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September 26, 2010 @ 10:45 am
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What We Learned: Bucs vs. Steelers

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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In a new PewterReport.com feature, Scott Reynolds reviews Pittsburgh's 38-13 shellacking of Tampa Bay and draws some conclusions about the 2-1 Bucs as they head into the bye week.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up some analysis and observations from Tampa Bay's 38-6 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers as the Bucs lost their first game of the 2010 season and are now 2-1 heading into the bye week.

• We learned that stats can be misleading. The Bucs had 18 first downs to the Steelers’ 17. Pittsburgh converted 44 percent of its third downs (4-of-9), while Tampa Bay converted 43 percent of its third downs (6-of-14). Pittsburgh out-gained the Bucs, but only by 84 yards (387-303). Tampa Bay led in time of possession, 33:06-26:54. Looking at the aforementioned stats, one might conclude that this was a tightly contested game. Yet the stat that matters the most is points scored, and Pittsburgh dominated that, 38-13.

• We learned the loss against Pittsburgh wasn’t nearly as bad as the home losses to both New York teams last year. Both head coach Raheem Morris and quarterback Josh Freeman brushed aside references to last year’s losses to the Giants and Jets, which beat the Bucs by a combined score of 50-3. Against the Steelers, the Bucs moved the ball well at times against a stingy defense – something that they couldn’t do last year against both New York clubs. The 38 points would suggest it was a worse smackdown, but the Bucs self-destructed as much as the Steelers beat them.

• We learned LeGarrette Blount is a player and can be a force on offense. Blount’s first carry as a Buccaneer went for 12 yards and picked up a first down. He runs with a nice mix of power and nimbleness not seen in Tampa Bay since the days of Mike Alstott. Blount is the type of runner that can turn a 2-yard run into a 4-yard gain because he’s always falling forward at the end of the play. His second and third effort on his touchdown run on fourth-and-goal from the Pittsburgh 1 was somewhat reminiscent of Alstott.

With Cadillac Williams rushing six times for 13 yards (2.2 avg.) Blount’s play was the lone bright spot for Tampa Bay’s offense on Sunday. He finished the game with 27 yards and a touchdown on six carries (4.5 avg.).

• We learned that Arrelious Benn is ready for more playing time. Benn caught his first NFL pass on Sunday and followed it up with two more for a total of 33 yards. Benn caught both passes thrown his way and also a pass that bounced off the hands of fullback Earnest Graham. That was probably the only ball that bounced the Bucs’ way on Sunday. With Sammie Stroughter catching just six passes for 49 yards through three games, expect the Bucs to start rotating Benn in at the flanker position more often after the bye week.

• We learned that Donald Penn is certainly a prideful guy. After the game, Penn got feisty with reporters that suggested that he and the Bucs offensive line got beaten up by Pittsburgh’s defense on Sunday.

“Those guys were flying around and getting beat up – on Pittsburgh’s side,” Penn said. “I don’t want to hear the word ‘manhandled,’ because that was not the [expletive] case. Nobody got manhandled. This was a physical game. They won the point battle. That’s all. Our O-line doesn’t play like that. Our D-line doesn’t play like that. We don’t get manhandled. We lost the point battle.”

Of course at the end of the day, the point battle on the scoreboard is all that matters. There are no style points for knocking down James Harrison. Harrison finished the game with three tackles, but Penn surrendered sacks to defensive end Nick Eason and blitzing cornerback William Gay, as well as getting called for a holding penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

• We learned that the Bucs miss Tanard Jackson terribly. After Sunday’s 38-13 loss to Pittsburgh, Morris did his best to defend the play of rookie Cody Grimm, who not only saw action on defense for the first time against Pittsburgh, but he also got the start in place of Jackson, who was suspended for a year for failing another drug test. Grimm gave up Pittsburgh’s first touchdown, a 46-yard catch by receiver Mike Wallace, and also had a hand in giving up Hines Ward’s 9-yard touchdown right before halftime.

Grimm, who finished the game with six tackles, but also had several missed tackles, appeared to be overmatched on Sunday. Grimm is a heady, hustle guy, but appears to lack the ideal size and athleticism to be a starter in the NFL. He was drafted in the seventh round for a reason. How many other NFL teams would Grimm seriously start for?

“You never want to make excuses about who you miss because it doesn’t matter,” Morris said. “Nobody cares about that. You guys can feel free to write that it hurt us by not having Tanard in the run game – feel free to write it all day. I’ll never stand up here and make an excuse for not stopping the run because of any one individual player. This is a team game. We are going to continue to be a team. We will always be a team and I’ll never stop making these guys think like a team.”

