally stroking everyone so they don’t drown themselves in turkey gravy this week.
And then the last five minutes happened.
I think we all have to accept the fact that Josh Freeman is inconsistent throughout a game. But he’s consistently inconsistent. He will start off well, have a shitty middle of the game, and then end clutch. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday. His middle was about as shitty as he’s been all season and his end was absolutely brilliant. Both his passes to Vincent Jackson to tie the game were spectacular, but his play-action fake to Doug Martin on the two-point conversion to suck Luke Kuechly up was a thing of beauty. Something just clicks in Freeman when the game is on the line as the clock is ticking down. His passes become crisper, his decision making becomes better and he is obviously more confident in what he’s doing.
And as Freeman goes, so goes the offense. I’m not going to split up the offensive positions in this write-up because they’ll all look the same. Good, bad, great. The only player I’ll say was better than that was Jackson, who is quickly becoming the best free agent acquisition in Bucs history. That may not seem like a great compliment, but the Bucs have had some great producers out of free agency. Hardy Nickerson, Simeon Rice, Brad Johnson… Jackson is on the path to be better than all of them. I thought he was overrated in San Diego and probably not worth what the Bucs were paying him. I was dead wrong.
The Bucs’ defense had ten tackles for loss. Ten. That’s an incredible number. The both stuffed the run and got to the Cam Newton enough to keep him off balance for most of the game. Da’Quan Bowers re-asserted himself with a ten yard sack and Michael Bennett got another one. And Daniel Te’o-Nesheim recorded seven tackles. I really have no complaints at all about the defensive line this week.
Same thing with the linebackers. Lavonte David, awesome. Just copy and paste from the rest of the season.
I’m not sure what to think of Mark Barron. All the scouting reports talked about his inability to cover, but his 12 career interceptions at Alabama made me think they were just looking for something to bitch about since no player can be perfect. But his coverage against the Panthers was actually a liability. He gave up some big plays and gave up a PI call (which was a bullshit call, but he has to turn around and at least pretend to look for the ball if he’s going to avoid it). He missed a couple tackles as well, which was unheard of to this point. It was just a bad game and I’m not going to worry, but the guy is human. Let’s hope this was the bottom and that he’s due to get his second wind now.
Also note that there were no interceptions at all on Sunday. Against Cam Newton. It was a better game than the secondary has had recently, but still not all that strong. The secondary is still the weak spot of this defense.
But holy shit, they’re finding ways to win. I don’t want to focus on the negative here because it’s not important right now. I had just expected to lose this game when it got down close to the end because it seemed like they were due and I had no right to expect anything else. But this game showed me that this team is never really out of it. Could it be that we’ve crossed the threshold, going from a team that you expect to lose to a team you expect to win? They’re 6-4 now. They’re at the point where they can sniff the playoffs (they still don’t control their own destiny, but they’re on the verge). The teams that they have to play aren’t unbeatable and some of them should even be gimmes. Wow, it really does feel like a new day in Tampa Bay.
September 10, 2012 at 10:28am by Scott • 5 Comments »
Breathe it in, people. Breathe in the sweet smell of a Buccaneer victory. It’s been several months and several other kinds of smells since we’ve experienced this, since we’ve been able to hold our heads high and go to the grocery store with our Buccaneers shirts on without having to make excuses for the team. I’m not booking my ticket for February in New Orleans (can you book passage on a submarine?) but it’s an excellent start and hopefully a sign of things to come.
I’ve really got no complaints about any of the positions. Josh Freeman looked more comfortable in the pocket, made good decisions and fucking RAN once in a while. He looked stronger in the first half than the second, but he didn’t force any balls and most importantly didn’t throw any interceptions. He had a 66% completion rate and a 95.5 passer rating. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams were the only wide receivers that caught balls yesterday, but they came up big when the had to (although Jackson did have a couple drops). The offensive line was solid except for part of the third quarter when things fell apart for a little bit. Jeremy Trueblood gave up a sack and so did Ted Larsen, who wasn’t awful but certainly isn’t Davin Joseph. Erik Lorig was paving roads all day long and catching everything thrown his way. He’s way better at fullback than I had ever given him credit for.
