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October 25, 2012 @ 10:12 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Offensive Game Grades vs. Minnesota

Written by Pewter
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The Buccaneers offense rolled up over 400 yards of offense Thursday night at Minnesota in their 36-17 win over the Vikings. How did the each offensive unit perorm and what grade did they earn? Find out in this weekly post-game feature on PewterReport.com.
Pewter Report's Mark Cook and Dory LeBlanc offer up their analysis on how Tampa Bay's offense played against Minnesota in the Bucs' 36-17 victory over the Vikings, and dishes out the game grades for each offensive unit.


After a shaky start Bucs QB Josh Freeman settled down and ended up putting together another solid outing, his third game in a row. Maybe it was the nerves of the national stage, or the importance of getting to 3-4, but Freeman didn’t look comfortable early on Thursday but by the end of the night became the first Tampa Bay quarterback to toss three touchdowns in back-to-back games in franchise history.

Freeman wasn’t perfect but took what the Vikings defense gave as opposed to trying to force the ball down the field into coverage. Another aspect of Freeman’s game that shows his steady improvement was his ability – and willingness – to stand in the pocket and not let the Vikings pass rush force him into rushed throws.

Freeman finished 19-of-36 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
Grade = B+

Running Backs
The Buccaneers had high hopes when they selected Bose State’s Doug Martin with the No. 31 pick in last April’s NFL draft, but I’m not sure they envisioned a 214 yard performances as witnessed on Thursday at Minnesota.

Martin was nearly unstoppable in the first half tallying 103 yards on the ground. But he wasn’t satisfied with his first half, and early in the third quarter took a Freeman screen pass 64 yards for a touchdown.

Later in the game Martin did what LeGarrette Blount wasn’t able to do last week – create a hole when there didn’t seem to be one. On Martin’s one-yard TD run the rookie refused to go down and literally overpowered the Vikings Jared Allen, determined to stretch the football across the goal line.

Blount was used little early in the game and got the majority of his carries in a late fourth quarter mop up role, gaining 16 yards on eight carries.
Grade = A

Wide Receivers
While it was considerably different than last week against the Saints, the production of Tampa Bay’s wide receiving corps was solid, and contributed greatly in the Bucs’ 36-17 victory.

Mike Williams continues to impress with his receiving ability making two more highlight reel type catches on the night, finishing with six receptions for 68 yards and one touchdown. Williams’ ability to concentrate on the ball while still contorting his body to stay in bounds is uncanny and showed the nation what Buccaneers fans have known since 2010.

Vincent Jackson was held in check for the most part, catching just two passes for 40 yards. But the two Jackson catches were vital in extending drives and putting points on the board. There is no doubt the addition of Jackson only help Williams succeed as it forces defenses to choose which of the Bucs talented receivers to try and game plan for each week.

Tiquan Underwood may be the third option at receiver but again came up big at times on Thursday, catching three Freeman tosses for 27 yards.
Grade = B

Offensive Line
Josh Freeman was under a decent amount of pressure in the first half, but as the line continued to hold up the more tired the Vikings defensive line seemed to get. Bucs LT Donald Penn was out-muscling Jared Allen the whole game and it was quite a battle between the two. Last year’s sack leader with 22, Allen is one of the most feared pass rusher in the league and Penn was easily handling him. That is, until the third quarter when Penn and Allen got mixed up in some extracurricular activities that resulted in the Viking defensive end’s helmet being ripped off and sustaining a cut on the nose while holding Penn an arm’s length away by the face mask. Flags were thrown and both players were given off-setting 15 yard penalties – Penn for unnecessary roughness and Allen for the facemask. On the next snap, a visibly angry Allen registered the only sack on Freeman on the night for a loss of five yards.

In run blocking the offensive line had their best performance of the year paving the way for running back Doug Martin to eclipse the 100 yard mark for the first time in his short NFL career. Against a very good all-around defense, the Bucs’ second first round draft pick carried a heavy workload in Minnesota, rushing for 135 yards and a touchdown on 29 attempts, an average of 4.7 yards per carry. One of the biggest lands of free agency, Carl Nicks, keeps on showing why the Bucs were willing to pull out their wallet to sign him. Nicks was a major factor in Martin’s 41 yard break out run, the longest on the year, as the Pro Bowl guard had the defender on his heels and pushed him back into the linebacker, opening up a hole so wide between himself and Penn that Target could have set up shop on Mall of America Field. All Martin had to do was run through the gaping hole gift-wrapped in front of him.

