The Buccaneers could easily be 2-0 instead of 0-2, but instead found a number of ways to lose 19-17 to the Rams Sunday, and now face a quick turnaround with a road trip to Atlanta coming up Thursday. PewterReport.com graded each unit following the loss and presents the Buccaneers Unit Game Grades in this weekly postgame feature.
Josh McCown’s poor decision to throw over the middle across his body leading to a second quarter interception was a huge play in the Bucs 19-17 loss to the Rams. It was first down from the 9-yard line and at the very worse the Bucs offense should have come away with three points. But prior to and after the interception, McCown had a decent game. The former Bears backup ran for two touchdowns and made some other good throws down the stretch, including a rope to Mike Evans on what turned out to be the final play of the game. Still, McCown must eliminate the bad decision-making for Tampa Bay to have any success this season. Arguably, the Buccaneers are 2-0 with better play from the quarterback. McCown finished the afternoon 16-of-21 for 179 yards with two rushing touchdowns and one interception.
Bobby Rainey made his case to be the Bucs’ starting running back going forward with an outstanding performance on Sunday against the Rams. Rainey filled in for an injured Doug Martin and averaged 6.5 yards a carry while rushing for 144 yards and added three receptions for 30 yards. Rainey had to make his own running room at times, and also showed a bit more of a burst and the ability to make guys miss than Martin had shown. Mike James carried six times for just seven yards on the afternoon.
When you only throw for 179 yards it is hard to judge the receivers performance. When given the chance Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans made plays on Sunday, but were held out of the end zone. Jackson and Evans both had four receptions on the afternoon and combine for 100 total yards (Jackson 51, Evans 49). Robert Herron was the only other receiver to record a catch on Sunday, with two receptions for 13 yards.
Brandon Myers finished the game with two catches for 33 yards, including a long of 24 yards. Luke Stocker was primarily used as an additional blocker on Sunday and wasn’t targeted in the passing game. The Buccaneers hope Austin Seferian-Jenkins can get back on the field soon after being inactive on Sunday with an ankle injury.
Any time you can run 157 yards as a team your offensive line did a solid job. That was the case on Sunday. While it may not have been a dominating performance – there were a handful of negative running plays – the line did enough to win the game. Pass protection wasn’t superb but considering the Rams were only able to get to McCown for one sack is a vast improvement over last week’s performance. Logan Mankins and Anthony Collins both had excellent games for Tampa Bay on Sunday, with Collins holding Robert Quinn sackless and Mankins doing a great job on Aaron Donald, who registered just one tackle in the game.
With starter Michael Johnson inactive due to an injury and Adrian Clayborn on injured reserve, the worst possible scenario played itself out on Sunday when star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy broke his hand in the first half and didn’t return. Tampa Bay played the rest of the game relying partly on two players – Scott Solomon and Larry English – who weren’t even on the team last week at this time. Add in the fact that Da’Quan Bowers and William Gholston hadn’t seen the field since early in preseason and it is little wonder the Bucs struggled to get much pressure on Rams QB Austin Davis. Clinton McDonald easily had his best game of his brief Bucs career, notching seven tackles and recording a sack for Tampa Bay. Gholston was the only other Buccaneer to get to Davis on the afternoon, while also contributing six tackles and one for loss. In run support, the makeshift line did a good job for the most part by limiting Rams running back Zac Stacy to 71 yards on 19 carries.
No one will say Lavonte David is having a bad season, but the splash plays haven’t been seen so far in 2014. David did have seven tackles, including two for loss, but his name wasn’t called often and at times you almost forgot he was in the game. David was extremely frustrated following the game, and a member of the Bucs front office was seen in the locker room reminding him to let it go. Fellow linebackers Mason Foster and Jonathan Casillas combined for just four tackles, although Foster left the game with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Dane Fletcher who was credited with two tackles and one forced fumble.
