Seven games into the 2013 season, and the Buccaneers are still winless with the prospects of a turnaround declining faster that the approval ratings of Congress. Each week PewterReport.com takes a look at players who impressed and those who were below standards.MOST IMPRESSIVELinebacker Lavonte DavidOnce again, Lavonte David was the best player on the field – on either side of the ball – Thursday night for the Buccaneers. David, while not one to worry about how he is perceived, instead just focusing on his job, had to be a little amped up with the opportunity to display his ability on national television. Prior to the game commentators and pundits advised fans and viewers to watch No. 54 and No. 59 (Luke Kuechly) as they are two of the best young linebackers in not just the NFC South, but in all of football.
David, despite being on the losing end of the scoreboard, won the head-to-head battle out-dueling Kuechly on the stat sheet. David finished the game with leading all tacklers with 12 stops, two tackles for loss and a sack on the night. Kuechly finished the game with eight tackles.
Defensive End Adrian ClaybornHead coach Greg Schiano recently noted in a press conference that Adrian Clayborn’s effort has been solid this season, but he needed to perfect his technique and when he does, splash plays would start coming his way. On Thursday night, Clayborn’s always humming motor rewarded him with a sack of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. With defensive tackle Gerald McCoy commanding double teams on nearly every snap, Tampa Bay desperately needs Clayborn and the other defensive linemen to deliver in their 1-on-1’s.
Besides his sack Clayborn also collected four tackles including two for loss.
Wide Receiver Tiquan UnderwoodUnderwood was brought back to be a viable third receiving option after the Kevin Ogletree experiment was a total and utter failure. Underwood’s second chance at life in the NFL didn’t start off very well as the man with the most recognizable hair in the league got off to a very slow start with just one reception in his first two games back from the unemployment line. And while Underwood didn’t make any highlight reels or plays of the week with his performance on Thursday night, he did triple his season output with three receptions for 47 yards including a 24-yard Glennon pass.
With Mike Williams hobbled with a hamstring injury Tampa Bay will need Underwood to step up even much more than he did on Thursday night, but it appears Underwood is getting his football legs – and hands – back.
Running Back Mike JamesAll week prior to Thursday night’s matchup with Carolina the big question was, how would Mike James perform in place of the injured Doug Martin? James came nowhere close to 100 yards rushing, but performed better than many may have expected. James clearly lacks Martin’s quick burst but he also lacks the experience of Tampa Bay’s leading rusher. James showed toughness and a comfort in the Mike Sullivan offense and made the staff and organization breath a bit of a sigh of relief that he can effectively handle the duties when called upon.
On the night James had 39 yards rushing on 10 carries and added another 25 yards through the air on four receptions.
Cornerback Darrelle RevisRevis is still stuck on one interception this season but that is more of opposing offensive coordinators staying away from him than anything Revis is not doing. Once again on Thursday night, the Bucs played a mixture of man and zone coverages and when in man coverage Revis had two pass breakups, leading the Bucs. In fact, Revis was the only defensive player credited with a pass break up on the evening.
MOST DISAPPOINTINGCenter Ted Larsen The Buccaneers coaching staff saw enough of Larsen at guard in place of Carl Nicks that they made the switch putting Larsen at center and moving Jeremy Zuttah to right guard. But Larsen has a terrible game at center with three bad snaps, all low, that resulted in busted plays and one sack of quarterback Mike Glennon. One bad shotgun snap is perhaps acceptable, but three in a game? Once again, the Buccaneers shot themselves in the foot continually across the offensive line, as it seems each week a different lineman takes his turn being the problem. On Thursday night, Larsen stepped to the forefront, unfortunately not in a positive way.
Safety Keith TandyFilling in for a Pro Bowl player is never an easy task, but that is what the coaching staff asked second-year converted corner to safety Keith Tandy to do against the Panthers as Dashon Goldson didn’t play because of a sore knee. Tandy himself wasn’t 100 percent after missing sometime with a concussion and after DeAngelo Williams made Tandy look silly on a second-quarter TD run, Tandy might have wished he had skipped the game. In defense of Tandy, Williams has made plenty of opposing players look silly from time to time. Tandy did manage four tackles on the night, but was part of a secondary that allowed Cam Newton to post a 111.6 QB rating on the evening, as Carolina had little problems moving the football against Tampa Bay.
Wide Receiver Vincent JacksonJackson has been one of the Bucs steadiest players all season but a number of drops have frustrated the offense this season and stalled drives. Jackson delivered another crucial drop on the Bucs’ third play from scrimmage, letting a perfectly thrown slant from Mike Glennon hit the turf. While one play usually isn’t the difference in a win or loss, it can be an early momentum setter or morale deflator. Most Bucs fans, and probably even some players, had to feel the Jackson drop would set the tone for the rest of the night, and that ultimately proved true.
Wide Receiver Mike WilliamsYes we know Mike Williams has been hobbled by a hamstring injury, but even before the injury Williams was virtually non-existent in the Buccaneers offense. On Thursday night against the Panthers Williams struggled to gain separation and also has a drop himself. So far this season the Bucs six-year, $40.25 million dollar man has just 22 receptions for 216 yards and is averaging only 9.8 yards a reception. Reports have come out that Williams has a torn hamstring and while that has yet to be confirmed by the team, it does appear it will be a struggle all season for Williams to even be on the lineup and play. The former Syracuse star is a competitor and wants to be on the field, but if not 100 percent, and the Bucs winless after seven games, it may be best to shut it down for the year and get ready for a do over in 2014.
For the game Thursday Williams had three catches for just 20 yards.
WR/KR Eric PageNothing will get a player jettisoned off of a Greg Schiano team quicker than fumbles, just ask former Bucs Preston Parker and Jordan Shipley. While Page has been fairly solid all season, he now has two fumbles on punt returns this season, and the one on Thursday night was a demoralizing one that killed any slim hopes of a comeback by the Buccaneers.
Page returned three punts for six yards and the above-mentioned fumble.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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