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November 27, 2011 @ 7:57 pm
Current rating: 4.50 Stars/2 Votes

Unable To Contain Johnson Bucs Lose Again; Units Graded

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Poor run defense and mediocre quarterback and special teams play doomed Tampa Bay to its fifth straight loss, essentially removing it from the playoff chase. PewterReport.com takes at look at each unit and grades them based on their play.

It is obvious Josh Freeman struggles when facing zone coverage. Last week the Packers played primarily man-coverage. Not coincidentally, Freeman had a career-high 342 passing yards.

Opposing coaches are smart, however, and former Buccaneers safety and Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray put in a great game plan and several different looks to confuse Freeman.

And while statistically Freeman didn’t have an awful game (18-of-33, 199 yards, one TD, one INT) the uncertainty and lack of authority on many on his passes was evident from the beginning of the game until the last drive.

Add in poor decision making (pass intended for Kellen Winslow, throwing with running lanes open) and it makes for the exact performance we saw today – not quite good enough to win and just bad enough to lose.
Grade: D

Running Backs
LeGarrette Blount played like a man eager to show his former employer what they missed out on, although Tennessee has a pretty good 1-2 combo as a consolation prize.

Finishing with 103 yards on 20 carries (5.2 average) and adding 56 yards on three receptions (both career highs), Blount did all he could to try and will his team to victory. But his former Titan teammate Chris Johnson was better and was the difference in winning and losing.

Blount had two uncharacteristic fumbles, but the rainy weather played a factor as the game saw eight fumbles between the two teams.
Grade: B+

Wide Receivers
Mike Williams continued his second-half rebound, managing to snag six Freeman passes for 84 yards and his second touchdown in two weeks. But like he told PewterReport.com last week, if the team loses it is still not enough.

Arrelious Benn had an inexcusable drop in the first half and was held to one reception for minus-three yards. Benn and Williams were the only two wide receivers to catch a pass from Freeman the entire game.

The weather played a factor but you would have thought offensive coordinator Greg Olson could have gotten Preston Parker, Dezmon Briscoe or even Sammie Stroughter more involved.
Grade: C-

Tight Ends
Bucs TE Kellen Winslow got off to a hot start catching five passes for 52 yards in the first half. But whether it was the Titans’ defense, Olson or Freeman, someone pulled the plug on the Winslow drain and he was quiet in the second half outside of a critical fourth-quarter holding call that took Tampa Bay out of field goal range.

Rookie Luke Stocker continues to not earn many looks from Freeman or Olson and had no catches on the final stat sheet.
Grade: C

Offensive Line
No one will fault the Buccaneers offensive line for its performance the last two weeks run blocking for LeGarrette Blount, and pass protection has been mostly adequate. But what has kept this group from going from good to above-average are the penalties and mental errors. All teams will have infractions but does any team in the league have as many in critical situations as the Buccaneers?

Left guard Jeremy Zuttah continues to hurt his team with bad penalties at the worst possible times. Zuttah had a second-quarter holding penalty on second down nullify a 4-yard completion to Luke Stocker and create a second-and-17. On the next play, Freeman was sacked and lost a fumble recovered by Tennessee. And late in the game Zuttah was flagged for a false start on the next play after Kellen Winslow’s holding call on a LeGarrette Blount run. Tampa Bay was backed up even farther, and, after an incomplete pass on second down, Tampa Bay conceded the drive by handing off to Kregg Lumpkin then punting the football away. The Titans then went on the game winning 80-yard decisive touchdown drive and the game was essentially over.

Donald Penn had one major slip up allowing Titans defensive end Dave Ball to sack Freeman on third down in the first half, killing another drive.
Grade: C

Defensive Line
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, Brian Price left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and didn’t return. After Price’s departure, Chris Johnson did most of his damage.

Adrian Clayborn continues to impress, notching three tackles, his team-leading fifth sack of the season and with a number of quarterback pressures.

Albert Haynesworth also brought his “A” game back to where his career started, leading the defensive line with four tackles, two for loss and a sack that he wasn’t officially credited with.

Reserve defensive end Tim Crowder made the most of his limited snaps, making three stops that included two behind the line of scrimmage.

Da’Quan Bowers played a decent game in his first career start, harassing Hasselbeck several times. But like the entire defensive line, there were way too many wide open running lanes for Titans’ running back Chris Johnson.
Grade: D

Well I’m officially off the Buccaneers linebacker bandwagon. Giving them the benefit of the doubt all season long, it is time to agree with many that this unit may be the worst on the entire team.

Again on Sunday, the linebackers seemed to disappear at times. Occasionally one of the four-man rotation Tampa Bay used (Hayes, Foster, Hayward, Black) would make a play, but for the most part this group was out of position, taking bad angles and unable to shed the blocks of Titans linemen, tight ends and even running backs at times.

Geno Hayes did have one pick early in the game but was held to just two tackles and wasn’t on the field much with Adam Hayward getting more playing time than usual.

Rookie Mason Foster continues to play like a rookie – up and down. Foster, like Hayes and Quincy Black, was a non-factor for long stretches of the game and finished with five tackles and one tackle for loss.

Black had four stops, but, like the rest of the linebackers, has to be held partly responsible for the Titans 202 yards on the ground.
Grade: D

No penalties, Aqib Talib's pick-six and improved play from E.J. Biggers, the Buccaneers secondary was solid aside from a blown coverage on the Titans' winning touchdown.

