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September 9, 2012 @ 8:56 pm
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PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Defensive Game Grades vs. Carolina

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Which Buccaneers defensive unit received the highest grade for its performance from Pewter Report in Tampa Bay's 16-10 victory over Carolina in the 2012 season opener? Find out in this Pewter Report article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's defense played against Carolina in the Buccaneers' 16-10 over the Panthers in the 2012 season opener, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.

BUCCANEERS DEFENSIVE LINE

Defensive end Michael Bennett had a ticky-tack 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit on Cam Newton, but would later get revenge with a sack-fumble on Carolina’s quarterback. Bennett finished the game with two tackles, including a tackle for loss.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had a huge day for the Buccaneers with four quarterback pressures and a big fourth quarter sack for minus-8 yards. McCoy was beating guards Geoff Hangartner and Amini Silatolu regularly and had one of his best games as a Buccaneer, finishing with two tackles for losses and a sack.

Defensive end Adrian Clayborn had a fairly productive game, highlighted by a recovered blocked punt in the fourth quarter that helped set up Tampa Bay’s fourth quarter field goal that pushed the Bucs’ lead to nine points and made it a two possession game. He finished the game with just one tackle, but did a nice job of containing Newton and keeping him inside the pocket.

Defensive tackle Roy Miller helped clog the middle of the defense and finished with two tackles. Carolina rushed for just 10 yards on 13 carries (0.8 avg.) against Tampa Bay after gashing the Bucs for 163 yards and four touchdowns at Raymond James Stadium last year, and destroying the Bucs on the ground with 270 yards rushing and three TDs. The defensive line did a great job of maintaining its rush lanes and didn’t any opportunities for Newton to scramble for yards.
GAME GRADE = A

BUCCANEERS LINEBACKERS
The Bucs linebackers played a huge role in shutting down the Panthers’ explosive running game. Rookie Lavonte David is already a better player than Geno Hayes, the weakside linebacker he replaced. Tampa Bay’s 2012 second-round pick led the Bucs with six tackles on Sunday. David had a notable stop on third-and-goal, stopping Newton’s quarterback draw and forcing the Panthers to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter.

David and reserve linebacker Dekoda Watson did a great job of spying Newton and keeping him in the pocket when the Bucs played dime defense.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster is a much surer tackler this year, and had five stops, including a career-high three tackles for loss to lead the Buccaneers.

Strongside linebacker Quincy Black saw time in the Bucs base defense and was also used in rotation with David in Tampa Bay’s nickel defense. He had five tackles and one tackle for loss against the Panthers.

The linebacking corps didn’t create any turnovers, nor did it have any sacks, but the unit didn’t miss many tackles, either. Tackling was a huge issue a year ago, but the Bucs linebackers started off the season with the right way in helping neutralize the Panthers rushing attack.
GAME GRADE = B

BUCCANEERS SECONDARY
Newton completed 23-of-33 passes for 303 yards against the Buccaneers defense, but only had one touchdown and threw two interceptions. Free safeties Ahmad Black and Ronde Barber each had picks, and Barber, who started his 200th NFL game, also recorded a sack. The sack was Barber’s 28th of his career, and the pick was his 44th of his career. It was just the second time in Barber’s illustrious career that he got a sack and an interception in the same game. The other game was against Carolina in 2005.

Barber finished the game with two pass breakups and five tackles, including two tackles for loss. He teamed with David on the third-down stop of Newton on a quarterback draw that forced the Panthers to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Cornerback Aqib Talib had two pass breakups against Carolina, including one in the end zone on a potential touchdown pass to Louis Murphy, and a pass intended for Brandon LaFell that was tipped up and intercepted by Barber, who returned the pick 26 yards.

Talib defended LaFell for most of the game, but wasn’t assigned to him on the 22-yard touchdown catch. Talib did give up a perfectly thrown 51-yard pass to Murphy in the fourth quarter that set up Carolina’s field goal.

Cornerback Eric Wright had four solo tackles and two pass breakups while covering Steve Smith for most of the game. Smith did finish with 106 yards on seven receptions, including a 32-yarder in which he shoved Wright down to gain 18 yards after the catch, but that was his longest play of the game. Wright did a reasonably decent job of defending Smith all day and held him out of the end zone.

Veteran Brandon McDonald was the Bucs’ nickel cornerback for most of the game and finished with one tackle.

Strong safety Mark Barron, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2012, had a very good NFL debut. While he did have a couple of lapses in coverage, he made up for it with a key pass breakup on third-and-8 in the fourth quarter that forced a Carolina punt, and saved a touchdown by knocking Smith out of bounds on his 32-yard reception. He finished the game with three tackles and two pass breakups.

