Josh Freeman

Posts Tagged ‘vikings’

Bucs Hand Vikings Their Collective Asses

October 29, 2012 at 12:41pm by Scott   •  16 Comments »


If you were looking for some sign that the Bucs had taken a step forward in the Greg Schiano regime, Thursday night should have given you the encouragement you needed to stay with the team for at least a couple more weeks and not jump on the Falcon bandwagon just yet. The game was a complete victory — no one unit needed to be called on to save the day.

Of course, the first thing everyone is going to talk about is the Doug Martin and his 214 yard, two-touchdown night running and catching. And with good reason since he was the star of the night. Martin had 135 yards rushing on 29 attempts for a nice solid 4.7 YPC. He finally broke some of those runs that he couldn’t seem to break earlier this season. He showed more speed than he has before along with the same shiftiness and balance we’ve come to expect. And one thing he did that LeGarrette Blount hasn’t been able to do is punch the ball into the endzone on a short yardage run. I hadn’t realized it, but there was already talk going on that Martin was a disappointment as a first-round pick. These were obviously people who care more about fantasy points than their own team doing well, and hopefully Thursday night shut them up for a while. And if not, they deserve a Doug Martin stiffarm right in the windpipe.

But Martin couldn’t have done it without a great performance from the offensive line. Run blocking was incredible on Thursday, especially on the left side. Martin ran most of the time to the left and there were holes in the defense than hadn’t been there all season. Offensive linemen were even blocking 20 yards downfield sometimes, springing Martin for some incredible runs. Pass blocking started off a little shaky, but firmed up as the night went on. Josh Freeman was only sacked once and hit three times, nothing major. Donald Penn held Jared Allen in check most of the night except for that fight they got into and then Penn had to deal with a pissed off Allen, and no one wants that. Hell, there weren’t even any false starts or holding penalties on the line. If they can play like that every week, this offense will be hard to beat.

The best thing I saw in Thursday’s game about Freeman was his decision making. The Vikings had obviously chosen to take away Freeman’s deep throws, so he said fine and just took what was available. After a shaky first quarter, he was accurate and careful and just continued to chip away at the defense in some long, sustained drives. Freeman threw the ball up 36 times and had no picks. But most of all, he was clutch. When the team needed to convert a third and long, he found the right guy and made a good throw. His receivers bailed him out of a couple high or possibly inaccurate throws, but part of what receivers do is go get the ball when it’s anywhere around them. It was Freeman’s best game of the season.

Speaking of his receivers, Mike Williams is looking like a Lynn Swann clone, and I don’t mean that he’s turning into a huge douche like Swann. But his concentration and foot awareness and hands are in that category. Williams has no problem laying out and sacrificing his body for the ball and just about every week there’s a highlight reel catch by him for a big play. Vincent Jackson was relatively quiet on Thursday, but the two balls he did grab were important (not a euphemism). And as the weeks go on, Dallas Clark is looking more like the player we remember from the Colts.

The defensive line came alive on Thursday, especially the defensive ends. Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Michael Bennett both had sacks on Christian Ponder, with Bennett picking up 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble on top of it. Da’Quan Bowers made it off the PUP list and onto the field, and even though he didn’t make it on the stat sheet, he showed that he is ready for some game action and provide some much needed depth. Besides one breakaway run by Adrian Peterson, the line held the running game in check too. It was a complete turnaround from last week.

Maybe it was the line’s performance that made the secondary look a little rough by comparison. Besides Ronde Barber, who had an excellent game with 9 tackles (1 for loss) and a forced fumble, who really stood out in the secondary? Eric Wright tried to arm tackle Peterson and got embarrassed and let Percy Harvin get by him for a touchdown. E.J. Biggers had a few tackles but didn’t do anything spectacular (although I won’t hold Bigger’s responsible for Jerome Simpson‘s catch even though it was Biggers’s responsibility. They kept forcing the ball to Simpson and eventually one of those is going to hit.) The brightest spot I saw was Leonard Johnson getting in some real playing time and making the most of it with 3 passes defensed and an interception, the only one of the night. I’m not going to get too down on it because it was still a win and they didn’t look terrible, but it just seemed ordinary compared to everyone else.

You can tell this was a solid win by the comments by the Vikings afterwards. They said they got their butts kicked and the Bucs beat their brains in. It was a demoralizing loss for the Vikings and that’s the best kind of loss to pin on an opponent. Schiano is big on preaching the virtues of “Buc ball”. If this is what he means, I’m 100% on board with him.

