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October 3, 2012 @ 9:49 am
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Two Mistakes In Two Minutes Cost The Bucs Their Second Win

Written by Dory
LeBlanc
Dory LeBlanc

Dory
LeBlanc

Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan spoke to the media Tuesday afternoon and discussed in detail how two plays cost the Bucs their second win of the season. For Tampa Bay, the bye week couldn't come at a better time as adjustments need to be made after miscommunication and breakdowns have affected the Bucs' season so far. 
Last Sunday, the Buccaneers mounted a 16-point second-half comeback to take a 21-19 lead over the Redskins with a 47-yard field goal by Connor Barth with less than two minutes remaining in the game. One minute, 42 seconds later - thanks to two big plays - Washington was celebrating a 24-22 victory on the field at Raymond James Stadium.

With less than two minutes remaining on the clock from Washington’s own 35 yard line, rookie QB Robert Griffin III found a wide open Fred Davis in the middle of the field. The tight end caught a short pass and turned it into a 20-yard gain thanks to the lapse of coverage. Washington’s kicker Billy Cundiff had already missed three field goals (41,57,31 ) on the afternoon, so in a perfect world, three more stops and the Bucs would be able to force a 3-and-out and take over with seconds remaining in the ballgame.

Unfortunately for the Bucs, perfect worlds don’t always exist.

Two plays later on second down and six from Tampa Bay’s 41 yard line, the Bucs made their second costly mistake, allowing Griffin to scramble for 15 yards. Running a no-huddle Griffin spiked the ball to stop the clock, followed by a false start penalty in field goal formation, sending the Redskins back five yards. At the Buccaneer 31, Griffin fired a short pass to Santana Moss for a seven-yard pickup and Washington’s field goal unit once again took the field; Cundiff made the eventual game winning 41-yarder with three seconds to spare.

Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said Tuesday during his weekly press conference that Washington’s game-winning drive can’t be pin-pointed on any one thing specific thing, but the coaching staff is watching the film and addressing how they can ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

“It’s never one thing.” Sheridan said. “If it was you address it and it’d be corrected. It’s a combination of things and I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s youth. A little bit has to do with the frenzy of the moment because you’re not huddling and they weren’t either, but we practice that all the time. In hindsight, and we always try and look at it like ‘what could we have done on our end’ because we’re making the calls. So you could give them calls which would be simpler to execute at the line of scrimmage. Maybe not an ‘either or’ at the line of scrimmage, I told the defense this the other day - more of a single-digit, we’re doing this, no matter what they line up in.

“And again, it’s very easy to say that right now. We plan and we practice a lot of times to pressure off of what the set is – how they’re line up, like everybody does, in attempt to have the best pressure. But in that situation with no-huddle and you’re up at the line of scrimmage and you’re trying to get calls just from the walkie-talkie into the Mike linebacker and then communicating verbally – no-huddle being allowed there because they’re not in a huddle – in hindsight, like I said, should’ve, would’ve, could’ve. Maybe you just make single calls where and maybe it’s not the best, but everybody knows ‘we’re blitzing from the right, we don’t care what they line up in.’”

Sheridan said the 20-yard pass to Davis was a breakdown in coverage, while the scramble was miscommunication by the Bucs defense at the line of scrimmage.

“In two of the plays, there was – the defense or the pressures that were called – there was a fragmentation in it, there wasn’t an 11-man doing the exact same thing," Sheridan said. "As often happens in a very critical time in the game, one was a guy that was turned loose in coverage and the other was because of the direction that we had called the pressure and for lack of a better way to describe it, I guess I’ll call it ‘miscommunication at the line of scrimmage’ we didn’t have the pocket contained in the other one. So it ends up being very blatant and severe issues in the most critical part of the game. So that’s what it was – it was we didn’t have all 11 guys on the same page in regards to- and at the line of scrimmage communication.”

Never one to sugar-coat or mince words, Sheridan specifically said last year’s Heisman winning quarterback didn’t necessarily do anything spectacular but instead took advantage of a breakdown by the Tampa Bay defense, allowing Davis the 20-yard gain to move into Buccaneer territory.

“I wish I could tell you they did you they did something clever, but it was a breakdown.” Sheridan said. “You’re making calls at the line of scrimmage to confirm what you’re doing – where you’re sending the pressure and who’s got the different coverage responsibilities and that was a breakdown; so it was easy for them, he (Davis) was wide open, he was uncontested. Our post player come up and made the tackle. Our back-end, middle-third player came up and made the tackle.”

Getting all 11 guys on the same page is as much a coaching responsibility as it is execution by the players. Sheridan explains Griffin’s 15-yard run was a grave mistake made by more than one player on the field and against an extremely athletic and mobile quarterback, a mistake that cost the Bucs the game.

“The huddle call would have put them angling towards where he (Robert Griffin III) broke out.” Sheridan said. “We don’t point the finger, point blame at one individual player because ironically, all four of the down-guys went in the same direction. If you see the film – they were anticipating having a second-level guy coming off that edge. The call had been made from the back-end guys off the formation to actually come from the other side. So if you have a chance to go back and look at the film, we’re angling the front in the same direction that we had guys coming off the edge. So, like I said, it was a very severe fragmentation in the defense and he (Griffin) just walked out of the pocket.”

The Bucs’ coaching staff will spend the bye week reviewing tape of the first four games and hopefully make the adjustments needed to get back on track for Kansas City next week. For the Bucs’ defense, they have to get back to forcing turnovers and playing all 60-minutes as they will face a Chief offense ranked fourth in the league in total offense and second in rushing with an average of 173.5 yards per game on the ground.

Despite their offensive production, the Chiefs have only one win in the first quarter of the season, and will face Baltimore at home before making the trip to Tampa next week. Something has to give for one of these teams, and head coach Greg Schiano and his staff will do everything they can to make sure it is the Bucs who change the course of the season when the team comes back from their break.

Getting everyone on the same page fundamentally should be priority No. 1. 
Last modified on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 12:00
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  • avatar


    I think the coaching staff is "learning" as we go as well which is great. The entire organization is truly growing up before our eyes. They'll learn how to win these close games by next year and then with another draft and a free agent or two the Bucs should be a upper echelon team. Freeman is going to be fine if we're patient with him.
  • avatar


    The team is doing fine, the O and D play calling seems to have not been up to snuff. Fix that and they will win.
  • avatar

    I am encouraged with the "fight" this team has given but in the NFL losses are the only thing that matters, I am concerned with Freeman's degression in his 4th yr thats a real concern. I agree we need to upgrade the TE position and maybe the qb as well
  • avatar


    Absolutely right Horse. Few, if any, fans or national prognosticators would have realistically thought the mighty Bucs would have a better record than the 1-3 they have at the quarter point. Surprisingly, many of our fellow posters are angry because each of the three losses could have and perhaps should have been a victory. Like you, I'm disappointed in the losses for the same reason, but I'm not going to go throw a temper tantrum and pout like some of these people do by their comments. Who knows how the remainder of the season will unfold after this bye week, but I am encouraged by the fight in this team, the talent level of our youngsters and the resolve of the new coaching staff. Like you, I agree that TE should be a high priority in the 2013 draft. If Bowers and Clayborn can get over their injuries, the D-line should be a strength. If Joseph returns to health and Dominik acquires some depth, the O-line too should be fairly set. A replacement for # 20 might already be on the team in Ahmad Black. The key, as always is the case, lies with our young QB. We'll know a lot more in December. Sit back and watch.
  • avatar


    We are getting better and this is a good Coaching Staff. All of our players are learning in every practice and game. Go Bucs!
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