Last Sunday against the Saints, the O-Line looked like the chemistry was coming together in run blocking and pass protection and against the Vikings Thursday it seemed as if they aced their midterm.
Grade = A-

Tight Ends
Dallas Clark was the only tight end truly involved in the game against the Vikings and once again did not disappoint. Clark caught all three passes thrown at him for 40 yards, the longest a 17-yarder in the opening drive of the third quarter.

A few weeks ago, Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano said that despite it looking like the ten-year veteran wasn’t very involved in the offense, he was extremely involved from a leadership standpoint and that if the coverages allowed, the Bucs planned on utilizing Clark more on the field.

The Pro-Bowl has certainly been involved more over the past three games and his importance in the 36-17 win over Minnesota is undeniable – all three receptions were for first downs and all three led to Buccaneer touchdowns.
Grade = A

–Mark Cook and Dory LeBlanc contributed to this report

Last modified on Friday, 26 October 2012 09:09

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  • avatar

    IMO... The receivers should have a A and the OL maybe a B as Freeman made some nice throws while under big pressure. Overall I would give the whole team an A beating the Vike's at home with a tough crowd. Now... BEAT THEM RAIDERS!
  • avatar

    I'm with you stilbucsfan. Some of our fans are still missing the West Coast Offense, and not the aggressive type owe have now. Brady is a great QB, but his style of play bores me. I do not want our bucs to be a dink and dunk team so Freeman can have a high completion percetage.
  • avatar

    I'm loving the way the Bucs have come out this year in the first half of games scoring! What a difference from a year ago, where they were always fighting just to catch up. Now if they can continue to do what they did last night and finish teams off I think they can really do something special this year and for years to come. The way they won on the road against a winning team at their house on a national stage with only three days of prep and all the haters bashing was something really great to watch!!!! FEELS GOOD TO BE A BUCS FAN!!!
  • avatar

    Hey guys! Don't forget to give Lorig some love - the man flat out cleared some running lanes for Martin and scored a touchdown too boot! It was a total team win last night!
  • avatar

    I agree that this is turning into one of the best offenses we've had. Definitely the most exciting. As for 'throwing it up' to the receivers, it is about damn time! Every week I would watch sportscenter highlights of receivers making crazy down field catches for big plays and touchdowns, and wondered why the Bucs never had any plays that even looked like that...now the shoe is on the other foot, and I love it! Martin really impressed me last night. I didn't really think he had it in him. Happy to be wrong on that one. While Free's completion percentage was lower than ideal, he didn't turn it over, and he made some durn impressive throws as he was being pressured and hit. Plus a few (3 or 4) tipped passes by the line, and I think he deserves at least a B+. Here I thought Schiano would bring life to the defense, little did I know that the offense would catch fire like this.
  • avatar

    BuccanAy, you saw nothing special with Josh Freeman?? You have got to be kidding me. What is your scale of good quarterback play? He converted 5 3rd and longs on 1 drive. "At least he's throwing the ball up to give Mike Williams a chance" thats about as dumb a comment as I've ever heard. All ANY QB can do is give their wideouts a chance to catch the ball smh. Does Peyton catch passes? Does Brady catch passes? The "special" thing that apparently you dont see is that he is making the right decisions with the ball in the passing game and taking his shots when there are chances that is "special" quarterback play. I usually ignore some of the comments I see posted but that was one of the more laughable ones I've seen in awhile. I'll blame your "analysis" on a good bender from last night. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Grades are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, the thing I love is what I see from this offense this is potentially the best offense in Buccaneers History
  • avatar

    You dont get an A for completing barely 50% of your passes. Still have concerns with Freeman. At least, he's throwing the ball up, to give Williams a chance to make a play, but IMO, he did nothing special, and had a few really bad throws. Can he be an above average QB, maybe, but dont think he's a top 10 QB.
  • avatar

    I think Sullivan deserves a lot of credit for what he's doing as a first year play caller. He's mixing it up pretty well and when something is working he rubs it till the D stops it. also Jason M. And Dotson are showing great improvement each week.
  • avatar

    I think that Freeman deserved an A. Three TD's and no interceptions and almost a 50% 3rd down efficiency is good. The only effective running back was Martin; I would have given tham a B.
  • avatar

    The 9 minute, 16 play drive the Bucs had in the 4th quarter was very impressive. It also had 5 for 5 on 3rd downs. I am liking what I am seeing.
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