REAR ENTIRES: Making Epidemics

October 25, 2012 at 12:17pm by Scott   •  15 Comments »


SECONDARY TROUBLES: When I blamed the defensive line for the problems against the Saints last week, some people chimed in and said they thought the secondary was the bigger issue. So congratulations, Rick Stroud agrees with you.

The Bucs have given up seven pass plays of 40 or more yards (tied for most in the league) and 28 of 20 yards or more (tied for fourth most).

And Greg Schiano also recognizes that the Bucs are giving up too much in the air, although he had to think about it for a minute.

“I don’t want to make an epidemic here, and it hasn’t been a problem,” he said. “I shouldn’t say that. There have been spurts where it has been a problem, but it is not like that’s our main issue.”

“I don’t want to make an epidemic here” is makes it sound like he’s holding a vial of monkey virus threateningly over the reporters’ heads. Also, how long can it possibly be before we see a Jim Mora/Dennis Green runaway from Schiano? You know the guy is pretty tightly packed. The right reporter at just the right time is going to make Schiano come unglued. You wait.

Anyway, the longer the quarterback has to hold onto the ball, the more chance there is that the receiver will get open. You just can’t cover a guy for five or six seconds consistently. I still say pressure is the more critical problem.

PONDER CALLING OUT SAID SECONDARY: Well, not really calling them out. That makes it sound like Christian Ponder was being a dick, which he really wasn’t. But he does think the Bucs leave themselves open to big plays.

“They’re very aggressive, so with double-moves and stuff they try to bite on stuff and try to guess,” said Ponder of the Bucs’ 2012 defense. “But they can also make plays that way. They’re a very good defense. I think it’s going to be one of the better defenses we face, especially with how aggressive they play. If you’re going to take chances trying to undercut a route, you’re also going to take chances of giving up a big play.”

As illustrated a minute ago, the Bucs do give up their share of big plays, so he has a point. But still… fuck that guy.

TWITTER TONIGHT: I’ll be on Twitter @bucstats during tonight’s game, so if you want to hang out, we can all armchair quarterback together and then depending on the outcome, take bets on whether tonight is the night Schiano loses his mind.

How To Make It A 60 Minute Game

September 19, 2011 at 11:39am by Scott   •  13 Comments »

Vikings 1

I sat here for a few minutes trying to think of some different angle to take on this article besides focusing on the slow start the Bucs are becoming famous for. But I just don’t see a way around it. It’s like a chick with a unibrow. It’s so obvious and ugly that it has to be addressed.

Maybe it would be better for everyone if the Bucs just spotted the opposing team 14 points coming off the bus. If the NFL doesn’t allow that, just don’t let the defense take the field for two snaps. Let the other team grab two touchdowns against air and then start the game. Maybe then we’d get a full 60 minutes (or at least 59) of good football out of them. Some people just have to have their backs up against a wall in order to perform. That report has to be due tomorrow even though you had all semester to work on it or you have to wait until December 24th to do your Christmas shopping. That’s fine, I accept that we root for a team with a whole roster of those types of guys. But there’s no reason for us as fans to have to watch all the bullshit that leads to the crisis. That seems unnecessarily mean. Anyway, onto my random observations.

Is there any doubt now that you just keep handing LeGarrette Blount the football regardless of how it goes early on? Very few running backs are like Adrian Peterson, who are spectacular from the beginning of the game until the end. Most take a little while to get going. Blount may be one of those guys, but he has proven time and again that he has it in him to break a big one at any point in the game. His 27-yard touchdown is exactly the kind of play that pumps a team up for the rest of the game. And he finished with 5.5 YPC. Good job by Greg Olson to not panic like last week.

Speaking of good calls by coaches, the onside kick was a great move by Raheem Morris. Even if it hadn’t succeeded, I would applaud it. He’s making decisions to win the game. Go big or go home.

And good work by Michael Koenen for executing the onside kick. I wondered why the Bucs paid so much money for a punter when the old punter was getting the job done, but I guess this is why. I’ll shut my mouth about it now.

You have to think Josh Freeman benefitted from the threat of the run in the second half and that’s why he was passing at a 75% completion rate at that point. He passed for 52 yards in the first half, 191 in the second.

