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Publisher Scott Reynolds
“Tampa Bay cornerback Phillip Buchanon has come a long way in a short amount of time and had a sensational game against New Orleans. Buchanon had two pass break-ups on consecutive plays to kill a Saints drive in the first quarter, deflecting balls intended for David Patton downfield and Marques Colston underneath. Buchanon had solid coverage all day and finished with one tackle and didn’t give up any big plays on the left side of the field. The Bucs will likely miss Brian Kelly if he continues to be inactive with his groin injury, but due to Buchanon’s play against the Saints, Tampa Bay didn’t miss him on Sunday.”
“Tampa Bay’s third down defense was exceptional against New Orleans. In the first quarter alone, middle linebacker Barrett Ruud forced and recovered a fumble, cornerback Phillip Buchanon broke up a pass intended for Marques Colston and linebacker Cato June stuffed Deuce McAllister for a 1-yard loss on third-and-1. New Orleans was just 1-of-5 (20 percent) on third downs in the first quarter, which directly led to Tampa Bay jumping out to a 14-0 lead as the Saints found little offensive success early."
“Monte Kiffin did a great job of rotating his defensive linemen throughout the game. Defensive end Kevin Carter started at defensive end, but also played some under tackle in obvious pass rush situations. Rookie defensive tackle Greg Peterson saw extended playing time, as did reserve defensive end Greg White, who also played defensive tackle alongside Carter in nickel defense. White and Jovan Haye recorded their first NFL sacks on Sunday and part of the reason why they were able to get to Drew Brees was because both players were rested. Kiffin also substituted Cato June in for Derrick Brooks at Will linebacker at times in the nickel defense, which was wisely done in an effort to keep Brooks rested and fresh.”
“If the Bucs can’t run the ball on the Saints, they might not be run the ball, period. Despite battling bruised ribs, running back Cadillac Williams played against New Orleans, but looked hesitant running the ball on Sunday, especially in the first half. Tampa Bay’s interior linemen, guards Arron Sears and Davin Joseph and center John Wade, got very little push against defensive tackles Brian Young, Hollis Thomas and Kendrick Clancy. This was evident when Williams was stuffed on the 1-yard line on a first-and-goal run up the middle in the first quarter. The Bucs rushed for just 87 yards on 32 carries (2.7 avg.) against New Orleans with the longest gain being only 12 yards. Williams was held to 61 yards on 24 carries (2.5 avg.) by the Saints defense, which isn’t know for stopping the run with a great deal of success. The Bucs will need better run blocking and a better effort from Williams as the season progresses in order to continue to win ballgames."
“Josh Bidwell did an outstanding job punting the ball, getting no return on 53- and 46-yard punts in the first half and not allowing Lance Moore a single return yard. Bidwell helped maintain the Bucs good field position and averaged 38 yards per punt, downing one inside the 20-yard line.”
“The biggest reason for Tampa Bay’s offensive success on Sunday? Quarterback Jeff Garcia. The Bucs finally have a quarterback that can hit Joey Galloway downfield, which Bruce Gradkowski didn’t do last year, and find open receivers, which Chris Simms has struggled with during his Tampa Bay career. Garcia’s performance was virtually flawless as he completed 10-of-16 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Aside from his touchdown strikes of 69 and 24 yards to Joey Galloway, Garcia’s biggest play might have been on third-and-6 at the Saints’ 8-yard line in the first quarter. Garcia’s 7-yard scramble and head-first dive down to the 1-yard line picked up a key first down and sparked Tampa Bay’s offense. Two plays later, Cadillac Williams’ 1-yard run gave the Bucs a 7-0 lead. After that, Garcia began attacking the deep middle of New Orleans’ Cover 2 defense. Galloway’s catches of 69, 24 and 41 yards came in the deep middle of the field, as did Ike Hilliard’s 41-yard grab prior to halftime.”
Editor-In-Chief Jim Flynn
“Bucs head coach Jon Gruden had a quiet confidence about him this week despite the fact that his offense was held without an offensive touchdown in Week 1 vs. Seattle and a total of six games without a TD in 2006. After watching Tampa Bay put 31 points on the scoreboard en route to soundly beating New Orleans on Sunday, it’s no wonder why. What a difference a veteran quarterback makes in Gruden’s offense. Quarterback Jeff Garcia has good pocket awareness and tremendous playmaking ability. Those two things were were lacking for the Bucs offense last year. Garcia threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Saints. Tampa Bay only threw for over 240 yards twice with three different quarterbacks – Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski and Tim Rattay – in the lineup last season. The Bucs lost both of those games and had to throw the ball 53 and 35 times, respectively, to accomplish that feat. On Sunday, Garcia needed just 16 pass attempts to eclipse the 240-yard mark. He completed 10 of those throws on Sunday.”
“Tampa Bay running back Carnell 'Cadillac' Williams rushed for just 61 yards on 24 attempts (2.5 avg.) vs. New Orleans. However, Williams’ biggest contribution came near the goal line, where he rushed for not just one, but two touchdowns on Sunday. Just two weeks into the season and Williams has doubled his touchdown total from a year ago. Williams is still struggling to find holes and is too hesitant to hit the hole when they’re there, but it was nice to see him tough out his rib injury and make a positive impact in Sunday’s game. His presence helped open up Tampa Bay’s passing attack vs. New Orleans.”