The secondary did a good job of making plays against the Panthers receivers by picking off two passes and deflecting eight others, but one of those breakups was a dropped interception by Black. In addition to giving up a 51-yard pass to Murphy late in the game, the Bucs secondary also gave up a 19-yard reception by LaFell on third-and-17 by getting in a prevent zone defense in the first half, and a miscommunication in the secondary led to LaFell being wide open in the third quarter for Carolina’s lone touchdown on a 22-yard scoring catch.
GAME GRADE = B+

BUCCANEERS SPECIAL TEAMS
The highlight on special teams was a key blocked punt by Talib in the fourth quarter. Clayborn recovered the ball and gave the Bucs great field position near midfield and set up a field goal to increase Tampa Bay’s lead to 16-7.

The Bucs got nothing from their return game as rookie kick returner Michael Smith averaged just 18.3 yards on three opportunities. His longest return was only 23 yards. Preston Parker had one punt return for zero yards and Sammie Stroughter was forced to fair catch all three of his punt return opportunities.

Kicker Connor Barth kicked three field goals from 36, 20 and 40 yards and was perfect on all of his attempts. Barth has now made 18 straight field goals dating back to 2011.

Punter Michael Koenen had four touchbacks on his kickoffs, and Joe Adams was only able to return one for 31 yards. Adams returned three punts for 28 yards, but Koenen averaged 46 yards per punt with a 36.4-yard net. He dropped two inside the 20-yard line and had one touchback.

Fullback Erik Lorig had two tackles to lead Tampa Bay’s special teams.
GAME GRADE = B+

Last modified on Sunday, 16 September 2012 18:35
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I cannot believe the limebackers only got a "B". Should have been at least a B+.
  • avatar


    This Defense showed the same fire that they attacked New England with in the Preseason. They have the potential to be every bit as great as the Bucs defenses of old. I think Foster did an alright job in the middle, but I did not feel he did as well as his backup did against New England when Foster was out. However, anytime you hold the Panthers to 10 yards on the ground for the game, that whole defense should get an A plus for that alone. Those who found fault with Quincy Black's play last year when he played hurt, should now see that he is a very capable LB when he plays healthy. This great start should give our young defense the confidence it needs in the scheme, their coaches, and themselves to domimnate other teams on our schedule. We have tougher games looming ahead and need a stout defense to keep us in the game as our offense improves. GREAT JOB BUC's!
  • avatar

    Mark Barron reminds me of the late Shawn Taylor from the Redskins. A safety with linebacker size and with cornerback speed. That gives him the ability to cover WR and TE and can still lay people out.
  • avatar


    McCoy was playing like a man on fire! He almost stole the snap from Cam on multiple occasions. I'll withhold judgement until he gets a stiffer test than a rookie guard and journeyman for competition. Although it was VERY encouraging. Offense left many points on the field; change those field goals to touchdowns and we have a blowout on our hands, people. Can't wait till next week!!
  • avatar


    Watching the defense play yesterday, I couldn't help feel the same way I felt during the week 1 game in 1997. Watching McCoy abuse the interior of the Panthers O-line reminded me of Sapp completely dominating the 49ers offense. Those guys are different players, so straight up comparisons are probably not fair. But, that 49ers game was Sapp's coming out party. It felt like this game was MCoy's.
  • avatar


    Good grades. I saw two things that the Bucs made adjustment too. McCoy play good as the LDT and great as the RDT. They were switching more than usual and it paid off. The other thing was that I think the Buc's have learned not to just rush three DL when it is 3rd and long. Both times we did that Newton got the first down. After those two times I saw us sending at least 4 guys to pressure the QB.
  • avatar


    Bucs defense was great today. I agree with scubog on the fact that they looked overwhelmed and scared last year. And the biggest part of the improvement? Tackling. Last year I posted that the Bucs D was in the right position many times but missed the tackle. So far, game 1, tackling is much improved. Let's keep it up defense, your offense needs you to play perfect.
  • avatar

    Barber also had a sack and a pick in the nfc championship game against Philadelphia.
  • avatar


    Biggest thing for me was that the defense didn't play like they feared the Panthers. Last season they looked intimidated . This game the mighty Bucs did the intimidating and wiped that smile off of newton's face.
  • avatar


    That Mark Barron hit on Steve Smith was a "slobberknocker" It was AWESOME!! McCoy was a beast today. The lightening strike at the start of halftime was really close to the field.
  • avatar


    Very proud of the defense. Like Ronde said, reminded me of old times.
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