Posts Tagged ‘saints’
December 18, 2012 at 01:59am by Scott • 10 Comments »
I didn’t forget. I haven’t been sitting back in quiet contemplation of what I was going to say about this game. There’s really nothing to say and no parts of the game worth breaking down. I considered writing an entry that said, “Everyone was shit,” and that’s it. I considered writing something totally non-football related, but then I’d be Peter King and I don’t like coffee enough or hate oatmeal enough for that. I guess it’s one of those weeks where no words can adequately express what’s going on.
It’s not as though we didn’t know how this season would turn out. If you predicted a six win season in August, that was reasonable and a decent record for an upstart team. And if they started off the season with a five or six game losing streak and then started to pick it up and really make some strides forward, you’d think everything was heading in the right direction. But the Bucs went on a nice four-game winning run that had a lot of us thinking playoffs in the first year. And then came the collapse, and all of a sudden it’s just like last year. Started off promising, ended with a splat. There’s always the chance that the Bucs win their next two games, but I don’t really care if they do or not.
It’s not because I’ve become apathetic about the team as a whole. Just their season. Each game for the past month has gotten progressively worse and they’re not going to fix whatever’s wrong in the next two weeks. So now I’m thinking about the offseason, the draft. I’m still excited about the Bucs’ potential. With Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks back in, along with Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson, they have a lot of strength in the offense. And I think the defensive line and linebacker corps is loaded with talent if they can get their starters back and play more consistently. An overhaul of the secondary is in order and, of course, Josh Freeman needs to play like he’s in a contract year since he is. There are a lot of pieces in place. And hell, if I didn’t stop being a Bucs fan during the Raheem Morris era, I’m probably never going to.
October 23, 2012 at 10:22am by Scott • 12 Comments »
Okay, now that I’ve had a day to think about it, I know who I’m the maddest at. At first I thought I was mad at the officials for denying Mike Williams the game-tying touchdown on such a stupid rule. But the rule is the rule and they have to enforce them. And then I thought I was mad at Vincent Jackson for somehow making a 95-yard catch-and-run but somehow not getting in the endzone. He honestly looked like he was jogging for part of that run and Malcolm Jenkins isn’t extraordinarily fast. But I forgot Jackson has been nursing a calf injury for a while now, so that may have played a part in it. Then I was mad at LeGarrette Blount for not being able to pound the ball into the endzone after several attempts. And I’m still a little mad about that, but the offensive line messed up on their end, too. New Orleans has one of the worst run defenses in the league and somehow they stonewalled the Bucs on the doorstep of the goal line. And then I got mad at Mike Sullivan for calling all those goal line runs in a row when it was obvious that they weren’t working. But there’s a good chance I would have done the same thing. I’m always saying stupid shit like, “If you can’t gain one yard when you need it, you don’t need to be playing” and I very likely would have continued to feed the ball to Blount behind that line since they have Carl Nicks and Donald Penn and Blount is big and powerful. So I was mad at myself, too.
Then it hit me. All those guys are offensive players. But the offense wasn’t necessarily the problem. It was the defense that allowed Drew Brees to come back after being 14 points down twice. Specifically, it was the defensive line that got NO pressure on Brees. And that’s not some subjective indictment I’m putting on the line. That’s statistical fact. There were no sacks and no quarterback pressures recorded for the game. Do you know how hard that is to do? The closest they came was the batted ball early in the game that Ronde Barber returned to the 13. After that the Bucs stayed away from him like Tennessee stays away from SEC victories (or the Crimson Tide stays away from showers). Any quarterback worth a shit will make a completion if you give him a clear look at his receivers. But Brees being Brees will absolutely eat you alive if you give him that kind of time. He’s too accurate and he knows his receivers too well. And sometimes just to make their point that they didn’t want to disturb Brees’s concentration, the Bucs rushed three. Really. No one was going to get there — their offensive line gets paid, too, you know. If that was an effective strategy, someone would have invented Cover 11 by now where there is absolutely no rush. No one does that. You know why? Because rushing the quarterback makes a difference.
So, yes, I blame the defensive line and whoever is in charge of telling them what to do. The 28 points the Bucs scored should have been enough.
