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September 13, 2010 @ 8:43 am
Current rating: 4.40 Stars/10 Votes

What We Learned - Bucs vs. Browns

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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In a new PewterReport.com feature, Scott Reynolds takes a look back at Tampa Bay's 17-14 win over Cleveland and draws some conclusions about the 1-0 Buccaneers from Sunday's victory.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up some insight and observations from Tampa Bay's come-from-behind, 17-14 win over Cleveland on opening day.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS OFFENSE
• We learned running back Cadillac Williams had a much better day than the stats sheet may indicate. Williams rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries, including a 20-yard run against Cleveland. Yet fans may look at his 3.4-yard average and draw some negative conclusions and be under the false impression that Williams has lost a step.

However, Williams had an 18-yard run negated by a holding penalty on tight end Kellen Winslow in the second quarter, and a 22-yard jaunt in the third quarter wiped out due to a holding call on right guard Davin Joseph. Neither penalty truly affected the play and both were questionable.

Give Williams those two runs and his stats and suddenly he’s got 115 yards on 24 carries and a much better looking 4.79 avg.

• We learned that Josh Freeman is full of resolve. Freeman shook off the pain and discomfort of his broken right thumb to complete 60.7 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns, the last of which came in the fourth quarter to rally his team to victory.

Freeman also showed some moxie racing down the right sideline in the first quarter for a 33-yard gain, the longest of his career. That run made up for his indecisive QB scramble in the fourth quarter when he took a sack on fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 5 where he failed to pull the trigger on a pass to tight end John Gilmore, who was wide open.

• We learned that wide receiver Mike Williams is already a stud. Williams made a ridiculous, juggling 3-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. The term “bailout” may be viewed negatively in today’s economic times, but that is the most appropriate nickname for him because he bailed out Josh Freeman against the Browns and makes those types of “bailout” catches routinely in practice.

Williams was wide open in the fourth quarter and could have had a two-touchdown day if Josh Freeman had been on target with his throw.

• We learned that Micheal Spurlock is a legit wide receiver. Spurlock has made his mark in Tampa Bay as a return specialist, but his two-catch, 49-yard performance on Sunday against Cleveland validated all of the hype he had in training camp. Both of Spurlock’s catches came on third down, the last of which was a tough, over-the-shoulder catch on first-round pick Joe Haden for his first NFL touchdown, which proved to be the game-winner for Tampa Bay.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS DEFENSE
• We learned that Raheem Morris’ defense is not your father’s Tampa 2 (or Monte Kiffin’s). Morris opened the game with Kyle Moore at left end, Gerald McCoy at right end and Ryan Sims and Roy Miller at defensive tackles in a 4-3 scheme. On one play, Miller and McCoy dropped in short zone coverage when the Bucs were in a 4-3.

A few plays later on a third down, Moore was at nose tackle in a 3-4 alignment with Tim Crowder at left end and Stylez G. White at right end. Crowder, Moore and White all served as stand-up outside linebackers on occasion.

Morris also went to a 3-3-5 alignment in nickel defense that featured McCoy and White at defensive end, rookie Brian Price at nose tackle and all three starting linebackers – Quincy Black, Barrett Ruud and Geno Hayes. Morris and the Bucs gave the Browns plenty of different looks on defense. The best way to describe Morris’ defense is to use the term hybrid, because that’s exactly what it is.

• We learned that Raheem Morris has more confidence in his corners than most people do. Morris was blitzing his safeties often in the first half and creating one-on-one matchups. The Bucs lucked out with Jake Delhomme overthrowing wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in the end zone with Mack in coverage. On the other side of the field, wide receiver Brian Robiskie had gotten open deep on cornerback E.J. Biggers.

• We learned E.J. Biggers can play in the NFL. Biggers, who got the start in place of the suspended Aqib Talib, rebounded from giving up an early touchdown in the first quarter. He had a big pass breakup on first-10 from the Cleveland 6 against Brian Robiskie in the fourth quarter, and recorded his first NFL interception two plays later on third down when he jumped in front of Muhammed Massaquoi to create the turnover.

 We learned that Elbert Mack is still the nickel corner for the Bucs – at least for one week. Mack got the nod on third downs and obvious passing situations – not rookie Myron Lewis, who is the team’s third-round pick in 2010. When Aqib Talib returns to the starting lineup next week, Mack will become the team's dime corner and E.J. Biggers will become the nickel.

• We learned that defensive end Tim Crowder should not be used as a coverage linebacker in the Bucs’ 3-4 scheme. Crowder wasn’t fast enough to cover tight end Benjamin Watson on his 10-yard gain on third-and-6 in the second quarter and could not keep up with tight end Evan Moore on his 49-yard scamper down the right sideline in the third quarter. Crowder is a defensive end, not a linebacker and shouldn’t be used as such.

• We learned that Bucs head coach Raheem Morris already believes in his young defense. Instead of kicking a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the Cleveland 5 to make the score 20-14 and having to kickoff to Cleveland Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs with 39 seconds left, Morris elected to go for the first down or touchdown. That takes guts.

