The Tampa Bay Buccaneers can’t buy a win right now. Even a 21-0 lead was not enough as Tampa Bay crumbled under the spotlight and pressure on the stage at CentryLink Field on Sunday, losing in overtime to the Seahawks. There were some bright spots however, but also some players that failed to produce at critical times.
MOST IMPRESSIVERB Mike JamesThe Buccaneers coaching staff admitted they got away from running the football against the Panthers last week and vowed to change that against Seattle on Sunday. They were true to their word for the most part, and came into CentryLink Field with an emphasis on running the ball with the rookie from Miami, but only gave him three carries in the fourth quarter.
James ran with toughness, and always seemed to generate positive yardage, even when met in the backfield by a defensive player. James appears to be lacking that extra gear that special backs have, but no one, including the coaching staff, could have predicted a 28-carry effort resulting in 158 yards. James also added two receptions for eight yards and tossed a touchdown pass to Tom Crabtree in the first half.
While the loss of running back Doug Martin to a shoulder injury stings, the pain has been lessened by James’ effort over the last two games.
S Mark BarronSome have commented the play of Mark Barron sufferred last week without fellow safety Dashon Goldson in the lineup and perhaps that was true – last week. Barron looked more like Goldson on Sunday against the Seahawks than Goldson has looked like himself lately.
Barron was all over the field on Sunday and was equally effective against the pass and the run, leading the Bucs in tackles with 11, while also collecting two pass breakups and a first half interception.
Barron was the best defensive player on the field for both teams on Sunday, and if the Buccaneers are to ever get on the winning track they will need the former Alabama star to continue to play at a high level.
OG Jamon MeredithWithout benefit of watching a replay of Sunday’s game it is hard to 100 percent evaluate the play of Meredith, but when your sixth-round backup running back rushes for 158 yards and as a team you pick up 205 yards on the ground, the same week you insert an offensive lineman in the starting lineup, it is pretty clear he made a difference.
Meredith is physical, nasty blocker and while he is prone to have occasional technique errors, he is a mauler, and you have to wonder why it took until Week 8 to get him in at guard after the merry-go-round revolving door at that position without Carl Nicks.
TE Tim WrightOnce again PewteReport.com must give credit to the coaching staff for seeing something in Wright that not many on the outside could see. A converted wide receiver, Wright faced a huge challenge to make the team, much less get on the field in the regular season. But not only has Wright managed to play, he is doing it pretty well for Tampa Bay.
Wright had four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown, and has already produced more in eight games than Luke Stocker did all of last season. Quarterback Mike Glennon and Wright obviously have a good chemistry and hopefully for Tampa Bay’s sake, that will continue to develop.
LB Lavonte DavidLavonte David failed to make any standout big splash plays, but it was hard not to notice No. 54 flying all over the football field. David was solid, although not spectacular, but made several hustle plays tracking down ball carriers sometimes several yards down the field. David’s motor is always wide open, and he always seems to be in the right spot, something that can’t be said for the every defensive player right now.
On Sunday against the Seahawks David finished the game with five solo tackles and six assists.
Honorable Mention: QB Mike Glennon, RB Brian Leonard, DT Gerald McCoy, OT Donald Penn, C Jeremy Zuttah
MOST DISAPPOINTINGLB Mason FosterMason Foster was excited all week about going back to the state where college scouts first noticed a young Huskies linebacker and propelled his career that eventually led him to the NFL. But on Sunday, Foster was virtually invisible at times. The Seahawks ran for a ton of yards and No. 59 only managed four tackles. Foster will be entering the last year of his contract in 2014 and whoever the coaching staff may be next year, they won’t like the looks of the tape from Sunday’s game. Foster needs to pick things up and start playing like he did earlier in the season. When you have to double check several times in the game to see if the middle linebacker is still playing – that is never a good thing. No one is expecting Foster to be the second coming of Hardy Nickerson, but he needs to at least be visible in big games.
P Michael KoenenNo one is more loved in the Buccaneers locker room by many of the media than Koenen. A solid guy, classy at all times, and believe it or not a jokester (he does a pretty good Ira Kaufman impression) Koenen looks like any of a hundred soccer Dads you would see at the local park on any given Saturday morning. But like Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne, Koenen can strip off the normal Dad disguise put on a uniform and kick the heck out of a football.
Unfortunately for Koenen, and his team, Sunday was a day to forget. Sure he executed a perfect onside kick, recovered a fumble and boomed a 58-yard punt earlier in the game, but a 30-yard shank, while trying to keep the ball out of Golden Tate’s hands gave the Seahawks terrific field position and Russell Wilson and crew cashed in.
When a team is 0-7, but doing their best David and Goliath impression, the team needs everyone to almost play perfectly. Certainly Koenen is allowed a shank every now and then, but it absolutely cannot happen in such a pivotal part of the football game like it did on Sunday.
T Demar DotsonPewterReport.com has been singing the praises of Dotson since training camp, but on Sunday the converted defensive lineman to starting right tackle had his worst game of the season. The Seahawks have a ton of weapons on the defensive line, and bring relentless pressure from their down linemen, sometimes putting four defensive ends on the line of scrimmage, while also frequently mixing in some blitzes. The noise factor also makes it extremely difficult to communicate, but overall the offensive line did a tremendous job.
However at crucial moments in the game, Dotson lost some one-on-one battles, including giving up a bad pressure on third down in the Bucs overtime possession forcing Tampa Bay to punt.
CB Mike AdamsMike Adams is the smallest cornerback on the roster but plays much bigger. A source told PewterReport.com that every season the Cardinals coaches would write him off as training camp began, but he always managed to find a way to stick, and be effective. Unfortunately Adams had a couple bad plays on Sunday that are magnified when playing cornerback, especially a second half pass interference call that led to a Seahawks score.
There was no question the officials in Sunday’s game were calling anything close as pass interference (it went both ways), and Adams interference call on most Sunday afternoons would have gone unnoticed and unflagged. But had Adams technique been just a little better it was an interception waiting to happen. Instead the Seahawks ended up scoring on the drive, eventually winning in overtime.
Dishonorable Mention: TE Tom Crabtree, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Da’Quan Bowers, DE Daniel Te’o- Nesheim
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]
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