• We learned that Morris may consider going back to a three-man rotation at safety. With both Grimm and strong safety Sean Jones giving up more plays than they made on Sunday, Morris said that he is open to giving Sabby Piscitelli and Corey Lynch a chance to get some snaps on defense after the bye week. Over the last two years, Morris has usually rotated three safeties on defense.

“We may go to do some of those things, but you have to go back and you have to check and evaluate,” Morris said. “Cody Grimm had a great week of practice. There was no reason to rotate going into this game. There was no reason to make those decisions going into this game. We haven’t been rotating all season. We have been playing pretty good. We wanted to stay with that type of format. We’ll go back and evaluate tape and we’ll come back ready to go versus Cincinnati.”

The smart move for Morris will be to let Piscitelli out of the doghouse and give the faster safety with 20 career starts another chance to prove himself. It would also be wise to put Lynch in on obvious passing situations considering he led the Bucs in the preseason with two interceptions and had 24 picks in college. Now is not the time for Morris to be stubborn. He has to do what is best for the sake of the defense.

• We learned rookie defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price still have some work to do. Pewter Report made the observation during training camp that McCoy has to work on his hips. During the hoop drill where the defensive linemen are asked to run around huge hoops made of PVC pipes, McCoy didn’t stand out in this drill. He had trouble sinking his hips and getting the proper body lean while running around the hoop. This was a major issue that plagued Gaines Adams in his career that was tragically too brief.

That deficiency manifested itself on Sunday as McCoy had a clear shot at quarterback Charlie Batch, but couldn’t get his first NFL sack. McCoy beat guard Doug Legursky, but the 6-foot-5 defensive tackle came in too high and didn’t sink his hips enough to quickly redirect when Batch sidestepped him at the last minute. The result of the play was a 46-yard touchdown pass to Wallace instead of a 7-yard sack in the first quarter. McCoy was shutout by Pittsburgh as he did not record a tackle.

Price does a much better job of redirecting, and nearly had his first NFL sack on Sunday, but he couldn’t bring down Batch even though he had a hold of his jersey. Batch wound up eluding Price, rolled to his right and found Ward for a 9-yard touchdown pass on third down to put the Steelers up 28-6 at halftime.

• We learned that missed tackles against a good running team will get you beat. Aside from a play or two, middle linebacker Barrett Ruud and cornerback Ronde Barber brought the heat on Sunday against the running game, leading the team with nine tackles apiece. However, linebackers Quincy Black and Geno Hayes and safeties Grimm and Jones combined to miss plenty of tackles on running back Rashard Mendenhall, who rushed for 143 of Pittsburgh’s 201 yards on Sunday.

Last week, the Bucs had seven tackles for loss and were gang-tackling against Carolina. Against Pittsburgh, there were too many missed tackles, not enough tackles for loss (four) and not enough gang-tackling.

• We learned that Aqib Talib has plenty of motivation for the rest of the season. As if Talib’s bobbled would-be interception that turned into a touchdown for Wallace in the end zone wasn’t bad enough, Wallace rubbed some salt in the wound and called out Talib after the game.

“That’s why he plays cornerback – they can’t catch,” Wallace said.

Talib is tied for the team lead with two interceptions. The guess here is that Talib doesn’t drop another interception all season and finishes with close to 10.

• We learned that punter Chris Bryan had an awful day. Just when you think the Bucs picked the right punter – Bryan over rookie Brent Bowden – Bryan goes out and has a dreadful performance against Pittsburgh. He punted five times for 155 yards and a 31-yard average with a 29.4-yard net.

Bryan’s first punt was a 21-yarder and gave the Steelers the ball at their 21-yard line with 4:18 left before halftime. Bryan should have pinned Pittsburgh deeper. His second punt was only a 28-yarder. Bryan’s punting was erratic, but he did salvage his day to a degree with a 32-yard punt down at the Pittsburgh 4-yard line – his only punt inside the 20. Bryan’s longest punt of the day was only 38 yards. The Bucs should consider bringing Bowden back.

• We learned kicker Connor Barth is still perfect. It bears repeating – Barth is having a phenomenal start to the 2010 campaign. He was perfect on his two field goals on Sunday from 40 and 24 yards, and is now a perfect 5-for-5 on the season. Barth was also a perfect 5-for-5 in the preseason.

Dating back to the end of the 2009 season, Barth has made 12 of his last 13 field goals (92.3 percent). If you want to count the preseason kicks, he has made 17 of his last 18 field goals (94.4 percent). That’s outstanding.

