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October 23, 2011 @ 6:47 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

Game Grades: Freeman Fails To Deliver Fourth Quarter Comeback

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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PewterReport.com breaks down each of Tampa Bay's individual units and grades them on how they performed in the Buccaneers 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London.

Unit Grades
Where has the quarterback of 2010 gone? Yes, Josh Freeman is still a dangerous come-from-behind quarterback but the little things done early in games are absolutely devastating this team.

Freeman missed a wide-open Kellen Winslow on a routine pass play early in the first half that would have resulted in a drive-extending play on third down. Several other passes were thrown low and seemed forced and aimed. Tampa Bay’s third-year signal caller looks unsure much of the time and his lack of accuracy speaks volumes about his mental state right now. He completed 29-of-51 passes for 264 yards with four interceptions and just two touchdowns.

Very few, if any, quarterbacks will ever walk out a stadium victorious after throwing four interceptions. And to make matters worse most of the picks weren’t tipped or batted balls, they were just poor decisions made by No. 5, except for the first half pick on the goal line that bounced off of Mike Williams’ chest. A total of 14 of Freeman's passes, including the four INTs, were touched by Bears defenders.

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson and head coach Raheem Morris will have two weeks until the next game to try and figure out what has gone wrong with Freeman this season. Whatever the problems are, they must get corrected during the bye week. With road games at New Orleans and Green Bay coming up in the next month sandwiched between a match-up with the much-improved Texans, Tampa Bay needs Freeman to return to his 2010 form quickly for any chance of making the playoffs this year.
Grade: D

Running Backs
When Earnest Graham was carried off the field into the tunnel under the weight of trainers, the Buccaneers' chances of victory seemed to follow. The gamble of general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris to not add running back depth after LeGarrette Blount’s injury bit the Buccaneers on the backside and may derail any chance for the playoffs.

Backup-to-the-backup Kregg Lumpkin, came in and did all he could do but was ill-equipped to handle the role of primary back and third down back. Asking him to perform in that situation was completely unfair by Bucs’ management. How does Tampa Bay at the very least not promote Mossis Madu to the active roster? It isn’t as if Graham has proven an ability to stay healthy.

Lumpkin carried the ball eight times for 15 yards and added 37 yards as a receiver out of the backfield but never looked comfortable being thrust into a tough situation.
Grade: F

Wide Receivers
Each week it seems another receiver steps up and does his part to try and make a difference. Preston Parker and Arrelious Benn have been sparks in the offense at different times this season.

This week, Dezmon Briscoe did all he could to will the offense in the end zone. At least twice, Briscoe caught third-down passes short of the sticks but was able to fight the defenders for the necessary first-down yardage.

For the game, Briscoe had a career-high six receptions for 73 yards, including a fourth-quarter 24-yard touchdown, which helped narrow the Bears’ lead. The TD was the second of his career.

Mike Williams continues to frustrate, and while he led Tampa Bay’s receivers with 75 yards on his six receptions, his critical drop on the Bears’ goal line (that resulted in the interception of a first-half Josh Freeman pass) was a huge momentum-killer.

Williams continues to catch the ball with his body instead of his hands, and is nowhere close to the receiver he was last season when he led the Buccaneers with 11 touchdown receptions.

After showing off his speed and agility last week against the Saints, Benn was targeted just once against the Bears and may make Bucs fans scratch their heads as to why.
Grade: B-

Offensive Line
With Jeff Faine declared inactive nursing a biceps injury, the Buccaneers came into the Bears game already lacking a bit of continuity. And when Faine’s replacement, Jeremy Zuttah, went out with a knee injury in the second half, the coaching staff had to reshuffle the line once again.

For the most part, the O-line protected Freeman well, but the running game managed just 30 yards on 11 carries (2.7 avg.). Ted Larsen moved to center after Zuttah departed and Derek Hardman was pressed into action as left guard.

The Bears ran several twists and stunts trying free up rushers. While they were only able to take down Freeman once, the Bucs’ signal-caller had pressure on and off for most of the afternoon. At other times Freeman had all the time in the world to find open receivers, even when the Bears knew the Buccaneers were passing.

