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November 6, 2011 @ 8:48 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Game Grades: Bucs Once Again Own Worst Enemy

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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With two weeks to prepare and an emphasis on not beating themselves, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came out with first place on the line but suffered too many self-inflicted wounds to beat the Saints. Tampa Bay fell to 4-4 on the season and have an uphill climb to get back in the division race. Find out how PewterReport.com felt each unit graded out in the 27-16 loss.

Unit Grades

Quarterback Josh Freeman didn’t make any spectacular plays that will be shown on SportsCenter tonight, but also didn’t make the crucial bad play that cost the Buccaneers a win. After looking out-of-sorts two weeks ago in London, Freeman had good composure in the pocket and command of the huddle.

With that said there were at least three passes Freeman would love to have back. Freeman’s inability to connect on TD passes to Kregg Lumpkin, Erik Lorig and Kellen Winslow resulted in field goals as opposed to touchdowns, something the Buccaneers knew they must avoid to beat the Saints.

Tampa Bay’s signal-caller showed improvement over his last outing in several areas and it was good to finally see the fiery side of the usually mild-mannered third-year pro.

Freeman finished the game 27-of-37 for 281 yards and one touchdown despite catching heat from Greg Williams and the blitz-happy Saints defense.

Running Backs

After being embarrassed two weeks ago being caught short-handed in London after Earnest Graham went down with a torn Achilles, the Buccaneers welcomed back LeGarrette Blount who has missed the previous two games with a sprained MCL.

Blount did his part averaging 5.5 yards per carry including a sensational 27-yard run in the second half after cutting back and getting the left edge turned. Blount added two pass receptions for 11 yards in the losing effort.

Kregg Lumpkin assumed the third-down back role and performed steadily, catching four passes for 31 yards and added seven yards on two carries.

Had the Buccaneers been able to contain Brees even a little, Blount would have had over 100 yards. But when behind two touchdowns or more for most of the game, Tampa Bay was forced to abandon their formula that earned them their ins so far this season.

Grade: B

The most maligned unit on offense, the Buccaneers receivers did a good job of securing the football and finding soft spots in the Saints defense.

Mike Williams started the game with a critical drop, and the Buccaneers ended up going three-and-out on their first drive. But the second-year receiver rebounded fairly well and didn’t have any more drops. Williams' six receptions led all Tampa Bay receivers but he only managed 46 yards with a long of just 11 yards.

Preston Parker continues to play with a chip on his shoulder and was the team’s leading receiver in yardage gaining 56 yards on three catches, including a 35-yard first half grab.

Arrelious Benn continues to be the forgotten man in Greg Olson’s offense, catching just two passes for 22 yards. The Buccaneers went into this game with a concerted effort to get Benn more involved but for whatever reason it didn’t materialize.

Dezmon Briscoe had just one reception but it was for a game-long 56 yards.
Grade: B

Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow caught just his second touchdown of the season but other than that this group was virtually non-existent.

Winslow and Zach Pianalto combined for six catches for 53 yards but didn’t contribute very much in running game with their blocking. What has happened to rookie Luke Stocker? Although listed in the game book, the fourth-rounder from Tennessee was a no-show again today.

While too early to call Stocker a bust it isn’t too early to call him disappointment. To his defense he has had some injury issues but in games that he has played in, Stocker has done little to show he was an upgrade over Ryan Purvis, Nathan Overbay or even Daniel Hardy for that matter.
Grade: C-

Offensive Line
This game presents another challenge to grade this unit as once again Tampa Bay was playing from behind.

On the positive side, Josh Freeman was sacked just once. Another positive was the ground game averaged 4.2 yards per carry. However the Saints were giving up an average of 5.5 yards a carry coming into Sunday’s matchup.

On the negative side, too many times LeGarrette Blount was forced to find running lanes on his own. On his game-long 27 yard run, Blount made something out of nothing and would have been dropped for a loss had he slammed into the targeted hole. But Blount’s sometimes good, sometimes bad cutback instinct trait worked to his advantage on that particular run.

The Buccaneers offensive line also failed to gain one yard on fourth down in the first quarter as the Buccaneers were attempting to respond to the Saints' first touchdown. And while Freeman was sacked only once he was harassed for the better part of the game.

Overall Pat Morris’ group was mediocre, but against a defense that has been gashed several times this season, it was unacceptable.
Grade: C-

Defensive Line
With the number of high-round draft picks and money spent on the defensive line, this group, while showing flashes, has been too inconsistent for the Buccaneers to make a serious run at the postseason. Hopefully for Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik’s sake this unit will get better, but as of now they are on pace to equal their 30th ranked number of sacks last season with just 26.