The secondary was pretty much shit, too, except for Ronde’s heads up play. Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright both got burned for big gains or touchdowns. Even Mark Barron wasn’t really sharp, which is a big surprise. I honestly don’t have a single note about the linebackers, which means they didn’t play great but did enough to not get noticed. But it all starts at the line. If Brees has to hurry his throws and can’t get set, the rest of the defense looks a lot better.
The offense looked actually pretty good. Josh Freeman was sharp for most of the game and didn’t throw a pick while racking up a career high in passing yards. Doug Martin had the best game of his short career and is finally starting to break away on some of these runs. The receivers played a great game and the tight ends showed up, with Dallas Clark scoring a touchdown and Luke Stocker making a nice catch. I’ll also mention the tight ends blocking here because Clark doesn’t get enough credit for it. He had a nice block on Martin’s TD run. The offensive line had a nice game pass-blocking but their run-blocking obviously needs something since they couldn’t help Blount score from the 3-yard line on three tries. And Jeremy Zuttah‘s rolling snap came at the worst possible time.
The Bucs’ kick return game looked like hell again and Connor Barth missed another field goal, but Michael Koenen continues to impress with his punts and kickoffs. Maybe it’s time to activate Michael Smith and see what he can do to get the Bucs better starting field position. He didn’t look that hot in preseason, but can he be any worse than what they’re getting now?
It was a heartbreaking loss and it shouldn’t have been that way, but the defensive line has looked really good in other games and I’m willing to chalk this one up to… I dunno, mild food poisoning or something. We knew we’d be having conversations like this this season, so let’s not get all indignant now that it’s actually happening. It’s too early to start calling the season a washout. I think six wins is what I’m expecting. Eight wins and it’s a great season. Let’s continue to be realistic here.
October 19, 2012 at 11:27am by Scott • 4 Comments »
HI MOM!: Mike Williams talks about how his mother helped teach him how to go up and grab balls that seemed too high to catch.
Mary Rosenthal had the best of intentions, but throwing a football with accuracy just wasn’t among her strengths.
So years ago, when she insisted on playing catch with her young son, current Bucs receiver Mike Williams, she routinely overthrew him. It forced Williams to reach for the sky to come down with the wayward passes.
“Before I even knew how to run a route, I knew how to go up and get the ball,” Williams said.
An article about moms and grabbing balls? It’s days like this I really miss Joe. And his mom.
SPILL IT, NICKS: Carl Nicks, who came from the Saints this offseason, has decided not to share any of his former team’s secrets or weaknesses the week before his current team plays them.
“I’m a firm believer in playing fair and being honest and the code,” Nicks said Wednesday.
“It’s cheating, and I’m not about that. I know they’re not about that. I want to be able to sit there and say, ‘We beat you guys fair and square.’ “
I’m a firm believer in playing fair, too, but is that really cheating? I kind of assumed that when a player plays his former team, he gives his current team any information they want. You think Elbert Mack is keeping his mouth shut now that he’s in New Orleans? Granted, the Bucs have all new schemes now and Mack wouldn’t be able to help much, but he knows a lot of the players and what they’re good at and can probably tell them something. With free agency, someone is always playing their former team. It’s up to coaches to protect themselves against being too predictable and using the same old terminology and signals. Sorry, Carl, you need to give up the secrets. March right into Greg Schiano‘s office and tell him Drew Brees‘s real name so the Bucs can say it during the game and make him go away.
CHARGES AGAINST STEVENS DROPPED: Have you thought about Jerramy Stevens even once since he was cut? Me neither, but he still lives in Tampa and is still having fun with the law. This time, though, charges were dropped against him for an alleged 2011 face-punching. You know your life hasn’t gone as planned when the “Legal Troubles” section of your Wiki page is longer than the “Professional Career” section.
March 30, 2012 at 12:26pm by Scott • 8 Comments »
Herm Edwards stirred up a little controversy yesterday when he said the Saints were making a “mockery of the Rooney Rule” by announcing that they were interested in having Bill Parcells replace Sean Payton for one year and not interviewing a minority candidate for the spot. It’s really not that bold of a statement; other NFL people say much worse every day on Twitter. But of course since it’s racial in nature, everyone has to take sides and spout their meaningless opinions on the matter. And the message boards and comment sections are overflowing with half-cocked bullshit today. Normally I avoid it all since the only people I’m racist against are leprechauns — God, I hate those little green bastards. But I’m in the mood for a little pre-Spring Break controversy and actually had this conversation a couple weeks ago, so why not.