One big negative was the penalties by right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, who came into the Bears game having not been flagged all season. But on Sunday Trueblood was called for two false starts. Backup tackle Demar Dotson was called for an illegal hands to the face penalty in the second half, both Zuttah and Larsen were flagged for holding and Larsen also had a facemask penalty called on him.
Grade: D+

Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow was a marked man for most of the day by the Bears defense and was shutout in the first half. In the second half, Freeman was able to establish a little rhythm with his tight end who ended the game with four catches for 25 yards, including his first touchdown of the season, despite being targeted 12 times.

Rookie Luke Stocker added two catches for 14 yards and provided help in pass protection.
Grade: C-

Defensive Line
Constantly inconsistent is the best way to describe the Buccaneers defense as a whole today. The defensive line was probably the best defensive group as they harassed Jay Cutler all game long.

At times the line dominated, as Adrian Clayborn and Micheal Bennett were in the Bears backfield as much as the Bears offensive players. Frank Okam and Brian Price deserve the majority of the credit for Ronde Barber’s safety of Matt Forte in the first half as the duo blew up the Bears offensive line that play.

The one issue the defensive line had was allowing the Bears running game to reach the edges and, with little support from the linebackers, it turned into several big gains for Forte, who rushed for 145 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries (5.8 avg.).

Clayborn was a beast all day and played his best game of his young career, including collecting his team-leading third sack of the season while adding three tackles.
Grade: B

At times the Buccaneers linebackers came up with big plays. At other times they had difficulty shedding their blocks and were caught out of position.

Adam Hayward filled in admirably for Mason Foster, who played only a couple series due to re-injuring his ankle. Hayward was juiced for the chance and ended the game with five tackles.

Quincy Black also added five stops, but at times you almost forgot he was on the field. Geno Hayes also had five tackles, including two for a loss, but like 
Black, was an afterthought for much of the game.

In the second half the unit played more consistent, but by then the Bears had done enough damage to ensure victory as Chicago rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries (5.4 avg.).
Grade: C-

When free safety Tanard Jackson left in the first half with a hamstring injury, the air came out of the balloon for this unit just a bit. Jackson had his second interception in as many weeks and had a tackle and a pass breakup before sustaining his injury.

Tampa Bay’s corners were steady and didn’t give up many big plays, although Ronde Barber dropped a first half interception that would have been an easy pick-six and a momentum changer. Barber finished with a sack and a safety, the first of his career, and was the best player in the secondary on Sunday.

The play of Sean Jones and Corey Lynch left much to be desired, especially against the run. Both were made to look silly on Marion Barber’s third-quarter, 12-yard touchdown run. The run support from the safeties wasn’t very good although Jones led the team with seven tackles.

Corey Lynch did add an interception but could have possibly added two more had he been able to keep his feet. He finished with a career-high three passes defensed.

Jay Cutler finished with 226 yards passing and one touchdown, which was caught by Roy Williams, who beat cornerback E.J. Biggers off the line of scrimmage.
Grade: C+

Special Teams
Punter Michael Koenen continues to be the best free-agent signing by the Buccaneers since Simeon Rice and Brad Johnson, as he kept the dangerous Devin Hester from having an impact Sunday afternoon. Combining high, shorter kicks with directional punts at times, Koenen continues to be the team’s MVP so far in 2011.

The coverage units were also solid and even when it appeared Hester had a small lane to run, the Tampa Bay defenders closed things off quickly. Hester returned one kickoff for just 14 yards and averaged only 6.6 yards per punt return on Sunday as Koenen averaged 47.6 yards per punt with a 43.5-net yard average with three pinned inside the 20-yard line and no touchbacks.

Conner Barth added another field goal and is now 13-of-15 on the season and perfect on extra point attempts.
Grade: A

Last modified on Sunday, 23 October 2011 22:44

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  • avatar

    OK im really tired of everyone second guessing freeman. whether you all want to believe it or not, including you COOK and RYNOLDS, freeman is 23 YEARS OLD. he needs help, he can not do it by himself. our running game is gone, our starting center is out, our wrs wont catch the ball, winslow is acting like a little girl crying about not gettng his way, and olsen sucks. its not all on freeman and its so sick to watch all of you starting to turn on him the way you are starting too. Freeman has missed some passes, but hes gettng no help from anyone. you all are quick to praise freeman when he does well and want to second guess him when he has a bad game. Freeman is our guy, eli manning had issues at the begining of his career too and he figured it out. hes 23 years old, mistakes are still going to happen...hes a tough player and i want him here for the next 15 years. he has 8 4th quarter comebacks already and to put that in perspective, Romo has 14 so freeman is more than half way to romos mark.. were 4-3 stop acting like the sky is falling. im more concerned about talib and blacks piss poor play than freemans.
  • avatar

