The now 0-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already facing an uphill climb to start the season. After dropping their home opener to the New Orleans Saints in heartbreaking fashion for the second straight week, the Bucs will go to New England and face the Patriots next Sunday.
Before every game each week beat writer Gil Arcia comes out with his Five Keys To Victory then after the game takes a look at how the team fared in meeting the objectives. The following is an analysis on how Tampa Bay did against the keys to victory as well as grades.
Key 1. “Perfect practice makes perfect.”
Illegal procedure penalties. Second straight week of questionable playcalling. Once again the coaching staff let the team down in crucial downs and crucial moments of the game. And once again, the team had opportunities to put the game out of reach, offensively.
“It's disappointing and again it falls on me. It's my job to make sure that our staff and our players understand those procedural things and I am not getting it done so I'm going to get it done,” Schiano said regarding the penalties.
The Buccaneers field goal unit was called on to the field and make it a four-point game and force the Saints high profile offense to march down the field with no timeouts. It was fourth down with three yards to go from the New Orleans 29 yard line. Could the Bucs have attempted a play to get the three yards and end the game? Could they have pinned the Saints deep into their own territory? Head coach Greg Schiano felt that his options were limited.
“The only decision is if you go for it on fourth- and-three or do you kick the field goal,” Schiano said after the game.
The staff also called a prevent coverage for the defense to run on the Saints game winning drive that throughout the game it was pressure that was working for Tampa Bay.
Key 2. A Slight Breeze Is Expected
The Buccaneers' secondary was going to attempt to make Saints quarterback's afternoon one to forget. For the most part, the defense was doing enough to keep Brees from beating them through the air.
Brees finished the night 26-for-4 for 322 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The defense pressured the Saints All-Pro quarterback into feeling uncomfortable several times in the pocket and disguised their defense enough to force him into those two interceptions. Tampa Bay even got to Brees four times.
But all that gets overshadowed by the Saints final drive where they marched 54 yards on five plays with no timeouts to get them well within field goal range for kicker Garrett Hartley.
Key 3. The Four Stuntmen
They stunted, but not as much as last week. The Bucs' defensive front was consistently on the New Orleans backfield causing disruption and making it a tough afternoon for the Saints offensive line.
Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and defensive end Adrian Clayborn both got to Brees. McCoy also recorded a tackle for loss.
Outside of Clayborn and McCoy, the line held up enough to hold the Saints to just 75 yards rushing and got to Brees several times after getting rid of the ball. However, that same pressure was not there for the Bucs on the Saints final drive.
Key 4. The Little Engine That Can
Darren Sproles was not a major factor in the Saints offense Thursday afternoon.
On special teams, Sproles returned one punt for -2 yards. On kickoff return, he had two touchbacks and one return for 23 yards.
Offensively, Sproles registered 36 yards on six receptions and 26 yards on seven rushing attempts. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David even overpowered Sproles for a sack on Brees that made it seem as if New Orleans' versatile running back had no business being out there on pass protection.
Key 5. Distractions Can Be Motivation
The Buccaneers defense came out with fire. Throughout the game, they looked like they had something to prove and looked like they used this week's speculation and controversy as motivation. The offense and coaching staff, not so much.
Overall the Bucs dropped to 0-2 and now face a potential 0-3 start to the season after next week. Tampa Bay, outside of their defense, looked flat and never seemed to have gotten a rhythm going. When running back Doug Martin got something going, the drive would stall for whatever reason. When they had the Saints, on their heels, Josh Freeman threw an interception as he stared down Vincent Jackson downfield.
Bottom line, there was no motivation used to beat a Saints team, a divisional opponent who they let hang around.