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November 19, 2012 @ 12:50 am
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/2 Votes

PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Offensive Game Grades Vs. Carolina

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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The Buccaneers offense wasn’t fully clicking until the end of the fourth quarter, when down by eight and with just over a minute to go, QB Josh Freeman orchestrated a game-tying 80 yard drive to send the game into overtime. The Bucs left Carolina with the 27-21 OT victory and improved to 6-4 on the season. What grade did Freeman deserve? What 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 Dory LeBlanc offers up her analysis on how Tampa Bay's offense played against Carolina in the Bucs' come from behind 27-21 overtime victory over the division rivals, and hands out the offensive grades for each offensive unit. 

The Bucs initially went three-and-out on their first possession, but a fumble recovery by Tampa Bay on the punt return found the Buccaneers back in business. Josh Freeman found blocking tight end Nate Byham in the back of the end zone to take the 7-0 lead.

Freeman and Co. came away on the next possession with a field goal but the offensive fireworks would be put on hiatus until late in the fourth quarter. 

The fourth-year signal caller had thrown one interception in the past five games, but found himself throwing two against the Panthers. On the first pick, TE Dallas Clark was the intended receiver, but the throw was nowhere near the 10-year veteran and the ball was intercepted by Captain Munnerlyn and returned 74 yards for the score in the first quarter. Freeman was 11-of-20 for 87 yards, one touchdown and one interception entering the second half. 

Freeman returned in the third quarter and his inaccurate passing continued. The former first-round draft pick threw another interception, which head coach Greg Schiano classified as “miscommunication or misunderstanding” with the intended receiver, Jackson. Freeman did not complete a pass in the third quarter until 16 seconds remained in the period.

The fourth quarter looked just as bleak until with just over a minute in the game, Freeman orchestrated an 80-yard drive, capped off with two lasers to Vincent Jackson – the first a 24-yarder through two defenders which was reviewed by replay officials and the second a short pass to Jackson on the two-point conversion to tie the game. 

In the overtime period, Freeman again marched the Bucs 80-yards downfield and found Clark on a 15-yarder to win the game. The Kansas State product went 13-of-21 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime, after being 12-of-25 passes for 96 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions through three quarters.

Outside of the two scoring drives in the first and the final two scoring drives to tie and then win the game, Freeman was shaky through much of the game with errant passes and ill-timing.

Although Freeman’s heroics are respectable, the Bucs wouldn’t have been in the situation that required them to score 14 points in five minutes of action had he made better decisions earlier in the game. At times, the balls were clearly poorly thrown and on the second pick, it was obvious when the ball left Freeman’s hand that it was heading to be intercepted. Freeman had been playing exceptional football since the bye week and hopefully this was just an off-day for the quarterback.
Grade = C+

Like Freeman, Doug Martin didn’t wow anyone through most of the game until the fourth quarter. Through three quarters the rookie running back had 59 yards on 14 attempts rushing the ball and three catches for 17 yards. Martin opened the final period of play with a 21-yard run to the right and looked to have a two-yard TD run, but the play was ruled a fumble and upheld on the replay. Watching the big screen at the stadium, it appeared that just as Martin was crossing the goal line, a body stepped in the way of the camera view, so it could not be overturned with conclusive evidence. Martin was visibly disappointed in himself, but bounced back in overtime with a 27-yard breakout run and was responsible for 48 of the Buccaneers’ 80 yards on the drive. Martin now has 1,000 yards rushing on the season with six games remaining after gaining 139 yards against the Panthers.

D.J. Ware only had one carry for two yards rushing the ball and three catches for 23 yards, but one of those catches was a short pass he broke tackles and turned into a 15 yard play on a third-and-six with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. 
Grade = B+

Freeman’s play affects no one more so than the wide receivers. Jackson, Mike Williams and Tiquan Underwood were targeted 22 times, but mustered up only 11 catches combined.

Jackson did have one drop as the ball bounced right off his chest and Williams couldn’t hang on to a deep pass after it was deflected by the defender, but most of the misses should be charged to Freeman. 

The eight-year veteran wideout finished the contest with six receptions for 94 yards, a touchdown and two-point conversion. 

Not a great game for any of the receivers until the late rally as two of Freeman’s TD passes went to tight ends.
Grade + B-

The O-Line entered the game with 13 sacks allowed, tied for third fewest in the league. The play of the offensive line was crucial to a Bucs victory as the Panthers were tied for ninth in the NFL with 25 total sacks, with defensive ends Charles Johnson (8.5) and Greg Hardy (6.5) combining for 15 of them. Hardy registered a half-sack to bring his total up to seven. 

Allowing only one sack to a team as pass rush-happy as Carolina is a positive, but the negative is that Freeman was hit five times and had nine passes defensed. 