Mike Williams had one catch for -4 yards. That touchdown that was negated because of an illegal shift penalty was awesome and it’s a shame it won’t be shown in highlight reels. But that was really his only play. He seemed to have trouble getting open yesterday.

There have been some comments on this site about not knowing what was so special about Preston Parker. He may not be the most talented receiver on the team, but he leads all receivers now with 142 yards in two games. Maybe it’s because no one is paying attention to him because they don’t know who he is, but he’s getting open and making plays.

Jeremy Zuttah replaced Ted Larsen at left guard and didn’t do anything to lose the job for next week. He made a sweet block on Blount’s second touchdown. I’ve always been kind of down on Zuttah, but if his presence helps the running game, leave him in.

Quincy Black played like dog shit. My understanding is that he was hurt and that’s why he was replaced in the second half, but why was he on the field as long as he was in the first place? He missed a ton of tackles and couldn’t get off blocks. Dekoda Watson replaced him and was an instant improvement.

I thought Mason Foster had a decent game despite his pass interference call, but is he an improvement over Barrett Ruud? The complaint everyone had about Ruud — that he made tackles while being dragged around — seemed to be the case for Foster yesterday. It’s hard to blame him, though, when he’s playing Adrian Peterson. Holy shit, that guy is good.

Speaking of being dragged around, the announcers twice described Cody Grimm as “hanging on for dear life” while trying to tackle Peterson. That’s never good.

I don’t have a lot to say about the defensive line right now. I need to go back and watch them specifically. I do know that the Bucs had two sacks, but neither of them were from linemen (and was one of those where McNabb fell down? Because no one should get credit for that.) I also saw Adrian Clayborn slam a dude to the ground after chasing down the play from behind and also knock down a pass. I also saw Clayborn bite hard on bootlegs and get caught out of position.

Overall, you can’t bitch too much about a win, so I won’t. I guess we’re just going to have to get used to the fact that most weeks are going to involve getting down early and coming from behind. At least you know you can show up late and not miss anything. Your thoughts in the comments.

Ray Edwards Appealing Fine, Undergarments

November 25, 2008 at 02:12am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

Ray Edwards doesn't wear panties.  Because that would be gay.  As opposed to this photo shoot which is totally hetero.
Profootballtalk is running a story about Ray Edwards of the Vikings appealing the $25,000 fine he was handed for two separate incidents in last week’s game.

“No offense to women, but men don’t wear panties. We chose to play this game. We don’t cry when we get cracked unexpectedly. That fine is what it is. Just got to go out there and play ball and have fun.”

Although PFT mentions in passing that Edwards understands the Garcia fine, they kind of brush over it. They’re really focused more on the “panties” part of the quote. And, I mean, who can blame them? Panties are awesome. You know the neon-colored, lacy ones that barely have any fabric to them at all? Like, they’re virtually transparent? Those fucking rock. Or the ones that have those little… wait, what was I talking about? Oh, right. Football players bitching about money and hits. Yeah, that’s a lot more fun. (wanking motion)

It’s really the leg whip that he has a problem with. Here’s the rest of what he said:

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “One is a leg whip, which I’ve never heard of. OK, I can respect the first one. I hit Garcia a little late. Even during that play I told him, ‘My bad. I thought you still had the ball.’ He was running around like a rabbit so I didn’t know if he had the ball still or not.”

I haven’t re-watched the game and probably won’t this week, so I don’t know where the leg whip happened or if it was legit. But for him to say he never heard of a leg whip is silly. The offensive lineman basically lays down on the play and kicks the defensive lineman’s legs out from under him. It hasn’t been legal for many decades. Please… he never heard of it? That’s like not knowing that games can end in ties.

Anyway, let him appeal whatever he wants, but that Garcia hit alone warrants at least the original $25,000, as we’ve already discussed. If it gets reduced because of the whip, that’s going to be unconscionable.

Ray Edwards Got Off Light

November 21, 2008 at 11:46pm by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Ok, this isn't the exact hit, but give me some credit for finding a photo of both Edwards and Garcia together.
Ray Edwards was fined $25,000 for not just the hit he laid on Jeff Garcia during the Vikings game last week, but also a leg whip. He will not be suspended.

Edwards also committed another foul that was deemed unnecessary roughness when he “leg whipped” an unidentified Bucs player, the league said.