But the offensive performance centered around Doug Martin. I had heard rumors about “running back by committee”, but that ain’t happening. Martin rushed 24 times for 95 yards giving him 4.0 YPC. But the great thing about that average is that it was consistent. It’s not like he got stopped at the line five times and then broke one out for 30 yards. He was consistently getting chunks of yards on just about every carry, and that’s a much better way to get that average. Because in a pinch if you need two yards to keep the drive going, you aren’t rolling the dice with him.
And let’s not forget his ability to catch. He caught four balls from Freeman including one where he leapt over Luke Kuechly and had to keep him from wrestling it away (a cheap move by Kuechly since Martin had clearly caught the ball and been touched down before there was any question of possession). Keep in mind that Martin is only 4 foot 6, so outleaping anyone is a huge feat. Add his competent pass blocking and Martin made an excellent centerpiece for this offense.
The defense also put on an excellent show, throwing a shutout in the first half and limiting the Panthers to ten points altogether. Carolina only rushed for ten total yards. Go ahead and read that again. This was supposed to be the best rushing team in the league this year. Granted, they didn’t have Jonathan Stewart yesterday, but they still had DeAngelo Williams and Newton and probably felt they could run the ball up the middle. I know I thought they were going to. Part of their problem was Gerald McCoy, who put the entire responsibility of the front seven on his back and played like he had been possessed by the ghost of Warren Sapp (I am being told now that Sapp isn’t dead. My apologies.) He was disruptive all game long, not allowing Newton to set up and attacking the rusher in the backfield when it was a run. And Roy Miller is just fine as the nose tackle. Stop trying to replace him and just let him play.
I didn’t see a single missed tackle by the linebackers yesterday. I may have missed one, but there definitely weren’t many. Mason Foster and Quincy Black are much improved over last season and Lavonte David was an improvement over Geno Hayes the day he was drafted.
The secondary also played a good game, coming up with two interceptions and playing solid man to man coverage for most of the game. The offense is going to make their plays too, so plays like that 50 yard catch by Louis Murphy when Aqib Talib was draped all over him is really more about a perfect pass than poor coverage. The only problems I really saw were the two plays where the receiver (one of them being Steve Smith) was wide open. And I don’t mean he had a yard or two on the guy chasing him. I mean there were no other bodies in the TV frame when he caught the ball. Both times the Bucs got burned for a big play, one of them being a touchdown. I’m assuming these were blown coverages or miscommunications or something similar that can be corrected with watching film and running some gassers.
Ahmad Black looks like a star in the making. He had one beautiful pick on an underthrown ball and another almost-pick. And Mark Barron looked good, too. I think one of those blown coverages may have been his fault, but he’ll work that out. The dude sure can hit. Barron finished with three tackles and two passes broken up.
Can’t forge the kicking game. Connor Barth made three field goals (the difference in the score), Michael Koenen had four touchbacks on kickoffs and a strong day punting, and even a punt blocked by Talib who I am impressed to see playing on special teams.
Sorry if this write-up isn’t all that funny. Most jokes come from pain or something negative and this game didn’t have a lot of that. Just solid, aggressive, well-played football. The fundamentals have been emphasized this season and it shows.
December 27, 2011 at 10:07am by Scott • 2 Comments »
So the game started off with Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat introducing the story. The first musical number kicks in, basically as an overture. After that, Michael Caine comes around a corner ominously with fog in the background. He disregards the poor and homeless along the way and enters his office where his assistant is played by Kermit. Wait… this doesn’t sound right.
Oh, that’s right. I spent Saturday afternoon switching between the Bucs game and A Muppet Christmas Carol. God, the Muppets were so much more entertaining than the Bucs. Aside from one nice, 80-yard drive that gave me hope for about nine seconds, it was the same, predictable, turnover-ridden shitfest that we’ve grown accustomed to over the last nine games. And since I’ve written that summary several times now, let’s just summarize the summary.