It looked like the patchwork offensive line was finally started to fall apart, until just like the rest of the offense, the O-Line came back string in the fourth quarter and overtime, allowing Freeman the proper time needed and blocking well for Martin. 
Grade = C+

When asked to be a contributor in the offense, Clark really has stepped up for the Bucs and did so against the Panthers leading the team with seven receptions for 58 yards and the game winner in OT. 

Byham turned some heads with his own touchdown grab in the back of the end zone to open up the scoring for Tampa Bay, his only catch of the day.

Luke Stocker was targeted twice, but couldn’t make either of his catches, but blocked well for Martin. 
Grade = A-
Last modified on Monday, 19 November 2012 02:24

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  • avatar

    Everyone already knows where I stand on this. Freeman is getting by using his superior physical talents and is not seeing the field nor working thru his progressions in the way the elite QBs he is being compared to do. While it is exciting to think how effective he could be if/when he gets to that level, he is not there now. Separately (I think anyway) he tends to throw 2-4 head scratchers that DBs have a better shot at catching than the nearest receiver does. As some of you have noted no QB is perfect plus we don't know if the receiver is misreading the play/route/adj, so as long as those don't consistently turn into INTs I can live with that.
  • avatar

    What the hell are you talking about? Are you in his face mask with him? The mans eyes do move back and forth don't you know? He doesn't have to move his head side to side all of the time to read his progressions. He goes through his progressions. Case in point everybody is getting the ball and has a td catch from him. It's funny how people always act like they're some kind of expert when sitting up in the stands. We're all aware of the things he's not doing correctly but some people ALWAYS gotta point crap out dumping on him. By the way Freeman is not getting by on his superior physical talents because he's not that great of an athlete and doesn't have very good footwork. He's not the best runner either. I'm telling right now you keep running that crap "if/when he gets it" about that like he's not intelligent enough to comprehend what is being taught to get better is starting to border on racial reasons. Every year since he started in college he got better even with a piss poor coaching staff in Kansas. Then he had to put up with the Raheem Circus show with once again piss poor coaching and had a pro bowl worthy year in 2010. Last year he HAD to do too much because everyone around him was quitting but he never did. I would love to see you with your so called interior intellect out there doing better than him Mr. QB expert! You sound just like bucfan47. Give it a rest.
  • avatar

    OK then what was Freeman's QB rating? Was it 100? No. The grade is not how good freeman is overall as a QB but how he played overall in This game. Freeman has played better in many other games. Has Freeman played well and they still lost? Yes. So what some of you are saying is that since we won he gets a high grade. Then the opposite is true, if we lose he gets a bad grade right? I think Freeman played great against New Orleans and we lost. So do we give Freeman an F? No.Wins and losses are a TEAM effort individual play is what it states..individual.
  • avatar

    I don't agree with the assessment of Freeman. He threw two interceptions but cmon, in the end this was an amazing game that had Freeman winning it in the end with real gutsy play. That pass to Jackson was amazing. Not to mention the game winner to Clark. Freeman showed that he is becoming an elite QB.
  • avatar

    I'm with Dory. Yes Josh made a terrific comeback, part of it luck (how many times do you see peyton, brady or brees come back 11 points in 5 minutes, all the skill in the world doesn't regularly yield this kind of comeback) partly playing a 2-9 team and yes of course part cool under pressure. I watch many games on NFL rewind, each game compressed into 30 minutes so you are basically seeing every QB snap back to back. This was one of the worst looking games all year. Josh was dispensing those balls all over the field, accuracy very poor. It was awesome we made the comeback but Josh needs to improve his accuracy, pressure or not. We wouldn't have been in that hole if he were more accurate and more consistent. His completion rate is a testimony to that.
  • avatar

    Great debate on Q.B. play. Had the Buc's lost Free should get an F as in you no what, because his play would've been the biggest reason for the lost. Dory's grade is like giving the class clown a c even though he aced his final exam. I grade a Q.B. on when it matters the most, and when it did he was as good as it gets.
  • avatar

    To quote some of our local favorites --> "You play to win the game" and "Stats are for losers". Great Bucs win and can't wait for the ATL game this Sunday. Lets sell out RayJay and show the dirty bird how we play the game in the new Schiano regime.
  • avatar

    w's are nice but the story of that game is we would never have caught a team with a better offense or a better defense, on this day.
  • avatar

    If you're going to give Freeman a C+, then the offensive line should get a D. he was under duress the whole first half and most of the third quarter. Carolina was dominating the line of scrimmage. Freeman made several first downs with his feet and his receivers weren't getting open. He made several good decisions to throw the ball away to avoid sacks and he was hit repeatedly. He showed his mental toughness throughout the game. And when the game was on the line he played great. No it was not an A but surely it was a B or B+ overall. And by the way, his second interception was clearly a miscommunication so it's as much on Jackson as on Freeman.
  • avatar

