The loss to the Jets and the manner in which it happened was the nightmare scenario the organization most likely never dreamed could possibly
happen. But happen it did. Still there were a number of bright spots and plenty of low ones. Read what editor Mark Cook thinks and see if you agree.
Most Impressive WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson made his presence felt early after a 20-yard reception on the Bucs first drive and continued throughout the game with big catch after big catch. Jackson almost singlehandedly beat the Jets with his fourth quarter reception that put the Bucs in position to win with a Rian Lindell field goal. Lindell did his part but the defense allowed the Jets to score with seven seconds left, leaving the Bucs 0-1.
For the game Jackson had seven catches for 154 yards and the Pro Bowler started the season as if he is ready for another trip to Hawaii.LB Mason Foster
Foster’s game started slowly, failing to get proper depth on Geno Smith’s first pass of the day in the first quarter, but the former Washington Huskie settled in and showed what the Bucs have been looking for over the last two seasons. Foster had eight tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble. Foster’s first sack and forced fumble led to the Buccaneers scoring their second touchdown of the day, giving the Bucs momentum. Foster’s second sack was an 18-yard loss of Smith.
Foster's pass defense is still questionable but there was no question the third-year linebacker came ready to play on Sunday.S Dashon Goldson
While Goldson was called for two personal fouls (officials called one on Mark Barron but replays appeared to show Goldson as the culprit) on the day for hits on a defenseless receiver, Goldson – and fellow safety Mark Barron for that matter – played very well and Goldson was an intimidating force all afternoon in New York. Goldson will most likely receive the FedEx package delivered to his locker on Wednesday, but the New Orleans Saints receivers will most certainly take notice and it could have an effect this upcoming week, and even the rest of the season. Goldson finished with seven tackles and looked to be worth every penny of his $41 million contract.
P/K Michael Koenen
Koenen started his 2013 season in Pro Bowl form and was a big time weapon for the Buccaneers. While it is never a good thing when your punter is one of the better players of the day, Koenen put the Jets in several deep holes with booming punts and kickoffs including dropping three punts inside the 20-yard line. Koenen was also perfect on kickoffs, not allowing the Jets a chance to return even one single kick.
Koenen averaged 45.3 yards per punt, including a long of 59 yards.DE Adrian Clayborn
Our old friend and former PewterReport.com beat writer Eric Horchy coined the perfect description of Clayborn in 2011 when he described the former No. 1 draft pick as playing with “dreads on fire.” On Sunday, against the Jets, those smoking dreads were flying all over the field against the run and in pursuit of Jets quarterback Geno Smith. Clayborn looked polished and in mid-season form and while only credited with three tackles, the disruption caused by Clayborn was a big part of the Bucs defense success.Honorable Mentions:
CB Darrelle Revis, WR Mike Williams, WR/PR Eric Page, DE Daniel T’eo-Nesheim, DT Gerald McCoyDisappointingLB Lavonte David
First of all in no way shape or form did linebacker Lavonte Davis lose the game for the Bucs on Sunday. There were numerous errors that were just as big a part of the loss as David’s terrible decision to hit Smith late. And prior to that hit and penalty, David was very high up the Most Impressive List. With that said, you cannot minimize the play and not call it anything other than an uncharacteristic bonehead play by the second-year linebacker from Nebraska. It is inexcusable, but not the reason for the loss on Sunday.
David is one of the best players not just on the defense, but the entire roster. And no player will take it as hard as David. You can almost bet if David plays another 12 years in the NFL you will never see him make that mistake again.
