The Buccaneers offense didn't light up the stat sheet but still came out on top with a 34-24 win over the Chargers to improve their record to 5-4. What grade did QB Josh Freeman deserve? How kind of job did the line do on Sunday and how did the receivers and running backs fare? Find out in this Pewter report weekly feature.
Pewter Report's Mark Cook and Dory LeBlanc offers up their analysis on how Tampa Bay's offense played against San Diego in the Bucs' 34-24 victory over the Chargers, and dishes out the game grades for each offensive unit.
Josh Freeman is making it an easy decision whether to re-sign him in the offseason instead of waiting until his contract ends after the 2013 season. With five straight games boasting a QB rating over 100, Freeman is maturing into a weapon as opposed to just a game manager.
On Sunday the Chargers did a good job of keeping running back Doug Martin from reeling off any back-breaking long runs as he did the week before at Oakland, and also of disguising their secondary coverage. But Freeman waded through the pre-snap chess game and made the correct reads for the most part. He had a couple errant throws but for most part made seemed to know exactly where the correct read was, something Freeman has struggled with in season’s past.
Freeman finished 14-of-20 for 210 yards and two touchdowns and a 137.5 QB rating. Maybe more impressive, and more importantly, is the intelligence and poise Freeman has shown since the bye week.GRADE= ARUNNING BACKS
The Chargers were probably just as amazed with Martin’s performance last week as the rest of the league. San Diego did a good job of limiting Martin in the second half, but the former Boise State star still did enough damage to keep Norv Turner and his staff impressed.
Martin was just an ankle tackle away on a couple of occasions from reeling off some more highlight reel runs on Sunday. Still, for the afternoon, Martin collected over 100 yards from scrimmage with 68 yards rushing and another 51 as a receiver, including a 42-yard reception in the first half.
LeGarrette Blount was again used sparingly; totaling just one carry for three yards, and D.J. Ware also added just one carry for minus-1 yard.
GRADE = B-WIDE RECEIVERS
The Buccaneers targeted their receivers just 14 times on the afternoon but when their numbers were called, they delivered.
Former Charger Vincent Jackson didn’t have a monster game as he has had a few times this season but still managed to inflict enough damage on his former teammates to help the Buccaneers come out on top. On the afternoon Jackson finished with five receptions for 59 yards.
Mike Williams continued his amazing bounce back season with another solid outing, catching two Freeman tosses for 64 yards, including a Buccaneers team long 54-yarder on a pass that was a little underthrown.
Tiquan Underwood goes stretches without much of an impact but when he is called upon the former Rutgers receiver makes the most of his limited opportunities. Underwood had two receptions for 22 yards on Sunday and a touchdown.GRADE = BOFFENSIVE LINE
With one minute left in the first quarter, San Diego ILB Donald Butler took Freeman down for a loss of five yards, but aside from that sack Tampa Bay’s patchwork O-Line gave the fourth-year QB great protection on Sunday. Freeman had plenty of time on certain plays to find open receivers and notched his fourth game without an interception.
The Chargers entered the game fourth in the league in run defense, holding opponents to 84 yards on the ground per contest, so Martin was in for a battle from the opening kickoff. The Bucs’ run game has been outstanding the past two weeks largely due in part to the blocking in the trenches. Against San Diego, the Bucs backs had 21 rushing attempts and Freeman had a four-yard scamper. The rookie sensation only tallied 68 yards on the ground and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. GRADE = BTIGHT ENDS
After weeks where the Tampa Bay tight ends looked like they were being used more in the playbook, the corps seamed to fall a few steps back Sunday, but there’s good reason for it.
Generally tight ends are used most often against Cover 2 schemed teams. as the coverage favors open TEs in the middle of the field, but San Diego’s 3-4 allows the linebackers to cover more space in the passing game.
Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker were each targeted once for a combined 11 yards. On the opening drive, Freeman marched the Bucs down the field and capped off the 80-yard drive with a three-yard toss to Clark who was wide open across the end zone threshold.
On a second-and-nine in the fourth quarter, Freeman fired a pass to Stocker for 11 yards, picking up the first down. Stocker’s blocking has been steady this year and he has caught five passes (one for a score).
The Bucs will utilize the tight ends more as the matchups are favorable, but for the little they are asked to do, they do well.GRADE = A
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