    I do agree that the offensive line didn't help much. Like most QB's in this league, when Free gets pressure put on him from the middle, it really seems to disrupt him, almost to the point of shutting him down. His athleticism bailed him out yesterday more often than not, but on his pick-six play, that pressure was unbelievably effective in making him look like the Free of last year. I give him a D- for the first three quarters and a solid A in the fourth/OT.
  • avatar

    Respectfully disagree with your rating of Josh Freeman's QB play. I get your points, but your rating is way off. The NFL's top QB's throw multiple picks from time-to-time, but what makes them so great, is finding ways to shrug those mistakes off and guide their team to victory. That 4th Quarter + OT performance from Josh Freeman was a massive step in the right direction in his development. Sure, those 2 picks really placed us in a terrible hole, but good players make plays and he made plays to get us a massive away Win against our division rivals. B+ performance from me in terms of his entire game, INTs, touchdowns etc. A+ 4th quarter & OT.
  • avatar

    Not to disagree with anyone on the board, but the elements played a big factor in this game. You could see the win affecting many of the balls thrown (did you see Barth's first FG waver as well?), especially the deep ones. Thus, when Freeman tried to throw the deep sideline passes (most of which finished out of bounds), one of the factors was the cross wind, as Shiano referred to in his talk. But hey, the teams both play in the same weather, so they have to adjust. But anyone who has ever played in windy weather would recognize that it is not as easy as the big TV screens suggest.
  • avatar

    Saying he deserves an A for yesterdays game would mean that he played perfect and theres nothing you would change about his performance. Josh even said it in his post game interview that today wasnt his best day throwing but he made enough plays to win. Freeman had some moments of A football but his body of work yesterday supports the grade he got.
  • avatar

    Unlike everyone else, I completely agree with Dory's grade on Free. Don't get me wrong, props to the young man on getting it done in the final minute and in OT, the way this guy can play under pressure is something Tampa hasn't had from the QB position. Ever. At all. HOWEVER, the mid-game and sometimes his early-game lulls frustrate me to no end. I think it is something that we're going to have to live with as fans though because I just don't think he has that quality in his game to be consistent through four complete quarters. I love the clutch gene he does seem to possess but I feel that he needs that gene to compensate for his lack of consistent top-tier play gene lol. That pick-six he threw under duress is just inexcusable and had Tampa ended up losing I guarantee everyone would be ripping him today for some boneheaded decisions while under pressure. So in that respect, I have to agree that Dory's assessment of Free was spot on. His performance yesterday was middle-of-the-road to me for about 59 minutes of the game. If Carolina eeks out one more field goal somewhere in that time, all of his last minute heroics are just garbage-time, stat padding antics. Truthfully guys and gals, I give more kudos to our beleaguered and oft-maligned Defense for the win than Freeman. Again, much kudos to Free for pulling it out with his crazy clutch gene, but the D overcame his first 59 minutes of fairly mediocre play to put him in that position. Peace Buc Nation!
  • avatar

    Not everyone else, I completely agree with all of Dory's grades. Her grades are objective not emotional and look at the TOTAL game not just the end. No one get's an "A" all the time because they won. Great win for our young team, GO BUCS!! Let's manhandle the dirty birds!
  • avatar

    vicious00, I agree that Freeman was not on his game, but he will become more comsistant. People, we forget the kid is only 24 years old. Hooray for Larsen.
  • avatar

  • avatar

    Strongly disagree Dory. I don't care what Freeman did all game. I've been watching this game since before you were born, when it mattered most he was money. Would you give Montana a C after that last drive to beat Cinn in the super bowl? The great John Elway use to say 3rd down is my down, that's when I earn my money. Freeman earned his bread yesterday, that was an A performance for the ages.
  • avatar

    I have always been a Josh Freeman fan and today was the best example of what seperates him from most QBs in the league. The ability to shake off an otherwise awful day and give his team a chance to win. I second the Larsen penalty being a beautiful thing to see. I admit I wasnt a Schiano fan at first bc I saw improvement but the results were the same. After winning in different fashions lately coach has my full support. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    I am right with you guys.
  • avatar

    I'm with you macabee on Larson defending Josh Freeman. Those types of penalties are acceptable to me. Official should have flagged the defender who was holding a "defenseless" Josh on the ground.
  • avatar

    I wish I could figure out what happens in Freeman's head when he's got a gun pointed at him. He seems to respond to pressure that puts him in another zone. Granted he had help because somebody had to catch the ball. That laser to V-JAX to tie the game was as good as I've seen. A special shout out to Ted Larsen for defending Freeman. Rarely do I get to say something good about Ted, but he gets a "you go boy" from me for the hit on Edwards. A penalty that I can live with!
  • avatar

    That's why they should let him run more no huddle, hurry up offense. He can run this offense, he knows the protections.
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