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December 16, 2012 @ 9:36 pm
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PR Analysis: Tampa Bay's Offensive Game Grades vs. New Orleans

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Which Buccaneers' offensive unit performed well on Sunday at New Orleans? What units let the team down in the 41-0 demoralizing defeat? Find out what Mark Cook has to think in this weekly postgame article.
When a team gets destroyed 41-0 there are few bright spots to be found. Sunday was a game that the Buccaneers most likely will review and then burn the film for good. Editor Mark Cook took a look at each offensive unit and assigned a grade based on their performance.


After last week’s loss to the Eagles, questions and a ton criticism of Freeman came flying from every direction. On Sunday, at New Orleans, Freeman looked worse than the prior week, and now even his biggest supporters may have doubts creeping in their minds if Freeman is capable of developing into a championship quarterback.

The offensive line had issues, receivers didn’t help Freeman out, and the play-calling can also be questioned to a degree. But the bottom line is, Freeman was responsible, to a certain extent, for five turnovers, and rarely if ever can an NFL team overcome such poor play.

Even when Freeman had time, throws were off target and opportunities were missed. For the third game in a row, Freeman’s inability to put the football in a position to allow his receivers to go up and make plays, drastically affected and hindered the Bucs effort on Sunday. Once again this week, Freeman missed wide-open targets, and appears to be suffering from a major lack of confidence.

On the afternoon Freeman was 26-of-47 for 279 yards and four interceptions.

Backup Dan Orlovsky entered the game late in the fourth quarter, and only had moderate success finished 4-of-7 for 51 yards.

It is hard to get a true reading of Martin’s performance without knowledge of the coaches film or specifics on the play calls or design of the scheme, but from just one viewing there didn’t appear to be much room to run. In fact, Adrian Peterson most likely would have been held to less than 100 yards with the poor execution by the offensive line on Sunday.

Martin appeared close a couple times early in the game to almost pop one, but just couldn’t seem to shake the defender. Also, when you fall behind early as the Buccaneers did on Sunday, it is hard to stay committed to the running game, which is a shame, as the Saints are dead last in the NFL in rush defense, almost as bad as the 2011 Bucs defense.

Sunday Martin managed just 16 yards on 9 carries with a long of 11 yards. Which if you take away the 11-yarder, Martin was held to five yards on eight carries. Tampa Bay’s leading rusher this season also added 18 yards on three receptions.

After the game was well out of hand, backup LeGarrette Blount was given an opportunity and gained 25 yards on four carries (6.2 avg.).

The Saints came into Sunday’s game with the league’s third worse pass defense yet held Tampa Bay’s top receiver Vincent Jackson without a catch until midway through the third quarter. Jackson began to find some open spots in the zone as the Saints backed off in coverage just a bit. Jackson finished with six receptions for 81 yards.

Mike Williams was more active in the first half and finished the day with four catches for 63 yards, and should have had at least one touchdown. However, as Freeman has done all too frequently as of late, Tampa Bay's QB overthrew him after he had beaten his defender by at least three steps and was wide open on the play.

Wide receiver Tiquan Underwood, who had been virtually nonexistent over the last two weeks, came through in the second half with three receptions for 46 yards.

It is too soon to know exactly how much the receivers’ mistakes may have played in the woeful offensive numbers, but if you are an optimistic Bucs fan you would like to think perhaps there was some miscommunication of a couple of the four interceptions. It doesn’t excuse the poor play, but maybe Freeman’s play wasn’t as bad as it appeared. However that opens up the question – why in Week 15 are the receivers and quarterback not on the same page yet?

While the brunt of the blame for the dreadful 41-0 loss to the Saints will be placed on Freeman and the defensive backs, the offensive line deserves their fair share. The Saints defense came into Sunday’s game as the league’s absolute worse, giving up an average of 146 yards to their opponents. On Sunday the Buccaneers managed just 67 yards on the ground with 18 of that coming from a Keith Tandy fake punt. Take that play away and Tampa Bay only averaged 3.2 yards per carry on Sunday.

