The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have put together a winning streak after going winless in the first half of the season. The Bucs blew out the Atlanta Falcons 41-28 as both teams move to 2-8 on the season. Here are PewterReport.com’s unit game grades.
QUARTERBACKRookie quarterback Mike Glennon had his best game of the season, by far. He finally had consistent play by all of his teammates around him, and it really paid off. Glennon completed 20 of 23 passes (87 percent), for 231 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 137.5 quarterback rating.
Glennon had struggled with his deep ball in previous games, but finally got it going against the Falcons with the help of Vincent Jackson. Glennon also was extremely accurate on intermediate passes, mainly crossing routes. Glennon’s three incompletions were not due to inaccuracy, but were just Glennon throwing the ball away when no one was open down field.
The Falcons defense is very beat up, but nevertheless it was very encouraging to see what kind of game Glennon can put together when the offensive line and running backs are doing their jobs. Glennon may not be able to make an offense successful on his own, but when he has talent around him he can go out and get a win.
One thing Glennon will want to work on after reviewing the tape is his tendency to panic when pressure starts to be applied. On both plays where he was sacked, Glennon couldn’t decide on whether to tuck the ball and run or to just throw the ball away and instead got stuck in the middle resulting in the sacks.GRADE= A-
RUNNING BACKSFor the third game in a row, the Bucs had their running game rolling even without Doug Martin. This time it was with Bobby Rainey, who started the game as Brian Leonard’s backup but quickly took over the starting role as he consistently broke tackles for big gains.
Rainey showed quickness and vision comparable to Saint’s running back Darren Sproles. He was often hit near the line of scrimmage but kept his legs moving turning it into a nice gain. His biggest run of the day came on a 43-yard scamper for a touchdown in the first half. Rainey ended the game with 30 carries for 163 yards (5.4 yards per carry), two rushing touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown. Rainey has clearly earned the starting job but owes big props to the offensive line, who has made all of the Bucs running backs look good since Martin’s season-ending injury. GRADE= A
WIDE RECEIVERS Vincent Jackson and Tiquan Underwood were again the only two wide receivers to get targeted, let alone a catch, but in this game it didn’t matter. With the success of the running game and Jackson’s ability to go up and catch just about anything, the receiving unit (or really just Vincent Jackson) did what they needed to do for the offense to be successful.
Underwood had just one catch for 20 yards, but Jackson had a monster game with 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. This includes another great one-handed catch as well as a couple great adjustments on Glennon throws. Vincent Jackson can’t do it alone every week, but against a battered Falcons’ defense he had one of his best games while still being double-teamed all game long. GRADE= A-
TIGHT ENDSThe tight ends were the only unit that didn’t really make any impact against the Falcons. Rookie wide receiver turned tight end Tim Wright had one catch for 13 yards and Tom Crabtree had one catch for just five yards. Neither player made any big mistakes and both blocked well in the run game. But neither was able to get open and make a play in the passing game. GRADE= C
OFFENSIVE LINEThe offensive line has continued to improve over the last few games after a rough start to the season, and they had their best game of the year against the Falcons. They completely dominated the Falcons’ front four the entire game in both run blocking and pass protecting.
The only two sacks given up by the line were do to the inability of the receivers to get open down field. Other than that, Glennon had all day to throw the ball, which resulted in his extremely accurate game. The line also opened up holes for Bobby Rainey, which also really helped out Glennon by opening up the pass game.
The only negative play for the line was a holding penalty called on Ted Larsen, who was in at guard for Jamon Meredith for a couple plays. However, the line redeemed that on the subsequent play where they opened up a big hole for Rainey to run it in from 43 yards out.
If the line had performed like this from the start of the season, the Bucs would still be in contention for the playoffs. The last couple of games really show how much a successful offensive line does for the rest of the offense. The Bucs ended the game with 41 points, the most since last season against the Oakland Raiders. GRADE= A
DEFENSIVE LINEThe defensive line, or really just Gerald McCoy, got off to a hot start with their pass rush. McCoy had huge back-to-back sacks, stalling the Falcons’ first drive as they were making their way into Buccaneer territory. McCoy added another sack later in the game, and ended with five tackles, three sacks, four quarterback hits, and one pass break up. McCoy was disruptive all game and is having the best season of his career, already with six sacks (he had five last season). McCoy did have two personal foul penalties late, but the game was already won at that point.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn also had one of his best games of the season. He didn’t record a sack but forced the ball out of Matt Ryan’s hand early on multiple occasions and was very active against the run. Clayborn finished with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits.
The defensive line as a unit wasn’t nearly as successful against the run as they were last week. They were able to bottle up Steven Jackson but watched as Antone Smith ran past them on two big runs, although primarily with the backup defense in the game. The Falcons ended the game 152 rushing yards. but kept the Jackson to just 41 yards on 11 carries.GRADE= A-
LINEBACKERSThe biggest defensive play of the game came when linebacker Dakota Watson got a hand on Matt Ryan as he threw, resulting in a Mason Foster interception and return for a touchdown (his second of the year). Foster left the game early with a concussion, but ended the game with three tackles, an interception, and a pass broken up.
Aside from that play, the linebackers weren’t as active and disruptive as they normally are. There were a couple instances, particularly on Smith’s 5-yard touchdown run, where the linebackers were caught out of position. But other than that they played well. Lavonte David had a quiet day but still led the team with tackles, nine, and also had a tackle for loss.
Jonathan Casillas had four tackles and a pass break up. And Adam Hayward, who came in to replace Foster at middle linebacker, ended the game with four tackles. GRADE= B
SECONDARYAs has been the case all season, the secondary made some great plays along with some bad ones. Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis had another good game holding Roddy White to just three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Free safety Dashon Goldson also had one of his best games of the season with two tackles, two pass breakups, one forced fumble, and his first interception in a Buccaneer uniform. He showed great break on the ball and tackled well. Goldson did have a personal foul, which will probably result in another call from the league office.
Strong safety Mark Barron, who’s had a great season so far, had an up and down game against the Falcons. He showed good break on the ball and had a nice pass breakup, but was caught out of position on the game’s biggest play – an 80-yard touchdown pass to Harry Douglas. He wasn’t helped by rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks who made a poor attempt to tackle the receiver. Banks continues to make rookie mistakes but actually had a decent game aside from the big touchdown play. He finished the game with six tackles and one pass breakup.
Matt Ryan had most of his weapons at his disposal this time around, but still struggled completing just 53% of passes. The secondary was a big part of that. Along with holding White in check, they only allowed future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez to gain 51 yards. The only successful receiver was Harry Douglas (again) who finished with 134 yards, but 80 of which came on the one major breakdown by the secondary. GRADE= B+
SPECIAL TEAMSThis win was truly a team effort as the special teams had a big part in the Buccaneer’s success. Along with a successful onside kick attempt, they also had a blocked punt that put the Bucs’ offense deep into Falcon territory.
Along with those big plays, kicker Rian Lindell made two of three field goal attempts, the only miss coming from 55 yards out. The missed field goal and a weird fake field goal attempt were the only miscues by the special teams unit, neither of which were costly. GRADE= A-
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