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December 5, 2011 @ 12:17 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Newton Bewilders Bucs, Individual Units Grades

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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The Buccaneers' slim playoff chances were essentially dashed with their 38-19 loss Sunday to the Carolina Panthers. PewterReport.com breaks down all of Tampa Bay's individual units and grades them based on their play Sunday.

With starter Josh Freeman inactive due to a shoulder injury sustained last week at Tennessee, Tampa Bay was forced to play fourth-year backup Josh Johnson. With little run support and suspect blocking at times, Johnson did as well as someone who hasn’t taken a regular-season snap in two years could have expected.

Johnson struggled a bit with accuracy and wasn’t ever completely comfortable in the pocket, but one thing he seemed to do was take a few more shots down the field and make a couple throws that Josh Freeman might have envied.

Johnson also added a legitimate run threat, gaining a couple first downs with his feet. For some reason it seemed offensive coordinator Greg Olson was set in his play calling to keep Johnson in the pocket. As the game progressed either Olson decided to utilize Johnson’s ability to move in the pocket or the quarterback just took matters into his own hands.

I don’t think the Buccaneers missed much with Johnson over Freeman, at least this game. For the afternoon Johnson was 16-of-27 for 229 yards, one TD and one interception. Johnson also added 45 yards on five carries.
Grade: B-

Running Backs
The Panthers didn’t respect Josh Johnson and ran an eight-man front for a majority of the game, daring Tampa Bay’s seldom-used QB to beat them. Johnson wasn’t able to carry the team on his back but the running game wasn’t the quarterback’s friend Sunday, producing just 78 yards on 27 carries, an average of just 2.9 yards a carry.

LeGarrette Blount, coming off back-to-back 100-yard games, was held in check and never seemed to get going. Blount failed to produce any highlight-reel runs Sunday as the Panthers had a perfect game plan to stop Tampa Bay’s top threat. Blount was held to 19 yards on 11 carries.

Tampa Bay’s coaching staff finally gave rookie free agent Mossis Madu an opportunity. The former Sooner carried the ball eight times for 25 yards and showed a quicker and shiftier burst than Kregg Lumpkin.
Grade: D-

With just watching from the press box, it appeared the Buccaneers receivers did a nice job of beating man coverage and also settling into soft spots when the Panthers played zone.

Mike Williams continued his second half rebound with his best output of the season, catching five Johnson passes for 93 yards. Arrelious Benn was targeted four times and caught three balls for 46 yards, including a 38-yarder in the first half. Preston Parker also was his usual steady self with three catches for 26 yards and Dezmon Briscoe made the most of his limited snaps by hauling in the only touchdown of the day for Tampa Bay on a perfect pass from Johnson in the second half that traveled 23 yards.
Grade: B

Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow had four receptions for 41 yards with a long of 18, leaping to snare an overthrown Johnson pass. But other than Winslow, Buccaneers tight ends were virtually non-existent.

Fourth-round rookie Luke Stocker continues to be a non-factor and puzzling to most. While primarily used as a blocker, I assumed he would at least be a second option spelling Winslow at times. So far this season he hasn’t been effective as a receiver.
Grade: C

Offensive Line
Both the offensive and defensive lines are difficult to grade without benefit of reviewing the game tape.

But when you see 2.9 yards a carry and constant pressure on Josh Johnson, it is pretty obvious that the offensive line didn’t have its best day. RT Jeremy Trueblood had his worst game of the season by giving up two sacks and getting abused by Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson for much of the day. Jeff Faine’s snap to an unready Josh Johnson led to a busted play and an interception and guard Jeremy Zuttah didn’t appear to have a great day run blocking.

Facing a team that was giving up over five yards per rush on the season, it was surprising the offensive line struggled at times.
Grade: D

Defensive Line
Another Jekyll and Hyde performance for this unit with great plays followed up by poor tackling and issues with holding their gaps.

Rookie Da’Quan Bowers may have unseated starter Michael Bennett with his outstanding play today. The 21-year old Bowers had 1.5 sacks and had another that didn’t count, as the rookie was guilty of being offsides. But eight tackles including five for loss to go along with 1.5 sacks is an amazing day for a defensive lineman and Morris and the rest of the defensive coaches will be pleased.

Fellow rookie Adrian Clayborn also played well for the most part and picked up a half sack, giving him a team-leading 5.5 on the season.

Brian Price, who was sent home by Raheem Morris in the third quarter after a bad penalty, didn’t show up on the stat sheet and was still hobbled by an ankle injury suffered last week at Tennessee.
Grade: C

The Panthers ran 39 times for 163 yards and the linebackers accounted for just nine tackles on the day. And a few of those came on pass receptions. This unit has failed miserably this season and may be the single biggest factor in the team’s 4-8 record.

