The Buccaneers had many opportunities to come away with a win Sunday against the New York Jets. Those opportunities were erased by the team itself for the most part. Several fans and media members have focused on the Lavonte David personal foul call at the end of the game to be the reason for the Bucs loss, and while the debate rages on, David's mental mistake is not the reason why Tampa Bay is sitting at 0-1 to start the season.
In this first edition of “After Further Review,” beat writer Gil Arcia takes a look at the two plays — one from each side of the ball — in the Bucs matchup against the Jets and how it impacted the game.
OFFENSE: THE JOSH FREEMAN INTERCEPTION
On third-and-7 in the second quarter with 2:45 left on the clock from their own 44-yard line, the Buccaneers personnel package consisted of Mike Williams, Vincent Jackson, and Kevin Ogletree as the receivers, Luke Stocker at tight end and Brian Leonard in the backfield. They line up in a four-wide set, with Ogletree alone on the far right while Jackson, Williams, and Stocker were lined up to the left. Josh Freeman lined up in the shotgun with Leonard to his right.
Before the snap, the Jets put seven players on the line including cornerback Isaiah Trufant who initially looked to be responsible for Ogletree. The Jets had four men overloading right guard Davin Joseph and right tackle Demar Dotson with Brian Leonard left to possibly choose what two players to block. At first glance, it appeared that Freeman and the Bucs had man-coverage across the field if they were going for a quick throw. That didn't end up being the case.
Once the ball was snapped, Freeman dropped back five steps, even though he was already in shotgun. Focusing his attention to the left side where he had three options who were covered, he never saw saw Ogletree open for a good eight yards with the nearest defender, a safety, still way over the top. But the offensive line also had problems.
After the snap two Jet linebackers who once showed blitz, peeled back into coverage — along with their left defensive end — after making a quick rush at Joseph and Dotson. That left Dotson and Joseph with no one to block. The setup freed up Jets' cornerback Trufant to wrap around the right side of the offensive line where Leonard was occupied with his assignment. By the time Dotson noticed the racing Trufant, it was too late and Freeman, feeling the heat from Trufant, threw the errant pass into overage.
As Freeman steps into the throw, he barely gets it off as he's hit by Trufant and sails it over the head of Jackson to the deep middle of the field, to where safety Dawan Landry intercepted the pass.
Why This Was Relevant: At the time, the Bucs had a 14-5 lead and the offense just got the ball back after linebacker Lavonte David intercepted a Geno Smith pass. It was a momentum killer for the Buccaneers as they started with good field position. If Freeman could have called for Ogletree to run a hot route as a slant or curl, the possibility of converting the third down and keeping the drive alive would have been greater. But instead, all receivers were streaking down the field when an eight-yard out, slant, or curl could have kept things going.
What They Said:
“Offensively it's frustrating to everyone because we have good players. We will find a rhythm with this offense. We certainly haven't found it yet but we will. There's guys out there that are playing too well not to.” - Head coach Greg Schiano on the offensive miscues after the game.
DEFENSE: PERSONAL FOUL CALL ON DASHON GOLDSON
The Jets were making things as simple as possible for their rookie quarterback Geno Smith throughout the game Sunday. They used a lot of sets that included two tight end and two running backs often. On this play, it was no different.
The Jets were in a base I-formation with two running backs behind Smith, two wide receivers and a tight end. The Bucs were in a base 4-3 defense.
After the snap, Smith's play-action forced linebackers Lavonte David and Dekoda Watson to come up into the line which left Jonathan Casillas to trail behind tight end Jeff Cumberland. Smith noticed that Casillas struggled with keeping up with Cumberland and safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson helping out over the top near the sidelines.
With a defensive line stunt that gave Smith plenty of time, he threw the ball down the middle of the field but Barron and Goldson immediately retreated to the middle. Upon Cumberland making an attempt to catch the pass, Goldson hit Cumberland as the ball landed in his arms. The hit drew a 15-yard personal foul to be called on the Bucs All-Pro safety.
Cumberland had enough time to see Goldson from the time he caught it to the time the hit was applied, but the flag was thrown as part of the NFL's attempt to protect “defenseless” players from vicious hits.
Why This Is Relevant: Including that play, the Jets looked to the middle of the field nine times. After that hit, the Jets had four looks the rest of the game — including one that drew another personal foul but on Mark Barron, in which Goldson was the primary hitter on as well. Goldson said on Wednesday he was fined a "significant amount" but also said it won't affect the way he plays the game. You would have to think the Saints receivers will at least have the thoughts of Goldson – and Barron's – hits in the back of their minds.
What They Said:
“We’re not going to get into that. We’re going to try to aim for the strike zone, which is what we talk about all the time. We have videos that we show and we’re just going to have to try to be better at it. But again, I want us flying around the way we flew around yesterday because that was as hard a hitting a Bucs defense as has been here in a long time. So we’re going to keep doing it, we just have to keep doing it within the framework.” - Head Coach Greg Schiano on Monday when asked if they will adjust their style of play.
“One thing you want to show is intimidation. There is going to be some funk brought to the game as far as the hitting. The one thing I’m worried about is more so getting penalized for hitting too hard. Then see somebody fall, fold up or just get up too slow and say, ‘Oh, you must have used your head.’ I don’t want it to become a flag football league. That’s what I’m afraid of. Nowadays you can’t even look at the quarterback wrong. Now we’re worrying about receivers coming across [the middle]. It’s football. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s an aggressive game. That’s one thing that frustrates me.” - Linebacker Dekoda Watson on the hits from the safeties.
“It's a split second between hitting a player in the head and hitting him in the chest. You know when he's falling there's nothing you can do. Coach knows that. The league knows that. The players know. Their just playing hard. He (Greg Schiano) allows us to play hard. He understands that there's very little that you can do to stop something like that. Like I said, it's a split second from him sliding down a little bit further to you hitting him in his head to hitting him square in the chest. You can't play timid. You just have to live with it.” - Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers with his take regarding the personal foul calls.