And while the ground game was stymied, the pass-blocking wasn’t much better. Freeman was under duress for much of the game, even when the Saints rushed just four down linemen, including an important fourth down play in the third quarter that was blown up when Demar Dotson allowed pressure to a Saints defensive end who hit Freeman’s arm just as he was releasing the ball.

While to expect a perfect pocket is unreasonable, the poor pass protection (and run blocking) on Sunday was simply unacceptable, and must be corrected if there is any hope of getting a struggling Freeman back on track these last two games.

I’m sure offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan didn’t come into Sunday’s Saints game with a plan to target Dallas Clark, Nate Byham and Luke Stocker 16 times, but that in fact is what happened. Pressure down field and a fading confidence caused Freeman to check down early – and often.
Clark finished with eight receptions, but for just 42 yards, and had another first down catch negated by a holding penalty in the second half.

Stocker, who had two catches Sunday, also found himself lining up at fullback late in the game, filling in for FB Erik Lorig, and helping Blount gain 25 yards in the fourth quarter.

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012 22:44

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  • avatar

    My Raheem comments were pointless right? Now there is an unnamed player saying that he wished the coaches would return to college. On the heels on a 40 point blowout, sounds like someone is losing this team in year one instead of year 3. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    O-line should be an F-. The main problem for the entire game was the fact that the offensive line was just that, OFFENSIVE. Freeman was being constantly pressured. When he did have time, he did make some very poor throws, but also threw some good ones too. On the bad, he was probably wondering which D-lineman was about to kill him that he just didn't see coming yet. That would cause any QB to struggle. I also fault the offensive coordinator. Seeing that we had no time to throw, it seemed like we were still running a lot of 5 or 7 step drops. I had a hard time watching and haven't had a chance to go back yet, but there didn't seem to be many 3 step drops in the game. Also, I don't remember many screens. Usually, teams use screens to help slow down a pass rush. Lastly, not sure if it was the play call, or scheme, or Free's inability to locate an open receiver, but, we seemed to throw the 3-6 yard pass on 3rd and 8 or more, and the 8 yard or deep fade pass on 3rd and 2 or 3 to go, which was usually incomplete.
  • avatar

    Schiano is the future, at least the intermediate term future, of this team. Rah is just a bad dream. Nightmare, from day 1. RIP. We have some talent on this team at LB, S and a few D-lineman (about a 50% hit rate, maybe slightly under), our newly minted S. On offense Martin is talented, VJ is, as a #2 WR Williams is, our starting G's are. Penn has some talent under that blubber, but is unreliable. Clark is, though a moot point given how long it is going to take this team to gel. Barber is of course, but again the meter is running on what is hopefully a HOF career. Maybe I'm missing a player or two, but that's it. That's what we have to work with. Thanks, Dom, Rah, Hickey. This is a multi-yr project, will depend more heavily on free agents than is healthy, at most we'll paste and hold it together for a couple of year window before yet another reboot. We had better draft well.
  • avatar

    Here is the problem. Martin is used to playing 10 games in college. He has taken too many licks between the tackles and being only a little over 200 lbs, he has tired legs and his production has fallen off to 16 yards Sunday against the worst run defense in the NFL. Freeman was great with a balanced offense, but we saw Sunday what happens to him without it. He becomes inaccurate, bewildered, and loses all confidence and leadership ability. The solution is easy. Start Blount with his fresh legs who showed what he can do Sunday. Play Martin sparingly until next year, and you will get the Freeman back that we all love. Next year Schiano needs to ask his Offensive Coordinator how the Giants won a Super Bowl with a tandem of running backs, and follow that model, and the Bucs can make the playoffs next year. Schiano is a rookie NFL coach who needs to improve and we will be fine. I said at the first of the year we needed to play Martin and Blount in Tandem.
  • avatar

    If I remember correctly the Saints were stinking up thew NFL lead by Brees. Did he not throw 5 INTs recently. If a first balloter can throw 5 can Freeman throw 4?
  • avatar

