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November 13, 2011 @ 10:15 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Unit Grades; Stampeded and Branded, Bucs Drop Third Straight

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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In what may be the turning point of the 2011 season, the Buccaneers fell further behind in the NFC South race and now face a mountain of a climb to get back into the playoff hunt. PewterReport.com grades each unit in Sunday's loss to the Texans.

Unit Grades

Where has the 2010 Josh Freeman disappeared to? After having what most considered a breakout season last year, something is clearly wrong with who the Buccaneers organization likes to think of as “The Franchise.”

Freeman looked like a rookie quarterback unable to decipher the Wade Phillips ran Texans’ defense. To be fair to Freeman, the Buccaneers aren’t the first offense to be made to look inept by Houston’s 3-4 defensive scheme.

Freeman actually had more success when throwing the deep ball today. In the first quarter he recognized Arrelious Benn in man coverage and put nice touch on a pass that ended up as a 33-yard gain. Later in the half Freeman again checked out of a play when seeing the Texans in man press-coverage on Mike Williams. He threw a deep fade that Williams was able to haul in for 23 yards. But for whatever reason those were the only deep ball throws the rest of the afternoon.

Freeman actually said in his post game news conference he feels he is a better quarterback than last season. Hopefully he meant as far as preparation and film study goes. His play itself is nowhere near where it was at this point last season. Finishing a game with a 31.8 QB rating is unacceptable even by rookie standards.
Grade: F

Running Backs
What started off nicely soon ended up a disaster, as the Buccaneers defense allowed the Texans to score early and seemingly move the ball at will. The Buccaneers offense must take some blame also as penalties and poor pass protection haunted this group all day.

With those things combined, the offensive game plan was once again abandoned before halftime and LeGarrette Blount, who averaged 5.7 yards per carry in the first quarter, was only given 10 total chances to carry the football. For the game, Blount rushed for 34 yards on his 10 attempts.

Kregg Lumpkin, who has taken his fair share of abuse, is settling in as a decent third-down back and did some good things today. Lumpkin finished with 31 yards on four carries (7.8 yard average) and also led the Bucs in receptions with five catches for 30 yards.
Grade: C

Tight Ends
As noted in last week’s Round Table, the Buccaneers’ tight ends have not performed very well this season and may be the weakest unit on the team. Sunday did nothing to change people’s minds.

Kellen Winslow was once again held in check, hauling in just three Freeman passes for 33 yards, and Zack Pianalto added one just reception for zero yards.

Luke Stocker continues to be a ghost of what the Buccaneers expected when selecting him in the fourth round of April's draft.
Grade: D-

Offensive Line
What has been one of the steadier units this season also joined in the underperforming party Sunday afternoon. The O-line seemed overwhelmed at picking up the Texans’ 3-4 schemes and Josh Freeman was dropped four times on the afternoon.

On Tampa Bay’s opening drive the Buccaneers moved to the Texans 33-yard line, but on third-and-5 Freeman was sacked and the Bucs were forced to punt. It didn’t get better.

Davin Joseph gave up his first sack of the season when beat by ILB Brain Cushing. But to be fair, Cushing looped around center Jeff Faine and Joseph lost him in the shuffle. Without knowing the line call it seemed Faine should have come off his block on the nose tackle and allowed Joseph to block down on Faine’s man.

Left guard Jeremy Zuttah returned to his starting spot after missing last week’s game with a knee injury suffered against the Bears but didn’t fare well committing two penalties.
Grade: D

Wide Receivers
Combining for just six receptions with Mike Williams, Preston Parker and Arrelious Benn, it is hard to grade this unit without the benefit of a second watching. The times Freeman trusted his receivers the group usually made the most of their opportunities, although each had at least one drop.

The separation when lined up against man-to-man seemed better and Freeman burned the Texans twice, with one each to Williams and Benn.

Dezmon Briscoe, who has been described as having the best hands on the team, had an early drop and was also unable to haul in a bizarrely called fade in the corner of the end zone on fourth-and-2 late in the first half.
Grade: C

Defensive Line
It says a lot about your football team when a player who was claimed off waivers on a Wednesday afternoon, and with only the benefit of two practices, starts for your team. But Albert Haynesworth played better than most expected and finished the game with five tackles despite being held on several plays. Haynesworth knows this is most likely his last chance and played like someone out to prove the skeptics wrong. However the motor must continue to run hard for more than one game to get the critics off his back.