“Bucs 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Brooks was criticized by some pundits last week. His critics suggested Brooks, 34, has lost a step or two, which in turn was hurting Tampa Bay’s defense. Brooks responded to his critics by notching nine tackles and playing a solid game. However, it was Bucs middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, not necessarily Brooks, who played as if he had something to prove on Sunday. Ruud, a 2005 second-round draft pick, had his best game as a pro by recording a team-high 11 tackles and forcing not one, but two fumbles vs. the Saints. Not only did Ruud cause two fumbles, he recovered the first one, which set the Bucs offense up with great field position and eventually led to their first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run by Cadillac Williams. Ruud was outstanding vs. the run, as a blitzer and in pass defense. He took a big step in the right direction Sunday in terms of filling Shelton Quarles’ shoes at the Mike ‘backer spot in Tampa Bay’s defense.”
"Tampa Bay offensive tackles Jeremy Trueblood and Luke Petitgout deserve a lot of credit for the job they did Sunday in holding off New Orleans defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith, especially on passing plays. Neither Smith nor Grant recorded a sack and they combined for just seven tackles. Although Smith and Grant played fairly well against the run, neither of them were able to get licks in on quarterback Jeff Garcia, and Trueblood and Petitgout obviously had something to do with that."
“The Saints are getting a taste of what life as defending NFC South division champs is like. New Orleans had the No. 1 ranked-offense in the NFL in 2006. They won the South and made it to the NFC Championship Game. But the worst thing that could have happened to the Saints was having their miraculous season end in Chicago. That killed their momentum and teams spent the entire offseason looking for ways to slow down New Orleans’ potentially potent offensive attack and take advantage of the Saints’ suspect defense. Last year, the Saints had no problem scoring touchdowns. But at halftime you couldn’t help but ask yourself which team would score an offensive touchdown first – New Orleans or Notre Dame. Of course, that question became a moot point in the second half when the Saints scored two touchdowns vs. the Bucs. But the point is the Saints aren’t sneaking up on anyone now, and they have a first place schedule, which hasn’t been kind and certainly doesn’t get any easier for them. There’s a reason why no team has ever repeated as NFC South division champs. It’s extremely competitive. The Bucs, who are the only team to have won the NFC South division twice, know all too well how the Saints are feeling right now.”
“Don’t look now, but the 1-1 Bucs are tied with the 1-1 Carolina Panthers for first place in the NFC South division. The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons are both 0-2. On tap for Week 3 – Carolina at Atlanta and St. Louis at Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon. Tennessee will visit New Orleans on Monday Night Football. If the Bucs can defeat the 0-2 Rams at home next Sunday, it will set up a very interesting Week 4 battle when Tampa Bay invades Carolina.”
Contributing Writer Charles Gonzalez
“The Bucs defense in the first half looked like the Tampa Bay defense that fans have gotten used to. They were swarming around the ball, forcing turnovers and batting down passes. The only thing that was missing from the Bucs arsenal in the first half was the vaunted pass rush. Even though the Bucs weren’t getting a lot of pressure on quarterback Drew Brees, Tampa Bay contained running backs Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister for most of the first half. Along with a 14-0 lead to play with, the Bucs seemed more aggressive and were faster to the ball than against the Seahawks last week. One play in particular late in the second quarter, the 4:30 mark, proved that the defense is getting back their aggressive, swarming attitude. Bush took a sweep play to the right side and was originally met by rookie defensive end Gaines Adams and then was swarmed by seven Bucs tacklers. The first half was a good indication that this season’s defensive unit is starting to get some chemistry and rhythm with the new additions to the defense.”
“Defensive tackle Jovan Haye finally made some noise at the under tackle position with three tackles and one sack, which was the first of his career. Haye did a good job of playing on the Saints side of the line of scrimmage and used a good swim move to sack Brees. Haye, along with defensive tackle Chris Hovan, got pressure up the field to force Bush and McAllister to move laterally down the line of scrimmage instead of hitting the hole and getting up field. I won’t say that Haye is the answer at under tackle, but his play against the Saints is a positive sign. Defensive end Greg White, who also rotates at defensive tackle, made a statement to get more opportunities in the defensive line rotation recording his first career sack against the Saints as well. White is another Arena football player who has made the jump to the NFL and is deserving of his shot after his play on Sunday. White is a power rusher, but has the speed to get around the end and that’s what the Bucs defense needs with the injury to defensive end Patrick Chukwurah. White had the best pass rush of all the defensive linemen against the Saints.”
“All week long at One Buc Place, the common theme from head coach Jon Gruden and the rest of the offense was finishing drives with touchdowns. Settling for field goals as the Bucs did in Seattle could not happen against the Saints to get a victory. The Bucs emphatically answered their critics with four offensive touchdowns, with two coming inside the red zone. The confidence of the offense gained steam with every touchdown, but the first touchdown started the snowball effect. Garcia’s mobility kept plays alive, receivers made plays and running back Cadillac Williams finished off drives. The recipe for success was shown against the Saints, but the consistency of the offense is the issue. There is enough talent on the offense to score 28 points against any defense. The question is whether the offense can consistently move the ball down the field when it faces adversity. The offense jumped out quick and faced little adversity on Sunday, so the next test is to move the ball in a close game when the pressure is on.”
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