President Hugh MacArthur
“The more things change, the more they remain the same. For people looking optimistically at the Bucs’ offense this season, the first game was one to forget. In a contest that brought back far too many Trent Dilfer memories, the Bucs turned the ball over twice in the first half and wound up far behind on the scoreboard as a result. Much of the blame for the first half performance must be laid on the shoulders of Chris Simms. In general, the line protected well, and Simms had time to pass. He couldn’t find open receivers, was off target on many throws, and in general seemed to feel more pressure than was actually there. Simms also continues to telegraph his passes, and had two batted away in the first half. The second was particularly costly as it wasted good field position and led to a Ravens field goal.”

“The second half brought more of the same. A bad punt from poor field position led directly to another Ravens field goal, and a turnover on downs at the Ravens six killed another drive. The remaining hardy souls from the 65,087 that attended the game were treated to yet another turnover to open the fourth quarter, as Simms threw another interception on a pass intended for Michael Clayton. Clayton didn’t look open and Simms’ off-target floater was easily picked off by Ed Reed. The Bucs’ seemed to lose their fight after that pick, as the Ravens drove the ball down the field running Jamal Lewis out of two tight end sets. The resulting touchdown made the score 27-0, and the rout was official.”

“With three interceptions and three batted passes, Simms’ day came to a merciful end and Brad Gradkowski was offered his ‘welcome to the NFL’ appearance. Suddenly the quarterback position looks shaky, and there is little doubt the fire will grow hotter until and unless Simms’ play improves substantially. People sometimes forget that Simms’ has not yet even started 16 games as a pro (today was his 14th start), but he is in his 4th year in Gruden’s system, so his problems are related to making poor decisions under duress and making physical mistakes. It is very early, but these are the types of problems that typically get you a seat at the end of the bench after too many losses.”

“So, the Bucs are a dispiriting 0-1 with a big road date against the Falcons next week and a home clash with Carolina before a bye week. In 1999 Trent Dilfer handed the opening game at RJS to the New York Giants and the Bucs went to the NFC Championship game. In 2002, the Bucs lost Jon Gruden’s inaugural game as head coach to the New Orleans Saints at RJS, and one the SuperBowl. Obviously, all is not lost, but Tampa Bay needs better play from its starting quarterback in a hurry.”

"If Tampa Bay had to lose one of its first few games, the opener to an AFC team like Baltimore was the right one. However, the Bucs' early season margin for error is now gone and victories against NFC South rivals Atlanta and Carolina, both of whom are up next on the schedule, are must-wins. Faced with a brutal schedule in 2006, Tampa Bay needs to be 2-1 heading into the bye week."

Publisher Scott Reynolds

“It is clear from today’s outcome that the Buccaneers starting offense simply didn’t get enough work in the preseason. Jon Gruden was quick to yank his starters to keep them healthy and fresh for the preseason but that appeared to backfire on opening day. Chris Simms needed to get way more than 26 pass attempts in. He looked bad on opening day, sensing pressure when there wasn’t any and rushing his throws, and then holding onto the ball too long when there actually was pressure. He was staring his receivers down, a trend that has continued from last year, and he was still having his passes batted down at the line of scrimmage – three of them happened today with one of those deflections becoming one of Simms’ three interceptions. The last quarterback who has looked this bad for the Bucs on opening day was Trent Dilfer against the New York Giants in 1999 (a 17-13 loss). Simms didn’t have an awful lot of help, but a lot of his mistakes were simply due to his poor decision-making. Gruden tried his best to deflect criticism from his quarterback by spreading the blame around to Simms’ protection, but I’m not buying it. The offensive line wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t like Simms was under siege. He was only sacked twice.”

“Two other players who saw very little time in the preseason were wide receiver Joey Galloway (two catches for 28 yards) and Cadillac Williams (four carries, three yards). Galloway dropped the only catchable ball thrown his way, which would have picked up a first down on third-and-3, and Williams had 22 yards on eight carries (2.8 avg.). Would more work in the preseason guarantee a better performance on opening day? It's impossible to tell, but it seems like it couldn't have hurt given Sunday's outcome."