    Not sure why Raheem's name is being brought up at all anymore. Dude's gone and he's not coming back. So let's move on lol. I'd be fine with giving Schiano 15 years to turn this thing around because I know that he's got the guts to get rid of players that don't buy into what he's selling. I love that Cowher got what seemed like a lifetime contract in Pittsburgh lol, and after he cycled through the players and coaches that didn't fit, he eventually played a significant role into turning them into what they are still considered to this day: contenders. #1 ranked D, seems like they're never knocked out of the playoff race until week 17 at the earliest lol, and an organization that players respect. (Baltimore not withstanding lol). Ditto with New England and Belichick. If our players can't buy in and won't get serious about their multi-million dollar "jobs", then they don't deserve the opportunity. Tired of these "men" acting like babies and whining all the time. Schiano has never appeared to be in over his head from everything I've seen and heard. He stays true to himself and his families, both football and his actual family. I have more than enough faith that he can get it done over the long haul. Good football mind, I wonder about the rest of his staff because if you remember he didn't get any of his first, second, or even third choices to fill a lot of his staff lol. Peace Buc Nation.
  • avatar

    stlbucsfan - waste of time to even discuss that. Whatever... Rah was fine and if someone believes in him he'll get another shot one day. Until then, he ended his career with a 10 game losing streak
  • avatar

    ehinote- The point is that you have to praise a coach for more than being different. After we heard about his changes internally people jumped to the conclusion that this is what we needed. Obviously thats not true as we have a team 2 games below 500, fresh of a 40 point loss to a division rival, oh yea and they quit. The same things that marked the last coaches demise should start that same conversation for our current coach. Hopefully he turns it around and proves me wrong but I see a team thats progressively getting worse.
  • avatar

    So you want our 1st year coach out even before his first year is over, but hold the horses on our 4th year QB talk? Come on... Schiano and staff have made some mistakes, but not worth even talking about getting rid of him. Rah was Rah and he was here for 3 years. No reason to talk about that. Talk to me in 3 years on Schiano.
  • avatar

    Matador you can debate all day whether or not Raheems method was effective. The fact remains Schiano inherited a team that was easily more talented than ANY team Raheem ever coached and the product is very similar if not worse. Had Raheem coached this team I'm almost positive he could have coached them to a 500 record after all he did coach a worse team to 10-6. His detractors will say you couldnt bring him back bc his players quit on him, to that I'll say this. Raheems teams played hard for him during his 1st 2 seasons in Tampa and he almost won coach of the year in his second season. There were never games were effort was questioned or talk of teams quitting during his first 2 seasons. I think its an awful sign that 15 weeks into his first season players are already quitting and not fighting for their coach. I don't care if we have a players coach in the mold of Mike Tomlin or a strict disciplanarian like Coughlin as long as they play hard. I just ask the fans are fair, if players quitting is what ran Raheem out of town then after a 40-0 dismantling by the Saints then Schiano's seat better start warming up as well.
  • avatar

    I'm sorry but I have to add that, this meltdown aside, the attempt at coaching by an unqualified Morris should not be compared to that of an experienced, organized and disciplined Schiano. Rah should never have been elevated to the top spot and will never be again. Schiano was doing quite well with a mediocre roster before injuries and our lack of depth became overwhelming. I have no problem giving Schiano 3 yrs to turn team around whereas I dreaded every moment Rah was a head coach.
  • avatar

    Mike Glennon from N.C State should be looked at in mid to later rounds, as should Jordan Lynch out of Northern Illinois if he decides to turn pro. Smith and Barkley will be gone too soon in the draft, and I'm truly not sold on either of those guys at this point just yet. Klein from K-State is a very raw QB that will need a fair amount of time to develop. There is no true bluechip QB in this draft, but nobody was saying that about Foles last year. Dalton and Kaep were both considered good prospects with upside but would need to develop a little bit on the bench. I'd say they're doing pretty well at this point. Anybody else have some other names that Tampa should take a look at in next year's draft?
  • avatar

