The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to 0-4 on Sunday after losing to the Arizona Cardinals. The Bucs led Arizona 10-0 until the fourth quarter, when the team unraveled and gave up 13 unanswered points. Here are the unit game grades for the disappointing loss.QUARTERBACK
Rookie Mike Glennon made his first NFL start after quarterback Josh Freeman was benched earlier in the week. Glennon got off to an impressive start, but progressively got worse as the game went on. Glennon was unable to move the ball after leading the Bucs to 10-0 lead in the first half, even though Arizona had one of the lowest ranked secondaries in the league coming into Week 4.
Glennon ended the day 24-43 (55.8 percent) for 193 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of just 55.7. Both of Glennon’s interceptions came at the most critical points in the game. The first one resulted in a game-tying touchdown for the Cardinals, and the second one came on the Bucs’ final chance to tie or win the game.
The coaching staff was (rightfully) very conservative with Glennon, who attempted just two deep passes. Glennon has a big arm but is very inaccurate with his deep throws which is a main thing he needs to work on to improve his game. All of Glennon’s completions were either short or intermediate throws, the longest being just a 20 yard completion.
Regardless of Glennon’s poor debut, it is important to remember that this was his first ever NFL game and, generally, rookie quarterbacks struggle in their first games. Glennon did show great poise to start off the game and showed some potential early on. The Bucs have a bye week coming up, so that will give Glennon time to look over his mistakes and work on improving them before facing the Eagles in Week 6.
GRADE= D+RUNNING BACKS
Another reason why Mike Glennon should get some slack is the fact that the running game was completely invisible all game. Doug Martin had his worst game of the year with just 45 yards on 27 attempts (1.7 yards per carry). The offensive line didn’t give Martin much room making him work for his yards.
But uncharacteristically, Martin did make a lot mistakes throughout the game. Martin failed to hit the hole when the line did manage to make a little running room, and instead danced around in the backfield and ran laterally, giving the defense a chance to close in. Martin also had a muffed block that allowed Glennon to get lit up before the end of the first half. But Martin’s most costly mistake came when he fumbled a handoff without even being hit by a defender, and the fumble was recovered by Arizona. The Cardinals capitalized on the turnover by scoring a field goal, but more importantly they got the momentum and didn’t let it go for the rest of the game.GRADE= D-WIDE RECEIVERS
Vincent Jackson led the receivers with 11 targets, but only caught two passes for 27 yards. Jackson didn’t have a drop in the game for the first time this season, but was completely shut down by stud cornerback Patrick Peterson all game. Peterson actually picked off two passes; both were intended for Jackson. Jackson was not 100 percent going into the game, and had to convince coaches to let him play.
Mike Williams, who was also injured coming into the game, led the wide receivers with 38 yards and one touchdown. Kevin Ogletree was the only other one to record a catch, and he ended the day with five receptions for thirty yards and one dropped pass.GRADE= DTIGHT ENDS
Nate Byham was the starting tight end going into the game, but Tim Wright was the one who showed up and played pretty well compared to the first three games. Wright led the team with five receptions and 41 yards, and would have had more had he not been hit helmet-to-helmet on a big completion. Wright, who is a wide receiver turned tight end, may have jumped Nate Byham on the depth chart on Sunday. Byham finished the game with no catches despite being the starting tight end. GRADE= D+OFFENSIVE LINE
The offensive line continued to struggle in run blocking for Doug Martin and it really hurt the Bucs in this game with a rookie quarterback making his debut. The Cardinals have a very good run defense (third in the league going into the game), but Doug Martin should never average just 1.7 yards per carry. They will need to step up their game for the Bucs to have any success on offense.
In terms of pass protection, the offensive line did better. They did allow two sacks and a few quarterback pressures, but for the most part Glennon had time in the pocket to throw the ball. If Glennon felt pressure it was usually because he was holding the ball for too long, not because the offensive line struggles.
The most encouraging thing coming out of Sunday’s disappointing loss is that the offensive line committed zero penalties against the Cardinals. No false starts, holding calls, or illegal formations were called against the line, which is a huge step forward compared to the first three games. GRADE= DDEFENSIVE LINE
Gerald McCoy had a big sack on the first play of the game, and that would be the only sack of the game for the Bucs’ defense. The defensive line played pretty well in the first half putting pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer, but the second half was a different story. Palmer had all day to throw the ball allowing the Cardinals offense to finally get going and ultimately win the game.
McCoy was the most dominant lineman on the field by far yet again with one sack, one fumble recovery, one batted down pass, and was in the backfield on several plays. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn had his least impressive game of the season, but did have a sack taken from him after Palmer threw the ball away and resulted in intentional grounding. Clayborn ended the game with three tackles.
The defensive line played well against the run as usual, allowing just 56 yards on 20 carries (2.8 average). The front four has been great against the run but has failed to create their own pressure, as McCoy and Clayborn were the only two able to get any pressure on Palmer.GRADE= CLINEBACKERS
After dominating the first two games of the season, the linebackers cooled off against the Patriots and that continued against the Cardinals. There were no splash plays made by the linebackers, but no glaring mistakes either. Dakota Watson led the team with six tackles and two tackles for loss. Mason Foster and Lavonte David both had five tackles, and Foster had a tackle for loss and a pass break up.
The linebacker blitz packages did not work at all. The Cardinals did a very good job of blocking against the blitz, which is why the Bucs ended the game with just one sack. David had his least impressive game of the year with a couple missed tackles, but aside from that the linebackers had a pretty good game. GRADE= BSECONDARY
Tampa Bay’s secondary was completely dominant in the first half, holding Palmer to 87 yards. But after Barron left the game at half time, the secondary began giving up big chunks of yards allowing Palmer to finish the day with 248 yards.
Most of the big completions given up were to wide open receivers, but other than that the secondary was very good in coverage all game. Cornerback Darrelle Revis was on wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for much of the game, completely shutting him down in the first half. Revis did give up a couple catches to Fitzgerald, one of which was a touchdown pass. But Revis had his first interception as a Buccaneer on a throw intended for Fitzgerald where he made a great break for the ball. Revis led the team with six tackles, one interception, one pass break up, and one forced fumble.
Rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks also recorded his first interception on a great leaping catch in the end zone. Banks had a solid game with the interception and two passes broken up.
Safety Dashon Goldson nearly had a pick when he broke on a Palmer pass, but it fell incomplete. Goldson also had the longest run of the game when he ran the ball on a fake punt and picked up 22 yards. Unfortunately, Goldson was flagged yet again for unnecessary roughness and could be facing suspension yet again. On the replay, it looked like a clean hit, which should help his case, should the league take action. GRADE= BSPECIAL TEAMS
After missing a short kick last week against the Patriots, it looked like Rian Lindell’s confidence was shaken. But after making a 50-yard field goal against the Cardinals, that could turn things around for him.
Kick returner/running back Jeff Demps made his debut as a Buccaneer but didn’t do much in the return game. He elected to take out a kick from nine yards deep, only to be tackled at the 10-yard line. This was at a very critical stage in the game, and the Bucs ended up punting the ball from the back of their end zone from the poor field position. Eric Page looked good again, returning two punts for 22 yards. He looks like he has the ability to break one loose at any moment.GRADE= B-
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