Josh Freeman looked better than he has during this losing streak, Kregg Lumpkin almost looked like a real NFL running back, Donald Penn gave up a couple sacks, Jeremy Trueblood gave up a couple penalties, everybody on the defensive line except Adrian Clayborn and possibly Michael Bennett didn’t bother showing up, Dekoda Watson showed he should probably be starting because none of the starting linebackers did a hell of a lot, and the entire secondary was miserable, including Tanard Jackson who looked lost.
There you go. Same as it ever was. I included one more clicky since I didn’t get to finish out All-Clicky Week on Christmas day or yesterday.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Scrooge learns the meaning of Christmas, becomes more generous, and saves Tiny Tim.
December 06, 2011 at 09:55am by Scott • 10 Comments »
Sitting back and watching Josh Johnson, I don’t think he played any worse than Josh Freeman has been. He scrambled more and took a couple extra shots downfield, which I think is an improvement. But a lot of the time he also looked uncomfortable in the pocket even when the protection was good. The low point had to be the interception he threw when he got the snap early. He’s got enough years behind hi now that he should know better. His highlight is probably the 42-yard pass to Mike Williams, which was perfect. But honestly, it’s kind of a wash.
LeGarrette Blount only got 11 carries on Sunday, but he never touched the ball after 6:21 left in third quarter. At that point the score was 31-12. Three scores down, but with 21 minutes left, I still wouldn’t have quit on the run game. Even when the Panthers were stacking the box, Blount got a couple six-yard runs in there. Mossis Madu looked like an upgrade over Kregg Lumpkin, but I’m not sure why feeding Madu the ball instead of Blount is a good idea. To be fair, Madu did gain more yards than Blount on fewer carries, but I’ve never seen Madu break six tackles on the way to the endzone, either.
And why, right after Blount gets six yards on back to back carries, is that the time to run a reverse on third and 2? That reverse to Arrelious Benn hardly ever works. I don’t know if the formation gives it away or the players aren’t selling it good enough, but it is rarely ever this big breakaway play that they want it to be. A first down would have put them at the Carolina 15. Instead, Benn lost 12 yards on the play and forced a field goal.
Jeremy Trueblood got handled by Charles Johnson. Johnson had a sack, three TFLs and a pass defensed. Bad day at the office for Trueblood. I didn’t notice anything else awful about the offensive line, but I’m not sure if that bad snap was Jeff Faine‘s fault or Josh Johnson’s.
Defensively, Da’Quan Bowers established himself as a real contender to start. Bowers was a machine all day long — 1.5 sacks, 8 tackles, 5 TFLs. With him on one side and Adrian Clayborn on the other, the Bucs may have found a pair of defensive ends to grow with them.
I don’t know what Brian Price did, but every indication is that the decision to send him home was an overreaction by Raheem Morris. If it isn’t bad enough for the officials to eject him from the game, it shouldn’t be bad enough for Raheem to do it. I think Raheem was just waiting for someone to make a stupid mistake and make an example of him. Too bad it was Price because he’s one of the best defensive players they have right now and from everything I’ve ever read or heard from him is a kind-hearted kid. For as many scraps as Aqib Talib has gotten into on the field, for Price to be the one sent home for that kind of infraction is seriously messed up. It’s a power move, and a coach with full control of the locker room doesn’t have to make them in that fashion. If it works, maybe Raheem gets everyone’s attention. But if it doesn’t and he loses control of his team, he’s finished. It’s a huge risk he took doing it.
I’m not sure the team even has linebackers anymore. I see Mason Foster making plays, but he can’t do it by himself. If any group needs to be blown up and started over from scratch, it’s this one. And please, when you do it, move Foster back to WLB where he played in college.
The secondary could have been a lot worse without Talib, but overall it wasn’t terrible. E.J. Biggers gave up a big one to Steve Smith, but I was actually impressed it was only one. Smith only caught two passes all day.
And we all know that Ronde Barber wasn’t supposed to tackle Cam Newton on that option play, right? If Barber had released his man and went after Newton, Newton would have just flipped the ball to the guy Barber just left and he would have been the one to make the big gain. I’ve seen people complain that Barber should have just “made the play”, but he was exactly where he was supposed to be.
