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October 22, 2012 @ 9:45 am
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Saints Sink Bucs: Most Impressive and Disappointing

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Which Buccaneers players shined in the team's 35-28 loss on Sunday against the Saints? Who needs to step up their game before the Bucs travel to Minnesota Thursday night? Find out the most impressive and the most disappointing from Sunday's heartbreaking loss.
The Buccaneers lost a hard fought contest on Sunday to the Saints 35-28, dropping their record to 2-4 on the season and falling into third place in the NFC South. PewterReport.com's Mark Cook offers up his list of who played well and who struggled against Drew Brees and the Saints.

Most Impressive
RB Doug Martin
Martin had his most impressive game as a professional on Sunday against the Saints with 85 yards rushing on 16 carries (5.3 avg.) and three receptions for 37 yards. Martin is looking more and more comfortable as an NFL running back and seems to be trusting his ability more and more. On the former Boise State star’s touchdown run, Martin showed both speed and power, juking Saints defenders and also breaking tackles. It was an authoritative run – something that has seem to be missing earlier in the year.

QB Josh Freeman
Gerald McCoy said after the game Freeman had a little extra juice when going against a guy like Drew Brees. Whatever it was, Freeman had his best statistical game as a pro throwing for 420 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-42 passing. And Freeman also was able to avoid that mid-game lull for the most part. Sure he miss-fired on a few balls, but Brees didn’t have a perfect completion percentage either. Freeman appears to be getting more and more comfortable with the Sullivan offense, and in turn, Sullivan appears to be getting more comfortable with Freeman.

WR Vincent Jackson
When Vincent Jackson was chased down after a franchise, and career best, 95-yard catch and run, it was easy to initially jump on Jackson for not scoring. But in hindsight, the criticism unfair. Jackson missed some practice time with a calf injury last week and it most certainly in fact made a difference in not scoring. When the final whistle sounded Jackson had amassed a franchise record 216 yards receiving on 14 receptions with one touchdown reception. Unfortunately, many fans will remember Sunday’s performance for the one yard he was unable to achieve. Jackson has been worth every penny of his five-year $55.5 million dollar deal thus far.

TE Dallas Clark
Coming into the game Clark had managed just nine receptions on the season and was basically a non-factor in mike Sullivan's offense. Sunday, Clark was able to get back on track and made his first real impact of the season catching five Freeman tosses for 51 yards including his first touchdown in 2012, something more along the lines of what Buccaneers fans were expecting when the former Colt was signed last spring.

Honorable mentions: LB Lavonte David, S Ronde Barber, TE Luke Stocker

Most Disappointing
RB LeGarrette Blount
Fans and many in the media have been clamoring for Blount to get more touches this season. After last Sunday’s performance in which Blount had a late game touchdown to put the final touches on the 38-10 win over the Chiefs, it appeared Blount was on the road to just that. But on Sunday against the Saints, Martin had the hot hand early and Blount was relegated to his first four game status – a sideline bystander – until the third quarter when he was called upon to spell a shaken up Martin. After Jackson’s 95-yard catch the Buccaneers were in prime position to tie the game at 28 as the Buccaneers had the ball first-and-goal on the Saints one-yard line and  Sullivan called Blount's number three straight times with zero success. Blount, in three seasons, has yet to learn how to hit a hole with aggression, instead of dancing and looking for a crease. After reviewing the series several times now, there was no running room, however, at 250-pounds, Blount has to figure a way to make a hole. And where was the leaping over the pile Blount we saw in the preseason against the Dolphins? On the afternoon Blount had five carries for minus -2 yards.

CB Eric Wright
Wright wasn’t the only defensive back made to look silly on Sunday. But with Aqib Talib out following a positive substance test, Wright must be the cornerback leader on the field. Wright fell prey to the patented Brees pump fake a few times on Sunday and was beaten deep. Now, what was the responsibility of the safeties on those plays? That is a good question, but it seemed on several long balls it was Wright coming off the turf looking around as if to ask, what just happened? Wright has played well for the most part this season, but is still looking for his first interception since the Giants game, and needs to get his hands on the ball more often. On Sunday Wright tied for the team lead in tackles but had a glaring non-tackle that resulted in a touchdown in the second quarter when both Wright and safety Mark Barron failed to tackle Saints WR Joe Morgan. When a cornerback leads your team in tackles, you know they most likely were victimized by a quarterback, which was certainly the case on Sunday.