Seeing Austin Davis carve up the Bucs defense for 235 yards you would think the Bucs secondary played poorly. While the unit failed to register an interception, this is the Tampa 2 scheme being exploited by a poor pass rush. Receivers will find soft spots in the zone if there is no pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Alterraun Verner quietly had another good game. Verner isn’t the biggest corner on the team but is clearly the most physical, notching eight tackles on the afternoon. One of those included meeting Zac Stacy head on in the first half with Stacy running down hill with a full head of steam. While Verner took the brunt of the hit, he wasn’t afraid to meet the running back in the hole. Safety play continues to be somewhat of a concern, however, as both Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson seem to always be a step behind or arrive a second too late. That was particularly evidenced by the third-and-9 conversion on the Rams final drive when Goldson arrived a split second too late to dislodge or make a play on the ball that Rams receiver Austin Pettis ended up hauling in.
The Buccaneers special teams had one of their worst days in a long time, having a punt and a field goal blocked. Occasionally you see one or the other, but having both happen in one game is inexcusable. Luke Stocker appeared to get beat on the field goal block and Major Wright was the culprit on the punt block.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
Mark, If you attend the press conference today, will you ask if we’ve seen any of the Tedford offense yet? What was it? Or is it still under wraps? I honestly can’t tell!
I am sure that will be a topic today for sure! I am here waiting now. Should start around 3:45
Lets face it we can’t beat Derek Anderson or Austin Davis at home I don’t see how we can justify winning any game on our schedule this yr, when is the draft again?
Was Tedford calling plays on Sunday? I’ve heard it both ways.
How does a grade of “C” (QB) equate to the “Most Impressive” list?
Did you watch the game? We were limited in our candidates for Most Impressive unfortunately. But despite the bad interception there were some impressive throws. And had that interception been a tipped ball or a great defensive play then he played very well in my opinion. The problem was the situation and decision at the end of the field. That was a F moment, the throw to Evans on the last play was an A moment, and there were a lot of C moments in the middle.
Mark, That throw to Evans by McCown doesn’t — in any way — make up for the interception. That interception lost us points. The catch — against prevent defense, I might add — didn’t do anything. They DO NOT cancel each other out, as you suggest.
Noctus there is no excuse for that interception. I am not saying there is. It cost the team points. Maybe. Maybe that kick gets blocked. I have no problem pointing out the stupid plays, but some fans hatred for McCown doesn’t allow them to be objective.I am not saying you in this case, but some on the message boards. But it shouldn’t be surprising as it was that way when Freeman was here, and then Glennon last season. You have to look at both sides of things. And there were INTS all all the NFL yesterday. Matt Ryan has thrown three this year, Brees had two. Granted I doubt those guys were as poor of decisions as McCown’s.
Mark- I can appreciate the effort in giving McCown credit, but saying “other qb’s throw int’s too” is just a weak excuse for his decision making, McCown is a +10 yr vet at the qb position and to throw tha ball irresponsibly as he has done in these two games is inexcusable. His whole carrer he has been a mediocre qb who had a nice 8 game stretch last yr in Chicago even I was suckered into thinking he really was that good, but he is not and its time to turn the drivers seat over to Glennon to see if he is our future cause we will be drafting in the top 3 next yr a very nice spot to get your franchise qb.
No one has said much about it but I actually think the O-line deserves an A, especially since they were up against a great D-line. I thought both the run blocking and the pass protection were great and even when it broke down McCown had places to step in the pocket, or step left or right. Also, that was the best screen I’ve seen the Bucs run in recent memory and the O-line set up their blocks perfectly. The Bucs have never screened well and I hope that’s a sign of things to come.
MC, I don’t think the grade of a C for McCown is the wrong one given what he was asked to do, it’s the fact that Lovie didn’t ask him do anything hard after that horrible INT. I believe McCown would have had 3 INT’s overall if Lovie had asked him to do everything he did in the first game against he Panthers. Then we would have been talking about McCown even more and less about Lovie. Lovie is trying to cover for his screw up of bringing in McCown as his starter by running the ball in throwing situations and I’m not falling for it. McCown may improve, but he’s not giving us any reason to believe he will.
Is F- possible for the Special Teams?
