The loss to the Patriots Friday night had many questioning the physicality of the Buccaneers. Although it’s preseason, Tampa Bay looked as if they did not belong on the same field with New England. Missed tackles and losing individual battles at the line of scrimmage contributed greatly to that theory.
After reviewing the film, head coach Greg Schiano agrees that the individual matchups is where the game was lost.
“I think what we didn’t win was the one-on-one battles,” Schiano said. “I didn’t leave that game saying from a physicality standpoint – I didn’t think we got out-physicaled. And that’s a positive because they’re a very physical football team. They take pride in it as we do. There was a lot of good hitting going on that had a regular season feel to it. I know we got beat in some one-on-one battles in pass protection, but overall I think it was two teams that hit each other hard.”
The pass protection for the Buccaneers appeared to be non-existent at times. It wasn’t just the sacks given up, but several times quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Mike Glennon had to move around considerably as the pocket collapsed around them. But even with breakdowns in the offense, Schiano is not worried.
“Let’s see how we do. I’m not concerned because I believe in the guys that are there, and I just think some things have happened that didn’t allow us to do what we’re capable of doing,” Schiano said. “But those things can’t continue to happen; otherwise the result will be the same. You can’t judge anything by its intentions; you’ve got to judge it by its actions and results. But I’m not concerned, no. I believe that these guys are going to do it the way we expect.”
It would be fair to assume that part of the reason why the offense has struggled — in particular the first-team offense — is due to the absence of All-Pro guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. But if you recall, the Bucs were without Nicks and Joseph for practically the entire season.
Schiano touched on that misconception as he states their absence is not the reason why his offense is struggling.
“Well I don’t think that way because last year we didn’t have [Carl] Nicks and [Davin] Joseph for the majority of the year, Joseph the whole year and Nicks close to three quarters of the year we didn’t have him,” Schiano said. ‘That’s life in the NFL. No one is going to have a Pro Bowler stacked behind a Pro Bowler, that doesn’t work that way. So we have to get the job done. It’s going to be nice when we get them playing again, certainly that firms up the middle. It gives you the ability to help your tackles a little more. But we didn’t protect well those first two drives, and that can’t be. We’ll get it fixed, I’m confident that our guys will get it fixed and we’ll play better.”
On the bright side, Schiano gave high praises for his right tackle. Demar Dotson, who many perceive to be in danger of losing his starting job, has played and practiced exceptionally well to this point. Despite a less than stellar performance Friday night, Dotson got the backing of his coach as the team’s starting tackle.
“Demar Dotson is having a very good camp. He’s our starting right tackle,” Schiano “Gabe Carimi is learning the system and he’s getting better every day, but I think Demar didn’t play his best game (Friday) night, he’s ailing a little bit. He’s got a little thing going on with his leg. He’s going to be fine, it’s nothing big, but I think he’s pushing through that. But he’s performed very well, I think Demar is going to be really solid.”
The team’s performance Friday could be a result of a long and grueling process that is training camp. The work that gets put in starts getting to players physically and mentally that the purpose of why they are there gets lost in the madness of camp.
But as preseason is halfway through and training camp is over, the preparation for roster cut-downs and intense film review goes on. This week, the team will continue practicing and evaluating players who are fighting for roster spots and while the players have an opportunity to recharge a bit, the goal for the final two weeks has not changed.
“Now we’ve broke camp and they’re back living at their houses and that’s good, that’s where we need to be right now and now we’ve got to lock in and have a good week,” Schiano said. “There’s plenty to look at this tape and say this is what we need to improve on, and then we have plenty of practice time to improve on it. Hopefully we go out and continue to improve and play better football Saturday night. I’m looking forward to it.”