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September 14, 2013 @ 6:51 am
Current rating: 3.67 Stars/3 Votes

SR’s Pick 6: Bucs vs. Saints

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds will be looking for in Tampa Bay’s home opener against the New Orleans Saints? Find out in his new weekly column, SR’s Pick 6.
The Buccaneers (0-1) return home to Raymond James Stadium and will try to rebound from a horrific, season-opening loss to the Jets with a win against the New Orleans Saints (1-0). What are the six things PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s home opener?

The Buccaneers coaching staff had months to game plan for the Jets, and head coach Greg Schiano, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan didn’t have their players adequately prepared to play in New York, which was ridiculous.

The intercom system between Sullivan’s walkie-talkie and Josh Freeman’s headset in his helmet didn’t work in the first quarter and it resulted in a timeout and two delay of game penalties – and ultimately a third-and-35 situation – because there was no backup system in place to calls plays. Sullivan also didn’t have a backup game-plan in case the stout Jets 3-4 defense took away Doug Martin and the running game, which it did.

Sheridan unwisely used a prevent defense on the Jets final drive that gave rookie QB Geno Smith ample time to hit tight end Kellen Winslow for a key 25-yard gain and allow Smith to scramble 10 yards to get into field goal range for the game-winner. Better in-game adjustments are needed from both of Tampa Bay’s coordinators.

The undisciplined Bucs were penalized 13 times for 102 yards and the execution was sloppy at times on both sides of the ball. Schiano did a poor job of managing the team’s use of the preseason and it showed in a Week 1 loss in New York. He and his assistants need to have this talented team better prepared to handle adversity than the Bucs did against the Jets.

The Bucs can enter the Saints game with the same goal on offense – establish the run with Doug Martin and create play-action passing situations for Josh Freeman – but they need to try a different approach with different plays. Rob Ryan is New Orleans’ new defensive coordinator, and his scheme is almost a carbon copy of what his brother, Rex, used in New York’s 18-17 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. Rex laid the blueprint on how to stop Martin and pressure Freeman into incompletions (and mistakes (one interception).

Of course, Rob Ryan has already had success against Freeman and the Bucs, beating Tampa Bay when he was the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3 last year, 16-10. Freeman had his worst game of the season, completing just 10-of-28 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown, one interception and one fumble.

Tampa Bay will be facing a similar 3-4 defense again this week and must make the necessary adjustments and change-up the playbook to avoid a repeat of last week’s performance, which was less than 300 yards of total offense and just 17 points on the scoreboard. Having fullback Erik Lorig back should help the running game. Sullivan better call the game of his life on Sunday for the Bucs to have a chance to beat the Saints.

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman struggled mightily against Rob Ryan’s defense last year in Dallas, completing just 37.5 percent of his passes and turning the ball over twice. Against his brother Rex’s defense last Sunday in New York, Freeman completed just 15-of-31 passes for 210 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

It’s time for Freeman to stop fearing micromanaging head coach Greg Schiano and start playing to win, rather than playing not to lose with the hesitancy he’s displayed during the preseason and season opener. Whether he has a captain’s “C” on his chest or not, Freeman needs to lose the “deer in the headlights” look, step up and take control of the offense. If the coaches can’t get the communication in his helmet to work right, Freeman needs to step up and just call a play.

Freeman has to remember that he’s in a contract year and has to take control of his career by taking control of the offense. He needs to focus like never before and actually out-duel Drew Brees on Sunday in order to get Tampa Bay the critical win it needs.

What’s the first rule of football? Don’t beat yourself. Next to turnovers, penalties are the biggest self-inflicted wound for any football team, and the Bucs had 13 infractions for 102 yards on Sunday, including a critical personal foul on linebacker Lavonte David, who hit New York quarterback Geno Smith late out of bounds. That gave the Jets 15 yards and put them in position to kick the game-winning, 48-yard field goal with four seconds left.

Safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron were each penalized 15 yards for targeting supposedly “defenseless receivers.” Even though those infractions were tough to swallow, Goldson and Barron are setting the tone for wide receivers that dare come across the middle during the 2013 season. Those thirty yards will be well worth it when opposing receivers get alligator arms that will create dropped passes or interceptions later this year.

What the Bucs have to do is eliminate the defensive holding flags, the false starts and the delay of game penalties. Those are mental errors and technique errors, not necessarily penalties that come from playing hard. The Saints are tough enough to beat alone. The Bucs don’t need to do any favors for their opponents by giving away free yardage and first downs.

