Under the primetime lights of Thursday Night Football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Carolina Panthers and fell to 0-7. The final score was 31-13 although it probably could have been worse. Here are PewterReport.com’s unit game grades.QUARTERBACK
After a solid performance last game against the Falcons, rookie quarterback Mike Glennon was off his game against the Panthers. He played much like he did in his debut and made a lot of rookie mistakes.
Although his stat line doesn’t look bad (30-of-51, 275 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, and an 80.1 rating) a lot of those yards and the touchdown came in garbage time. Also, the Panther had several opportunities to pick Glennon off, including one thrown right in the chest of the defender.
Glennon was also more inaccurate than usual, overthrowing his receivers on multiple occasions. But yet again, the rookie didn’t have much help around him. There were at least three drops, three bad snaps, and he was sacked three times. Also, the Bucs were playing from behind the entire game so they could never get the running game going. GRADE= DRUNNING BACKS
With Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin out with a shoulder injury, rookie Mike James got the start and played pretty well. James had 10 carries for 39 yards (3.9 average) and four catches for 25 yards. James continued to block well and showed he can be a physical, yet shifty runner. He could improve on his vision, but overall had a decent debut as a starter.
Brian Leonard was also in the game, but got just one carry for seven yards. Leonard caught six passes for 32 yards and was also a good blocker in pass protection. GRADE= CWIDE RECEIVERS
Vincent Jackson had a much quieter week after his last two big games. He caught five passes on 13 targets for 79 yards as the Panther did everything they could to eliminate him from the game. Jackson did have yet another costly drop on a third down on Tampa Bay's first series of the game, setting the tone for the night.
Mike Williams, who wasn’t 100 percent with a hamstring injury, also had a third-down drop and caught just three passes for 20 yards. Tiquan Underwood had his best game since joining the team a couple weeks ago, with three catches and 47 yards. With Jackson being taken out of the equation for much of the game, the other receivers didn’t do a good enough job getting open for Glennon.GRADE= DTIGHT ENDS
After a quiet week against the Falcons, rookie wide receiver-turned-tight end Tim Wright had another good game with five catches for 48 yards, and a touchdown. Those numbers should have been even better, but Glennon overthrew an open Wright on a couple occasions. Aside from those misfires, Glennon and Wright have really shown some chemistry thus far and Wright has emerged as the quarterback’s number two target behind Jackson.
Tight end Tom Crabtree failed to make an impact again, especially when he was unable to hold onto a beautifully thrown ball from Glennon that would have put the Bucs inside the five-yard line, instead settling for a field goal. GRADE= BOFFENSIVE LINE
The most disappointing unit on the Buccaneers this year continued to disappoint against the Panthers, but not quite as badly. Costly penalties and missed blocks were actually improved upon this week. The only accepted penalty was against Davin Joseph when the game was already well out of hand.
They also did a better job blocking in pass protection. The first sack given up was due to a poor snap by the center Ted Larsen (one of three bad snaps). The second was when Larsen was benched and the Bucs moved Zuttah to center and Gabe Carimi to guard. Carimi was mauled by the Panthers defender and was quickly benched, to be replaced by Larsen. And the third was given up by Dotson, but was more of a result of good coverage and Glennon holding the ball a little too long.
The line did seem to get tired in the second half as Glennon didn’t have quite as much time to throw, and those three bad snaps by Larsen just show how badly the Bucs need a healthy Carl Nicks in the lineup, so Zuttah can go back to playing center. Overall, the performance was still subpar when you consider the talent on the line, but it was an improvement over the catastrophes of the last couple weeks. GRADE= D+ DEFENSIVE LINE
The defensive line didn’t a decent job on Thursday night, at times getting good pressure on Cam Newton, but they also lost contain on the edges allowing Newton to run for 50 yards on 11 attempts. The line managed just six tackles on the night with four of those coming from one player – Adrian Clayborn – who also recorded the defensive line’s only sack. Gerald McCoy once again saw numerous double-teams which should have freed up others to make plays but Da’Quan Bowers, Steven Means and the rest of the other linemen were virtually ineffective against the Panthers.
It appears of all the question marks heading into the season, the one that deserves the most scrutiny was the decision to allow Michael Bennett to walk, or at the very least not signing a proven pass rusher.GRADE = DLINEBACKERS
Once again Lavonte David showed the nation why he deserves Pro Bowl consideration, leading all tacklers with 12 stops, two tackles for loss and a sack. David missed a couple tackles but all in all was one of the best players on the field – for both teams. Former Bucs great Derrick Brooks, who was in attendance, had to have been smiling, knowing he is looking at an almost exact replica of himself.
Mason Foster had a quiet game as far as splash plays, but contributed five tackles on the night. Overall the linebacking corps was solid, but also have to be held responsible for some of the breakdown on Thursday night that allowed the Panthers to rush for 129 yards on 29 carries.GRADE= CSECONDARY
Tampa Bay’s secondary was most certainly missing the intimidation factor without safety Dashon Goldson who missed the game nursing a sore knee. Keith Tandy filled in for Goldson and wasn’t terrible but did miss an open field tackle of DeAngelo Williams on Carolina’s second touchdown of the night, and failed to record any pass breakups. Fellow safety Mark Barron played better than he had in the previous two games and was second on the team with seven tackles.
The Buccaneers cornerbacks did a decent job on the night, not allowing any passes over their head as they did the past two games, and Newton’s longest pass of the night traveled just 19 yards. The Panthers converted a number of third downs through the air, primarily when in zone coverage. Darrelle Revis led the Bucs with two pass breakups on the night and did a good job of limiting the Panthers Steve Smith when matched up against him. Smith caught just four passes for 42 yards.
Leonard Johnson finished with five tackles on the night but allowed Ted Ginn to get behind him on a deep route that should have resulted in a touchdown had Ginn not dropped the perfectly thrown Newton pass.
Despite not giving up any long passes Newton did manage to thrown for 221 yards completing 23-of-33 passes and finished the night with a QB rating of 111.6.GRADE= C
The only miscue of the night from the special teams unit was a muffed punt in the second half by Eric Page. Other than that the unit performed well with punter Michael Koenen averaging 43 yards on five punts, and placekicker Rian Lindell nailed three two field goals on the night.GRADE= B–Mark Cook and Haley Cornish contributed to this report
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