• We learned Adam Hayward is still frustrating to watch. Hayward opened the game with a bang, making a crushing hit on Steelers kick returner Mewelde Moore after only a 17-yard return out to the Pittsburgh 14. Hayward also drilled Antwaan Randle El tackle after 8-yard gain on a punt return.

But late in the third quarter, the overly-aggressive Hayward drew a 15-yard penalty unnecessary roughness penalty after Randel El fair caught a punt. Instead of starting at their 26-yard line, Pittsburgh took over at the 41 and wound up scoring a field goal at the end of the drive.

• We learned that in football there is a reason behind the old saying, “That’s the way the ball bounces.” Three untimely bounces – Mike Williams’ fumble into the hands of safety Ryan Clark, Talib’s would-be interception, and Sammie Stroughter’s bobbled ball that was intercepted and returned for a 79-yard touchdown by defensive end Brett Keisel – resulted in 14 points for the Steelers and killed two promising drives by the Buccaneers offense.

“Some days we’re going to be the team that catches those bounces and picks up the fumbles and things like that,” Williams said. “We weren’t that team today. They were the better team today. We just have to fight back.”

• We learned that the Bucs aren’t nearly as good as the Steelers, but aren’t as bad as the score indicates. Tampa Bay’s 2-0 start will come into question now that it beat two 0-3 teams in Cleveland and Carolina. Still, the Bucs won those games and in order to be successful in the NFL you have to win the winnable games.

Pittsburgh clearly beat the Bucs on offense and defense on Sunday, but Tampa Bay also had plenty of self-inflicted wounds. Great teams either don’t beat themselves or they have enough talent to overcome their own mistakes. The Bucs aren’t a great team yet like Pittsburgh is.

• We learned that Morris still makes some questionable game management calls. Morris’ decision to punt on fourth-and-3 at the Pittsburgh 36 with 11:45 left in the game and trailing 38-6 was baffling. What did the Bucs have to lose? It’s not like they were at their own 36-yard line. Morris, who preaches mental toughness, physical play and violence, made a rather timid game management decision in that instance, which was disappointing.

• We learned that Morris made a good decision to empty his bench in the fourth quarter. It was wise of Morris to pull starters like Freeman, wide receivers Mike Williams and Sammie Stroughter, tight end Kellen Winslow and center Jeff Faine late in the game in insert Josh Johnson, Jeremy Zuttah and young wide receivers like Benn and Preston Parker. There was nothing to be gained in the fourth quarter of a 38-6 blowout except a “feel-better touchdown” at the end.

While it’s easy to want to pad the stats of the starters in the fourth quarter, doing so also risks injury. Plus, getting rookies like Blount, Benn and Parker some playing time and game experience will only help them develop and help the team down the road.
Last modified on Monday, 27 September 2010 10:21

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  • avatar

    The biggest things that came out of the game are: 1. They Grimm a shot and realize they might have to go with Lynch or...sabby.......(Nooooooo) 2. Bount and Huggins need to be given the chance and Caddy needs to be phased out 3. Benn needs to be in there with Stroughter back in the slot. 4. Keep looking for a punter 5. DE remains the number 1 priority in the draft.
  • avatar

    1- our safety positions are horrible..... niether Jones or Grimm made a impact on the game.... only time i saw either one is when they were out of position...... 2- our O-line played softer then TP. 3- Caddy needs some help at running back....... Blount looks good, throw Huggins in also. 4- Ruud needs to step up his game and get off blocks. 5- move Stroughter to the Slot ........ put Benn in the Z 6- move Moore into the back up roll and start Crowder
  • avatar

    What I learned is that the coaches show no common sense when choosing where a defender should play. I'm talking about safeties jones and Grimm. Their positions should have been switched. Grimm being a former linebacker would have been better suited defending against running backs and tight ends as well as defending the run.Jones should have been moved to his more natural position that was Jacksons defending against wide outs. I just don't get it.It seems so obvious. Someone comment on this please.
  • avatar

    Jones played SS in Cleveland way better than he did at FS in Philly but, the defense is different.
  • avatar

    Completely wrong on this one. Jones was a decent safety, but played out of position last year and he did not do to well. This year he is with the Bucs and back at his natural psoition.
  • avatar

    Morris’ decision to punt on fourth-and-3 at the Pittsburgh 36 with 11:45 left in the game and trailing 38-6 was baffling. What did the Bucs have to lose? EXACTLY! I sat there and was dumbfounded by that one. WHAT THE HELL was Morris thinking?
  • avatar