There were some bright spots in Tampa Bay’s 18-17 loss at New York, and they mostly came on the defensive side of the ball. The Bucs’ revamped defense recorded five sacks, forced two fumbles and picked off a pass.

Tampa Bay’s linebackers were the stars of the show when it came to splash plays against rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets. Middle linebacker Mason Foster had two sacks and a key forced fumble that was turned into a touchdown by the offense to go along with eight tackles, while weakside linebacker Lavonte David had an interception and a sack and eight tackles, too. Strongside linebackers Dekoda Watson (sack) and Jonathan Casillas (forced fumble) also made big plays for Bill Sheridan’s unit. The linebackers must equal their effort against Drew Brees and Co. this week in order to slow down New Orleans’ high-powered offense.

The Bucs defensive line did a good job pressuring Smith, but only registered one sack, which was from defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy came close to sacking Smith, but will have to do a better job against Brees, who is even more difficult to sack due to his quick release.

It’s only Week 2, but Bucs fans and some in the media are already beginning to jump ship. The “It’s A Bucs Life” slogan could quickly be turned into “Get A Life, Bucs!” as fan apathy could settle in with a 0-2 start to the 2013 season if the Buccaneers don’t win their home opener against the NFC South rival New Orleans Saints on Sunday. After a week full of distractions, this is a must-win game for Greg Schiano, Josh Freeman and the team, otherwise some drastic changes at One Buccaneer Place loom on the horizon.

The Bucs need to use every trick play in the book on offense – and even special teams – if they have to in order to get a victory. Tampa Bay cannot afford to start the season 0-2, as it will create turmoil inside the organization. A 0-2 record with a loss to the Saints would be demoralizing heading into a road game against AFC powerhouse New England.

Last modified on Saturday, 14 September 2013 07:02

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  • avatar

    I am all for getting rid of the head coach! This team was helped by Mark D. In the off season but the coach has been so poor, does the team really have a chance! Josh does not have a chance, all the players if truth be told don't believe in this coach! The Glazers should man up and realize their mistake and get rid of the coach before the team has no chance at winning this year!
  • avatar

    Go represent Scubog, we're all cheering the Bucs. Hopefully you'll be throwing who dat smack after the game.
  • avatar

    I've now read yet another new example of the questionable fan loyalty exhibited so often hereabouts. Our own Morgan is thrilled to have sold the tickets he already purchased; no doubt to Saints fan for which he has already professed fear. I've never missed a home game; so I have often been forced to endure the attendees who chose to cheer for the opponent, even though the vast majority live right here. Being a "Certified Smart A$$" I enjoy giving it right back to those neighbors wearing their former team's brand new garb. My favorite this week is that when Drew Brees gets hurt and the back-up QB trots onto the field every Saints fan will be posing the Jeopardy question, "Who Dat?" Back in 2011 the lowly Bucs beat those Saints and the LOSE-iana fan behind me was devastated. C'mon Morgan, don't wave the white flag so soon.
  • avatar

    I know it's early, but I think this is pretty much a must win for us. Other teams can return from 0-2, but this Bucs team, with this coach, I just don't think it can happen. I am going to be optimistic, and I am going to hope for the best, but I am beginning to doubt Schiano's abilities. I don't know if Freeman is the answer, and my guess is we will never find out with this coach. Freeman has gotten progressively worse the last few years. It may be Schiano's fault, it may not be. But I have a feeling if our start snowballs, all the blame will be placed at Freeman's door.
  • avatar

    The Bucs D can hang in there with Brees and co. all day if the right players play their game...Barron can hang w/ Graham, put Revis on Moore and then lets see how smug he is in the slot, slap Banks on Colston w/ some help over top (welcome to the NFL rookie) David and Watson are athletic and quick enough to hang with Sproles and if Sheridan would stop calling meaningless stunts on 3 and throwin and actually let the D line RUSH the passer instead of running around him...Bucs D could have a great day...and NFL network's team injury reports list Nicks, Clayborn, and Melvin as all probable.
  • avatar

    I agree, B4L79 - enough of this doom & gloom and look at the possibility of actually winning this game. When I formed my pre-season prediction, I marked this as a win. If you look at the Jets game as a bad day, then you should be able to see how this is still possible.
  • avatar