Mason Foster had five stops but Geno Hayes and Quincy Black combined for just four. Geno Hayes did have a sack but it was negated by Brian Price’s penalty that resulted in the wrath of Morris and a quick trip to the showers.

The Buccaneers' single biggest need will be an upgrade or overhaul of this unit in the offseason. And maybe even looking at Foster moving to weak or strong side linebacker – which may be a better fit for the former Huskie.
Grade: F

When Aqib Talib went down with a hamstring injury it spelled great news for rookie QB Cam Newton and 1,000 receiver Steve Smith.

But overall this group held its own with the exception of a few plays. Unfortunately the few breakdowns resulted in big chunks of yardage with pass plays of 31, 27, 26, and 23 yards.

The Buccaneers thought they may get their hands on few Newton passes, but it never materialized as the rookie QB was smart and decisive for the most part all afternoon.
Grade: C-

Special Teams
Michael Koenen punted two times for 82 yards and had another punt downed inside the 20-yard line. Preston Parker had two punt returns for 42 yards including a second-half 34-yard return and needed just one more block to take it for a score. Sammie Stroughter was solid again, averaging 26.3 yards on his three kickoff returns.

The real star of the game offensively – if there can be one in a 38-19 loss – was placekicker Conner Barth, who made all four of his attempts and is now over 90 percent on the season. No Buccaneers player has been more consistent than Barth this year and he may get some Pro Bowl consideration – the only Buccaneer who may sniff a grass skirt.
Grade: A

Last modified on Monday, 05 December 2011 01:39

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  • avatar

    It seemend every time the Panthers ran the ball whether it was Newton or the running backs they had planty of room to do so our lb's might be the worst unit I have ever seen as a Buccaneer Fan never thought I would think that Eugene Marv Jeff Davis,and Winston Moss would betther than than these guys
  • avatar

    Horse - agree with your cut list. Would add Q. Black, Geno Hayes. And whatever happened to Spurlock? The guy has speed, can stretch the field and catches the ball. Sitting him for Briscoe and this possession passing attack is ridiculous. I'm not ready to throw Raheem overboard, but Gregg Olson wore out his welcome as soon as he started running Gruden-Light playbook. Dominik needs to add some vets and a couple key free agents. I thought corner was our most vulnerable position until the LB's imploded. What happens if Talib ends up suspended or in jail and Rhonde retires? Scary.
  • avatar

    I do agree with the lack of veteran leadership on this team but leadership takes time to develop. McCoy was the best example of a leader we had on the D line and when he went down things regressed rapidly. Ronde is a vet but he's not vocal. I'm not calling for Morris' head yet but I do think a new DC and new OC would help. We definitely need a new LB coach as well as new LB's on the edges. If things don't dramatically improve next year then I think Morris needs to go but right now I just think he has too much on his plate.
  • avatar

    Looks like the bandwagoners are out in full force today! Tough year for the bucs. None of you were bitching last year huh? Same coaching, same players, same team. I support Raheem, and even though I cant explain whats up with this year, I sure remember how well Raheem did with the young-bucs last year. I call this season growing pains, now if it repeats next year. Even I will call for some changes.
  • avatar

    if u pay for season tickrts then...its gone on long enough..Dom needs to take a lot of the blame because not much has been done to improve the team and the bucs are last in division
  • avatar

    I think it is indeed time to start looking at some former great players of the Bucs past to maybe step in and be given the opportunity to coach at atleast a positional coaching job. Perhaps bring in Derrick Brooks as a linebackers coach and then in time promote him to DC....just a thought. PR has there been any suggestions that this could be a possibly?? Anything ever been discussed about such a situation within the organization??
  • avatar

    Yuckry, I love it.
  • avatar

    Good points. I think to be fair they need to give Morris all the free agents possible with a full offseason. That would be cheaper than highering a whole new staff (big name coaches cost a lot) that would most likely demand new players anyway. I also think the lack of a proper offseason with kids playing playstation instead of working hard to get better since they had some success killed this team. I really think they should get a new linebackers coach though. I want to embrace this team and the growing process, but I had to check out emotionally. It is too painful to watch. I put the blame squarely on the glazer boys. Malcolm wanted to win, the boys want to collect money. They don't care how much it hurts fans like me to see our team suffer while they focus on stupid soccer. Greg Olsen needs to be relieved of playcalling now
  • avatar

    Macabee I did see that and I think it's a huge point that you make. There is so much more to winning football than just playing football.
  • avatar

    looking forward to next year and a new coaching ogranization and maybe more..
  • avatar

    Scubog that's not a totally fair assessment of the Panthers. If you've been watching any of their games this year they are putting some big time points up on the board. Both backs are healthy and Steve Smith is always dangerous. Your assessment of the Bucs' is dead on; they look very yuckry.
  • avatar

    mjmoody: I said the Panthers were the worst team in the league LAST season, not this one. They did have the first pick in the draft didn't they? My assessment was correct. Fact is, the worst 2010 team looked and proved to be the better team than our 10-6 team of 2010.
  • avatar