Talib has had two outstanding games in a row. In addition to his second interception this season (both for TDs) Talib forced a fumble after stripping Chris Johnson.

At age 36, Ronde Barber continues to amaze. Barber led the Bucs in tackles with seven stops and forced a fumble on a big time hustle play.
Grade: B

Special Teams
What has consistently been the most dependable unit all season, Tampa Bay’s special teams play was a big factor in the team’s 23-17 loss.

After going up 3-0 in the first quarter, Michael Koenen’s kickoff failed to reach the end zone and the Titans pulled off an amazing semi-reverse that went 100 yards for a score.

LS Andrew Economos had a high snap on a punt that was partially blocked and even Koenen struggled in the poor weather conditions, averaging just 38.8 yards per kick with a net average of just 34.2 yards.

Tampa Bay’s kick return unit was also less than spectacular, with Sammie Stroughter averaging just 24.7 yards on three returns.

One bright spot was PK Conner Barth, who has yet to miss under 46 yards this season. He put Tampa Bay on the board in the first quarter with a 43-yard field goal.
Grade: D

Last modified on Sunday, 27 November 2011 22:33

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  • avatar

    I know I'm just repeating what other posters have already said but out defensive scheme is terrible. I saw Roy Miller (330+ and a nose guard) in coverage at least twice. In the first half he dropped into coverage and a 3rd down in the red zone and tried to tip the pass but obviously missed. The Titans converted the 3rd down and ended up scoring. Then on the most important play of the game (4rth down to take the lead with under 4 mins left) he is again in coverage. I am not a defensive guru but even I know that's not going to work. It's not his fault he is slow and too big. Those two issues aren't a problem is you are playing your real position of Nose guard.
  • avatar

    Jack Del Rio is available. He can be a great DC for this team since he used to be teamates with Keith Millard for the Vikings... Pewter People Eaters? doh! Just my humble opinion. :)
  • avatar

    I really think that Morris needs to hire a Defensive Coordinator like how Mike Tomiln is doing for the Steelers. Morris is a good coach but he is putting too much on his plate. He needs to focus on what he is good at and that’s the secondary. He needs to hire someone with more experience with defensive schemes, and don’t do like the Eagles and make an offensive line coach your defensive coordinator. Look how well that’s working out. Olsen has to go; this offense is just too predictable. Wasn’t that used to be the case during the Dungy years also?
  • avatar

    B for the secondary as I understand it they missed a lot of tackles?
  • avatar

    I caught most of the game on the radio but I couldn't watch it since I was travelling. I can't comment much since I couldn't see the details of why things didn't work out so I'm going to have to rely on you guys this week.
  • avatar

    No Marty the Shotenhiemer.
  • avatar

    I don't agree with the whole staff needs to go. I do see Olson gone at the end of the year. We have had way to many years of Dink and Dunk. Time to bring in a OC that can write plays that work for the personal that is on the team. I think morris should step down as DC, and bring in someone that has his type of mind set. Our linbackers suck. Don't know if it coaching or the skill set me have. I do think Morris will be a great coach. As for freeman, why the hell doesn't he use his feet to win games. He is not a pocket passer. Got him out on some boot legs. Something that is not predictable. It is time to end the DINK and DUNK offence.
  • avatar

    The offense scored 10 points; that's an F in my book. TE was a C at best. Mark you are doing a good job. I'm starting to take your analysis as more accurate thanx Scott.
  • avatar

    I call the defensive scheme into question.. Are we that bad that we can't maintain gap integrity? I do know for a fact Black and Hayes suck *censored*. Not being able to shed blocks is a weekly occurance
  • avatar

    I sure hope the problems are poor coaching/preparation and not personnel.
  • avatar

    Another one, Jeff Fisher, given 15 plus years to coach, of course he's going to have success. But you people won't give a coach 11 games, much less 15 years, so it won't matter!! If there are any coaching changes in the Bucs, here is what I see.. Morris asked to step down as D.C., Greg Olsen needs to go as O.C. Too many weird things, 3rd and 2, lined up in shotgun. We pass deep on 3rd and 2, throw shallow on 3rd and 15. Bucs offensive plays are getting predictable. Thats it. Morris is a good coach. If you like Cower or Fisher, those guys were given decades to develop
  • avatar

    THANK YOU Mark Cook for having the guts to say what no one wants to, that the weather had a role in Blount's fumbles. The team may not be allowed to make excuses, but as fans, we can! And Blount is NOT a fumbler. Its just part of the game. Sometimes it works for you, sometimes it doesn't. But don't shy away from the issue. Rain was part of the game, and it let the Bucs down on this day.
  • avatar

    @ suferdudes : I hope you don't mean Marty "take the wind" Morninwig
  • avatar

    Freeman has taken a major step back this year, I put this on his coaches. It seems Olson, Van pelt, are not preparing him properly. By now he shouldn't be struggling with zone Def's, the play calling doesn't play to his strengths. This whole staff needs to go, Morris's Def is near worst in the league. If he can't do a good job at coordinator, Morris sure don't deserve to be head coach. Olson has the worst red zone Off in the league, can't score in any first quarter, and still does'nt realize screening to Benn won't work, but god he keeps trying. If both these guys got fired, they'd be lucky to land jobs as position coaches anywhere else. Bring in a Jeff Fisher, Cowher, or god help me Marty, at least the players would learn disapline.
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