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Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“If you are looking for positives on the Bucs offense in this 10-6 loss – despite Chris Simms moving the team on a pair of 71-yard field goal drives – look no further than Tampa Bay’s running game. The ground game actually showed some signs of life in rushing for 92 yards and a 3.8-yard average. Charlie Garner showed a nice burst on a couple of runs, including a 25-yarder. Garner had 75 yards on 13 carries, and averaged 5.8 yards. The biggest flaw of the running game was that Jon Gruden abandoned it too soon. There were more holes this week than their were last week in Washington, and that’s a good sign. With Garner’s productivity and his high average, it’s surprising that Gruden didn’t help out Chris Simms more with handoffs.”
“The Bucs must stick with Chris Simms at quarterback. While Simms didn’t beat Seattle and had some ‘rookie’ mistakes, he also made plays. When any quarterback throws over 30 times a game, he is charged with the responsibility of making plays. Simms did that today in his first real NFL action. In talking with the Bucs’ veterans after the game, there wasn’t one player who objected to Jon Gruden making a switch at quarterback. Don’t be surprised if Simms is named the starter next week at Oakland. The Chris Simms era has officially begun.”
“I thought Tim Brown did a poor job of fielding punts. Brown didn’t signal for a fair catch on one punt which he should have, even to fool the defense. Brown thought the ball would go into the end zone, but Alex Bannister downed it on the Tampa Bay 4. On another punt return opportunity, Brown should have actually caught the ball after he waved for a fair catch. Brown was at the Bucs’ 13-yard line, but let the ball hit the ground and roll. It was eventually downed on the 9. In a game where the Bucs needed every yard they could get, Brown should have made the catch. The Bucs averaged just five yards per punt return as a team, with Brown averaging 7.5 yards per return. Tampa Bay needs more production from this area, but Bill Schroeder isn’t the answer. He muffed a punt last week in Washington, and did the same thing against Seattle.”
“If the Bucs are going to replace Brad Johnson with Chris Simms, they need to continue the youth movement by replacing left tackle Derrick Deese with second-year player Anthony Davis. In my opinion, Davis appeared to be the best Bucs offensive lineman in the preseason, yet he was inactive for today’s game. Deese couldn’t handle Grant Wistrom and gave up two sacks – one to Wistrom and one to Antonio Cochran. Even if the Bucs decide to continue with Simms, replacing the left tackle isn’t that big a deal. With Simms being a lefthander, his blind side will actually be protected by right tackle Todd Steussie, not Deese or Davis. I just have not been impressed with what I’ve seen from Deese, whose mark of 34-straight games without a sack came to an end today.”
Pewter Report managing editor Jim Flynn:
“Kudos to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden for making the change at quarterback when he did. It would have been really easy for Gruden to give Brad Johnson the first half to get the offense going, but making the switch at the beginning of the second quarter was definitely prudent seeing as the Bucs were down 10-0 and Johnson wasn’t playing any better than he had the previous week in Washington. Although he looked liked he was playing in his first pro game at times, Chris Simms gave the offense a spark and led the offense two 71-yard drives that resulted in field goals. Unfortunately, some of Simms’ mistakes came in the red zone. Simms displayed a powerful arm and made throws that Johnson’s arm strength, or lack thereof, simply wouldn’t have allowed him to make. Forget about the playoffs, Bucs fans. The Bucs are entering Week 3 and are still trying to figure out how to score their first offensive touchdown. Gruden should stick with Simms, but he said a decision on which quarterback will start next Sunday in Oakland will be made this week. I suspect Gruden will go with Johnson because of the fact that the game is in Oakland. If Johnson struggles again, Gruden could always turn to Simms.”
“It’s too bad that Tampa Bay’s offense is playing so poorly because its defense is playing almost as well as it did in 2002. What will be lost in all of the Simms-Johnson stories this week is the story of how the Bucs’ defense held a potent Seattle offense to just 10 points and 182 yards of total offense. In fact, the Seahawks, who converted a league-high 46 percent of their third downs last season, were held to just 1-of-14 (7 percent) on third downs against the Bucs. Although Bucs defensive tackle Anthony McFarland notched two sacks, Tampa Bay’s defensive line needs to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. Where has Bucs DE Simeon Rice gone? Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin used a nice package of blitzes to disrupt Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck. Middle linebacker Shelton Quarles and safety Jermaine Phillips were sent in on blitzes often and both players played extremely well Sunday. If head coach Jon Gruden and Kiffin can keep their locker room from becoming divided, the Bucs will stand a chance of winning every game they play this year — that’s how good the defense is playing.”
“Don’t be surprised if Bucs head coach Jon Gruden makes some personnel changes on the offensive side of the ball. Those changes could start in the trenches, where I wouldn’t be surprised to see second-year T Anthony Davis start in place of Derrick Deese next week. Deese struggled against Seahawks defensive end Grant Wistrom, who notched seven tackles and two sacks, which ended Deese’s sackless streak at 35 games. Davis played well in preseason and his 330-pound frame could help the Bucs in both pass protection and the running game.”
“The Bucs desparately need help at the wide receiver position, but don’t expect general manager Bruce Allen to be calling Keenan McCardell anytime soon.”
Pewter Report senior writer Leo Haggerty:
“Again, the Bucs offense started slow, and at 10:32 of the second quarter, head coach Jon Gruden went to the bullpen and brought in the lefthander. Chris Simms replaced Brad Johnson at quarterback, and I definitely think the hook was too soon. It was almost like it was premeditated. Simms played as well as a player seeing his first National Football League action of his career, but was it the right way to go? We have to wait until next week to see it the Buccaneers go back to Johnson or stay with Simms, or even go to Brian Griese in the continuing saga of ‘As The Quarterback Turns.'”
“You would have to say that the Bucs, even with just two games under their belt in the 2004 campaign, are resigned to the fact that their offensive line cannot even get a yard when they need it. One two occasions, the Buccaneers were facing a third-and-1 and went to the air. In the second quarter, staring at the first situation from the Seahawks’ 15-yard line, quarterback Chris Simms went to wide receiver Bill Schroeder on a quick stop route for four yards and a first down. The Bucs were not so fortunate with the second scenario. At the Seattle 47, Simms was sacked by defensive end Grant Wistrom and stripped of the football. The elusive pigskin was recovered by defensive tackle Rashad Moore. On both occasions, Tampa Bay had running back Mike Alstott at the top of the I-formation and used him as a decoy. If you don’t have confidence in your 250-pound running back getting a single, measly yard then that makes a pretty definite statement about your offensive line – and it’s not a positive one.”
“Why do the Bucs even bother dressing Mike Alstott? If you’re only going to feed the A-Train the ball twice a game then why waste a roster spot? He’s not a blocking fullback and he needs to carry the rock. The ultimate insult to his ability was that the Buccaneers had first-and-goal at the 6-yard line midway through the fourth quarter and Alstott doesn’t touch the pigskin on three straight plays. Has Gruden lost confidence in the big guy?”
“Is it time to start worrying about the Bucs’ pass rush or put out an all-points bulletin for defensive end Simeon Rice? After a no-sack performance against the Redskins, the Tampa Bay defensive line was still in the doldrums during the first quarter of the contest against Seattle. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin was forced to go with numerous blitz packages to get pressure on Matt Hasselbeck. Rice has been conspicuous by his absence in the sack column. Has it been because teams can now slide their protection schemes his way? Soon the whispers will start that his sacks were the result of teams paying attention to Warren Sapp, and for good reason.”
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