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December 3, 2012 @ 9:20 am
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Defensive Game Grades vs. Denver

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Which Tampa Bay defensive unit graded out the highest on Sunday in Denver? Which unit fared the worst against the Broncos? Get the answers in this Pewter Report article.
Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds offers up his analysis on how Tampa Bay's defense played at Denver in the Bucs' 31-23 loss to the Broncos, and dishes out the game grades for each defensive unit and the Bucs special teams.


Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy may have had his best game against the run at Denver, finishing with a season-high four tackles. However, McCoy and the rest of Tampa Bay’s defenders couldn’t get to quarterback Peyton Manning, who wasn’t sacked on Sunday. In order for the Bucs to have had a real chance of winning Sunday’s game, McCoy or his defensive linemates needed to get Manning on the ground or at least hit him. They failed to do so.

Defensive end Michael Bennett came into the game as Tampa Bay’s leading sacker with seven on the season, but for the second straight game Bennett was unable to get to the quarterback. However, he was able to get three tackles against the run and record a tackle for loss, which was his 12th of the season. That ranks tied for second on the team with linebacker Mason Foster.

Reserve defensive tackle Gary Gibson had a strong effort against the run, posting three tackles, including a season-high two tackles for loss. Yet Gibson was flagged for jumping offsides with less than two minutes to play, which created a second-and-1 situation that Denver converted instead of the Broncos facing second-and-6. That was a boneheaded move by a veteran nose tackle that lines up directly over the football.

Gibson played a great number of snaps in place of Roy Miller, who was battling illness all week. Miller did not record any tackles.

Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was stout against the run in the first half, recording all three of his tackles before halftime, including a tackles for loss. But Bowers failed to generate much pass rush when in the game.

Defensive lineman Daniel Te’o-Nesheim played okay, notching two tackles, but wasn’t nearly as big a factor as has been in recent weeks.

Although defensive end Aaron Morgan didn’t appear on the stats sheet, he actually came the closest to sacking Manning in the first half with several nice rushes on obvious passing downs.

Tampa Bay’s defensive line played reasonably well against the run with four of the defense’s seven tackles for loss on Sunday, but had to come up with more pressure on Manning and it just didn’t happen.

Weakside linebacker Lavonte David was Tampa Bay’s leading tackler once again with 10 stops, including a game-high and career-high three tackles for loss at Denver. David also came up with an interception and had two pass breakups. He would have had a sensational game against the Broncos if not for getting beaten outside by defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, who was playing fullback, for a first quarter touchdown, and getting beaten inside by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for a third quarter touchdown.

Foster had a good game against the run with five solo tackles, but didn’t make any splash plays against the Broncos. Tampa Bay was in nickel defense quite a bit and that kept strongside linebackers Adam Hayward and Dekoda Watson off the field for a good deal of the game. Each linebacker finished with just one tackle against Denver.

Knowshown Moreno rushed 20 times for 69 yards (3.5 avg.), including a long of 16 yards, but the Bucs did a fairly decent job of bottling him up for the most part. Rookie running back Ronnie Hillman had five carries for 29 yards (5.8 avg.), but Denver was held to 91 yards rushing on 29 carries (3.1 avg.), which wasn’t too bad.

Tampa Bay’s secondary was overmatched by Denver’s wide receivers on Sunday. Free safety Ronde Barber played a good deal of cornerback in nickel defense due to injuries at the position. Barber finished the game with six tackles, but had a costly pass interference penalty on third-and-8 that extended Denver’s first touchdown drive instead of forcing the Broncos to kick a field goal.

Ahmad Black played a great deal of the game at free safety and finished with six solo stops and had a pass breakup. He didn’t play poorly, but failed to make a few tackles he could have made, and he and David were beaten by Thomas for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Cornerback Leonard Johnson struggled while covering Thomas on Sunday. Thomas scored one of his two touchdowns against Johnson, who was also flagged for pass interference and illegal contact while trying to cover him. Johnson recorded two tackles. Thomas caught eight passes for 99 yards and two TDs.

Cornerback E.J. Biggers wasn’t bad in pass coverage, but didn’t make any plays on the ball, which has been the knock on him. Biggers finished the game with five tackles.

Reserve cornerbacks Danny Gorrer and LeQuan Lewis each had a tackle against Denver. Lewis suffered a serious knee injury in the fourth quarter on a Roscoe Parrish punt return and looks to be lost for the rest of the season.

Strong safety Mark Barron had four tackles against the Broncos on Sunday. While he wasn’t a liability in coverage he didn’t make any standout splash plays, either. Tight end Jacob Tamme caught nine passes for 89 yards with Barron being responsible for covering him about half the time.

Tampa Bay’s secondary didn’t give up any pass plays longer than 28 yards and held Manning to completing 27-of-38 passes for 242 yards. But only one of Manning’s passes was challenged by a member of Tampa Bay’s secondary and the coverage wasn’t tight enough to prevent him from throwing two touchdown passes against the defensive backs.

Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth was a perfect three-of-three against Denver, connecting on field goals from 31, 50 and 55 yards. That was the third time Barth has connected on two field goals of 50 yards or more in the same game during his Bucs career and he set a record with six field goals of six or more on the season (50, 50, 51, 52, 55 and 57).