    Out-duel Brees ? Looks like 0-2 to me.
  • avatar

    How about being a bit objective. The jets are much better than the experts thought. Their defensive line is tons better than New Orleans. The Jets damn near took out the Patriots and they dominated New England to a much larger than degree than us. This game will be close tomorrow. If Saints win it, the reason will be Brees. If Buccaneers win it, the reason will be our offensive line vs. their defensive line, which is pathetic.
  • avatar

    MOST QBS would be like yes headset isnt working i get to call my own play , but nope not freeman he has no creativity he strictly is letting coaches run his career into the ground. They should just let him hike the ball and throw it too who he wants when he wants and if he fails he fails. These complicated miscomunication issues and confusing offense is not worth figuring out and to be honest i do not want to wait around for a qb to learn this Scheme either i want a win Now qb.
  • avatar

    Whew - tickets sold. Don't have to be subjected to this pathetic game except on my HDTV in my comfortable living room. Go Bucs - beat dem Saints while I watch in my comfortable home and not in sweltering RayJay filled w/ Who Dat Nation.
  • avatar

    Right on point again, Scott. I agree completely with Horse and couldn't say it better. The Buc's fans deserve far better than Schiano and Freeman, but DOM has put together a talented team and it would be a shame to lose his services.
  • avatar

    I think we win this game. Freeman does just enough not to lose this one. Still see us 8-8 this year though. Freeman will continue to be inconsistent as he has ALWAYS been. I'm talking the year not just one game. I would be surprised if he was our starting QB next year.Whenever you have a QB that is labeled your franchise QB and it doesn't work out you will initially have turmoil within the organization. I still think Schiano can make this happen but with another QB.
  • avatar

    This game may be the beginning of the end for this coaching staff and QB.
  • avatar

    What I have seen in preseason and the Jets game I don't know how we're going to win this game. Right now I do not have much confidence in the coaching staff to be able to present an offensive package that will get 30 points for a chance to win this game. I don't think the game is going to be anywhere close. I predict that we lose by 17. I know its negative and gloom and doom but I just don't believe in this coaching staff anymore.!
  • avatar

    I dont think our defense will let us lose to anybody by 17 unless of course its 17-0 lol ... Which is probably unlikely since our defense is likely to give us at least 3 points every game . still i guess your right though 20-3 23-6 etc but i ust dont see our defense letting opponetts score more than 3 tds and a fg a game . Revis shutdown his man every play not 1 catch came past him . There was a catch that came past him but it was barrons fault for bumping into him on a cross pattern. Banks looks good from what i have seen . Leonard Johnson is improving too . He looks stronger and more adjusted to the nfl speed now in his 2nd year. Our d line looks good . We held jets to 90 yards rushing 45 by the Qb though . Either way we look good . I cant remember the last time our defense actually got sacks, stops and hard hits consistently in the game in a long time . It felt good to watch those things happen again. I think our Qb has to go though. No reason why any qb in the nfl cant call his own audible if the headset isnt working . Why did he have to call two time outs in the opening drive ? why couldnt he just be a man and play the damn game . If we punt oh well fix it when the defense is playing dont call time outs and look like a *censored* letting the other team get hyped uppp. Even with a bad offensive coordinator and a bad QB we still should get 14 pts a game specially with a good defense . i think people need to realize that.
  • avatar

    I definitely agree that the coaching staff should have had the players ready to compete with and defeat the Jets-and by a wide margin. I understand that the Jets(even without Revis) were a top ten defense last year. The problem is really the quarterback though. Whether or not Freeman is Schiano's guy doesn't and shouldn't matter. He is playing for his next contract, in Tampa or somewhere else. It's that immaturity that led to Freeman being unprepared. He doesn't or hasn't worked on the most important parts of his game. He stares receivers down. He doesn't look off the safeties. He holds on to the ball too long. He looks lost or in a panic at times. Limited escapability. He doesn't take command of the offense. There are only 32 starting QB's in the NFL. Freeman will make a suitable backup for some team next year. I can't think of one team that would make Freeman the starter over their current starter. Even if Cam Newton is bad, the Panthers will replace the coach and give SuperCam another shot. In Arizona, he might have had a shot at replacing Carson Palmer if he was at least accurate. He isn't and Arians demands that and knows you can't teach it. Oakland? Maybe, depending on how well Pryor performs. The kid had game in his first shot at leading the team. What about Cleveland? That is probably the best spot for him to land, but will he represent an upgrade over the draft's top signal caller(who they are sure to target)? Freeman will be a capable backup for some team next year.
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