2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bucs Lose 6-20

Another season starts, but to a bad note. This year I'm just going to give my overall impressions of each portion of the team, and not rate with grades. So let's begin.

The Bucs lost this game for two primary reasons; 1) special teams coverage and return units and 2) turnovers. Both turnovers cost the Bucs possible scoring opportunities. Then, the poor field position that the Bucs had, combined with the good position the Seahawks had, did them in even further. Let's talk about each unit's play.

The offense started this game out extremely well, and also finished it on a nice long drive before Graham coughed it up deep in Seahawks' territory. Garcia performed well, though he missed some plays that were available. While the stats show 12 pressures and 5 sacks, the reality is that the QB's had pretty good time to through, but tended to take too long to find open receivers. Apparently this is a combination of excellent secondary play by the Seahawks, and some delayed decision making on the part of the QB's. McCown's sack was ridiculous, as he had a good 5 seconds back there before being sacked. There were some breakdowns, and the pass protection was shaky at times, but it wasn't as bad as the stat sheet looked. The running game looked like it was getting ready to take off, but then Caddy got injured by a spear hit (should be a fine, in my opinion). Quite frankly, with Garcia also getting a helmet to helmet hit, it's time for the NFL to wake up and make the use of the helmet to hit or tackle another player 100% illegal during the game with a penalty and fine backing it up. With the speed and power of today's players, it's just becoming to easy to put the head down and take a player out of the game. Once Caddy came out, the running game sputtered, and that made it more difficult on the offense.

What's really frustrating is that this offense could have easily put up 14-21 points in the first half and blown the Seahawks out. The plays were there. The results sucked, but it's clear that this offense, when it starts to get into a groove and Garcia gets to an instinctive level, will be able to move the ball with relative ease. If they had the field position the Seahawks had for most of the game, the Bucs may have scored at lest 2 or 3 more times, even if just field goals. The line looks like it's still a work in progress, but you can see it dominate at times, then have rough moments. Give it a few weeks, and this line will be very good on a consistent basis.

The defense actually did much better than I thought they would. The Seahawks had problems sustaining drives all game long and were the benefactors of special teams play and a couple of bombs. Brooks blew his coverage on Morris, but that was a mismatch anyways, and the Safety never rolled over to help. Brooks also missed some key tackles and I hope that does not continue. He did look faster than last season, at least until late in the game when the whole defense appeared to be a little winded. Ruud played excellent, but just missed a very well placed deep ball right over his head. The secondary was alright, though they need to tighten up on some plays. I think they'll be fine. Let's just hope BK isn't out for long with that groin pull. Jackson and Phillips were both up and down in there play. The Safeties, all 4 of them, need to play with more consistency. The defensive line was rather solid against the run, allowing the linebackers to be the stoppers, but the pass rush just wasn't consistent enough to keep Hasselbeck uncomfortable. They got to him twice, and pressured him on occasion, but they need to get there more frequently. This team still needs a UT that can really disrupt. Haye needs to either get it done or ride the pine. Overall, though, they made it tough on a very potent Seahawks offense, more so than I thought they would, and it gives me hope, despite the end result.

The special teams were, with the exception of the kickers, a bit on the horrid side. Untimely penalties nullified some nice returns that could have set the Bucs' offense up well. They also gave up a huge return just before the half that helped the Seahawks get close enough to score. If they had stopped the returner when they should have, the Seahawks may have been lucky to even get a field goal out of that drive. The resultant TD gave the Seahawks the lead and seemed to turn the game around. Need better returns on the kicks too, and Graham is not the guy to get it done. Get someone with speed back there!

Coaching was solid, though questionable for Special Teams. Execution was more the problem than anything. At times the offense looked like it did with Bruce in there last year with wide open guys and a QB not seeing them. Garcia had a few moments like that, and I expect to see that change fairly quickly. I thought the play calling itself was pretty solid, and the Bucs came out and initially took the crowd out of the game. They had a shot, but too many execution mistakes doomed them. Coaching takes some of the blame for not having the players completely ready to execute all game, but the players have to be held accountable for their failure to execute what the coaches tell them to do.

The Bucs look like a team that can get it together and start playing well enough to win more than they lose, but we have to hope that they come together soon and that the injuries stop killing them. We'll see what they can do next week at home.


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