Love your family photo Pinkstob. Isn’t it always the QB’s fault around here? I agree with what Mark Cook said about needing to see and recognize both the good and the bad when evaluating McCown’s play. One TD pass doesn’t get the passer an A and one ill-advised pass shouldn’t warrant an F. So, the C is about right for me. I’m not one to judge the coaching too harshly, but that 3rd and 7 running play puzzled me. Not that it couldn’t work. It’s just the chance for success is minimal. Coaching gets a C-.
Regarding Tedford, it seems like the recovery period is more indicative of a heart attack followed by stent surgery. I accept being wrong about it, but it is my opinion. These are very sad days for a once proud organization. It was great to see Derrick Brooks inducted into the Ring of Honor and as I watched that and looked at the other names on the Ring it settled in that that was an era I doubt we’ll ever see again. Players in 2014 are just different. They seem more focused on their contracts with the team and sponsors and looking stylish for the game. I miss the days of Sapp, Brooks, Lynch, Alstott, Barber and the rest of those great teams. The days of NFL greats are over … sadly. Now, we have to deal with wife beaters and child abusers.
Rich there are still plenty of great NFL players, McCoy being one of them. The real sadness lies in the fact that there wife beaters and child abusers in every line of work (including yours and mine) and there always has been. The difference in 2014 is a) there is a quick source of pictures and video everywhere now because of smart phones so there are more sources of proof that can make charges stick and b) in 2014 society is much more accepting of people coming out publicly and reporting something they see as wrong, which is a good thing.
This was a poor team effort and loss. The O line was a bright spot and much better compared to last week. Special teams was an F for sure. The coaching and play calling was not good and way too conservative. Throwing on 3rd and 7 when we really need that first down is just giving up and saying I don’t trust McCown. Which is understandable but why is he in tree then? Agree for most part with other grades but McCown gets a D at best to me. You cannot turn it over and leave points on board and get an average score. Sometimes a receiver falls and not QB’s fault but all his int’s are on him. He got away with running but looking back there were open receivers. Your statement with better QB play we could be 2-0 I think is very true.
No unit on offense deserves below a B grade IMO. McCown made yet another boneheaded mistake in the red zone but that was in the 2nd quarter, plenty of time to atone for that mistake. Yet with playcalling that would make Greg Olsen look like Mike Martz he never got a chance to make any real plays from that point forward. Lovie has made his decision now its time to trust he made the right decision. Bc if McCown can’t close games out with his arm, in favorable passing downs then we are better off with Glennon who at least protects the football. Let the man play so the choice will be clear who needs to play and who needs to sit.
I think the Oline was pretty good really…we ran for 150+, and managed to keep McCown upright most of the day (that’s no small feat with how slow this guy is to release the ball). Otherwise – ya about right MC…well done.
Mark, I don’t know about you, but I have already lowered my expectations about 5-7 wins to 3-4 wins. How about you? I do think this team is better than last year because we have some better players on it. The difference I see is QB. Sorry I said that scubog, but it’s the way I see it. One more thing? Lets keep the thought that Coach Smith has been much more available and his Staff with Press Conferences 100% more. I do appreciate the Coach and I support him. I understand what is going on. Go Bucs! Do your best.
Comments about the safeties are spot on. A step slow and a second late EVERY effin time. Just ridiculous.
Great article Mark… I really appreciate y’all’s Honestly and Candor and how you guys are not just Company Men and do a great job of being objective without being overly negative or overly putting rose colored glasses on as well… It really gets annoying how so many people on this site are so directly critical to y’all’s opinions or views and feel it so necessary to try to put you guys down on your articles… If they were such experts and feel their opinions are so much more valid then they should simply go away or start their own dang site… You guys do the best objective reporting out of any dedicated Bucs site and I really appreciate what you guys do… If I have a differing opinion then I will simply share it… I don’t find it necessary to put your opinion down… That’s the thing about opinions is that it is your right to have it and no one has the right to say that it is wrong… If their opinion is different then they should be able to simply share it and not attack yours… Keep up the good works guys…
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