Adrian Clayborn had an up and down day. Flying around and playing with lots of energy, he did commit two costly neutral zone infractions and missed a few tackles in the backfield. Clayborn again was held without a sack but did cause disruption. However disruption is a long way from production, and, being a first-round pick, Clayborn must produce even more. The rookie from Iowa ended the game with four tackles.

Michael Bennett also played well while totaling five tackles, including two for loss on the day. That's the same number as Brain Price, who also had the only sack on the afternoon.

While on the stat sheet the numbers look good, the fact is that the Texans ran for 185 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry; numbers that aren’t associated with winning football.
Grade: C-

Adam Hayward started for the second week in a row and led the Buccaneers with eight tackles, but didn’t contribute any “splash” plays.

Mason Foster finished with five tackles, but followed suit with rest of the unit by making no splash plays. Quincy Black had three stops and was the only linebacker to record a tackle for loss.

Geno Hayes had four tackles on the afternoon in limited duty but didn’t do a whole lot to earn his starting position back.

I’m not sure there has been a more disappointing unit than this group this season. The Buccaneers need their linebackers to make more a difference for the defense to have success, but other than Foster early in the year, no one has stepped up.

Texans quarterback Matt Schaub only attempted 15 passes on the day, completing 11. But those 11 went for 242 yards, including 80- and 78-yard touchdown passes.

The opening play of the game (80-yard TD strike to Jacoby Jones) saw a blown coverage in the secondary then poor tackling down field. The 78-yarder was a simple pass in the flat to RB Arian Foster, who then made Aqib Talib miss then split the safeties for a score.

Aqib Talib did have one pick early in the game, but the referee, John Parry, ruled Talib didn’t have control of the football in what appeared to be an interception and fumble that Talib was able to get back.
Grade: D

Special Teams
Sadly PK Conner Barth and punter/KOS Michael Koenen have been the two most dependable players for Tampa Bay all season. That isn’t a knock on these two but when your kickers are your team MVP’s it is no surprise Tampa Bay is 4-5.

Barth got the Bucs on the board with a 55-yard field goal kicked into a slight breeze on the first half's final play. Koenen was his usual outstanding self, averaging 44.2 yards (42.5 net average) on six punts and two inside the 20-yard line, giving him 18 through nine games.

Preston Parker averaged 17 yards on two punt returns while Sammie Stroughter returned three kickoffs for an average of 25.7, including a long of 33 yards.

Again, the kick coverage units were solid and limited Jacoby Jones to just 10 yards on four punt returns.
Grade: A

Last modified on Monday, 14 November 2011 16:09

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  • avatar

    I usually don't watch the games live and depend heavily on NFL.com for stats. What I noticed right away was how many tackles was made by our Def front. Some tackles were down field and there were also a few untimely penalties, but they were really active. I can't remember a time when we had two interior linemen and an end all with 5 tackles each. The other starting end had four tackles. It seemed as though Haynesworth may provide the veteran leadership that the youngry future stars need. Most of the youngry crew were leaders on good college teams but that does not automatically translate to good play at the pro level if there is no role model to show you how to prepare for games and play with attitude. We have a good pipeline of young players with a lot of potential but we are missing veteran leadership that would be instrumental in aiding the development of our young bucs. With youngry you get speed, high motors and plenty of energy but you also get mistakes and inconsistency. So youngry is great when balanced with senior leadership to guide and teach during the game from the players perspective. Those of you who have actually played understand coaches can only do so much and nothing helps more than playing behind or beside someone who understands what it takes to compete and be successful. The Bucs should not abandon their plan to build through the draft but must achieve balance and not be afraid to seek veterans/field generals can mentor. I am interested in seeing whether our D line will continue to develop and post better numbers and what kind of impact it will have on other units. Go Bucs
  • avatar

    FOR SALE: Tampa Defense - Does not bite - Does not scare neighbors - Good with children and the elderly
  • avatar

    The D line grade should be an F. They are the primary run stoppers and the Texans gashed us all day. If they do their jobs, the LB's look a lot better. You can't increase their grade because each guy had 4-5 tackles. You are bound to fall into a few each game if they run it at you 40 times! Plus, there were lots of others (Miller, Okam, GJ, etc) who weren't mentioned as they were stuck to their blockers all day. Not good.
  • avatar