Resident handsome man Matt Price lists some fines in the previous post that seem to set a pattern for heavier fines for similar (or less serious) infractions. But one that he doesn’t list is Elbert Mack‘s one game suspension for a high hit on Matt Ryan. And Mack’s hit wasn’t nearly as late as Edwards’s or delivered with as much malice, but yet he was suspended. Oh, and lest you think that Mack’s punishment was more severe because it was his second offense, Edwards was also fined previously for “excessive contact” against quarterbacks.

What all this tells me? The league values Matt Ryan more than Jeff Garcia. Ryan is the first quarterback taken in the draft, the face of a franchise and one of the young, white guys who is going to make Atlanta forget about Michael Vick, start attending more games and generate a bunch of money for the entire league for years to come. Garcia is approaching 40, has very little star power, and is on a team where defense wins games and the quarterback’s job is to not lose them. In conclusion, the NFL can eat a big plate of dick for their anti-Buccaneer bias.

Ref Late With Whistle, Right On Time With Swearing

November 17, 2008 at 09:30pm by Scott   •  1 Comment »

He just can't seem to pat his stomach at the same time.
Later on tonight, I’m going to re-watch that wildcat play where Jeremy Trueblood got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after blasting Chad Greenway, supposedly after the whistle had blown. According to Jeremy, that’s not the way it happened.

“They hadn’t blown the whistle yet, and they were stripping the ball away from (Warrick Dunn),” Trueblood said. “So, I go knock the guy down. I asked the (official), ‘How do I know that if the ball flies out, you’re not going to call a fumble because there was no whistle.’ He looked at me and said, ‘I know I was a little late on the whistle. I’m working on it.’

I would expect an Arby’s cashier to learn on the job. But you should never have to say, “I’m working on it” if you’re an NFL official. And if he’s admitting that he was late on the whistle, why did he throw the flag? How dare he besmirch the impeccable reputation of Jeremy Trueblood!

“I told him, ‘I hope you know you just killed our drive.’ He told me to, ‘Shut the (expletive) up.’ Are (officials) allowed to talk to players like that?”

Yes, they are. And they’re also on the field for every play. Trueblood should have offered Garcia a couple thousand to waste an incompletion and throw a fastball right into that official’s nuts. Garcia fucking loves money — he’d do it. 15 yards? Fine. How about 15 stitches up the length of your sac? And when he’s writhing on the ground, screaming in pain, Trueblood can make nice for the camera, put a hand on his shoulder, lean over and quietly whisper, “Shut the fuck up.”

I Guess Field Goals Add Up If You Have Enough Of Them

November 17, 2008 at 11:55am by Scott   •  1 Comment »

This whole Jeff Garcia thing is getting frustrating. He made some excellent plays yesterday and dug the team out of some pretty big holes, but he also missed on some wide open receivers. Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton and Joey Galloway were all open on different occasions for some big gains and touchdowns and he, instead, chose to take the checkdown or even throw the ball away. I’m less angry about it now than in past weeks because in most cases he kept the play alive for a couple extra seconds, but something needs to be corrected. Is he not tall enough to see a good throwing lane? Is he running around too frantically to be able to see the whole field? He said himself that he’s kind of afraid to throw an interception. Maybe that’s it.

I’m a big running game advocate and I appreciated when they went for it on fourth-and-one with a run up the middle even though they came up short. It shows balls. But after a few of those attempts on third-and-one didn’t go anywhere and it was obvious that the Vikings were selling out to prevent it, maybe it’s time to throw the quick slant or a smoke route — something cheap to get the first down. Maybe they won’t be able to commit so many guys to the box next time that situation comes up if you burn them with a couple of those.

But that toss right to Warrick Dunn at the goalline was doomed before the play started. I think Garcia checked into that play, too, which means it’s his fault. There just weren’t enough guys to block on that play and the Vikings got immediate penetration.

In keeping with the trend for the last few weeks, the offensive line had an excellent day pass-blocking and an awful day run-blocking. The only time Garcia was sacked was when he fell down on a scramble. Even when he go happy-feet, the line was able to protect him and give him time to set up.

Jared Allen was a total non-factor. Donald Penn completely negated him.

Does Jeremy Trueblood need a code red to make it clear that he can’t keep pulling stupid shit at critical times? How many red zone drives is he going to single-handedly fuck up before Jon Gruden just starts withholding paychecks from him? We love it when we hear that offensive linemen have “nasty streaks” because it means they’ll be aggressive in the trenches, but they have to know when to shut it off, too.

