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December 18, 2011 @ 12:20 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Manhandled Again, Lose 31-15; Unit Grades Given

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Things continued on a downward spiral Saturday night as the Buccaneers were physically whipped by the Dallas Cowboys in front of a sold-out Raymond James Stadium and a national audience. Beat writer Mark Cook hands out individual unit grades from the Buccaneers' eighth straight defeat.

Josh Freeman’s first half performance was abysmal. But Freeman wasn’t the only problem as pass protection was sloppy at times and a lack of a running game didn’t help No. 5. In the first 30 minutes Freeman’s stat sheet was that of a middle school football team – 2-of-4 for 14 yards. That wasn’t the first drive or first quarter but first half totals. Freeman's final totals were better (17-of-27, 148 yards with one touchdown and one fumble) but not enough to defeat a team the caliber of Dallas.

It appears Freeman’s mental state may be in turmoil. Indecisiveness, poor mechanics at times and just overall inconsistent play has made some wonder if the former Wildcat star is actually the franchise quarterback. I believe Freeman has the tools and intelligence to be a franchise quarterback, but his confidence level seems to be in question. Playing to not make a mistake is no recipe for success in the NFL.
Grade: C-

Running Backs
With just nine carries for 21 yards (2.3 average) it is hard to grade Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount. No other running back had a carry for the Buccaneers and the other rushing yards came form Josh Freeman while scrambling (four carries for 37 yards).

With Tampa Bay falling behind early, again, the running game was abandoned. The Buccaneers know their only chance for success is to establish the run but Saturday night the Cowboys took away Blount early. When down by 28 points at halftime it is virtually impossible to be successful on the ground.
Grade: D

Buccaneers receivers had just four receptions all night and Dezmon Briscoe was the recipient of three of those. Briscoe totaled 37 yards receiving and the lone offensive touchdown, and Micheal Spurlock added one catch for six yards. It would be hard to go back and find a more futile effort by Buccaneers receivers – not just this season – but in franchise history.

The Dallas secondary played zone defense for the most part and with the pressure and blitzes form the Cowboys' front seven, Tampa Bay’s receivers had a difficult time getting open. Josh Freeman told reporters after the game Mike Williams was blanketed with a safety over the top and only had a couple one-on-one looks.
Grade: F

Tight Ends
Kellen Winslow’s night started slow then picked up in the second half but the veteran tight end finished with four receptions for just 37 yards. Winslow was on the receiving end of Freeman’s two-point conversion in the second half that cut the Cowboys’ lead to 16.

Rookie Luke Stocker and Zach Pianalto each had one reception in the game but combined for just 11 yards.
Grade: D

Offensive Line
With Blount averaging just over 2.0 yards per carry, and Freeman being constantly harassed, this unit has been in a free fall just as the rest of the team as of late.

Donald Penn was beaten again for a sack and after making the Pro Bowl last season Penn’s plans for a repeat visit to Hawaii should be canceled. Penn started the season off strong, but after having one of his worst games of his career last week in Jacksonville, he followed it up with another subpar effort.

Center Jeff Faine, the one player other than the QB that should without fail always know the snap count, didn’t hike the ball at one point and the Buccaneers were flagged for a false start.

Tackle Jeremy Trueblood had a critical missed block on Marcus Spears in the first quarter that allowed Spears to penetrate and stop LeGarrette Blount on third-and-1, killing a critical drive as the Buccaneers were attempting to answer Dallas’ first score.

Altogether the Buccaneers allowed three sacks and numerous quarterback pressures.
Grade: D

Defensive Line
Tackling issues once again were a problem for the Buccaneers defense, particularly at the line of scrimmage. Felix Jones and newly signed Sammy Morris both averaged over four yards per carry and Dallas has 160 yards on 37 carries for the night. Once again the defense couldn’t stop the run and it started with the play of the defensive line.

Albert Haynesworth continues to show flashes of what made him nearly unstoppable three seasons ago when he was a defensive player of the year. The former Titan, Redskin and Patriot had five tackles and one batted pass. Michael Bennett was obviously inspired to play against his brother, Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett, and had five tackles with three behind the line of scrimmage. Both Adrian Clayborn and Bennett added a sack to their season totals but overall the production was as it has been all year – up and down.
Grade: C

Geno Hayes started the game off well, collecting a couple first-quarter tackles that included forcing a fumble that rolled harmlessly out of bounds. Hayes finished with five stops and the one forced fumble, but, like all the linebackers have this season, disappeared for stretches of the game.

Rookie Mason Foster was the leading tackler with eight tackles and although he occasionally gets rolled by fullbacks and pulling guards, I do admire his willingness to stick his helmet in the thick of things regardless of the outcome.

Quincy Black also had another quality statistical game (six tackles) but the impact plays weren’t there, a microcosm of his 2011 season.

Like the defensive line the linebackers must share equal blame in the 160 yards gained on the ground by the Cowboys.
Grade: D

Losing CB Aqib Talib to another groin injury in the first quarter was a knockout blow against the Buccaneers and forced E.J. Biggers to match up with Miles Austin for part of the game with not so good results.