To be fair, Gerald McCoy was lost early in the game and Frank Okam didn’t dress due to a pulled calf muscle. Rookie Adrian Clayborn wasn’t his usual menacing self but still stood out over the others on the D-line.

Brian Price, Michael Bennett and Da’Quan Bowers combined for just six tackles. Definitely not the investment Dominik expected after spending several high draft picks and a few million dollars over the last two seasons.

When a team rushes for 195 yards much of the blame must be placed on this unit.
Grade: F

Mason Foster had a typical rookie middle linebacker day – a good play followed by a bad one. With nine tackles, Foster ended up tied for the team lead with Quincy Black. But he was caught out of position a number of times, particularly on where he was responsible for looking up Sproles out of the backfield. But Foster’s fourth-quarter, third-down blow up of Chris Ivory showed management something they rarely saw from Barrett Rudd over the last few seasons.

Geno Hayes was benched in favor of Adam Hayward, who played hard but not too effective. Hayward finished with just one solo tackle and two assists.

Quincy Black, who we have been told is healthy, added seven tackles and two assists but was rarely physical and was pushed around for the better part of the game.
Grade: D

Holding Drew Brees to less than 300 yards passing is a win in itself, but that number was skewed somewhat by the fact the Saints were able to run for nearly 200 yards. As a result, the Saints led for nearly the entire game. But as Raheem Morris reminds us media folk, stats are for losers.

Ronde Barber did pick off a Drew Brees pass, but was also flagged for defensive holding. Barber has had a few penalties this year and a majority of them came while Barber was in man-coverage. Barber loves to jump routes but that leaves him susceptible to get burned on the stop-and-go or double move routes, as it did today.

E.J. Biggers continues to take abuse from fans, but the touchdown pass he gave up to Lance Moore was more the fact of a perfect throw than poor coverage.

Aqib Talib played a solid game and gave up little to the Saints dangerous receivers. He added six tackles as Drew Brees worked the underneath and seam routes as opposed to throwing over the top for the most part.

The Buccaneers’ safeties weren’t burned except on one deep bomb that Brees overshot in the first half. Sean Jones and Tanard Jackson combined for eight tackles but no picks.
Grade: C

Special Teams
PK Conner Barth continued his Pro Bowl-caliber season connecting on all three of his field goal attempts(40,48,25). Unfortunately for Tampa Bay those field goals needed to be touchdowns.

Michael Koenen had his first touchback on a punt this season but his kickoffs and punts, along with the coverage units, once again mostly neutralized Darren Sproles. Sproles had one punt return for 15 yards and averaged 27.0 yards on two kickoffs that were taken from deep in the end zone.
Grade: B

Last modified on Sunday, 06 November 2011 22:49

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  • avatar

    Receivers a B? Really? I'd start Parker and Briscoe and bring up Gant. And try throwing to Benn more than once or twice a game.
  • avatar

    Greg Olson = F
  • avatar

    there are so many glaring weaknesses on this team it would be to loong for me to comment. ughh
  • avatar

    I am starting to believe that maybe a new offensive coordinator would be a good idea but not in the middle of the season. I don't think Olson is horrible and I think a lot of it has to do with just lethargic play on offense until things get out of hand but Olson just doesn't seem to have the ability to dial up plays that will catch the defense off guard. When I look at New Orleans I see Peyton putting new wrinkles on the offensive game plan and we just seem to come out with the same old plays. The play where we brought in J.J. really frustrated me. I thought "Surely he's got a new twist on this" but no....the same old play and they stuffed it. I think it's time for a change if Olson doesn't change his stripes immediatley.
  • avatar

    Yeah Freeman made some bad throws, but look who he was throwing to. Lumpkin, and Lorig, are you kidding me. Let's get the ball to our play makers, Lumpkin,and Lorig, that's gonna win us alot of games. If this is all Josh has to work with, and be coached by, we'll never be any better then a 500 team.
  • avatar

    Four high draft picks on our defensive line, and it looks like we got one decent player out of the mix. Clayborn looks to have a good rookie year, but so far Bowers is looking like he will need another year, and whatever doubts there was for McCoy are going to be full blown at this point. Even if you don't consider his mediocre stats, his ability to keep himself healthy for a full year is in doubt. I am guessing conditioning has something to do with it. Price is up and down every week. I still have confidence in Foster, but he is also having a rough time right now. THe Next Draft will be interesting. I would have thought Bucs would be looking at offensive line and Cornerbacks, but I wonder if they are going to have to take DL early and maybe even WR.
  • avatar