“That’s a defensive-minded head coach,” Morris said. “I’m going to make them go 95 yards to beat us. No way. Go for it.”

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE BUCCANEERS SPECIAL TEAMS
• We learned that Tampa Bay’s kick coverage problems were a mirage in the preseason and that special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is the best in the business at game-planning on special teams. After allowing a 54-yard kick return to Kansas City’s Javier Arenas and a 47-yard return to Jacksonville’s Scotty McGee during the preseason, the Bucs put the clamps down on Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs. The 2009 Pro Bowler returned three kicks for only 46 yards (15.3 avg.) with a long return of 18 yards. Cribbs was also held in check on punt returns with three for just 29 yards (9.7 avg.) and a long of 15 yards.

Cornerback Elbert Mack, safeties Sabby Piscitelli and Cody Grimm, linebackers Dekoda Watson and Niko Koutouvides and long snapper Andrew Economos all recorded tackles of Cribbs either on kickoff or punt coverage.

“Rich, in my eyes is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Piscitelli said. “He does such a great job of putting players in the right positions and scheming players up to make us successful. Rich is going to create the game plan for us to be successful and we just have to go out there and execute it. I think we did really well. We wanted to get everybody to the ball. This guy is hard to bring down and I think a couple of guys even brought him down with solo tackles. Economos had a nice hit on him on one of his punt returns and forced a fumble, too.

“We knew Cribbs could change the game with one return with the ball in his hands. We can’t let him change the game. Rich emphasized that I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

• We learned that new punter Chris Bryan was a good pick up. Bryan’s first punt was a 34-yarder down to the Cleveland 13. He also downed another punt inside the Browns’ 20-yard line and avoided any touchbacks. Bryan posted a 41.1-yard average with a 37-yard net and had a booming 57-yarder against Cleveland. His punting had great hang time and played a significant role in Tampa Bay containing Cleveland’s Pro Bowl return man Josh Cribbs.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THIS BUCCANEERS VICTORY
• We learned that although the Bucs had to rally to win this game, it could have very well been a blowout – in Tampa Bay’s favor. The Bucs left plenty of yards and points left on the field in a game that was filled with more close calls that would favor Tampa Bay than Cleveland.

In the first quarter, safety Corey Lynch deflected a punt and was one inch away from outright blocking it, which would have swung field position 50 yards or more or perhaps set up a touchdown on a scoop-and-score scenario.
If Josh Freeman had put another six inches on a deep pass intended for rookie receiver Mike Williams, the Bucs would have had an 82-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Freeman’s pass was knocked away from Williams, who had a step on safety Mike Adams, at the last minute because it hung up in the air too long.

The Bucs missed out on some point blank red zone points when Earnest Graham fumbled on third-and-1 at the Cleveland 2 with just over two minutes left. On the Bucs’ next drive, Freeman took a sack instead of throwing a touchdown pass to a wide open John Gilmore.

Kick returner Micheal Spurlock saw a 55-yard return to the Cleveland 44 negated by a block in the back penalty on linebacker Niko Koutouvides. That was a field-position swing of 35 yards as the Bucs had to start at their own 21 instead of the Browns 44. Running back Cadillac Williams also had two runs totaling 40 yards wiped out due to two holding penalties.

This game shouldn’t have been close as the Bucs did more damage to themselves than the Browns did in this game, and that bodes well for this young Tampa Bay team if it can correct its mistakes.

• We learned the blacked out Bucs vs. Browns game wasn’t close to being sold out. Sunday’s paid attendance was only 47, 211. Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber appreciated the die-hard fans that showed up.

“We knew it wouldn’t be a sold out stadium,” Barber said. “We knew that. We also knew that the faithful would be here. I’m proud of them. They are our supporters regardless. When it did start to turn in the second half they came around.”

• We learned that the heat is temporarily off head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik. The Bucs did what they had to do, which was win a winnable game against Cleveland to get to 1-0. Losing a game like Sunday’s contest to an equal or lesser foe like the Browns would have been tough to overcome for such a young football team.

Morris, Dominik and the Bucs now have 15 games to win at least three more games and show some improvement over last year’s disappointing 3-13 record. That certainly seems doable with a 1-0 start.
Last modified on Monday, 13 September 2010 12:45
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    It was already mentioned but the thing that should be taken from this game is the monkey is off our back. Cleveland scored first, lead at the half and into the 4th quarter and Freeman brought us back to win. His 33 yard run is something they really need to incorporate. He's not some lumbering behomouth, the young man can run. The way the defense tightened up with four straight 3 and outs in the 4th was beautiful. The pass rush has to improve because it was almost noexistent at times even with the variety of blitzes thrown. I got tired of watching our ends just standing there slapping at the tackles hands and not putting any juke moves of any kind. Lifestyles G. White was pathetic. The rush defense up the gut was stout. Seemed like they were constantly making tackles in the backfield. Its when the run broke to the sides that they struggled. Seemed like they and the LBS had a hard time making it to the outer edge. They better fix this because DeAngelo Williams is gonna kill them with it next week! Josh Freeman once again proved that he has a short term memory. The pick he forgot about and went right back to work. I think he just released it too high and when he missed a you can't get no more wide open Mike Williams he came right back around and put a purrfect td pass in the arms of Spurlock. With Talib coming back next week I love how this team is going to start looking in a few weeks! B-U-C-S BUCS!BUCS!BUCS! How's that for the Jet fans?
  • avatar