    Horse, you forgot Quincy Black. If he is not the worst LB in the league, I do not know who is. If I were in charge, I would cut Black this morning and fire the LB Coach. I love how PR wrote so many articles about how Black was going to be the next best thing since sliced bread because the Bucs organization fed it to them. PR needs to start doing some real reporting instead of just regurgitating what the idiots in the Bucs Coaching staff and front office feed them.
  • avatar

    burke757, you're right; there's probably one or two more i didn't mention.
  • avatar

    There is a reason or reasons for this almost total collapse. No 10-6 team decides to totally forget everything it has learned and no coach consciously decides to wreck his career. Something happened or didn't happen that has caused this dramatic slide. I was watching the Saints/Lions game last night and some young Lions player caused a costly penalty and before he could get back to the bench, a veteran player was all over his case for the infraction. That was a demonstration of team leadership and all teams that succeed have to have that and a team identity. We don't have that because every year we get rid of our veteran leaders, Cadillac, Ruud, Gilmore, etc and add more rookies. When things are difficult, it's every man for himself and no team glue to right the ship from within. They have reached critical mass and the team is imploding. Morris can't fix this. Dominik and the Glazers must understand what is occurring here and take steps going forward to stop the hemmoraghing!
  • avatar

    Players to cut right now: Myron Lewis, James Lee, Greg Lumpkin, Sean Jones. Lorig. Players to be put on IR because it doesn't matter if they might be ready in two weeks: Josh Freeman, Tanard Kackson, Stocker, Bennett. Talib. Now we have plenty of roster spots to call up a couple players from the Practice Squad,and from other practice Squads and lets see if we get a couple gems to keep. Go Bucs! The 2012 Pre Season has now started.
  • avatar

    Nobody last week from any organization or PR wanted to discuss "how to stop Cam Newton; instead it was all about Josh Freeman & Josh Johnson. Maybe the news organization is just as bad as the Bucs. Nobody wants to ask the tough questions. This Coaching staff (HC,DC,OC) needs to be let go like right now. Their present leadershp will make it just worse. I honestly think any coaching staff can beat Jacksonville so lets start now to see what interim HC Jimmy Lakes can do to finish out the season.
  • avatar

    Horse, with all due respect we could write 100 articles about how we feel the Bucs can stop Newton but what does that accomplish? Raheem Morris has yet to ever ask a media member to come in his office and game plan with him. The fact was the news was Freeman and Johnson last week. Ive got transcripts from all week where we ask Morris and Lake what will take to stop Newton but they, or any staff will never say anything more that typical coach-speak cliches. If they did have a plan, they certainly wouldn't share it with us before a game. And for the record Eric Horchy did put up a story last week talking about the problems Newton poses to defenses. I understand your frustration though. It is difficult for the fans. We understand that. and while we have more stories or news coming out of One Buc after a loss, our job is made more difficult. Players coaches, even the grounds crew becomes more defensive after each loss. Appreciate your passion Horse!
  • avatar

    +1, Mark
  • avatar

    PewterReportMC, Thank you Mark for answering the question. Okay I will give PR a pass because this is the first time I have heard that you are asking the tough questions and no one in the Buc organization is answering them. You are right about ERic's Article, I forgot about it. You all are doing a good job and I am sorry if it was written like I was picking on you guys. We all are frustrated about this situation.
  • avatar

    Mark Dominik needs to quickly determine if these guys are either as totally unprepared and out-coached as they appear, too inexperienced or just not good enough. The 3-8 Panthers who were the WORST team in the NFL last season, a rookie QB and a new coaching staff made our "youngry" Bucs look simply bewildered and well, "yuckry".
  • avatar

    No problem Horse, I know how frustrated you are. I promise we ask the tough ones, but we try to be fair to the players and coaches also. SR doesn't believe in asking questioning just to throw fire on things or to try and get a guy to say something just to make PFT or ESPN. I totally agree with him on that. There are some that try and bait guys into saying something just to MAKE a story that isn't there. Crazy! Then they wonder why players don't talk to them. We cant burn bridges for the sake of sensationalism if you catch my drift. But again we ask questions that sometimes aren't easy to spit out. But we do almost all the time. You never know how a player or coach will react. But I promise we are always thinking of questions that the readers would want to ask themselves. That is something SR told me to mindful of when he hired me. Email me some time or come to one of the G2G's and we can really give you guys the low down on what takes place on a daily basis. Thanks again. I enjoy the debate you guys discuss here and believe it or not a lot of my story ideas come from things you guys are discussing on here and the boards. In fact the Point/Counterpoint this month came to me after reading the threads on the message boards. So keep it up!
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