At times it was like watching a neighborhood street ball game when Romo was dropping back to pass. Whether in man or zone coverage, the Buccaneers secondary was abused for most of the night, giving up three touchdown passes through the air and not coming close to getting their hands on any Romo passes.
Grade: F

Special Teams
Punter Michael Koenen, who has struggled somewhat the last couple weeks, found his groove again and averaged 51.0 yards on five punts. Koenen’s kickoffs were also consistently deep and were all touchbacks.

The punt coverage units were also above average holding dangerous Dez Bryant to a paltry 3.8 yards per punt return.

Preston Parker managed to hang onto the football this week but was only on the kickoff return unit, as Michael Spurlock was given the nod returning punts.
Grade: A

Last modified on Sunday, 18 December 2011 14:47

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  • avatar

    It seems to me that the offense needs better players and a new coach. The defense needs a new coach and mostly new players. And, if we can get a better head coach than Morris, that would be fine. BUT, which very good coach is willing to coach this losing team? I suggest you keep Morris. Get rid of the quitters. Oh yes, I feel that K2 has game. I have not seen any quit in him. I suggest that the team needs players that have more game and some talent. All these players with talent are missing the game part. I would make Barber a playing coach this year and if he retires, ask him to be the next DB coach. It is time to clean house, but keep Morris unless you can find a better coach..........not likely.
  • avatar

    At least no one wants to bring back Sabby!!!!
  • avatar

    Well its time to dismantle the Head coach and some of the coaching staff.It was Embassing as much as they try to compete some of the effort was not there the Defensive line was really the only positive thing I can say. It all started out of trasining camp when No# 1 didn't resign RUDD,CADDY and a few more Veterans Like Bring QB Garcia Back. I think Tampa needs to bring in a Veteran QB to show what and how to play the ball. I think Freeman is the future but not next year. I think that Morris is a good coach But not the Head coach and other coach position. I believe Tampa should pursue Coach C. Before Miami hires Him or another Veteran Coach who is ready to step up and take the Organization. Tampa had the money to something this year, BUT IT DIDNOT WORK OUT. I SAY LETS ALSO TALK TO COACJ JIMMY JOHNSON OR ANOTHER HIGH PROFILE COACH. LIKE THE INTERMED COACH AT KC. THE CHIEFS REALLY DID A GREAT JOB AND BEAT THE GB PACKERS. I coach youth basketball, and it takes everyone to be sucessful. IN THIS COMING DRAFT TAMPA WILL BE MOVING UP IN THE TOP 5 THRY 8 PICKS. IF I WAS THE NEW HEAD COACH I WOULD DO THIS. TRY TO TRADE DOWN LIKE NE TO GET SEVERAl picks in rd-1 or rd-2. and draft the following IF TAMPA GETS MULT PICKS-ILB, FAST RB, ANOTHER OLB, CB, OC,OG,OT. TAMPA COULD GET REAL WELL WITH A NEW COACH WHO GOES BACK TO BASICS. PLUS WITH NEXT YEAR SCHEDULE. TAMPA COULD GET BACK UP TO WINNING. GO FUTURE BUCS.
  • avatar

    im starting too realize this whole raheem project gone wrong was just the glazers looking for a fall guy, someone too come in do the dirty work of gettin rid of derrick brooks and all the vets and bring in a bunch of rookies, just so the cheap a$$ glazers can save a dime, im so sick of these could be "potential" players. bring some men in that wanna win and the rest that wanna effin arm takcle everyplay can hit the effin road. i must have counted 12 missed arm tackles lastnight. disgusting.
  • avatar

    Mark, most of your analysis i agree with except with RB and OL grades. I have to disagree with you about Blount. I think he did okay considering there weren't any holes for him; he did everything on his own. I think he gets a "C:. the Offensive Line was "offensive" and deserve a solid "F". The Center spot is where the OL begins and it is our weakest link in my opinion. Freeman has lost his confidence regardless of what he says. A change now is crucial for Freeman at this point. I agree with you that Freeman has lots of potential and I believe that he has had a set back. At first i thought it was a previous shoulder injury, but it wasn't I might suggest to let someone else call the plays besides Olsen just to see if it helps at all. The heck with coaches ego's; this is about the players not performing to their potential. This is not about just a couple players not performing at a higher level, but only a couple who are performing at a higher level. Who are they? Clayborn who is a rookie and not contaminated, Barber who is a very senior player and learned early to never quit from previous wining seasons; Joseph who is just plain good no matter what; and our punter and kicker who are on their own island no matter what is going on. No matter what I will continue to support the team (players), but change is needed in the coaching arena. Go Bucs1 Find your way!
  • avatar

    Quarterback deserves a D, no he did not throw any INT's, that's because he was scared to throw the ball more than 3 - 4 yards, secondly, what's the difference in a no huddle (hurry up) offense and huddling up when you still run the play clock down to 1 or 2 seconds. I hope Free (#5) can turn it around but he looked to me like he panicked last night with the pressure. I think he is thinking too much this year.
  • avatar

    Mark, your words are hurtful, so I'm going to take the bus and I will not be at the pancake social tomorrow!!! lol.
  • avatar

    Dallas receivers running completely uncontested through zone all first half and NO adjustments, offense so basic and predictable with no rollout to take advantage of free running (just like romo did all night) again with NO adjustments, NO sense of urgency spending too much time setting protections when we had a glimmer of a chance! New OC and DC right NOW!!!! That's not lack of talent or hustle it's being completely uncoached during the game
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