    Freeman might not need to be replaced, but he sure needs to be challenged. Kurt cussins making his first start for the Redskins, Wilson, Keaperneck, all young Q.B.'s out playing our four year starter. If I'm the Bucs I don't hand this kid a contract in the off season, I'd bring in some veteran compition and make him earn it. Whether you believe he's the long term answer or not it's the smart thing to do.
  • avatar

    First off, I know I've been a Josh detractor since we drafted him and I started studying his play. Secondly, I like the guy and wish him only the best, but these are my thoughts. Yes, our team has a lot of issues right now and we can go on and on about each of them, but those will be fixed in time with injured players coming back, free agent signings, and draft picks. My post is about our favorite topic, the QB. No matter what any of us say or hope for none of us can say for sure whether #5 will be a flop or great. What I want is true competition for him. I won't go through all the issues again that I see he has, because you've all seen them and despite our disagreements, all mechanical and psychological issues have shown to continue and will be hard to fix. I want someone in here to compete with and if he fails at least we will have another option. It can't be any worse than this. Coddling him has not worked. Maybe making him fight for his job will bring out some spunk in him. So... yes, inevidibly we will make changes, but if we don't make personnel enhancements at our most important position if will all be for naught again.
  • avatar

    Freeman stunk, the entire offense stunk, the defense stunk and most of all the coaching stunk. This team self destructed in front of our eyes yesterday. Players being held back from coaches, an offense that was as bad as I've ever seen, and a defense that is probably the worst I've ever seen. Greg Schiano better take a looooong look in the mirror and right this wrong before it spreads, these players have quit before and are on the verge of doing it again. I hope this is a rude awakening to some of you that ran Coach Morris out of town last year thinking his coaching style was to blame for the players quitting on him, I defended him then and my point is being proven now. Schiano's message is only going to resonate throughout the team IF he backs it up with wins and for the early part it worked and so they had no choice but to buy in. I saw Doug Martin running into brick walls bc there were no lanes, Jackson running one route and Freeman throwing another, I saw McCoy stunting on passing downs instead of pinning his ears back and getting upfield, and lastly a secondary that hasnt improved all season. Schiano better get these guys together bc good teams dont quit and great coaches dont allow it. Next week will let me know everything I need to know about Schiano. Im so pissed off about the showing yesterday that its best I end my post here. Get To Work Bucs!
  • avatar

    I have been a big supporter of Josh Freeman since he started in Tampa. Nothing that happened in the last two games changes that for me but I have to admit I found myself comparing him to Dilfer after this game. Truth is, Dilfer was nothing like Freeman. Freeman is completely devoted to the game and has superstar skills. Dilfer's first love was Golf, and it showed. When our Pro Bowl Guards come back, and when we have a serious go to TE, and more depth at receiver we will be a better team on offense. Our focus next draft still has to be on defense.
  • avatar

    I understood your post Macabee. As always it was well thought out. The QB position always seems to divide the fan base. I guess it's like the beer commercial debate. While I think we all concur that Josh Freeman is inconsistent and at times his performance ranges from great to pathetic; most of us also recognize that change isn't always better. The Pewter Report gang did a nice piece that showed how favorably # 5 compared to other QB's drafted recently. Apparently some people ignored those results and their remedy is to "Fire Everyone!". Last week the great Drew Brees threw a few picks and his team got blasted. This week it was Eli Manning. Point is, all QB's have days like this one. I agree with my buddy JonnyG that over the history of the Buccaneers, we have never had a truly elite QB. The one we have under center now is, at the very least, good enough. As the team improves around him and he doesn't feel the need to make something happen his play will settle down. He may look calm on the outside, but his play suggests that he is bubbling over with emotion on the inside. Perhaps Talib and Wright can hook him up with an Adderal or two. Relax Josh.
  • avatar

    I was getting flamed for repeatedly saying it earlier this season but Josh's problem is from the neck up. So is Raheem's which explains why he was blind to it. Dom on the other hand...tho in fairness many front offices fall in love with players' physical attributes and think they can be coached up. There's still hope for Josh, but it may require him to be in a more established system requiring less of him. If he can't start making his way thru his progression like real QBs do, by next season, I fear this experiment will be concluded as a failure. Hopefully at that point the Glazers will clear out the rest of the personnel dept as I've been begging them to do for yrs. In the meantime Josh needs veteran leadership, someone like Hasselback who can teach him how to play the position at this level.
  • avatar