Punter Michael Koenen had five punts that averaged 51.4 yards, including a 63-yarder. Koenen had a 32.4-yard net average and downed one inside the 20. Four of Koenen’s kickoffs were downed for touchbacks.

The Bucs had a hard time stopping return man Trindon Holliday, who returned one kick 26 yards and averaged 23.8 yards per punt return. Holliday had a 45-yard punt return against the Buccaneers due to missed tackles.

Roscoe Parrish had a 15-yard punt return and fair caught two others. All six of Denver’s kickoffs went for touchbacks.

Last modified on Sunday, 09 December 2012 21:55

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  • avatar

    I continue to see people say McCoy is overrated and that is laughable. Look at our run defense last year as opposed to this year. Other than McCoy this is the EXACT same defensive line so he is responsible for that change. As for the pass rush some of you seem to think pass rush is solely on lineman when its not, there has to be good coverage to allow the pressure to get to the quarterback. Any QB can beat a good pass rush if his receivers are running free all over the field. This is not to suggest that he cant more of an impact but I think all things need to be taken into account. Once we retool the secondary this offseason then he gets his running mate Clayborn back and a full speed Bowers I think this pass rush will be night and day. Sort of like the offense this year compared to last year. They are 2 or 3 players away from putting a VERY good defense on the field. This defense needs two starting caliber CBs and then draft a replacement at FS in the draft.
  • avatar

    IMO the CB'S can't cover themselves with their own blanket at night. They deserve a D. The D-line has no pass rush and McCoy is a bust as a top 5 pick. We keep missing on our top picks, Dominik and Hickey need help. I hope Butch Davis is going to help in this draft. Our scout dept needs a major overhaul.
  • avatar

    Lets not forget we have a DE that got seven sacks his first year and would have definitely gotten more this year had he not been hurt. So when he returns and ups his seven and we get seven more from Bennet, and then Bowers finally starts getting the sacks we expect from such a great athlete--let's don't waste a first round pick on a DE. We'll be OK there next year. We have to have a shutdown corner with blazing speed with our first round pick, and another decent DB with good speed with either the second or third round pick, and the other high pick needs to be an offensive tackle who can play right or left tackle for good depth. Then if we can pick up a free agent safety to really push Barron next year and help him develop, I think we will be just fine.
  • avatar

    Let us remember on pass rush that in most cases Manning just had ball in his hands for short time and with backs not slowing down receivers at line he was able to hit short passes. Look at his overall pass average of less than 9 yds per. Tampa needs to get Offense in hurry up mode sooner in game since just like it did to us doesn't leave much time to make defense changes and we move ball .
  • avatar

    Surferdudes, I agree with you about the ticky-tack penalties in coverage. What I don't understand is how DJ Williams is allowed to pull Dallas Clark back to him by his jersey when he is beat on a crosser, or how Mike Williams gets hit without a penalty about a half-second before the ball gets there by a back-tracking beaten DB (who never looked back for the ball) on a slightly underthrown deep ball. Lynch praised Williams for the jersey pulling play, and his ceaseless fawning over Manning all night was about to make me puke. He and his buddy in the booth were relentless in the Peyton worship all game. We get it: he is awesome. Talk about something else. I also agree with PR about all the holding Denver was getting away with in the run and pass game.
  • avatar

    McCoy = overhyped. He is playing at the level expected by a solid 2nd rounder, not a top 5 guy. He gets into backfield but rarely finishes plays. At his draft slot and salary cap # he needs to make plays. The number of hi draft picks we've used on the D-line w/out generating real pressure on opposing QBs is undermining our effort to rebuild the team, we can't afford to keep taking mulligans on that part of the team. Too many other needs, are going to have to rely more than ideal on FAs as a result
  • avatar

    We need CBs. A QB who passes in 2 seconds is tough to stop unless you get your hands up and jam the WRs. Wecan't jam them because our CBs can cover man-to-man.
  • avatar

    As usual way too much focus on the quarterback. The offensive line was in a word--offensive. We now see why Underwood was cut--he hasn't made a play in three weeks and he's rarely ever open. We're playing with only two receivers and Clark. Stocker is showing some improvement, which is good for the future. Drew bress showed on Thursday night what happens when even an elite quarterback doesn't have time. Yes, Freeman is inconsistent, but it's grossly unfair to put this loss on him.
  • avatar

    Scott - I'm going to disagree a bit - while in absolute I think your gardes are fine - in context I would actually give our defense higher grades...you see, I expected a total blow-out of Denver's offense against our defense, and what we actually got was a mild but-kicking. I was expecting Manning to put up 35 by himself and actually their offense only put up 24. While most teams would think giving up 24 points was terrible, I think for our defense that's down right good....let's hold the remaining offensive opponents to 24 each and I think we'll win all 4 games.
  • avatar

    Scott, good grades and very fair.
  • avatar

    I can't say this enough, while we need corners I still think we need to spend our first pick on the best pass rushing D end in the draft. Those ticky tac fouls called on Barber, and Johnson just prove the NFL makes it nearly impossible to cover receivers. Manning or any other Q.B. with time will find someone open. Denver has two top notch rushers, and they were the differance in this game. I'd also like to see us use Dakoda Watson on passing downs the way Denver uses their star linebacker. We need to do something to shake up our line up, to get some kind of pass rush going.
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