    The good news is that the Bucs will soon be in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
  • avatar

    I see the Linebackers were SO BAD that you couldn't grade them. Is there such a grade as an F minus? I watched Fat Albert closely. I was primarily interested in his effort. Much to my surprise he was leaping making tackles! He stopped Arian Foster with one arm and flung him backwards! GMC tries that and tears his bicep. Get Fat Albert into playing shape and more familiar with the defensive schemes and he could become a real asset.
  • avatar

    So the defense got a passing grade? a C-, a D and no grade for the LB's?
  • avatar

    O line was not the problem. Winslow and Benn open all day, Josh never looks for open guy. Greg Olson should be on list - horrible, again - or just fire him. Clayborne needs to protect the corner, otherwise line him up at tackle. We get crushed around his end because he takes inside rush almost every play. Cut Sean Jones, bench Quincy Black, bench Des Brisco and Parker. Keep Benn, Williams on the field at all times, bring in Storughter to on passing downs. No continuity constantly shufling WR's. Bring up Madu and let him run the ball. Bench Lumpkin. Time to shake it up. Gut check time for the guys that say they are pros.
  • avatar

    The Texans did nothing fancy. There were no fluke plays. There were only a few questionable calls. They quite simply came into our stadium and calmly executed a magnificent game plan on both sides of the ball. We, on the other hand looked confused, bewildered, frustrated and in the end......whipped by a resounding margin. So, lets get this right, The Texans last season had a poor defense at the bottom of league standings. Enter Bum Phillips' son, Wade who loses Mario Williams and still his defense ascends to a top ranking............with basically the same players. We, on the other hand, add three high round draft picks and get one of our previously best players back as the defense, led part time by our beloved head coach and two new defensive line coaches, drops from mediocrity to the bottom. Now, how is that possible? Here's what I think. Raheem needs to stop tinkering. We go from the infamous Tampa 2 to who knows what version this is now. So with no experience as a defensive coordinator or head coach, our multi-tasker attempts to do both. I commend Morris for wanting to be a hands-on coach and not a stoic arms folded observer, but Rah, this plan ain't working. Either give up the coordinator position or go somewhere else to do it.
  • avatar

    One more thing. The Texans are a very good team. Perhaps as good as the Packers who we play next week. I would guess the spread will be 14 points or more.
  • avatar

    I agree with weezlemarine. I wish I was that literate!
  • avatar

    You know I love this team but this season has become very frustrating. I believe in Freeman I like watching him play, I think he'll do better when his thumb is better and his receivers start coming through for him or get replaced. I like Blount and Lorig but know we could upgrade at FB. Our receivers are the most dissapointing unit by far this year and will hopefully be addressed this off season. Our line is serviceable and even very good at times. Our D-line will be much improved next year, but I think we expect too much of them right now. Hayensworth I think will totally turn out...honestly. Foster (I dunno yet) he seems super sometimes but he seems more like an OLB to me. Hayes and Black should be 2nd stringers. I love Hayward, he is asked to do a lot and he has a ton of heart. I think he would make a great starting Mike because he isn't afraid to hit someone in the mouth and is strong enough to take on lead blockers. Talib is hit and miss, he is NOT a shut down corner plain and simple. He makes big plays and then gives them up in equal proportions. Can't hate Barber at all, he plays great but sometimes can't match up with super speedy guys or ones with large frames. Gonna need to find his replacement this off season but keep him for 1-2 more years. Biggers is okay, better as a slot I think and not matched up to #1's. Jackson will return to form next year and maybe even within the next few games. Jones is decent in run coverage but whiffs at times. He is terrible in coverage though and reminds me of Roy Williams without the big hit potential. All this is just my opinion, I'm no expert or anything...just a fan. I feel like this team is up and coming and with a few off seasons more the team should be pressing deep in the playoffs. Just be patient and not too into the NOW. Go Bucs! This post is too long sorry. Morris is a good coach I think but we need a full time DC and Olsen has overstayed his welcome.
  • avatar

    What else can be said, this entire organization stinks out loud from top to bottom. Major changes need to be made at all levels quickly or it'll be back to the Yucs of the '80s. Here's a phrase fr you Rah, youngry, yugly, Yucs!
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