Buccaneers defensive line
Tampa Bay’s defensive line had maybe their worst game of the season, failing to get any pressure on Brees. Roy Miller and Gerald McCoy were so ineffective for stretches of the game, I literally asked Scott Reynolds if they has been playing on a particular stretch of series midway through the game. Brees is a master of the quick three-step drop and tends to get rid of the ball quickly. When that happens then the linemen at least need to get their hands up and get some deflections. McCoy tipped one pass that led to the Bucs first touchdown after a Ronde Barber interception, but was quiet the rest of the day. Defensive end Michael Bennett, who is leading the team in sacks (4), was shutout in the sack department and failed to register even a knockdown of Brees. Bennett finished with just one tackle on the afternoon. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was hammered for continuing to blitz Eli Manning earlier in the season, but against the Saints rarely dialed up any blitzes.

K Conner Barth
Barth set a franchise record earlier this season after connecting on 25 straight field goals, but has now missed two of his last three, including what should have been a routine 42-yarder on Sunday against the Saints. Sure the Buccaneers lost by seven, but those three points may have made a difference in how the Buccaneers approached the disastrous third quarter goal line series. I know it is playing the “what if” game, but if Barth connects on the 42-yarder, then adds another chip shot instead of Tampa Bay going for it on fourth down in the third, then the Buccaneers are lining up to win the game in the final minutes with a field goal instead of needing a touchdown to tie.

Dishonorable mentions
: S Mark Barron, KR Arrelious Benn, CB Brandon McDonald


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  • avatar

    I really don't understand laying the majority of the blame on Blount on those goalline plays. The death to any running play is penetration. There was instant penetration on ALL 3 of those plays. The first 2 got blown up up the middle; the 3rd one was foiled by immediate edge penetration. If Martin had been in in that same situation, we would have had the same results. I don't have a problem with the playcalling there either - in general, I like the idea of telling your o-line it has 3 chances to get you a yard, particularly when it's matched up against the typically poor Saints d-line. The only change I would offer is for one of those runs to be a toss to the outside. The o-line failed us on that play - not Blount, and not Sullivan or Schiano. The call was fine; the execution was poor.
  • avatar

    Not looking to defend Blount, but rather to dip into the Accountability effort. I usually keep my trust in our new coaching staff, but strongly agree with many here, that COACHING was the MOST disappointing aspect of the team in this game. I just about lost my mind when we lined up in goal line formation 4 plays in a row. My calendar says 2012, but Sully was calling plays like it was '76. Not that the players can't execute better and make those plays work, but the coaches job is to put the players in the BEST possible situation, that is not what happened. Playing with the lead against a reeling defense, maybe, but not in a shootout with the Saints. Another reason to put the COACHES on the disappointing list is the call for confusing signals or whatever nonsense that was. Originally I thought we were just being hosed, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Schiano needs to do a better job there. I'm just a fan, it's his JOB to know and play within the NFL rules. I appreciate his gamesmanship quite a bit, but not when it costs the team like that. I hope he doesn't take too many pages from from his buddy Belicheat's book, and do something even costlier.
  • avatar

    Thanks for the column Mark, and the comments from everyone else. Dory was right to call this one a heartbreaker. Though we were down for much of the game, it feels like we snatched defeat from the Jaws of victory down the stretch. On to Minny...Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    You know what Scott? It wasn't so much Blounts fault as it was the lines'. He didn't get a chance to get any momentum going before he was being hit in the legs before or as he made it to the line so there's no way he could have leaped over the pile.The oline got absolutely no push what so ever. Then we run the same exact run three times in a row. Sounds like a little bit of stubbornness on the OCs part thinking we would impose our will on them. Didn't even try to throw one time. The way they were stacking the line a quick receiver screen or fade pass in the corner or toss sweep would have done good. Then on the last play why didn't Free have a tight end or fullback blocking for him? I blame the coaches for that. What I don't understand why Blount isn't on the field on 1st and 2nd down. He can catch and has turn some short passes into huge gains because he turns up field AND has a chance to get some acceleration. I would rather have him out there than ware. Our OC needs to get his head out of his but because he's leaving the TE's and screen plays to Blount and Martin off the table. He should be on this list.
  • avatar

    I dont see what Martin is doing so wrong that Blount need to get more carrys.The run blocking and the play calling isnt that great..Martin is doing the small things that you Blount fans dont see or dont want to see.Martin isnt getting 25 carrys yet which he needs to get..running backs gets into a grove the more carrys they get.You have a running back with great hands but the bucs dont run screens play and not enough draw plays.My opinion, i think if Blount was to start or get more playing time you cut the play book in half..blocking and catching dont come natural to Blount but alot of you fans have crowned Blount as some nfl starting running back.Martin is getting better and we're watching him get better!!!!!
  • avatar

    Martin does get the bulk of the carries. Agreed this team does need to run more screen and draw plays(the draw play went for a td.) Especially when the passing game is clicking. It gives those dbs something else to worry about.
  • avatar

    This list doesn't sit well with me. David should have been in the Impressive section over Clark. I think David played his best game to date. Also the coaching staff should be on the disappointing list instead of Blount.
  • avatar