Most of the comments today are about how the Rooney Rule is useless and sucks and isn’t fair and doesn’t help. They say that owners should just be allowed to hire the person they most want for the job. And in the magic fairyland where these people must be from, I’m sure everything is totally fair to everyone and always has been. In this country, however, not so much. From when Fritz Pollard coached the Hammond Pros in 1925 until Art Shell was hired by the Raiders in 1989, there were no black coaches in the NFL. Zero. If owners just hired the best men for the job on their own, what these people are saying is that for an unbroken streak of 65 years, the best man for every single head coaching position was always white. And some of those guys, as their records prove, were total dog shit. But somehow they were still better than any black coach that could have been hired. Aren’t we whiteys amazing?!
After Shell was hired, it seemed like a small bit of the stigma was lifted and black coaches started to trickle in. No floodgates were opened, but they let the faucet drip a little. From 1989 through 2002, there were five black head coaches in the NFL: Shell, Denny Green, Ray Rhodes, Tony Dungy and Edwards himself. The Rooney Rule, which requires an owner to interview at least one minority candidate for a head coaching vacancy, was enacted in 2003. Since then, there have been ten head coaching positions filled by a black man (Romeo Crennel twice) along with seven appointments as an interim head coach (two of which became permanent). In the 78 years from Pollard to the Rooney Rule, there were five black head coaches. In the 10 years since the Rooney Rule, there have been 15. That’s real progress — those are the floodgates we were looking for. And it’s important to keep in mind that owners are not required to hire a black head coach — only to interview one black candidate. No owner is going to hire someone for such an important position just for the sake of racial equality. They’re going to hire who they think is the best man for the job because these are billion dollar businesses that they are being put in charge of.
Some argue that it’s undignified to make a black coach take an interview that is only being given in order to fulfill the rule. But that rule is requiring black coaches to get face time in front of high-level decision makers in the NFL. That’s valuable, even if the owner already knows the white guy he wants to hire. Maybe the black coach impresses the owner and will consider him for another position. Maybe if the coach he’s already planning to hire doesn’t work out, the impressive black coach already has a leg up on the competition for his replacement. Or maybe other owners compare notes on who they like and the owner brags about how well this man came across on his Rooney Rule interview. Here’s the point: It can’t hurt. If I’m being totally honest, I think most owners would hire the best man for the job regardless of race on their own now. I really don’t think there are any more George Preston Marshalls left in the league, or at least none who would put their prejudices above the welfare of their team. So the Rooney Rule may have served its purpose and be a little obsolete now. But I’m also not going to put up a big fuss to remove the rule yet, either. After 65 years of being blacklisted (no pun) from head coaching positions, I think black coaches have a little more extra consideration coming their way if they want it. Ask me again in ten years.
All that said, the Payton situation is completely new and might require a different strategy. Payton isn’t fired, he’s suspended. He is still the head coach and will take his position back at the end of the season. To me this is more like hiring an assistant coach, which wouldn’t be subject to any rule. I will now take this moment to admit that I may be biased here because I really love Parcells and want to see him on the sidelines one more time. Which is why I’m not the guy in charge of enforcing the Rooney Rule. As long as the coach was fun to watch on the sidelines and gave good press conferences, I’d let him in. Feel free to leave whatever you want in the comments as long as it won’t get me arrested on some kind of hate crime charge.
March 22, 2012 at 11:12am by Scott • 7 Comments »
In case you spent all yesterday in a sensory-depravation chamber, Roger Goodell laid down the law with the Saints regarding the bounty program instituted by Gregg Williams and tacitly approved of by everyone above him (except, possibly, the owner who instructed for the program to end and was evidently ignored). Everyone is shocked that the punishment was as severe as it was, but I think only because everyone expects the big guys to skate. Not this time.
Gregg Williams: Suspended indefinitely. Goodell will review his status at the end of the season.
Sean Payton: Suspended for the 2012 season, effective April 1.