It’s not like that nasty streak helped Trueblood much yesterday. Some plays he hung in there pretty solidly, but he was also beaten by Ray Edwards a number of times. Pretty badly, too. The second round pick could learn a little bit about poise and technique from the undrafted free agent on the other side of the line. If there’s an award for the most unused potential, it probably goes to Trueblood. Bill Muir needs to ride him like a fucking donkey this week and straighten his ass out.

Speaking of Ray Edwards, that late hit he put on Garcia was not only not close, it’s wasn’t close to being close. If the league doesn’t fine him a bazillion dollars, there will be an anti-NFL uprising in Tampa. On top of Ike’s hit not getting fined, there will be enough evidence to proclaim a conspiracy.

Dunn filled in like a trooper when Earnest Graham went down again. He’s so elusive and has such great balance. It’s a shame Graham wasn’t there to pound on the defensive line a little more to wear them down because I think Dunn could have had an even bigger day if he had.

How many times has Clifton Smith fumbled now? Two on offense and two or three on special teams? He looks like he could be a special runner, but there’s no way he’s good enough to wipe out that many fumbles. Now that Graham is injured again (he left the stadium in a boot yesterday), I wonder if Gruden regrets getting rid of Michael Bennett.

Smith’s special teams performance, though, will keep him on the roster. He flew down the field and tackled the runner three separate times. That’s some serious hustle.

B.J. Askew was blocking like his old self again and it was nice to see him get a touchdown. Jameel Cook will now probably be mostly a special teams player with Askew back.

Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton were the only two wide receivers to make catches yesterday. I’m not counting Ike Hilliard‘s one catch for a loss which never should have been thrown to him in the first place. But they got open a lot more than that. Garcia is going to be embarrassed when he looks at the tape.

Clayton is obviously having his best season since he was a rookie, and it can’t be a coincidence that it’s a contract year for him.

Jerramy Stevens was clutch. He was the leading receiver and had a pretty good day blocking, too. And that holding call on him was ridiculous. I watched that several times and there was no holding. His dude fell down.

You want to know what really won this game for the Bucs? Defensive line play. They kept constant pressure on Gus Frerotte and finally figured out how to stop Adrian Peterson in the second half. The line by itself had five tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries, three sacks, a forced fumble and a pass defensed.

You know who else got a sack? Ronde Barber. Oh, he also got beat like a mouthy wife on several different occasions and got called for holding which gave the Vikings first and goal from their 7. They scored a touchdown on that drive, too. One game, Ronde. One game where you make all the right moves and take all the right angles and tackle cleanly and don’t fall down. Please? Just one to let me know you can still do it.

From what I can tell, Derrick Brooks is coming out of the game more and more, and I think it’s helping his overall performance. He got beaten once in the first quarter (by Visanthe Shiancoe of all people), but after that he came up big in the game’s most crucial situations. I think he’s able to save a little more energy when he sits out for a couple plays and then has more burst to be able to run with guys down the field or to deliver a little extra juice on a tackle to keep the runner from breaking free.

How awesome is Sabby Piscitelli? Really awesome. Besides that one long Peterson run where both he and Ronde missed, he seemed like he was always laying guys on their backs. I looked back and he only had four tackles, but it seemed like a lot more. I know Jermaine Phillips is having a good year, but I don’t think the Bucs will lose much if they let him walk away in free agency next season and give Piscitelli the full-time gig.

This was a good win against a good team, but this is not championship football. I don’t know what kind of voodoo happens to the Bucs in the red zone, but this shit has to be corrected soon or come playoff time, some team’s gonna stomp them a new mudhole. Right now they have as many touchdowns as the Seahawks who we can all agree suck this year. The Bucs have only two more touchdowns on the season than the winless Lions. So far it’s been enough and the defense has come up huge. But a team like the Giants or the Cowboys are going to put and end to the party real fast in January if they can’t convert some of those field goals into touchdowns. The Lions would be a great team to really just try to beat the shit out of and get in that mode of thinking. Don’t play down to their level, stay aggressive, beat them by 30. There are a lot of former Bucs on that team that don’t want to see that happen, which is all the more reason to do it. I’m actually more concerned about this upcoming Lions game than I was about the Vikings because of the familiarity and pride factors. Come on guys, make this one a rout.