To think the Buccaneers were ready to walk into Bank Of America Stadium and whip the surging Carolina Panthers was a bit of a reach. However to show little, if any improvement over their October matchup, a 31-13 loss, was a big disappointment for fans. Unfortunately Tampa Bay looked just as inept on Sunday as they did back on October 24, and the Panthers basically ran an exact blueprint of that game.
There weren’t many bright sports in the 27-6 loss on Sunday although a handful of players made a few plays, but as a team nowhere near enough.The Bucs were clearly out-manned and outcoached on Sunday.
MOST IMPRESSIVELB Lavonte DavidAt times Lavonte David looks like he is playing at a different speed than the rest of the defense. On Sunday, David finished with nine tackles and another interception, his third of the season. David didn’t play perfect, as the Panthers totaled 163 yards on the ground, averaging nearly five yards per rush attempt (4.8).
Still, David did his best to try and neutralize Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Carolina’s trio of running backs as best as he could, but too many missed tackles and poor scheming by the staff, all contributed to the poor performance by the team.
David’s march to the Pro Bowl is being hindered by the team’s 3-9 record, but one third of the voters, the players, are learning quickly David is the real deal.
WR Tiquan UnderwoodIt was obvious the Panthers defensive game plan was the double wide receiver Vincent Jackson, at least early, leaving Tiquan Underwood with some single-coverage opportunities. Underwood delivered early for the Buccaneers, but as the game went on the Panthers secondary adjusted and pitched a virtual shutout after the first quarter.
Underwood finished the afternoon with three catches for the Buccaneers offense on Sunday, totaling 51 yards, with a long of 23 yards.
WR Vincent JacksonJackson had the biggest play of the day for the Buccaneers when he got behind the Panthers secondary and hauled in a 60-yard reception. But just like he has a number of times over the past two seasons, Jackson was caught from behind and stopped short of the goal line. Three plays later, quarterback Mike Glennon fumbled the ball, turning it over to Carolina, and the Buccaneers squandered a perfect opportunity to take the lead back.
Jackson coughed up the ball late in the game but the fumble didn’t hurt the Buccaneers, as Tampa Bay kept possession after an officials review.
On the afternoon Jackson had three catches for 75 yards.
S Mark BarronMark Barron has had a much better 2013 than last year, and is playing with a lot more confidence and aggressiveness than he did one year ago. On Sunday, he was a tackling machine, leading both teams in stops with 10.
The one issue Barron has, and can maybe be blamed on coaching, is his inability to get to the quarterback when blitzing. At times he takes long, looping paths around the defensive ends, which is way too slow to ever have an impact. As often as Barron has blitzed over the past two seasons, the former Alabama All-American has just one career sack, and that came last year.
S Keith TandyIf someone asked you who would be tied for the team lead in interceptions after 12 games, who would you have selected? Most likely any other defensive back other than Keith Tandy would have been your choice. But after picking off Newton in the second quarter Tandy is in fact tied with Lavonte David for the team lead with three interceptions.
Tandy finished Sunday’s game with one tackle, one pass breakup and the interception.
MOST DISAPPOINTING QB Mike GlennonAfter playing like a seasoned veteran over the last month, Glennon fell back down to earth – with a thud. No question the Panthers have one of the best defenses in the NFL and the combination of a rookie against the Carolina defense was a bad mix.
Glennon started off well, completing his first four passes, marching the Bucs down the field and getting them on the board with a field goal to open the scoring. But other than a 60-yard completion to Vincent Jackson, that was the highlight of the rookie’s afternoon.
Glennon’s second quarter fumble was extremely costly and completely shifted momentum to the side of Carolina. Glennon later tossed an end-over-end pass that was intercepted, and after that never came close to getting into a rhythm.
Rookies have games like Glennon did on Sunday, but how he bounces back over the last month of the season will go a long way in determining his place on the team next season. Play as he did over the previous four games and he is most likely the starter next September. But play like he did on Sunday and the Bucs brain trust may be looking to go in a different direction.
The Offensive LineThe offensive line’s play over the last year is becoming a bit concerning. The season didn’t start well for tackle Donald Penn, but after the bye week, and then the insertion of Jamon Meredith next to him at guard, Penn seemed to settle in and play more consistently. But on Sunday, Penn and Meredith played as if they didn’t even knew each other, much less were teammates. Part of Penn’s less than stellar play may be attributed to Meredith or poor line calls by Glennon and/or center Jeremy Zuttah. And Penn will never throw his teammates under the bus, so the answer may never be revealed.
Davin Joseph also struggled mightily, as did the rest of the line, who failed to open many holes for the running game, particularly in the first half.
Some of the Panthers five sacks can squarely be blamed on Glennon holding onto the ball too long, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s slow developing routes and lack of check downs options, and even on the receivers somewhat, who failed to get separation.
Regardless, the Bucs can’t win many games without a running game or when giving up five sacks and numerous pressures.
CB Darrelle RevisFor the first time this season Revis played poorly. How much of it was the groin injury? For Bucs fans and the organization, the hope is he was far from 100 percent, especially after getting burned by Ted Ginn for a touchdown. Of course we all know every corner gets beat, as the best ones make their names – and earn contracts – guessing and jumping routes like the one Revis was beat on.
But the most uncharacteristic Revis moment came in the third quarter when Revis stepped in front of a Newton to Steve Smith pass with his eyes on a touchdown. Unfortunately for Revis he couldn’t corral the pass and to make matters worse, went down with some type of chest/shoulder injury.
Revis has also been of the surest tacklers in the secondary this year, but on Sunday missed a handful, allowing the Panthers running backs and receivers additional yards.
DT Gerald McCoyNFL offensive coordinators are not stupid, and any of them that put on any film this season of No. 93 quickly learned the key to attacking the Bucs defense starts with stopping McCoy. Mike Shula did just that, as McCoy had his worst statistical game of the season, failing to show up on the stat sheet.
Without the benefit of the coaches tape it is hard to determine exactly how the Panthers shut McCoy out but most likely it was with constant double teams. Regardless, to be considered one of the best, McCoy has to figure out how to impact the opposing team’s offense, even through double teams.
Defensive coaching staffIt is easy to jump on the defensive coaching staff and game plan and scream at them for the scheme, whether it be stunts, blitzes or whatever. But even with an untrained NFL eye, it was easy to see that Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula simply outcoached Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan for a majority of the game on Sunday. The Buccaneers were out of position often, lost containment on Newton several times and blitzed themselves out of the game at times.
This was the second matchup with the Panthers in a month. Conventional thinking is that it should be an advantage to the losing team of the first matchup. The winning team most likely goes into the game with a fairly routine blueprint of what worked the first time, and that should give the losing team the opportunity to not repeat the same mistakes made in the loss. But that wasn’t the case on Sunday, and the Buccaneers now sit at 3-9. The loss can’t be blamed strictly on the defense, as you aren’t going to win many games scoring just two field goals.
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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