Mickey Loomis: Suspended for eight games.
Joe Vitt: Suspended for six games.
Saints organization: Forfeit second-round picks in 2012 and 2013, fined $500,000.
And honestly, it could have been worse. It probably should have. But I think it sends across a strong enough message that teams won’t risk this kind of program in the future. So from that perspective, it’s appropriate. And good. Fuck ‘em. This isn’t little, internal wagers among players. “Wanna bet $1,000 I get more tackles than you?” This is a coach-sanctioned pay-for-injury incentive plan. A 53-year old man should know that this is wrong. And then to lie about it for two more years and continue the program even after being investigated? If Williams gets out of this with only a lifetime ban, he should be glad. Depending on how contracts are worded in the NFL, he could probably be sued by anyone who was injured by one of his players.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m glad that the Bucs are getting a competitive advantage out of all this. They were targeted twice a year for three years, so they probably deserve a little extra consideration, along with the Panthers and Falcons. It’s not how I like to win, but justice is justice.
March 07, 2012 at 10:54am by Scott • 5 Comments »
I sat on this Saints scandal for a few days because I wasn’t exactly sure what I felt about it, if anything. You’ve got to let the various waves pass before you can really get your mind around a situation like this. First, everyone is outraged and wants Gregg Williams fed to sharks. Then the overreaction to that hits and people start saying no one did anything wrong and this is football and it’s violent and shut up. And that goes back and forth for a while. Then former players start confirming what happened while others say they had no idea anything like that was going on what what a great guy Williams is. And now that hopefully everyone is a little more distracted with Peyton Manning and is leaving this alone for a minute, we can make some sense of it.
The only part of this that bothers me is if Williams gave instructions, incentivized or not, to injure a player. Not just hurt him, but do damage. Anything else is fair game in football. There’s a big difference between Williams telling a player to beat the shit out of Brett Favre and telling him to take him out. Everyone wants to beat the shit out of the opponent. That’s most of the reason you get into football (and the sweet painkillers). And outside of salary cap implications, there’s nothing wrong with a coach doling out some cash or prizes for particularly good plays or hard hits. No, players shouldn’t need extra motivation to do their job, but incentive programs are a part of just about every business. Jonathan Vilma may make a few million dollars per year, but there’s something extra sweet about the coach having to hand you a hundred dollar bill. At places where I worked we busted our asses just to be able to wear jeans on Friday. As long as the rewards aren’t significant enough to where they’re getting a salary cap advantage, I don’t care.
The league has made a special effort over the last several years to eliminate the plays that can do serious damage. Yes, a player can be injured on any weird hit or twist or turn. But you’re not allowed to go at a quarterback’s knees anymore, you’re not allowed to blindside a receiver when he’s up in the air catching a ball, you can’t lead with your head and use your helmet as a weapon anymore. I lamented the loss of some of these violent plays when they were outlawed because I thought they were pussifying the game. But if bounty programs around the league exist and players are going out there with the intent to maim, then the plays that made those injuries easier had to go. The harder they make it for headhunters to hide behind the “but it was a legal hit” excuse, the better. For example, it’s hard to argue that Rolando McClain isn’t trying to send this dude to the hospital.
And that’s why I’m glad it’s illegal and am glad he was penalized for it. That said, looking at the clips they showed of Williams-coached defenses, it’s hard to complain about most of those plays. That Saints game against the Vikings a couple years ago was pretty brutal, but were any of the hits really unreasonable? Hell, Favre was getting mad that his buddy was hitting him full speed.
“I’ve always been friends with Darren Sharper, and he came in a couple times and popped me hard. I remember saying, ‘What THE hell you doing, Sharp?’ I felt there should have been more calls against the Saints. I thought some of their guys should have been fined more.”
Was Sharper supposed to let up because they used to be on the same team together? Fuck that, man. That game was for the Super Bowl. Sharper didn’t do anything wrong. Except this:
“Well, y’all seen Brett had surgery on that ankle we got after in the championship game,” Saints safety Darren Sharper said. “Come Thursday night 1st game. X marks the spot.”