    I learned that we are not the worst football team, but a long way off from being the best...not unexpected at all. Just keep fighting and learning week to week and try to be competitive, that's what this season is all about along with finding out who are the real players on the team. Its a bye week so maybe Rah will shake things up in the depth chart.
  • avatar

    Sure, we had a bad game and we made a lot of mistakes, but I agree with cigarfox, Steelers have been very lucky in this game. The 2 bombs Batch threw would have been at least broken pass anyday if not yesterday. It just doesn't come our way. Considering McCoy and Price, they are in their rookie season, it makes time to become probowl caliber Defensive tackle. I would add that with no outside pass rush, it's very hard for them to get anything. Sure Simeon Rice was a very good player thanks to Warren Sapp. But the contrary is true too. Keep the faith, there will be other hard games to swallow this season, but we are definitely better. GO BUCS !
  • avatar

    yea raheem makes you wonder whether he has HEAD COACH CONTROL...if you cant see bad play somethings wrong, moore has been non existent since he got here and crowder a back up is leading in sacks just like roy miller did last year..blount and huggins need to take over, i love caddy but he lost his burst and knowing we had a rookie safety starting against a historic team like the steelers all our safeties should have gotten a shot because they said the positions are interchangeable..doesnt matter how much talent we have if your blind at evaluating it..and no spurlock isnt a wide out, definetely not one that should come off the bench third...we are missing stovall bad and if your comfortable with putting grimm out there who was a linebacker in college why not give a bigger wide out in benn his shot, its time to see what he's got too
  • avatar

    "Point Battle"? ah it wasn't close at all. It was the Buc boys against the Steeler men and we got whipped. It's only one game, but we got stomped on at almost every position. I sure hope we do a lot practicing these next two weeks? We have much to learn.
  • avatar

    What I hope is that Morris doesn't listen to anyone on this website, the locker room, the media or the front office and puts in whichever player HE thinks gives the Bucs the best chance to win. This is because if the Bucs lose the loss will fall on Morris' shoulders and no one else will want to take any blame for egging him on to do what they wanted before the game. If there's anything we're going to question him on why would it be his choice of DB's? That's what he does best. He's seen these DB's play professional level football more than anyone else. Grimm was in there on Sunday because he thought he gave the Bucs the best chance to win based on what he's seen him do.-------When I went to training camp for the first two practices this year, Price and Grimm were the standout players to me. Sabby and Lynch looked like crap. PR even commented on how Lynch had great hands but never made plays on the field. I don't know if we should think that Lynch is the best available option based on the 4th preseason game which only featured 2nd and 3rd stringers. One of those picks went right to him in that game. My point is only that if Grimm has looked sharper in practice since September when nobody has really been watching practice but Morris and his coaches, why would he put Sabby or Lynch in until he at least sees if Grimm can translate it from the practice field to Ray Jay? I say play whoever looks the best in practice over the next two weeks.
  • avatar

    Sounds like the Steelers were salivating at the chance to light up Grimm. From Peter King's MMQB: "Honestly, I didn't think I'd ever get a chance for another start here,'' Batch told me from Tampa. "But what was great today was we had everything in the game plan, and we were going to take our shots downfield early. We were just trying to open it up, because we weren't playing us, honestly. And before the game, Mike [Wallace] said to me, 'Give me an opportunity, Chuck. Throw it up there for me.' We decided that if 35 [Grimm] ever turned his back to me, I was putting it up there.'' That's exactly what happened on one of the TD bombs to Wallace. Batch put it up for Wallace, and Grimm lost the ball, and Wallace won it in the end zone. Just like the Steelers drew it up. Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/peter_king/09/26/Week3/index.html#ixzz10l6SlzA9
  • avatar

    We learned that morris is afraid of hurting his players feelings. Blount shouldve replaced caddy, and i know he dont know the plays that well but give him simple runs to make the defense honest. Morris dosent have to go back and look at the tapes to see that like he always says. Crowder should start instead of moore, i dont know what the coaches see in moore to keep him in the lineup. Cut Stovall and Sims, activate Briscoe and George Johnson. White, Ruud, and Trueblood will be gone next year anyway so we should start getting these youn guys some reps. We will still win some games this year so i sooner than later. Stroughter belongs in the slot, star benn on the other side of williams and watch how good they be
  • avatar