    Why don't we include Mark Dominik and his personnel people in "MOST DISAPPOINTING" for managing to assemble a defensive line that not only did not get a sniff of Drew Brees yesterday, but was equally ineffective trying to lay a hand on Brady Quinn last week. One of my keys coming in to this game was getting some type of pressure on Drew Brees. They didn't come close. Until this defensive line can start to rush the passer, this defense will struggle. The blitzing and bringing extra rushers will get eaten alive by a good QB. (See Eli Manning versus Bucs earlier this year.) Give me a break Dominik. Find some talent on the defensive line and in the secondary or maybe you should plan on spending some time going golfing with Marty Hurney in the near future. Brutal defensive depth on this team. Wake up or walk the plank.... the same plank Raheem Morris did. Ridiculous.
  • avatar

    Blount needs to get more touches than 5 or 6. Most backs cannot be effective unless they are used more in the game. I am not concerned with one bad game for him. He is an outstanding back and we need him more involved in the game.
  • avatar

    coaches should have been on this list as well...
  • avatar

    MC you don't have to comment every time one of these guys comments. You guys do a great job.
  • avatar

    Yeah I know. I just want people to understand my mind set when writing something. Words can be taken in different context and sometimes maybe I need to be clearer. But it is all subjective and open for debate. No one is 100% right or wrong. Thanks HBF.
  • avatar

    I have to agree that coaching was the problem on that goal line stand, not Blount. Yes, he is 250 pounds. But when a 250 pound man hits a 290 pound man with an equal head of steam, he is going to lose that battle. Otherwise, physics would be far less predictable than it is. Some people feel that Blount should see the crease on the right when he's running left; those same people will criticize him for stopping to look for a hole. We have a six foot six quarterback - wedge it four times. There is absolutely no excuse for taking the ball of the line of scrimmage.
  • avatar

    I have to agree, Josh Freeman is a big guy and should be able to get 1 yard in 4 tries. I also won't put all the blame on Blount put he does tip toe a lot. He is great once he hits the second level, but those first 3 yards give him a problem.
  • avatar

    I agree the decision to run Blount three straight times was terrible. But Blount isn't a scat back. He is 250 pounds. After two and half seasons, how does he not know how to hit a hole with authority? Martin was shaken up the series before, and I dont believe capable of being in there on that series. That is where Blount has to perform, regardless of the bad play calling. It is one yard. Yes the o-line deserves a ton of blame there also, I agree, but to give Blount a free pass and to use the excuse, that isn't his strength, is ludicrous.
  • avatar

    So what exactly did LeGarrette Blount do that warranted him being put on the most disappointing list? To run the ball on 3 staright plays where u actually lose yards and then finally rollout which everyone in America saw coming on 4th down was atrocious. There was no clever schemes to the run plays, hell he didnt even have a lead blocker on them. Also last time I checked he has NEVER been great in goalline situations so why put him in that situation. This coaching staff was the most disappointing, Eric Wright has ALWAYS gotten beat deep dating back to Cleveland which is no shiock, LeGarrette still isnt a goalline back which is no shock,the DLine without its starting 2 ends is not nearly as effective so this is also no shock. This is another game lost due to poor coaching.
  • avatar

    On third play he had a hole. I guess the play was designed to go to the left, but on the right side there was an opportunity to score. I'm sure it's on the back to see that hole and hit it, instead of just running into a wall.
  • avatar

    Get Blount into space and let him do his thing. Predictable play calling like we saw on the goal line would make it difficult for a pickup truck to get through. Last time I checked, it's a pretty wide field. Get the horses out of the phone booth.
  • avatar

    You put Blount on the most disappointing because of 1 series of VERY bad play calls. Why is the offensive line not on that list because of that same series. I've looked at those runs a few time myself and the Saints were in the backfield on 2 of those and there was NO small creases to get in on the other. As to why he didn't leap, are you sure Shiano has told Blount not to dive for fear of losing ball? Blount is the easy "whipping boy" for you lazy bloggers. Why not put the entire coaching staff on the "disappoint". Everyone in TB knows short yardage is not Blount forte. You people still dont seem to realize this guy is a valuable peice of this offense that is not being used correctly. You dont gain 1000yds in and average 5.2 yards a game without havng some talent. Yea, he's an easy target for lazy, unkowledgable BLOGGERS
  • avatar

    I (partially) agree. Blount gets put into bad situations and then people call him a bad player. I don't get the Blount hatred. He did great last week when give the ball and given a full drive to go. Why didn't the Bucs put Martin in for the 1 yard TD? If he's THAT much better than Blount, he should be in, right? That said, Blount belongs on the most disappointing list because he was, well, disappointing. Anyone running for -2 yards should be.
  • avatar

    Us lazy bloggers? Funny. We have written that Blount needs to be used more on several occasions.
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