Going after a quarterback’s ankle, especially when it’s already hurt, is bullshit and has no place in the game. Be a man and hit him between the shoulders and the knees. There’s plenty to work with there. Defenders should be hitting players hard enough that it makes them hurt, hesitate, and ultimately give up. Not retire due to injury. If Gregg Williams was the one encouraging this kind of maliciousness, he should be expelled from the league regardless of if he was handing out rewards for it.
November 07, 2011 at 12:32pm by Scott • 33 Comments »
I’m taking a look at the stat sheet from yesterday’s game and, according to raw numbers, Josh Feeeman did better than Drew Brees. So why was I always sure that Brees would make plays for his team on third down and always cringing when Freeman was throwing the ball in the same situation? I would have thought that correcting his interception problem would have included him tucking the ball and running a little more. I think a couple of those third downs could have been converted with him just making a decisive move to run with the ball. Then again, they tried to score a touchdown that way and got sniffed out. Anyway, he didn’t throw any picks, so that’s an improvement. But I’m still not going to say he looked sharp. I just didn’t see it.
I’ve already read a couple things about that throw down the sideline for Kregg Lumpkin and giving him shit for jumping too soon for it. There’s no amount of jumping that would have made that a reception. If Lumpkin had tracked that ball and caught it over his shoulder and tiptoed in-bounds, he might have caught that ball. A skilled wide receiver would have made that reception. That’s not Lumpkin. Unless Lmpkin missed his mark because he ran too slow or got jammed by the defender, Freeman should have thrown a more catchable ball.
The other play everyone is talking about is the third down call with Josh Johnson in the wildcat. I’ll talk more about this later, but I didn’t mind the call. I personally would have left Freeman in there, but I don’t think it was so awful. It was the execution. As soon as Johnson lined up, I knew he was going to run the the right. Everyone did. Johnson could have easily passed that ball for a completion.
This is LeGarrette Blount‘s one mess up where I don’t bring anything up from the past. Stupid, stupid penalty. If Raheem Morris is serious about guys running gassers to pay for penalties, Blount needs to run a shitload of them.
Same with Sean Jones. That one didn’t hurt as bad because most kickoffs are touchbacks anyway, but it’s another one of those self-inflicted wounds they keep talking about.
Blount had five rushing attempts in the second half. Five. He got stuffed a couple times and that was the end of even pretending to give him the ball. The Bucs were never far enough behind to abandon Blount. Now that I think about it, I probably would have been frustrated enough to punch someone in the face, too. Who’s the guy on “House”? Was he playing? Because I’d really like to punch him. He just bugs me.
Here’s the question of the day: Is Mike Williams still the #1 receiver. I know he’s the first one Freeman looks to, but should he be? He is still having trouble catching the ball. Mike has made some fantastic catches but this year just isn’t going well for him overall. It’s inconsistent, just like the rest of the team. But honestly, I’d trust Arrelious Benn or even Preston Parker more than Williams right now. Maybe it’s just the fact that other teams are taking him away and Freeman is still forcing throws that aren’t there. If he gets left alone for a few weeks, maybe defenders give him some more room.
E.J. Biggers is a liability in coverage. Sometimes he comes up with good plays, but not often enough to justify when he gets burned. Quarterbacks know it and they target him, so it’s going to keep happening until he can get better or grow wings. I should note here that Red Bull does not actually give you wings, so if you’re reading this, E.J., don’t even bother.
I have been ignoring Connor Barth over the last few weeks and that’s an oversight on my part. Barth has been a model of consistency when the team has otherwise been very inconsistent. Connor, you get the headline pic.
I’ve sat on this entry long enough, so I’m just going to publish. Keep enjoying the comments section, though. Nothing takes the focus off of shitty writing than a good old-fashioned flame war.
October 17, 2011 at 05:26pm by Scott • 7 Comments »
Sorry for the late start here.
Earnest Graham went out to prove wrong the naysayers who said he couldn’t run like he did back in 2008 when the team had to lean on him as the leading running back. One of those naysayers was me, except I didn’t come right out and say he could do it; I took the pussy’s way out and questioned his ability without making any predictions. He ran for 109 yards at 6.4 YPC. That’s good eatin’. And it’s not like the Saints weren’t geared up to stop the run. The offensive line did an excellent job opening holes, even after Jeff Faine went down and Jeremy Zuttah stepped in to cover. I know, right?