    hmmmmm....well that hurt! I feel like that old video of Bettis running over the Bengal CB....we were the CB! Don't panic...we played two bad teams and beat them...and one top 5 or 10 team and got woooped....all that tells us is that we are better than the very bottom....and no where near good enough yet to run with the bigger dogs. the Good....Freeman is the real deal...and I think that position is in pretty good shape for some time; M Williams....I think will be the best rookie wide out this year and is explosive; Winslow is money the Bad....DLine....no pass rush and no tackles to speak of; Ruud...often out of position and just not a big hitter; running game is weak; OLine does not dominate the Ugly.....Safety! I cannot believe that Piscatlli and Lynch might have to start and be considered an upgrade! TJack really hurt the team and not having a pass rush really exposes the safety play...we made Batch look like Manning....Payton that is. the Jury is still out on our draft...I do like the first few picks ...but Eric Berry and Nate Allen are tearing it up and would sure look good now. Weatherspoon and Suh are also tearing it up...so I expect to see our DLine guys get better every game. I think Sapp only had 3 sacks in his first year....but had about 10 the next year.....only time will tell. Overall...we are doing better than I expected...but we are in for a long hall if we do not spend some money on key free agents....given it takes draft picks a couple of years to produce...it puts too much pressure to hit on every draft pick every year. ......we will see.
  • avatar

    Bring back Jermaine Phillips during the bye!
  • avatar

    What needs we learned of: G, T, DE, S, CB
  • avatar

    The thing that scares me the most is morris's comment that Tanard had a terri le first game and he didn't pull him, and intends to treat Grimm the same way. Grimm is NOT jackson. I don't think he is a starting caliber safety, and if tanard was there I think the games outcome would have been different. They targeted Grimm. I just don't know about our o line, which means we have a lot more holes than I thought. Maybe it's mangurian? Maybe we just need a good BIG left guard and right tackle. Blount is exciting and I hope we see him starting soon. I also think that for whatever reason, the steelers just had the ball bounce their way and the game could e gone the other way, so I don't think it's time to panic. I hope Morris continues the trend of playing the best players regardless of draft status and pay. The next thing he has to overcome is favoritism. I love caddy, but he needs to go as well as Kyle Moore, Grimm, jerramy Stevens asap. And think about ditching trueblood as much as I like him in the offseason.
  • avatar

    I learned that Tomlin may not be as good a friend as Morris thinks he is.
  • avatar

    bucmebaby, that's a good one.
  • avatar

    I know Price,and McCoy need some growing up, but McCoy was doubled most of the game. Our ends just can't get their, they are not winning their one, on ones. I'd like to see the Bucs run some more 3 4 D on passing downs, with Miller, McCoy, Price on the line, and bringing Hayes, Black, hard off the edges.
  • avatar

    I completely disagree with the the statement that the Bucs are not nearly as good as Pittsburgh. The Bucs not be as good but, I believe they are not far behind. The bucs played much better than the score would indicate. Football is a skilled game but, there is a lot of luck to the game too at times. Charlie Batch may two very stupid throws that played off and they got luck y that they did. First of all, if Tanard Jackson had been in the first Steelers TD probably would have been picked and there is no way that it would have been a Steelers TD. Then another stupid throw almost picked by Talib was knocked into the hands of Wallace. Steelers got two LUCKY TD's. Then Mike Williams loosing the ball by impact and it was not a forced fumble and Williams unfortunately was on a players back when the ball came out was certainly a game changer. Then Freemans only pick was not a bad throw but, the ball was knocked into the defenders hands for a pick. The Steelers had a lot of very lucky players that won them this game. I still believe that the Bucs are much better than this game indicates. Anything can happen on any given Sunday and it is hard to control where the ball bounces. The Bucs who were point spread dominated could come out and do the the same thing to Pittsburgh next week. Sometimes game go this way but, the Bucs are much better than this. I know that that any game you can say that the outcome would be different only if BLANK but, this game was more luck on Pittsburgh part than it was that they played better. They did not not play smarter or, harder or more physical, they had the ball bounce there way on about four big plays.
  • avatar

    I Could'nt have said that any better..the bucs are much better i still believe we ca nreach 10 win this season...the steelers were very lucky because we moved the ball on that so called great defense...
  • avatar

    I think the Bucs are better than they showed and the scored showed as well, but you have blinders on if you think they can get to 10 wins. 8 would be the most with 6 being the minimum they should get.
  • avatar

    It was a team loss and there were some bad bounces. Sabby or Lynch needs to be playing. I know there are a lot of Grimm lovers, but for now, he just needs to be on special teams or limited spot duty. Agreed Rejus needs to crack the lineup.
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