    Biggers didn't have an overall horrible game today so I agree with the grades. However, I want to use this platform to point out that Biggers has had an overall horrible season. It's like no one seems to notice when he gives up a completion or misses a tackle. Earlier in the season the excuse was that he was covering the other team's #1 WR. I call BS on that. In Atlanta Biggers covered R. White and Aqib covered J. Jones. Jones has been hurt for many games since then but now that he's healthy did you guys see what he did to the Colts? I think Morris looked at both WR's on film and decided early on that Jones was actually the bigger physical threat on the field. Then there's the Colts game. Biggers was on Wayne and Aqib was on Garcon. Garcon has been targeted way more this season than Wayne. Garcon also has more yards, receptions and TD's than Wayne. Morris has been putting Aqib on the opposition's best WR all season and Biggers is still getting beat. You can bet if Andre Johnson is healthy when we play the Texans Aqib will be on Johnson in man coverage, not Biggers.
  • avatar

    I agree with all of the grades and I am totally at peace with the game because weeks ago against Indy and in San Francisco I saw something that troubled me deeply. This team lacks leadership and it is a fragile-minded team. I don't blame Biggers, Black, McCoy or anyone for their failures because they aren't quality starters from the jump so Kudos to them for hiding out this long. McCoy is brittle and not strong or rugged enough to plat DT successfully for 16 weeks. Better draft again Bucs :-) because you are not going to get your return on investment from him. 8-8 / 7-9
  • avatar

    Where are the coaching grades. Offensive play calling sucks. Everyone talks about how players regress. How about OC's? The end around to Benn needs to go away. We do not have the players fo some of his playcalling.Square peg round hole.
  • avatar

    I agree with Skanji..... Olson needs to be replaced at the end of the season with a playcaller who is bright enough to handle the chess match with the better defensive coordinators. Also, one of the two defensive line coaches needs to be put in charge of the other so we have some accountability and consistency of message. We also need to sign in free agency next year NFL starting caliber linebacker, left guard, back-up running back. We should cut Winslow, too slow and poor blocker, to free up some cash and use some of our cap space since our existing players by and large won't require big contracts to the extent we decide to resign them. Then in the draft we can draft a first round cornerback and speed receiver and runner in following rounds as well as another tight end. Then another year to jell before we are competitive. We lost an opportunity this year. Sure would be nice to have Darren Sproles and Steven Tulloch on our side this year.
  • avatar

    Bucterp I agree with that somewhat. The dead ball penalties are uncalled for and can be absolute drive killers. But in my opinion I think Freeman has been too patient and too forgiving at times and needs to establish himself as the definitive leader on offense. But he also has to play better in order for his teammates to respect him as that leader.
  • avatar

    PR - need to start giving out game grades for the Coaches. Let me help you get started....Offensive Coordinator -- F. Same plays yielding same results. What happened to getting Benn involved, that one play was all you had in mind? And what was the logic of running a shotgun sweep with Johnson on a crucial 3rd and short? Peyton was scripting plays for the opening drive of the third quarter, what plays do we ever script? I can tell you the first three plays for next week right now. Blount up the middle. Incomplete slant pass to Mike Williams. Short gain on crossing route to Parker or Winslow. Punt. And whats up with our lack of tempo? Any reason why we run the clock to zero every play even when we are down multiple scores?....Defensive Coordinator -- F. All you had to do was follow blue print of the previous win. Get pressure on Brees, play aggressive man coverage, and contain Sproles. What did you say in your pre game comments, oh that you didnt need to contain Sproles and Graham to win. Right. How did that work out for us? Rams gave you the blueprint from last Sunday, yet somehow we chose to come up with our own and it was a miserable failure......Head Coach -- F. No discipline and mental mistakes falls you because it keeps happening. And how about the slow starts? That falls on you too because your demeanor on the sidelines is mind boggling. You have the blank look of a deer in headlights. Wonder why the team starts off games that way too. I haven't seen a sideline that lifeless in quite some time. And please coach, start shouldering the blame for these lackluster performances. Just once it would be nice to hear that you didnt prepare the team properly and that even with a bye week we looked out of sync and lost on the field than ever before. How's that PR?
  • avatar

    We have considered coaching grades but the readers do a great job of sounding off on their opinions on that subject, good or bad. Thanks for the feedback skanji65.
  • avatar

    I agree with the grades. I could quibble about a few. But, I have an overall comment that needs to be highlighted. The Bucs lost their composure. And, this is not the first time. Freeman shouting at Briscoe, I believe. Winslow shoving players (rightly or wrongly), Blount throwing a punch at a Saint (why??? he was pretty much just standing there). Once again, penalties hurt us, which highlight the lack of discipline. Anyway, things could turn real ugly if the coaches cannot get control of this team. We just don't look ready and we seem to break down when things don't go well.
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