Josh Freeman looked a little sketchy for a couple drives, but certainly better than he has for the last few games. With 300+ yards, 2 TDs and no picks, he was solid and sometimes excellent. Several overthrows and a couple of shoulda-been picks are still getting in the way of him having an elite game, but if he’s playing well enough to win, that’s enough for me.
Freeman should throw to Arrelious Benn more. That is all.
Kellen Winslow looked like he was getting frustrated with Freeman’s throws. We have no way of knowing who was right or wrong, but Winslow was right.
E.J. Biggers makes me nervous. They keep picking on him because they know he’s the weak link, but then they do it so often that eventually he comes up with one and then everyone thinks he’s good again. He got beat by both Marques Colston and Robert Meachem (Rocky Top!) for big ones and dropped a couple interceptions. I like him as a backup, but this may be an area to look at when the next draft comes up.
Was Tanard Jackson gone for some period of time? I honestly couldn’t tell.
The defensive line got no sacks and only one quarterback hurry, but somehow Drew Brees always looked like he was on the run. Michael Bennett continues to impress. I was noticing Da’Quan Bowers a lot, too. He was virtually absent on the stat sheet (1 fumble recovery), but it seemed like he was always around the play. Or I was having a stroke and couldn’t read the numbers correctly. It was an interesting weekend.
I’ll have more to write tomorrow, but my final word is this: Excellent game. It was a huge improvement over San Francisco, who is an inferior team. I’m not sure how that works… maybe it really does have to do with being on the west coast. But The defense came up big to stifle everything Brees was trying to do. The offense generated some of the big plays have have been missing and fed off that momentum. It’s certainly not a perfect team, but the stigma of only beating crappy teams is over.
December 20, 2010 at 11:04am by bens • 9 Comments »
The morning after. Head hurts, body aches, what happened last night?
Oh God, I didn’t, no, it’s Gary Shelton:
They lost to the Lions?
They lost to Drew Stanton?
They lost to Detroit?
Are you kidding me?
Gotta give Gary the benefit of the doubt here. He seems to genuinely not know the
answers to these questions. Did you watch the game? Honestly? Really?
Hypothetically, if the Bucs had won by a field goal his article would be titled:
Lucky Bucs Barely Survive Crappy Team, Again. First sentence: “They didn’t blow out
the Lions? Honestly? Are you kidding me?”
Gary is most upset by the offensive series near the Lion’s goal-line inside the two minute
warning. Olsen called three consecutive runs, with a 3rd and 7 quarterback
draw that gained 4 yards, forcing Detroit to burns there time outs. Then we
kicked a field goal. This forced the Lions to battle both the clock and our defense in
order to win/tie the game. They managed to do both.
So what would Shelton do? He wanted to throw it to Williams. Of course, if that
didn’t work the clock stops, Detroit doesn’t lose any time outs and has an easier
time marching down the field. Then Shelton writes an article about not grinding
the clock down with the run. Catch-22.
Morris is the defensive coordinator. He had faith that we could stop the Lions
and win the ball game. He was probably thinking the same thing as Shelton: Drew
Stanton, are you kidding me? Well, Drew Stanton didn’t look as bad as we thought.
It helps when your throwing to Calvin Johnson against a depleted secondary. But
remember this team beat the Packers last week, who almost beat the Patriots this
week. So the Lions are almost better than the Patriots? Right…
It’s like losing at Jeopardy to Homer Simpson or losing a beauty contest to Amy Winehouse. On a miserable day, the Bucs lost to a miserable team in the most miserable way possible.
Miserable. Like reading an article written entirely in questions. By the way, Amy
Winehouse is no babe but I think she could handle Shelton in a beauty contest:
Anyways, my point is the Lions are a team that is getting better. They have hung close
all year with almost every team they’ve played. So have the Bucs. Except we’ve managed
to win a few more in the 4th quater because Josh Freeman is clutch. They are both teams
with second year first round quaterbacks, rookie running backs, rookie first round DTs, and
banged up secondarys. We have Mike Williams, they have Calvin Johnson. It’s not that absurd
we lost a close one in overtime.
