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Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“Tampa Bay’s offense has now been robbed of all of its speed. With Charlie Garner’s knee injury, a groin injury to Joey Galloway, a back injury to Joe Jurevicius, Michael Pittman’s suspension and Keenan McCardell’s hold out, the Bucs hardly have any playmakers with any real elusiveness except for Bill Schroeder. Fans can blame Bucs coach Jon Gruden all they want, and he certainly deserves some of the blame, but he’s missing some key weapons right now.”

“Brad Johnson played his best game of the season, but you know what? It wasn’t enough. Yes, he took more chances throwing the ball downfield, and actually had some success. But it shouldn’t have taken his benching last week to trigger it. However, he did just enough in the second half (after the interception which was returned for a touchdown) to keep his starting job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chris Simms get some playing time next week at home, though.”

“Where the heck has Simeon Rice been? Rice has been nowhere near the quarterback this year and finally got a cheap sack – his first of the year – after Kerry Collins fell down. He needs to pick it up.”

“Scoring two touchdowns on offense was big for the Buccaneers defense. Not in this game, which was over early in the third quarter, but for next week and the rest of the season. You had to wonder if the defense was losing confidence in the offense to actually score touchdowns. That might have caused the defense to lose hope, but at least now they have seen some signs of life from Jon Gruden’s offense.”

“A lot has been made about Warren Sapp catching Bucs running back Charlie Garner from behind after Garner’s 31-yard reception down the left sidelines. I don’t want to take anything away from Sapp, but it looked like Garner was running in molasses. I think the Garner of old scores a touchdown on that play. Age and injuries have robbed him of his burst. His torn patella tendon tonight against the Raiders doesn’t help, either. The 32-year old’s season is over and his career with the Bucs may be over before it even got started.”

Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“It’s time for Bucs head coach Jon Gruden to put quarterback Brad Johnson on the bench… for good. Johnson just doesn’t have what it takes to lead Tampa Bay’s offense down the field on a consistent basis. Johnson misfired on several passes and missed some open targets in the passing game on Sunday night. These types of plays are becoming the norm under Johnson, who just doesn’t appear to have much left to offer. His lack of arm strength on a throw into the flat allowed Raiders cornerback Phillip Buchanon to pick the floater off and return it 32 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. Johnson isn’t the only problem on Tampa Bay’s offense. He doesn’t have a whole lot of weapons to work with, but he simply isn’t making enough plays, and the team certainly can’t afford to have him throw passes that result in touchdowns for the opposing team. Sure, Johnson threw two touchdown passes, but those came in the fourth quarter when the Raiders defense backed off with a commanding lead. At 0-3, the Chris Simms era should begin next Sunday against Denver. He might not be the answer, but inserting Simms into the starting lineup couldn’t possibly produce worse results than what Johnson and the Bucs offense have delivered at this point.”

“Don’t be surprised to learn Monday that Tampa Bay is without the services of running back Charlie Garner and tight end Rickey Dudley for the rest of the season. Garner suffered a severe right knee sprain in the second quarter and Dudley fractured his hand in the first half. Just when things couldn’t get any worse for the offense, they did.”

“The Tampa Bay front four’s lack of penetration allowed Oakland’s offense to drive into the Bucs’ red zone six times and score 23 points on Sunday night. The damage could’ve been even worse if kicker Sebastian Janikowski had connected on a field goal attempt in the third quarter and/or if the defense had allowed touchdowns as opposed to three field goals. Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins and Rich Gannon had comfortable pockets to throw out of, and with the exception of linebacker Derrick Brooks’ huge hit on Gannon on a scramble in the first quarter, which knocked the signal caller out of the game, the Bucs front four didn’t touch the Raiders quarterbacks until the third quarter. That lack of pressure left Tampa Bay’s secondary vulnerable and resulted in some big pass plays downfield. The Bucs defensive line failed to sustain a pass rush and got pushed off the ball way too often by the Raiders’ offensive line on Sunday night.”

Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty:
“Where’s the running game? The blame for the Bucs’ anemic ground game has to go somewhere. The question is whether it’s the running backs or the offensive line that causing the problems with the Tampa Bay rushing game? I was starting to believe it’s the guys in the trenches, but I’m starting to change my tune. It was bad enough that the Pewter Pirates’ rushing attack was embarrassing, but I had to watch former Buccaneers running backs Thomas Jones and Aaron Stecker put up big numbers this afternoon. Jones, now a member of the Chicago Bears, had 110 yards on 22 carries against the Minnesota Vikings. Stecker, toting the leather for the New Orleans Saints, put up 106 yards in 18 attempts on the road versus the St. Louis Rams. Now, with running back Charlie Garner out with a patella injury, the load will shift to suspended running back Michael Pittman. I’m afraid the results will be the same.”

“Where’s the pass rush? The pass rush from the Bucs’ front four, from a sack standpoint, is nonexistence. It’s now three games into the 2004 campaign and the Buccaneers defensive line has no sacks to speak of when they are only rushing the four down linemen. Rich Gannon and Kerry Collins, on almost every occasion, could throw the football when they wanted and to whom they wanted. On only a handful occasions at best, were the Raiders signal callers forced to release the football before they were ready. There were no knockdowns and no hurries to speak off. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has been forced to blitz on any play so he can get some pressure. The problem with that is that every other National Football League team knows it and are preparing for that.”

“Where’s the offense? Yes, this team has been decimated by injuries. This offense has no speed at wide receiver, an ancient offensive line that has very little cohesion, a depleted corps of running backs and their top quarterback lacking mobility. The play-calling has to be questioned as well, and that is directly due to the talent, or lack of talent, on the offensive side of the football. Head coach Jon Gruden is hamstrung when it comes to calling plays because he just doesn’t have the weapons. The bottom line is that you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken poop and the future doesn’t look much brighter.”

“Where’s the win? This could be a very long season for the Buccaneers. The offense has no deep threat at wide receiver to stretch a defense and no running game to force the opposition to put eight in the box. That means that there will be a whole bunch of three-and-outs that isn’t good news for the Bucs defense. Teams will try to run right at the undersized Tampa Bay defense and wear them out by the second half. Tampa Bay needs to come up with a way to score points and do it early so teams cannot just try to manhandle their defense.”

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