What happened to Tanard Jackson? Dude seems to be getting plowed more than I remember.
Connor Barth, Bucstats salutes you for being the most consistent player on the team. Maybe it was you who had the championship hair all along.
That’s about all I can fake my way through right now. Sorry it wasn’t funny or anything. It’s just so hard to care about this game. The good news is that the Jaguars look even shittier. The Chargers hadn’t won since forever and they destroyed the Jags last night. Blaine Gabbert looks awful and no one seems to give a shit in Jacksonville, either. We can call next week’s game the Apathy Bowl, sponsored by Valium!
December 05, 2011 at 02:57pm by Scott • 7 Comments »
I’ve had some things to do today, so I haven’t been able to get to the write-up of yesterday’s game [sic] yet. I usually have things to do on other days as well and generally get to posting at least something about the game by now, but I’m just not fucking motivated. It was uncompetitive, uninspired and doesn’t inspire me to write. Even bad games give me something to write about, and while this game definitely was bad, it was bad in a completely boring way. Do you want to know how bad it was? I almost found myself rooting for the Panthers. They were just playing fun football. A double pass to the quarterback? Who doesn’t love those? It was fun to watch.
So, I’ll get to the write-up soon. Probably tonight, maybe tomorrow morning. But I just can’t dredge up enough give-a-shit to put off other real world things to do it right now. This may be the first time in the life of this blog that I probably could do it, but just choose to put it off. And if I, a Bucs blogger for the last several years, feel this apathetic, imagine how the casual fan feels who is trying to decide whether or not to attend a game.
May 17, 2011 at 09:42am by Scott • 3 Comments »
I don’t know if Cam Newton is going to be worth a shit or not as an NFL quarterback. My gut tells me no, but my gut also told me there would be no lockout, so my gut is clearly not qualified to give advice. But one Panthers blog is holding out hope that Newton will receive the help he needs to become a franchise quarterback from… wait for it… Chris Weinke!
Per Chris Mortensen via Twitter, Weinke assisted the Panthers with pre-draft evaluation of Newton. He also says the relationship between Weinke and the organization remains strong.
The blog refrains from saying that Weinke will be hired in any official capacity, choosing to use the word “mentor” instead. But they also know what you think as soon as you read his name and they try to nip that in the bud by calling out an example of another terrible quarterback that has gone on to do good things as a coach. And this is where it gets personal.
If you’re still worried about a failed QB teaching a young QB then please, consider this:
2,985 career yards, 54.9% completion, 16 TD, 24 INT and a QB rating of 64.1
That’s a pretty bad QB isn’t it? I mean I certainly wouldn’t want that QB training my new star… would you?
This quarterback in mention is Alex Van Pelt, former 8th round pick in the 1993 NFL draft and current QB coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Van Pelt is credited for being the ‘difference maker’ in Josh Freeman‘s development, and around league circles there is a great deal of buzz that he will be the next in line for an offensive coordinator job.
I actually agree with them in that a coach doesn’t have to have been a good player in order to give good instruction. Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid come to mind and Brett Favre is the classic example of an excellent player who is not someone you would want instructing your QB on foot mechanics or the subtleties of discreet texting. And I’m happy with Freeman’s progress under Van Pelt, so there’s no reason to think that Newton won’t also flourish. But Chris Weinke is just too good a punchline. The 28-year old rookie who went 1-15. Woohoo!
November 18, 2010 at 12:05pm by Scott • 10 Comments »
I’m sure you’ve heard the old sayings before. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”, “Children should be seen and not heard”, “If you keep touching it, you’ll go blind.” Well, add “A snaking quarterback is not defenseless” to them. Raheem Morris explains perfectly (no, really) why Aqib Talib did nothing wrong by jumping into the pile in last Sunday’s game and why John Fox and Steve Smith are crybabies.
