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Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“These Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans knew. These are great, educated fans who knew that when the Bucs settled for two field goals instead of touchdowns inside the red zone that their team was likely going to lose. That’s why the booed on third down when two Brad Johnson passes fell incomplete. You can’t blame Jon Gruden for kicking the field goals, though. Any coach would take the points, especially that early in the ball game. But this team needs touchdowns – not field goals – and has had a real tough time scoring them.”

“The Buccaneers sent a message to their veterans by having young players like Chris Simms, Anthony Davis and Jeb Terry declared inactive for Sunday’s game against Denver. The message was ‘this may be your last chance to get your act together and produce on offense. With Tampa Bay’s record sitting at 0-4, it’s time to play some of the young players, including Kenyatta Walker at right tackle.”

“The next time defensive end Simeon Rice cries out to the media that this team needs disgruntled wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who is holding out due to the belief that he outperformed his contract, Rice can help out by giving Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen some of the $5.5 million that he is earning this season. With two tackles today and very little pressure despite being blocked one-on-one several times, Rice is clearly underperforming his contract.”

“It was great to see Charles Lee come up big today with five catches for 47 yards. He proved to be a speedy compliment to Michael Clayton in the passing game, and even covered punts on special teams. During the offseason, Lee did not want to play on special teams, but with an ankle injury to special teams ace Frank Murphy on the opening kick off, Lee stepped in and stepped up, despite a fumble. The Bucs will really miss Murphy on kick returns and on special teams. That was an injury they didn’t need right now, especially at wide receiver.”

“Cornerback Brian Kelly is gaining a reputation for biting on pump fakes. Kelly, who is a very aggressive corner, bit on a Matt Hasselbeck pump fake against Seattle and Koren Robinson caught an easy touchdown after Kelly had jumped on the fake. On the Broncos’ first drive, Kelly bit on a Jake Plummer pump fake and left Ashley Lelie wide open downfield. Luckily, Plummer’s pass was overthrown. But Kelly’s aggressiveness served him well as he swatted away three passes and nearly came up with an interception to start the third quarter.”

Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“As bad as Tampa Bay’s offense played at times Sunday, the Bucs defense deserves just as much blame for the loss to the Denver Broncos. The front four didn’t put enough pressure on Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer, and linebackers Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles, and cornerback Brian Kelly were all guilty of dropping what could have been interceptions. When you have an offense that’s struggling to move the chains with consistency, those turnovers are needed. The Bucs defense didn’t create any on Sunday afternoon.”

“At 0-4, it’s time for Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden to make some changes on the offensive side of the ball. Although the offensive line fared well in the running game, the changes should start there. Second-year tackle Anthony Davis should start at left tackle next week in place of Derrick Deese and yes, Kenyatta Walker should get a shot at right tackle in place of Todd Steussie. Chris Simms, who was listed as the team’s No. 3 signal caller against the Broncos, should start from here on out. Bucs fans got a chance to see what a quarterback with mobility can do in the West Coast offense today. Unfortunately for the Bucs, that mobile quarterback — Jake Plummer — was on the opposing team’s offense. Tampa Bay’s best duo at the receiver position is Michael Clayton and Charles Lee.”

“Don’t rule out the possibility of some changes taking place on the defensive side of the ball. Tampa Bay’s defense allowed Denver’s offense to get four first downs on its last drive, which essentially ran out the clock in the fourth quarter. Bucs nose tackle Chartric Darby was flagged twice Sunday for being offsides. His second infraction proved to be very costly. It came on a third-and-4 play with over two minutes remaining in the game and the offense in desperate need of getting the ball back since they were trailing by three points. The Bucs forced QB Jake Plummer to throw an incomplete pass on that play, but Darby’s penalty gave Denver a first down and basically secured the win for the Broncos.”

“Here’s a disturbing stat — under head coach Jon Gruden, the Bucs are now 2-14 when they trailed at halftime. The Bucs nearly erased a 10-point deficit to win on Sunday, but close doesn’t count.”

“It’s a shame that Bucs rookie wide receiver Michael Clayton doesn’t have more weapons around him. He’s a stud, period. I’m looking forward to watching he and Chris Simms here in the near future.”

Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty:
“What kind of confidence does Jon Gruden have in his offense when he challenges the first play of the third quarter? Yes, it looked like cornerback Brian Kelly made a great interception of quarterback Jake Plummer on a pass intended for wideout Ashley Lelie, but the call on the field of an incomplete pass stood. There has got to be a risk-reward factor here and the risk of losing a timeout definitely overshadows the reward of the football just outside the Broncos red zone. This really came back to bite the Bucs in the backside when they needed that stoppage of the clock as Denver ran out the clock at the end of the contest. I know you’ll say hindsight is 20-20, but this was a desperate decision made by a desperate coach.”

“Again, fullback Mike Alstott was missing in action when it came to the Bucs running game. The fact that Alstott was only called upon to rush the ball three times is only half of the story. The rest of this fairy tale is that the A-Train didn’t get his first touch until 12:23 was left until halftime and responded with a 7-yard gain. You would think that the coaching staff would go back to something that worked right away, but no. The Buccaneers ‘fullback’ doesn’t get another carry until 4:36 to go in the third quarter for a 2-yard gain and then get stuffed for a 2-yard loss on the next play. As fate would have it, both stops were made by former Buccaneer John Lynch, but the bottom line is why has the 248-pound battering ram become persona non grate in the Pewter Pirates’ offensive scheme. Let’s hope that he hasn’t disappeared because it doesn’t take an offensive genius to line the big guy at the top of the I-formation and pound him against the defense 15 to 20 times.”

“I am scared to even say this but the Bucs offense is playing with no sense of urgency. It almost looks like the Pewter Pirates have packed it in on the offensive side of the ball and are resigned to the fact that the season, from a playoff standpoint, is over after four games. The effort, or lack of it, was punctuated by wide receiver Tim Brown on the sidelines when the Buccaneers needed someone to make a play. He had his catch to keep his streak of 176 games with a reception alive and there was no reason to sell out and sacrifice the body to convert a third-and-three from the Denver 48 yard line with Tampa Bay trailing 16-13 with 7:50 left in the game. That was atrocious and if that’s the best No. 81 can do then he may want to consider hanging up the cleats.”

“The Bucs went to a three-man defensive line in passing situations. I get the feeling that defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli have come to grips with the fact that the Tampa Bay front four cannot put adequate pressure on the quarterback. The Pewter Pirates have gone with three rushers for two reasons. The first is to put an extra man into coverage. If you can’t get to the quarterback you are better off with eight in coverage. The second reason is that it opens up more blitz lanes and keeps the offensive line guessing as to way the fourth, and sometimes fifth, rusher will be coming from. An excellent scheme but, to me, it’s also out of desperation due to the lack of a four-man pass rush.”
This story is intended to be read by PewterInsider subscribers only. Sharing of the PI content with non-subscribers of this service can result in cancellation of your subscription to the service and/or further actions by the publishers. Be sure to read the latest issue of Pewter Report on-line in PDF format on PewterReport.com. Buccaneers merchandise in the world.

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