“As much as Buccaneers fans may have wanted to see starting quarterback Chris Simms yanked (or permanently benched) in favor of rookie Bruce Gradkowski, the fact that Gradkowski was only 1-of-4 for five yards passing and was sacked once should quell the calls to have the former Toledo signal caller unseat Simms. Gruden sat down Simms because he didn’t want his starter to get needlessly injured against Baltimore when there are 15 games left to play. As much as Gruden would have liked to seen more offensive production from Gradkowski, he is probably glad that he didn’t light it up when he replaced Simms. That would have only started a quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay, and that’s the last thing a supposed playoff-caliber team needs after Week 1.”

“How Baltimore cornerback Chris McAlister was actually able to return his interception 60 yards for a touchdown is beyond me. Granted, the Bucs were in a three-tight end set on that play and didn’t have any receivers on that side of the field that had the wheels to run down McAlister, but I didn’t see a lot of people, especially running back Cadillac Williams, selling out to make the tackle on McAlister’s return. That bothers me. Williams was running alongside McAllister for about 10 yards and essentially allowed himself to be blocked. It looked like he could have plowed through the blocker and knocked McAllister out of bounds at the Tampa Bay 10-yard line. That could have resulted in a Baltimore field goal rather than a touchdown.”

“Baltimore’s stars showed up today and Tampa Bay’s didn’t. Look who made plays for the Ravens. Pro Bowl Chris McAlister had an interception for a touchdown. Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis had seven tackles, one sack, and three passes defensed. Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed had an interception. First-round draft pick Haloti Ngata had an interception, which he returned for 60 yards. Former Pro Bowl running back Jamal Lewis averaged 4.3 yards per carry while rushing for 4.3 yards and one rushing touchdown. New Ravens quarterback Steve McNair, another former Pro Bowler, had a QB rating of 94.8 after completing 17-of-27 passes for 181 yards and throwing a touchdown. Having your stars make big plays and winning the turnover battle 3-0 will produce a win 99 percent of the time.”

“Here’s the stat of the game – Chris McAlister and Haloti Ngata had 120 yards combined off two interception returns. The Bucs offense totaled 142 yards today.”

Editor-In-Chief Jim Flynn

“It’s only Week 1 of the regular season, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of cause for concern after watching their offense implode vs. Baltimore on Sunday. Give the Ravens credit as their defense was solid and came ready to play, but the Bucs’ outing was lackluster to say the least. Now, the blame can be spread around after a shutout, but quarterback Chris Simms better improve his play in a hurry if the Bucs are going to have any prayer of defending their NFC South division title. Simms completed 17-of-29 passes for 133 yards, but his most alarming stats were his three interceptions, all of which resulted in points for the Ravens. He also had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. Despite their efforts, the coaching staff has not been able to get Simms to stop telegraphing his passes, which is contributing to those problems. Needless to say, they’ve got to stop … soon.”

“Baltimore’s defense did a nice job of changing things up near the line of scrimmage and dropped as many as eight players back in coverage during Sunday’s game. That made it tough for Bucs quarterback Chris Simms to complete passes to his wide receivers. In fact, WR Joey Galloway, the team’s leading receiver from a year ago, was held without a catch, and WR Michael Clayton caught just three passes for 34 yards. Tampa Bay’s leading receiver was running back Cadillac Williams, who had five catches for 25 yards. Williams carried the ball just eight times on the ground, which was too few in a game against a defense as strong as Baltimore’s.”

“Tampa Bay rested its starters throughout most of the preseason games, and that strategy came back to bite the Bucs on Sunday. The Bucs, particularly the offense, came out flat vs. the Ravens. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden felt he had seen enough from his offense in training camp, but their success in camp didn’t carry over to the game on Sunday, and that’s disturbing. Sure, you want to keep players healthy in preseason, but let’s face it – second- and third-stringers could have accomplished what the Bucs offense did in the regular season opener, which was nothing.”

“While listening to Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s post-game press conference I couldn’t help but raise an eye to the head coach’s comment regarding the team not being able to practice on Thursday due to inclimate weather in the Bay area. The Bucs brought the players indoors over Raymond James Stadium to conduct a walk-through, and Gruden mentioned it in his press conference. He said he wasn’t trying to make excuses, but it sounded like an excuse, and it’s one the Bucs shouldn’t even be making. They have a brand new facility with three practice fields, and not one of them is covered or has an inflatable dome that could keep the Bucs practicing even when bad weather comes into play. I’ve got news for the Bucs – Thursday’s practice won’t be the last one cancelled or interrupted by bad weather, and the team needs to use its new facility and technology to its advantage.”

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