Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds
“Did you see how much the playbook opened up when Chris Simms started the game? Did you see the rollouts and diverse play-calling? Did you see the Buccaneers get the ball in the end zone under Brian Griese? Did you see the Bucs throw the ball down the field against the Saints to Charles Lee, Michael Clayton and Ken Dilger? Were the Bucs’ four losses on Brad Johnson’s shoulders? Not necessarily. But the conservative distribution of the ball and the unwillingness to throw the ball downfield is. Why did the Bucs go with Simms and Griese over Johnson? While Johnson wasn’t losing games, he certainly wasn’t winning them. Johnson usually doesn’t make the type of throws that Simms and Griese made today until the fourth quarter, his team is behind and it’s just about too late. Now we know why Jon Gruden benched Johnson.”

“Greg Spires has quietly put together a fantastic year. Not only did he lead the defensive line in tackles with 24 tackles and a sack coming into this game, he had a great game today with a key pass defense near the goal line and a forced fumble on Deuce McAllister, which Ronde Barber recovered and returned for a touchdown.”

“The tonic to get Simeon Rice out of pass rushing funk? Wayne Gandy. Rice has owned Gandy over the last couple of meetings, registering multiple sacks against New Orleans. While Rice did not record a sack today, his presence and ability caused Gandy to flinch twice for false starts and to hold him twice for two more penalties.”

“I like Dwight Smith as a player, but he really needs to tackle better. Smith, who is still making the transition from corner to safety, needs to be more physical at the point of contact. Smith got ‘freight-trained’ on several runs by Deuce McAllister. Smith also gave up two touchdowns in coverage. Smith needs to attack the ballcarrier, not catch him and drag him down.”

“It’s time to turn the starting right tackle job over to Kenyatta Walker for good. Walker had a pretty solid preseason and is more athletic and able than Todd Steussie is. Steussie gave up a sack to Saints rookie defensive end Will Smith, who sacked QB Chris Simms, forced a fumble and hurt Simms’ left shoulder. Way to go, Todd. Now sit down.”

“Hats off to Torrie Cox, who did his best Frank Murphy imitation against New Orleans. Not only did Cox come up with a clutch, 42-yard kickoff late in the fourth quarter, he wound up averaging 27 yards on the day and make a couple of big tackles on special teams.”

Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“The Chris Simms era was put on hold Sunday after the second-year quarterback injured his throwing shoulder after being sacked in the first quarter. Although his first professional start lasted less than a quarter, one could see how much Simms’ presence in the starting lineup opened up head coach Jon Gruden’s playbook. Gruden used play-action and naked bootlegs to keep New Orleans’ defense off balance and lead Tampa Bay’s offense to a field goal. That impressive drive would’ve been capped off by a touchdown if rookie wide receiver Michael Clayton could have held onto Simms’ perfectly thrown pass in the corner of the end zone on a third down. Hopefully Simms will be able to return to the field sometime soon because it was truly exciting to watch he and the Bucs offense operate on Sunday.”

“Bucs fans saw why Brad Johnson was benched earlier in the week and served as Tampa Bay’s third-string quarterback on Sunday. Head coach Jon Gruden’s playbook is a lot more diverse with strong-armed, mobile quarterbacks running it. Not only did Chris Simms move the Bucs offense, but Brian Griese, who served as the team’s No. 2 signal caller on Sunday, picked up where he left off by completing 10 of his first 11 pass attempts and tossing a 45-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ken Dilger. Whispers regarding the possibility of Tampa Bay dealing Johnson before the trade deadline on October 19 pretty much died in the first quarter when Simms went down with a left shoulder injury. Trading Johnson was going to be tough to begin with due to his salary, but with Simms out, the Bucs can’t afford to deal the veteran signal caller. In fact, they’ll probably have to sign another quarterback. Don’t be surprised if the team takes a look at QB Jason Garrett, who spent training camp and part of preseason with the Bucs. Ironically, Garrett served as a color commentator for the Bucs-Saints game, which was televised on Fox.”

“It was nice to see Bucs head coach Jon Gruden hold some players accountable for mistakes on Sunday. Bucs right tackle Todd Steussie was benched after allowing Saints rookie left defensive end Will Smith to sack and injure Simms in the first quarter. Players need to be held accountable, especially for inexcusable mistakes made by players like cornerback Corey Ivy, who was called for taunting Saints kick returner Mike Lewis after the Bucs had stopped Lewis on the Saints’ own 8-yard line. That bonehead penalty gave the Saints the ball on their own 23-yard line and drew the ire of Gruden. If I’m Gruden, I make a statement to my team that those types of mistakes will not be tolerated by cutting Ivy. Sure, Ivy is a reserve corner and special teams ace, but he’s expendable, especially when he does something as stupid as what he did in the second quarter on Sunday. Luckily for Ivy, Bucs defensive end Greg Spires and CB Ronde Barber bailed him out by forcing and recovering a Deuce McAllister fumble and returning it for a touchdown on the ensuing drive.”

Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty
“The way the Bucs used their challenges were the act of a desperate team trying desperately to manufacture points. I agree wholeheartedly with the first challenge by head coach Jon Gruden on the fumble early in the first quarter where running back Michael Pittman was obviously down before the football came out. The second one, which involved a pass from Chris Simms to Michael Clayton in the end zone, was not even close, but the Buccaneers were hoping for a favorable ruling because it was a scoring play. Still, the fact that Tampa Bay had used up its allotment of red flag challenges less than five minutes into the tilt was inexcusable. Again, it’s a risk-versus-reward scenario, and whoever is giving Gruden his advice from the coaches’ booth needs to remind him of the positives as well as the negatives when you take on the zebras.”

“I must admit that I have never seen a football team at any level get two delay of game penalties in a row, and while they were trying to punt, no less. I can understand how a team doesn’t get a long snapper, a punter and nine other guys on the field to get a punt off in a 40-second time frame. For the most part, a team has to get 11 different players on the field, and there are times when you have to make changes on the fly due to injuries. With that being said, how a team cannot be ready to punt after it was just penalized for taking too much time is mind boggling. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia will definitely have to remedy that situation.”

“Now the Bucs officially have a quarterback controversy, but it’s a good one. The performance by backup Brian Griese against the New Orleans Saints has, in my mind, earned him the starting nod against the St. Louis Rams this Monday night on national television. But this may be a moot point if Chris Simms has a shoulder injury that forces him to the sidelines. Then it becomes a choice between Griese and Brad Johnson. I believe Griese has earned the right to start after leading the Buccaneers to their first win of the 2004 season.”

“I like that the Bucs defense is back to causing turnovers, but what I don’t like is the increased amount of trash talking that’s happening. It seems to me that there’s an abnormal amount of taunting occurring and the Buccaneers need to curtail that immediately. Two taunting penalties, one on special teams performer Corey Ivy and the other on linebacker Derrick Brooks, did not hurt the Pewter Pirates but it has to stop before it does cost Tampa Bay a victory.”

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