“When we play our game, our job is to not let people score,” Morris said. “My guys play within the confines of the rules; we go out there, we play. I know the league right now is emphasizing concussions, but you’ve got to understand, the league is trying to protect defenseless players, not guys trying to score a touchdown. When you run sneaks and those things, people get hit. It’s a violent football game.”
Morris went on to say he understands why the Panthers are upset, but without ever giving ground or even remotely apologizing which is awesome. I know it seems crazy, but when a quarterback takes the ball and tries to run head-first into a pile in order to gain a yard, he’s very likely to get hit in the helmet. Maybe Fox would like to issue medieval shields to quarterbacks to lead them into the pile. And then they could start writing rules about “helmet to shield contact”.
November 16, 2010 at 11:07am by Scott • 20 Comments »
The Carolina Panthers were seething Monday over the play that may have caused rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen to sustain a concussion.
They claim a couple of Tampa Bay players recklessly dove into the pile as Clausen was stuffed shy of the goal line on fourth down on Carolina’s final offensive play Sunday in the Buccaneers’ 31-16 win.
November 12, 2010 at 11:22am by Scott • 4 Comments »
Everyone knows the best rivalry in the NFC South is the Bucs/Panthers. There’s a level of animosity and ill-will there that just isn’t present in any other combination, even Falcons/Saints. Even the pregame interviews are usually kind of chippy and overflowing with subtle acrimony, except this year when the Panthers are 1-7 and aren’t in a position to say shit. They’re so sweet they sound like they’re buttering up their parents to ask for a Christmas present.
Eric Norwood, a rookie from South Carolina, played against the bullish Tim Tebow several times in college but called Freeman “a different animal.”
“He can run it. He can throw it. He can sit there and take a hit,” Norwood added. “Watch film (of Freeman), he’s a beast.”
Better than Tebow? IS THERE SUCH A THING?
Cornerback Richard Marshall said the best way to get Freeman down is with a little help from your friends.
That’s true, because every time I hear that song I want to curl up and die. Joe Cocker‘s version, not Ringo’s. Ringo gets a pass like most retarded people do.
“You’re just not going to hit him and he goes down. You’ve got to grab and hold him until the cavalry comes,” he said.
He just described my sex life.
“You look at Tampa, we’re in the same mold,” Panthers linebacker Jon Beason said, looking ahead to Sunday’s rematch. “We’re a young team. The difference is they were able to get some wins early and get some confidence. I think it’s carried on throughout the season.”
Isn’t it funny how just a couple years ago, the Panthers were running the ball down everyone’s throat and playing good defense and were the kings of the NFC South. Now they want to be just like the Bucs. The next step is for them to can their head coach, which seems inevitable at this point. After that, watch for a sudden surge in the unemployment rate in Charlotte of men over the age of 24.
Oh look, they want to keep talking about Freeman.
“His rookie year, I can remember a game right here where I think it was a learning experience for him,” Fox said. “It was a rough day. But he’s a fine, young player having an outstanding season and actually playing as good as most quarterbacks in the league right now.”
Beason said the Panthers relish the chance to try to jump-start their season against the 6-foot-6, 248-pound passer who reminds him of quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger and Daunte Culpepper because of his size, strength and mobility.
“The difference is those guys had big-time proven playmakers. He’s out there doing it with a very young receiving corps,” the linebacker said. “The things he’s done with a team that’s very youthful is amazing. I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
“A beast”, “amazing”, “the sky’s the limit”… these are not things you would have heard any Panther say about any Buc even a year ago. Nothing like a 1-win season to keep you humble. They really should do this more often. Lose a lot of games, I mean.
June 15, 2010 at 01:27pm by Scott • 6 Comments »
Thanks to Jeremy Trueblood‘s fair catch yesterday, there’s no OTA today and probably not a hell of a lot going on, so we have to dig into what the real writers are doing with their time to see if we can get some material. And unfortunately, Pat Yasinskas came up with the only thing worth reading at the moment. He took on the challenging task of doing the same shit we all do when we’re with our buddies and ranked things, in his case, the top six (six?) NFC South coaches of all time. But since the NFC South is only in its ninth year of existence, he considered the entire coaching histories of the four NFC South teams. His conclusion: Tony Dungy is the best coach ever in the NFC South.