    Why do the Bucs ALWAYS get off to slow starts? Because the game plans, especially the passing attack, are among the most predictable I've ever seen in almost 45 years of watching the NFL. Why is Freeman throwing so many picks? Because the defenses know who the primary receiver is and where he's going. Against SF the safties were simply running to spots at the snap and waiting for the ball. The Bucs need to get more than one receiver downfield. I realize the lack of a speed receiver constricts the passing game but they still have enough talent at the position to be successful. Also, the receivers are running sloppy routes and don't fight for the ball, resulting in picks. It's very apparent that Winslow is in Josh's head and he's going out of his way to appease the overrated, middle of the road slot receiver. I won't embarrass the position by calling him a tight end. Mark, when addressing the DB'S how can you not mention one of the worst penalties in franchise history. Talib's selfish actions MUST not be tolerated!
  • avatar

    Why is it that Freeman does not scramble anymore!!!!! The Bucs need to find a way to utilize Josh Johnson and his running ability. I would bet he could have done a better job rushing than Lumpkin. One other thing, please add some speed in our backfield to compliment Blount Force Trauma.
  • avatar

    The Bucs and US 19...always rebuilding, always under construction that never ends? We don't need no free agents!
  • avatar

    Bingo! We're Not Quite There Yet. Remember that. We are a young team with young players and it's going to be a roller coaster ride this year. Depending on which Bucs team shows up from week to week will depend on how we do. I believe we have a great team in the making but all the pieces are not in place yet. Freeman is definitely off this year. Poor decision making. Williams is taking a step back too. All in all...great timing for the bye week.
  • avatar

    Three of Freemans INTs should never have been thrown. The other teams defenders were clearly in the line of sight, theirs no way he didn't see them. I have no idea why he would've thrown those passes. A sack would be better than INTs. He really is forcing balls to WInslow and Williams and he has to stop. If he was spreading the ball to the other guys on the field, I think we'd see better results. Our other three receivers have been much better and deserve more looks. I have no idea why we didn't bring up a third guy for the running back position, what a stupid decision. I mean, running backs go down all the time, especially 31 year olds like EG!!! If they had brought up Moses, they would've been able to see what some quickness can do for an offense. Our defense was again the victim of an inept offense that didn't help them at all. Bad play calling again. I have no idea what the coaches did all week, but they made a very mediocre team look good. We should have won this game and we're really gonna pay for this loss. Now we have no wiggle room if we want to make the playoffs. Good teams win the games that they're supposed to, they don't play down to the competition. We're not quite there yet. Another thing, Mike Williams needs to be on the field less. He drops way too many passes. Briscoe and Benn need to get some more opportunities, they've outplayed him all year and made the most of their few chances. The people in charge on this team really need to start making some changes. And I'd have to say that almost all the grades are half a grade high. Except maybe special teams. It's pretty sad when the best and most consistent players on our team are our kickers!? I definitely like the strategy of building through the draft, but it's pretty crazy that we acquired one of our best players this year in Free Agency. We can't get all of our players from other people's practice squad, we need to get young up and coming players in FA as well.
  • avatar

    Olson has been a horrible OC from day one, but that still does not excuse Freeman's decision making...at this point he's the worst QB in the division. Last year Alex Van Pelt was getting a lot of credit for Freeman's growth and development, where's he been this year?
  • avatar

    Where are the grades on coaching and the offensive scheme. Freeman will get the blame on the interceptions,but if the running game is not working this OC does not know how to call a game.
  • avatar

    I totally agree with Brady when it comes to Olson. I have been saying the same thing all year, even when we won.
  • avatar

    It's hard to be successful when you have an offensive coordinator that so poorly understands how to call plays. Regardless of if Graham got hurt or not the pass to run ratio was awful, a classic week 1 panic button move. Olson gives Freeman no chance to succeed -- why do you think Freeman is most successful when the game moves quicker? Because Olson has less to do and lets Freeman do his thing, which is to win. When it comes to play calling Olson is to panic what Holtz is to cowardice -- neither deserves to be in charge of anything. You have to at least give you QB a chance to succeed and Olson continues to show why he's been fired by so many teams in his NFL career.
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