Good news is the Packers, Giants and Saints lost. We’re mathematically still in this baby!
We can still finish strong in the race to 10: Go BUCS!
(btw, Scott gives you clickies I give you pictures of Gary Shelton. Sorry!)
October 18, 2010 at 01:18pm by Scott • 3 Comments »
Josh Freeman continued his development and made some good throws yesterday, but it seemed like he spent a good amount of the first half overthrowing his receivers. I understand he wants to get guys like Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow to go up for the ball and keep it away from defenders, but at some point those are going to turn into tips that land in a safety’s hands — the same kind of play the Bucs have been the beneficiaries of this season. A couple of his passes should have been intercepted as it was. To be fair, he also had a couple great passes — Williams down the middle, Sammie Stroughter down the left. The good thing is that he still hasn’t had an awful game. I know that seems like cold comfort, but think about how many quarterbacks have already laid huge eggs this season.
Last week, Cadillac Williams was sitting at 2.6 YPC and with yesterday’s performance he still managed to bring down that average. He got 18 yards on 10 carries — with a long of 8! Barry Sanders could get away with having negative plays because he could be counted on to rip off a 50-yarder pretty regularly. The offensive line didn’t do him any favors, but he seems to lack the ability to bounce to the outside when things get thick in the middle. And after his fumble, I found myself thinking for the first time this year, “He’s done.” Remember when we were all talking about phasing him out? Now would be a good time.
Remember when Raheem Morris talked about getting LeGarrette Blount more carries? He must have meant pads or Gatorade because Blount was inactive yesterday. Maybe he knew Freeman would be passing all day and didn’t want to subject Blount to possible pass-protection, especially when the word is out that all you have to do is blitz against the Bucs and good things happen. But if Blount or anyone could have provided at least a minor threat of a run, maybe it wouldn’t have been so lopsided. At the very least, the game would have been shorter and the New Orleans offense wouldn’t have had the ball as long. So maybe it’s a more respectable 24-6 or something. I dunno — I’m kind of grasping here. What we do know is that Kareem Huggins hurt his knee and looks like he’ll be out for a good stretch. Too bad he’s on the same team with Cadillac. Any other team, he could go on injured reserve, but if it’s anything short of his knee actually exploding into a million little bone fragments, he’s going to be called a pussy for walking with a limp let alone missing any time.
Kregg Lumpkin and Chris Pressley were also inactive and Earnest Graham went in with a bad hamstring and re-aggravated it in the game. That explains why Erik Lorig was playing some fullback. Do the Bucs have anyone at all that can run the ball besides the quarterbacks?
The wide receivers were unremarkable yesterday. Mike Williams only had four catches, but Freeman made it too hard on him sometimes. Stroughter had a sweet 27-yarder and Micheal Spurlock had his little 2-yard touchdown, but there was nothing you’d put on a resume. The Bucs’ leading receiver was Cadillac Williams, who had seven catches for 63 yards. Of course, five of those came in the fourth quarter when the Saints didn’t mind conceding the dump off to the running back.
Hey, Jerramy Stevens caught a pass and leads the team in receiving yard average with 14.3 YPR.
The bad news about the offensive line is that the running game was complete shit. The longest run was 11 yards by Josh Johnson at the end of the game and the whole unit gained 42 yards total on 18 carries. The good news is that Freeman was never sacked in the game and wasn’t even hit that much. Considering Freeman dropped back to pass 45 times yesterday, you have to hand it to them for holding up. Freeman had to scramble a couple times, but for the most part the pass-protection was very good. And there was only one penalty called on the line, and it wasn’t even serious. It was a false start on Keydrick Vincent (again). I really wish I knew who to blame for the running game.
