The Bucs managed to do just enough to lose the previous two games by a total of three points. On Sunday the Bucs only manged to score three points. At least the Buccaneers didn't create the heart-breaking last second drama of the previous two games, teasing their fans.
With rumors swirling on a number of subjects, Tampa Bay did nothing to put a stop to the speculation of instability inside the walls at One Buc Place. But even with all of the turmoil and fan frustration, with a win Sunday against Arizona, the Bucs will be 1-3 at the break, the same record as they had last season. Can lightning strike twice after the bye week, where Tampa Bay ran off to a 6-4 record before finally collapsing down the stretch?
PewterReport.com's Mark Cook offers up his impressions of Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Patriots in this weekly game day feature, the Most Impressive and Disappointing List.Most Impressive
S Mark Barron
Barron led both teams in tackles on Sunday notching 11 tackles and combining to earn a half sack in the first quarter on Sunday. Later in the game Barron had the Bucs defensive hustle play of the day with a touchdown-saving tackle. A few plays later Barron kept the Patriots out of the end zone with a goal line interception of Tom Brady on a pass intended for tight end Zac Sudfeld.
Barron is quickly establishing himself as a terrific run stuffer and an improving cover safety. Barron finished the game with 11 tackles, 0.5 sack, an interception and one pass breakup.LB Lavonte David
The Bucs second-year linebacker continues to make a case for a trip to Hawaii after the season. David had a bad illegal contact penalty that prolonged a Patriots drive, but other than that one mistake, David was outstanding on Sunday. Davis finished with nine tackles, a half sack in the first half and two tackles for loss.
David, and the linebackers in general, are a key reason the Buccaneers defense it much improved over 2012.DE Adrian Clayborn
Clayborn tore his ACL just over a year ago but if you didn’t know any better it would be impossible to tell. Clayborn picked up another sack on Sunday; this one however didn’t result in a 15-yard helmet-to-helmet penalty as it did last week on Drew Brees. Clayborn was all over the field and the coaching staff's decision to move the former Iowa standout to the left or right defensive end spot depending on the formation is proving to be very smart.
On the afternoon, Clayborn recorded six tackles, one sack, and a tackle for loss.DT Akeem Spence
The man who replaced veteran Roy Miller in the middle of the Bucs defensive line has been an upgrade so far in 2013. In Week 1 against the Jets Spence recorded his first career fumble recovery and on Sunday Spence picked up his first sack, something Miller was unable to do in his last two seasons in Tampa.
Spence finished the game with four tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.RB Doug Martin
Without a lot of room and a defense bent on stopping him, Martin still managed to have a solid game rushing for 88 yards on 20 carries. Many of those 88 yards were manufactured after first contact. Martin’s streak of dropping passes has got to stop soon however. With a struggling offense and quarterback in particular, the Bucs can’t afford their receivers or running backs to drop any catchable balls.Honorable Mention:
LB Mason Foster, CB Darrelle Revis, T Demar Dotson, WR Eric PageMost DisappointingWR Vincent Jackson
For a team captain and someone who is being paid an average of $11 million per season, Jackson has to almost be perfect. Drops happen to even the best receiver, but on Sunday Jackson’s two mishaps were at critical junctures and most certainly affected the outcome of the game even though they came early. In the first quarter Jackson beat Aqib Talib on a quick inside move and dropped one of Josh Freeman’s better throws of the day. It was second-and-15 and instead of a first down it was third-and-15. Freeman connected with Doug Martin on the next play for 13 yards but came up two yards short of converting and the Buccaneers trotted Rian Lindell out on the field who ended up missing from 38 yards.
Later in the half, with the Bucs driving, the Buccaneers were faced with a third-and-1 on the New England 38. Freeman dropped back to pass and found Jackson down the sideline with a step in Talib. Freeman’s pass was on the money but Jackson was unable to hold on to what most likely was a touchdown. One the next play, a fourth-and-1 attempt, Martin was stuffed for no gain and the Bucs turned the ball over on downs.
Jackson was injured at some point before the half or early in the third period and did not return to the game, finishing with three receptions for 34 yards.TE Tim Wright
The biggest blunder this offseason without question was the inability or unwillingness to secure a proven tight end in free agency. Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook, even a run down Dallas Clark would have been a major upgrade over the current roster. The Bucs are high on Tim Wright, a converted receiver, but Wright failed to haul in a touchdown catch from Freeman in the first quarter. Like Jackson’s two drops, the inability to snag the pass, albeit difficult, was one of those four or five plays in every game that affect the outcome. Do the Bucs win if Wright makes the catch? Who knows, but drive-killing drops, scoring ones in particular, are inexcusable. PK Rian Lindell
Lindell has one job to do, and that is to put the ball through the uprights. For the second week in a row the task proved too difficult for the former Bills kicker. No one is saying it is an easy job, but one that Lindell must accomplish or he will find himself in the unemployment line, which very well may turn out to be the case later this week. Expect the Buccaneers to being in several kickers for a workout Tuesday, including Derek Dimke. CB Johnthan Banks
Banks has earned more playing time over the last few weeks but wasn’t quite up to the challenge on the big stage Sunday against Tom Brady. Banks has a few decent moments but they were overshadowed by a poorly played deep ball in the second quarter that resulted in a pass interference call giving the Patriots a first down. Later on the drive, Banks was beaten for a touchdown by Kenbrell Thompkins. Banks isn’t the first, and won’t be the last rookie, that Brady had made look silly.QB Josh Freeman
The end of Freeman’s reign in Tampa Bay is nearing its end. Barring some sort of dramatic, cosmic-shaking event, Freeman will almost certainly be wearing the colors of a different team in 2014. Is it fair? It doesn’t really matter. But the roller coaster ride is maddening to fans and coaches alike.
Freeman’s numbers weren’t terrible, but they weren’t outstanding. With just a little help from his teammates, the stat line would have been above average. But regardless of the drops, penalties, injuries to receivers or questionable play calls, Freeman didn’t deliver enough. And quite frankly has failed to do so over the last 10 games, minus the 2012 season finale at Atlanta. Again, regardless of all the excuses, and many are valid, Freeman is the starting quarterback and is 0-3 so far this season while leading an offense that has scored just 27 points in three games.
Freeman most likely will get next week against the Cardinals. But if the Bucs head into the bye week 0-4, look for the Freeman era to come to a close and give way to Mike Glennon for the rest of the season.
Donald Penn, C Jeremy Zuttah, WR Kevin Olgetree
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