Unfortunately it was costly, and despite eight tackles, one interception and a sack, the error was significant enough to warrant being added to the Most Disappointing Players list.CB Leonard Johnson
Johnson, like David, had a very solid game, as did the entire secondary, not allowing anything deep all day and showing a huge improvement from a year ago. But also like David, Johnson has an egregious mistake that cost the team dearly. After stopping the Jets late in the game on third down, the Bucs second-year defensive back was called for holding, giving the Jets a fresh set of downs that lead to a field goal putting the Jets up 15-14. And also like David, Johnson’s error didn’t necessarily cost the Bucs the victory, but allowing a team a new set of downs that ended with an additional three points in a one-point loss was a major mistake by Johnson.LT Donald Penn
Donald Penn had one of his worst games since the Jacksonville game in 2011. Penn was guilty of a holding call early in the game and while tight end Luke Stocker ultimately was at fault on giving up a first half sack, Penn gave no help on that particular miscue. The Bucs were also unable to run the football all day running behind Penn and Gabe Carimi, with Doug Martin finding little success. Then late in the fourth quarter Penn gave up a sack, and while the Bucs were able to get the ball back on the next series and take the lead, Penn’s sack and subsequent meltdown on the sidelines was frustrating to see from the veteran left tackle.
Penn will most likely regroup, and after the game talked about sticking together as a team and how the team came together as a family during OTAs and training camp. He must bounce for the Bucs to have any chance of success in 2013.C Jeremy Zuttah
Zuttah is primed to have a potential Pro Bowl season, or at least many thought. Unfortunately Zuttah’s season started out far from All-Pro. Zuttah was called for a false start early in the game then soon after had one of several Bucs mental mistakes on the day when he snapped the ball before Freeman was ready. The bad snap resulted in a safety and it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out how costly those two points were in the end.WR Kevin Ogletree
Somewhere out there Tiquan Underwood is smiling. Ok that isn’t true, Underwood is way too classy, but after being cut in favor of Ogletree, who could blame him if he was. While Underwood didn’t have the most secure hands in the NFL, he rarely disappeared completely from the stats sheet like Ogletree did on Sunday against the Jets. Ogletree showed little in the preseason, and showed even less on Sunday. Ogletree was targeted twice, dropping one. Perhaps Ogletree catches fire at some point, and there must have been a reason he made the roster over Underwood, but Freeman and the offense desperately need a third option who can create separation and make clutch catches when the other options are covered.Coaching Staff
While it is easy to pile on the coaching staff, the bottom line is, when you choose to not play the starters – on offense in particular – very much in the preseason, it should come as no surprise when the offense comes out and looks as bad as they did early and really for the most part. The “flip a switch theory” was proven to be false. Maybe when looking at the schedule and seeing the Jets, the coaching staff thought they could use this game as a tune up for the Saints next week. There was no cohesion on the offensive line, Freeman looked stumped at times and WR Kevin Ogletree and the tight ends were not a factor whatsoever on Sunday.
Fans can say the players made the mistakes and the coaches can’t play the game, but a coaching staff is ultimately responsible for what happens on the field. If Freeman throws five interceptions in a game, then QB coach John McNulty should have coached him better. When the offensive line gives up a number of sacks and there are few running lanes, then Bob Bostad should have coached better. The bottom line is, this loss falls squarely on the Buccaneers coaching staff, not the players. If the players are not performing it is up to the staff and front office to find someone who can. Again, ultimately, it falls on the coaches.
When you have the talent – on paper – the Buccaneers have compared to the Jets, the only way to lose barring an Act of God is to be outcoached. That happened on Sunday and now the Buccaneers are facing a tough schedule ahead of them, with teams much more talented than the Jets on the horizon.
Fingers will be pointed at Freeman, David and Johnson but the coaching staff needs to take a good look in the mirror and ask themselves how this was allowed to happen. While we don’t know the specific play calls, the best options on third-and-manageable downs were 20-yard wheel routes to Martin or fades to Jackson?
The game plan was poor from the very beginning. The Jets made it clear all week their plan was to stop Martin and rattle Freeman, and did just that. The coaching staff had no answer for the Jets defense and continued to try and force a running game that clearly was not working.
Sure the individual efforts by many players weren't worthy of winning football, but again, ultimately, even that falls back on the coaching staff. Now we will see what type of staff this really is. Can they keep the team from splintering? Can they learn from their mistakes? It won't get any easier with the Saints coming to town. All is not lost, but a loss like Sunday is clearly a morale destroyer and it will be up to the coaches to get the players ready to face Drew Brees and Co. or it may be a very long season once again in Buccaneer land.Dishonorable Mention:
TE Luke Stocker, RB Doug Martin, TE Nate Byham, G Gabe Carimi
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