Yeah, Dungy never won a Super Bowl until he got to Indianapolis (and that factored into my thought process). Dungy did set the table for Gruden, but he did so much more than that. He came into a franchise that hadn’t had a winning season in a generation, was beyond dysfunctional and was on the verge of moving to Cleveland, Sacramento, Orlando or anywhere that would give the Bucs a new stadium.
It’s hard to argue, especially in a division with such young teams. The Falcons are the oldest team and they started in 1966, so no one really has a long and storied history of coaching legends to pull from. But for how low the Bucs were when he took over and what he developed in Tampa over six short years, you have to go with Dungy. I also agree with Yasinskas that Sean Payton should be #2. After that it gets dicey.
3. John Fox, Carolina Panthers. Yep, I did it. I picked Fox over a guy who won a Super Bowl (Gruden).
Well, then, you suck. Fox has been just as up and down in his tenure as Gruden was, going to the playoffs one year and missing them the next. Gruden’s low (4-12) was lower than Fox’s low (7-9 three times), but Gruden’s high was the highest it can get. Fox is a good coach, but outside of Dungy who established a culture in Tampa, how can you put a Super Bowl loser over a Super Bowl winner?
4. Jim Mora, New Orleans Saints. I’m doing it again. I’m looking at the big picture. Remember what I said about Dungy and Payton about how they changed the climate of their franchises? Well, Mora did the same thing in New Orleans in the 1980s.
He’s above Gruden, too? I actually like this pick better than Fox’s.
5. Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. All right, Gruden won a Super Bowl and you can never take that away from him. He put Tampa Bay over the top after Dungy couldn’t. He won a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson as his quarterback and no true superstars on offense.
You sure you don’t want to put Bobby Petrino or George Seifert in here, Pat?
And why do people talk about Brad Johnson like he’s some crippled kid who got lucky enough to land on a winning football team? Johnson was a very good quarterback up until the end of his career. After the Bucs cut him, he went back to Minnesota and went 7-2 with a six game winning streak in his first season back there. He has a career passer rating of 82.6, not shabby when you consider Kurt Warner‘s career rating of 93.2. I understand people saying “they even won with Trent Dilfer” about the Ravens because Dilfer had periods with the Bucs when he truly sucked ass. Johnson never had that, at least not until he was 38 or 39.
6. Dan Reeves, Atlanta Falcons. There was a part of me that wanted to put Reeves ahead of Gruden for this simple fact: He reached a Super Bowl with Chris Chandler as his quarterback.
And there’s a part of me that wants to see Pat dropped into an industrial meat grinder and turned into several dozen pounds of meat loaf mix. I didn’t realize the Gruden hate was so deep for him. And, really, Dan fucking Reeves on this list? He had a losing record with the Falcons. If we’re going to consider coaches with losing records, you’ve got to put John McKay on this list. McKay started out with less than nothing in the expansion season, total shit thanks to the rules for expansion teams. In four years he was playing for the NFC Championship with a defense that teams were legitimately scared of. And he went to the playoffs two more times even as the talent level he was working with was getting depleted rapidly. Reeves only went to the playoffs one other time in his tenure with Atlanta besides the Super Bowl year.
I’d also like to add an honorable mention for Norm Van Brocklin, who only went 37-49-3 for Atlanta in seven seasons, but the guy was just a bad ass. Injury was no excuse to not play, he could go through an entire pack of cigarettes on the sidelines in one game, and his swearing put Jon Gruden to shame. He was old school all the way, lived hard and died young. Fox may have a better win-loss record, but I know who I’d want on my side in a street fight.
So anyway, there’s Pat’s list. Basically, Dungy is the best, Payton is second, and Gruden can suck Pat’s balls because the only reason he’s on there is the Super Bowl victory he accidentally stumbled into. And Van Brocklin is cooler than all of them combined. In fact, I’m changing the banner pic. Dungy gets his mug on enough shit.