2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Game Review - Week 6

As I stated in my Talking Plank, this was going to be a defensive battle, but one I felt the Bucs could pull off, which they did. I even managed to nail the score (maybe I should buy a lotto ticket this week!). While it wasn't the prettiest win, and in fact reminded me of many an old Bucs ugly win during the late 90's, it's a win nonetheless, and the Bucs are now 4-2. With the win they guaranteed that they could do no worse than last year by matching last year's win total.

On Offense, the Bucs had trouble, as expected, running the ball against a great run defense. Graham failed to get anything significant going, averaging under 3 yards per carry, but he did have some timely runs that got first downs, including one at the end of the first half that got the Bucs out of the endzone area and kept them from having to punt the ball back to the Titans. Overall, the running game was virtually non-existent. The passing game, however, was pretty effective for most of the game, though Garcia did get pressured at times. He managed to hit Galloway for yet another 69 yard TD catch, which allowed the Bucs to go up 10-3 and stay in front (they never trailed in this game). He also had an outstanding last minute drive, hitting Hilliard for a huge gain on 3rd and 10 to keep the drive going, and then hit Hilliard a few plays later to get the ball to the spot from which the winning kick was hit. Galloway and Hilliard continue to make big plays. What was nice was to see Clayton catch a couple of big first down's, with one coming early to keep a drive alive with a nice 14 yard catch and run. Then he had a big 39 yard reception to get the Bucs in scoring range. A nicer pass from Garcia, who was pressured on the throw, would have likely led to a TD as Clayton had to slow down for the ball. The offensive line protected Garcia pretty well for much of the game, but did have a few breakdowns that led to Garcia having to scramble. The running holes weren't as numerous as they needed to be, but there were times they opened holes but Graham wasn't quick enough to take advantage before the Titans closed them up. The offense won the first half of this game, but failed to stay on the field during the second half, allowing the Titans to reverse the time advantage greatly in their favor. Overall, the offense made plays when they needed them the most and scored enough points to win the game.

On Defense, the Bucs held the Titans' vaunted rushing game to just 96 total yards and around 3 yards per carry. The Bucs really never let the Titans hit any big plays in the running game, and showed that this team has, in general, become a much more physical team in the trenches than years past. Unfortunately, the pass rush is still not where it needs to be to consistently force the opposing QB into bad decisions. It needs to get better and more consistent. The pass rush has been getting noticeably better every week, though, and did manage to pick up 3 sacks against a team that had only allowed 5 sacks coming in. Adams managed to get his first sack while running in front of Young who ran into his running back and fell. Adams may have gotten the sack anyways, but he got the help and is now off the snide. The line as a whole played excellent against the run with Adams getting 5 tackles, and Haye getting 10. Haye also got a sack in the game. The linebackers were once agains pretty solid in run support, but continue to struggle at times with the Tight Ends. Ruud led the team in tackles again. The secondary was hot and cold. At times the Titans had nowhere to go, but then, especially during the second half, the secondary started giving up third and long plays again, allowing the Titans to move the ball down the field. That needs to end, and end soon. Ronde nearly picked off two passes, and had a fumble recovery but tried to pick it up and run and had it knocked out of his hands for a Titans' recovery. Jackson brought a few more big hits, including one that stopped Brown in his tracks. Buchannon picked off a pass where his right foot was right at the line (if you watch his toe pivot up onto the toe, you can see that his foot had to be inbounds because the lower portion of the tip of his toe was right there on the edge of the sideline). Overall, the defense was physical and managed to hold up well despite the long second half where they were on the field for over 20 minutes.

On Special Teams, the Bucs had a decent kickoff return in the second half that went nowhere on offense, and the punt returns were limited. The punt and kick coverage was outstanding, for the most part. Bryant nailed his kicks, including the game winner. Bidwell punted well and kept the Titans from getting great field position. Overall a solid effort, though two kickoff's for touchbacks limited Jones' ability to burn a poor kick coverage unit for the Titans.

Coaching was solid, but not spectacular. Gruden needs to find a way to get the running game going, and that may take our new running back (Michael Bennett). The Bucs can't continue to play with this type of running game. They need to at least be in the 80's or 90's to keep Garcia from getting killed. The passing game was effective though and Gruden's play-calling and Garcia's audibles and execution made difference. Monte's defense played well for most of the game but got winded late as they had problems stopping the third and long pass plays. That's a problem he needs to get resolved. The defense that they are running in those situations is not good enough, and needs to be changed. You can't keep stuffing teams for 2 plays then giving up a 3rd and long, and letting the team chew up 7, 8 , or 9 minutes of clock time. Special teams were well coached and played well. There weren't a lot of good opportunities for returns with all of the touchbacks, so it's hard to say just how good they could have been. Overall, it was a solid team effort that managed to get the job done, and once again do it without committing a ton of penalties.


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