    Really good article. I enjoyed the format. I hope this continues.
  • avatar

    Love this article. Definitely a nice format, and extremely informative.
  • avatar


    I think we learned that our run defense is much better than last year, our pass rush isn't good at all (I do expect it to get somewhat better once McCoy and Price get more experience, but our DE's aren't pass rushers.) Both Our safeties made mistakes, with TJax's play the most disappointing. Hayes and Ruud both looked much better this year. I believe Freeman will be affected by his thumb all year, and he definitely got lucky on a few passes, but he does have a certain "it" that makes up for it. We may need to think about an OT or OG next year in 1st round, because our OL was inconsistent at best. Both teams left points on the board, this could have been a blowout the other way if not for Ronde. And finally, regardless of what's ahead, 1-0 feels so much better than 0-8. Thank you Bucs.
  • avatar

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IzbWUJxDZw&feature=related
  • avatar

    TJax angles were down right bad at points. Im sure he will fix it though as I believe he is a true Pro Bowl caliber player
  • avatar


    Very informative article, Scott. I believe next week will give us some insight on how well our run defense is.
  • avatar


    Wow, awesome article! Very enjoyable read.
  • avatar


    excellent article Scott! I really enjoyed reading this one.
  • avatar

    A win is a win, I do believe ther will be many more to come
  • avatar

    TJack let receivers get beyond him MANY times throughout the game. The Bucs were lucky to only get burned once on them. Love the resolve of the team and the lock-down defense in the 2nd half. But the pass rush must get better or elite QB's will dominate the Bucs secondary. When a guy like Delhomme drops back 37 times and you don't record a single sack... not a great omen for things to come. Getting pressure is good. But the Bucs SHOULD get pressure on every play, every game. What they need to be focused on, is bringing the QB to the ground.
  • avatar

    No to mention he was on a gimpy foot as well.
  • avatar

    I like this article format. Hope to see these after every game. Good job PR team.
  • avatar


    Caddies two long runs that came back due to holding don't mean anything. He got those 20 yard runs BECAUSE a defender was held. It's kinda weak to suggest differently or include them in what his stats should or could have been. I mean, if they were ghost holds that happened away from the play, that would be one thing, but they weren't. Both holds directly resulted in Caddie breaking 20 yard runs.
  • avatar


    The Joseph call absolutely did not effect the play. I have not gone back again to watch the first one, but on that play it is questionable if it was a hold at all. That all being said, the point (I believe) is that stats are often misleading (in both directions) One thing I think we can all agree on is that the Oline better learn how to create some lanes.
  • avatar


    True, and it's obvious Caddy has lost some speed too. He's not slow, just doesn't have the extra gear. All things considered, Browns run stunting and stacking the box on early downs, Caddy did alright. I would have like to have seen Huggins on the outside runs though..
  • avatar


    JDDouble, he did not get two 20 yard runs BECAUSE of the holding. His point was the hold did not effect Caddy's play and he would of had the yards even if the holds never happened and that if you even want to call them holds. His main was that Caddy did his part and played better than one might think by just looking at the stats.
  • avatar


    I agree Scott. A lot of quality points were left on the field and if we get just one or two of those opportunities back per game it will make a huge difference. What I saw on the field this Sunday was a lot of hope for the near future. The next game witht the Panthers will tell a lot. Game over Game improvement is what to look for. I think the pundits are dead wrong. The pundits don't have a great record as it is. How many have said that Atlanta will be winner of the division yet their play this weekend sure didn't show it. How many said Dallas would blow Washingtong out? Yea, I feel safe betting against those guys and for the Bucs!
  • avatar


    How did Bigger "rebound" from giving up the big score in the first half, when it was TJax that completely blew the play with a bad angle? Biggers got beat for a 20 yard pass, but it was Tjax that gave up a 50 yard TD.
  • avatar

    It was both of their faults, JDouble. The Bucs were in an underneath coverage with safety help over the top. Both players told me they shared the blame after the game. I'll take their word for it.
  • avatar


    Well I can undertsand that, a good teammate should always take the blame rather than put it on someone else. My point is Biggers got beat for the big reception and it was his fault, but Tjax is the safety and last line of defense. He was in the perfect spot to clean the guys clock. Instead he took a horrible angle and the WR ran off for another 30 yards and a an easy TD. I think the extra 30 yards and TD fall squarely on TJax's shoulders.
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