The defensive line got no pressure at all on Drew Brees. That’s not my opinion, that’s a statistical fact. Brees may not have needed a shower after the game. And for the third week in a row, they were gashed for huge and consistent running yards. Against Pittsburgh, it was Rashard Mendenhall for 7.5 YPC, last week it was Cedric Benson for 6.2 YPC. and yesterday is was the highly touted superstar that we’ve all heard of, Chris Ivory, for 10.5 YPC. Usually I like the word “gash”, but not in this context, and not when the announcers are using it time and time again to describe what’s happening to a group of players who were supposed to be the strength of the team this season. As I said in an earlier entry, I don’t mind the rookies coming along slowly. Take your time, really. If it took Warren Sapp a couple years to really get up to speed, I can wait for Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. But there should be something from the other guys. There were some tackles — McCoy had three (one for loss), Tim Crowder had three , Ryan Sims, Greg White and Roy Miller each had two — and some of those were assists. Brian Price had one. That’s it, guys. That’s the sum-total production of the defensive line. They were pushed around and embarrassed, and when that happens, the whole thing falls apart. Ronde Barber knows how it works.
“It absolutely starts up front. It always has,” Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber said. “They have to get better. We have to get better on the second level as well. To be a dominant run defense you have to have dominant players up front.”
You hate to see players calling each other out, but there’s no way to avoid this answer. It’s just that evident. Hell, the Saints were #31 in the league in rushing before yesterday’s game and they absolutely schooled the Bucs. Step one: Knock off this 3-3-5 shit. It’s not working. Any quarterback is going to be able to pick you apart if you don’t get pressure on them, and if the Bucs can’t get pressure with a 4-man line, it sure as shit ain’t happening with a 3-man line. Unless you install and practice a true 3-4, a 3-man line is silly.
Quincy Black had an excellent game. Seven tackles, six solo, plus one on special teams for a loss in the second quarter. And a forced fumble that unfortunately went out of bounds and a tip that turned into an interception. Congratulations to Quincy Black for being the best defensive player on the team yesterday. The other linebackers must have gotten caught up in traffic or overslept or something. I don’t recall seeing them in the game.
The secondary was pretty miserable, too. Aqib Talib gave up two touchdowns, the first one of which I have no idea what went wrong with him. He never stumbled or broke stride — he just kind of drifted away and let the ball land right in Lance Moore‘s hands. And then it happened again against Robert Meachem, although to be fair, he expected the backside help earlier from Cody Grimm. Still, it looks like we can count on Talib giving up a big touchdown in every game. Big, long bombs that you’d think a guy with his speed and range could break up, and it looked like he just gave up on them.
Grimm had a decent day with an interception off of Black’s deflection and a forced fumble. I can’t say I agree with that lateral to Sean Jones. Those things almost always turn into disasters and although it worked out for them for an extra 14 yards, I’d say he got away with a bad decision rather than he made a good play. Still, the awareness to get the pick was good.
How many people was Myron Lewis going to fight in that melee over Freeman’s late hit? I just knew he was going to get a flag for pushing so many Saints around. Myron Lewis is this year’s Jeremy Trueblood.
Robert Malone‘s first game at punter looked good, I guess. His 40 yard net average was significantly better than Paul Hogan’s (I forget his real name now) and the coverage team let him down once or else it would have been higher. Connor Barth sucked huge grizzly ass by knocking his two attempts off the right upright. If someone had offered him a million dollars to do that on purpose, there’s no way he would have been able to. And his mustache is fucking awful. Did you see him twisting it on the sideline after a miss like Snidley Whiplash? Is he an evil impostor working for the other team?
I was about to write something here about perspective and how the Bucs have lost to two of the best teams in the league and that it’s still an improvement that they have beaten the Browns and Panthers and Bengals because we all know they would have lost at least one or two of those last year and we should all be patient. And I’m all for “the plan”, but the problems with the team seem more fundamental than just lack of experience. Run the ball and stop the run — the maxims that almost all football teams are built on — are completely absent. The coaches are going to have a hard time convincing anyone that these huge, breakaway runs against them and these abysmal rushing totals for the offense are just a symptom of a young team and will improve over time. It really seems more like basic flaws either in raw talent or strategy. Were Raheem Morris and Greg Olson being outcoached or are the Bucs’ lines being outplayed and out-physicaled? A missed tackle is a performance error, but being out of position may be a coaching error. I can’t know because I’m not in the meeting rooms, but those defensive linemen rotate around a lot and the result is always the same. And no runner has better than a 3.0 YPC average except Graham and his 61-yarder (which, if removed, brings him down to 2.2 YPC). Is it more likely that every player is sucking ass, or that maybe they’re all being led in the wrong direction? Something to think about.