    If the Bucs lose the final two games , they will have finished the season with at least a four game losing streak 3 of the last 5 seasons.
  • avatar

    Horse/JonGruden, Re-read my post. I haven't given up on Freeman.....Yet. For the first time I'm trying to decide if he is the answer at QB long-term. I admit my assessment of him may be clouded by his last two performances. I agreed with both of you that there is no one in the draft that looks like a franchise QB. I specifically said that I'm not calling for his replacement now. My commitment and resolve is weakened when I see 5' 11'' 3rd round pick Russell Wilson put up 50+ back to back and I watch our perfect specimen play as inconsistently as he does. I will revisit my words tomorrow without bias to see if I'm affected by the moment in my assessment of Josh. I truly want to believe, but he's not helping me lately!
  • avatar

    macabee, thank you and I hear you and all of our frustration with Josh. to tell you the way I feel is that Freeman could have been outstanding and we could have scored 48 points; our Defense would have given up 60 easily. The Saints throttled back quite a bit in the last 15 minutes of the game. We got to keep focused on the major problem which is Defense. We still need another DE, DT, LB, FS, CB. CB, RB, TE, RB, Center, WR.
  • avatar

    Something needs to be addressed with the QB position-maybe replacement is extreme but come on- hopefully coach can bring in a veteran with some real experience to challenge josh and make him work- the position seems to be just handed to him and he really never had a quality QB to learn from..he needs to grow some hair on his peaches and be a leader..it's not just because of this game but many in his career- seems like once the kid is rattled there is very little coming back and he seems to constantly finger point instead of assume the responsibility himself and strive to change it..
  • avatar

    Macabee, there's no one out there nor to draft in the early rounds. Josh threw some bad throws, but routes weren't always correct, and the OL gave him very little time to make decision. On the other side, Brees had all the time in the world and Ingram who is slower than Blount looked like he should be a 1500 yard runner.
  • avatar

    Macabee- its easy after a horrible game to scream for his replacement and its hard for me to convince you otherwise, you have to evaluate the BIG picture and not the small ones like our fellow posters, if not Freeman then who? Chris Simms or Bruce Gradkowski perhaps? or lets draft a guy like Vinny Testeverde or Trent Dilfer get my point? There have been countless guys for the past 35 yrs that have not been a franchise qb for the Bucs and you want to just give up on a guy who at times has shown promise of being that franchise qb 25 td's and 12 picks and is only 24 yrs old? This isn't time for change sorry
  • avatar

    jared cook te next year goodbye free
  • avatar

    I have been a Josh Freeman supporter from day one and I am not using this game solely as a barometer for whether I should continue to support him. It is his whole 4 year body of work that has me concerned whether he is the QB of the future. Today and last week were terrible performances by Josh, but over his career I have not seen the improvements in the mental parts of his game that should have been well along the way by now. He looks panicked. He throws passes to receivers under duress who have no chance of making a play simply to get the ball out of his hands. He is inaccurate far too often for the receiver to always be at fault. Like Winslow, he makes it appear by his reaction that it is the receiver’s fault and not his. He is gangly and not poised with his movements in and around the pocket. He throws Hail Mary passes that essentially become jump balls anywhere on the field. These are not things that are caused by a scheme change. This is cerebral development as you acquire knowledge of the game. My conclusion – He has all the physical skills to play the game, but can’t put them all together when making decisions for it to become second nature as he gains more experience. In other words this is as good as he will ever be. I am not calling for his replacement now. Bucs management should decide sooner rather than later what his value is to the team long-term and start to make plans now if in the future they decide to go another way. The 2013 Draft is not deep with franchise potential or any that could be considered a sure thing. I am simply convinced of one thing – more time is not going to give us a different Josh Freeman!
  • avatar

    With the downward spiral in performance over the past month why would anyone expect the BUCs to bounce back with these last two games???
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