2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bucs Dominate Panthers 20-7

I'll put the Game Review up tomorrow, but I wanted to put out a quick blurb on this game. The Bucs came right out of the gate and dominated the Panthers. This game was really pretty much never in doubt. If not for a fumble by Ike, and a failure to punch it in with 4 shots inside the 5, this could have been an even bigger win, score-wise. Needless to say, despite the losses of Pettigout and Williams, it was great to beat the snit out of the Panthers. Nothing says FU like a good old fashion butt kickin'!

The Bucs are now in sole possession of first place in the NFC South and are 2-0 in Division play (a first for them in the NFC South). Now the real test comes next Sunday. Should be a great game to watch. Hopefully Kelly will be back and ready to go, allowing us to blanket the Indy receivers.

It's great to win like this!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Talking Plank - Week 4

The Talking Plank -

Bucs At Panthers:

Who knew that this game would end up being one to determine the lead in the Division after the 1st quarter of the season. Before the season began I predicted a Bucs win in this game, but I didn't think the Panthers would look as good as they have. Of course, Buc killer Jake Delhomme looks to be out of the game this week, which means Carr will be leading the Panthers' offense. Will it be enough for the Bucs to win this game? Let's take a look.

On Offense, the Bucs, ranked 22nd in yards (312 yds/g), but 13th running, will face the 23rd ranked defense (342 yds/g), 2st against the pass (246.7 yds/g)and 13th against the run (95 yds/g). Teams have, so far, exploited the Panthers secondary, which isn't all that great. Much like the game with the Saints, the Bucs should be able to take advantage of this match-up. Furthermore, the Panthers' linebacking crew is banged up in the middle with Dan Morgan listed as Out and Adam Seward (the backup Mike) listed as Questionable. If the Bucs can move Jenkins and Kemoeatu, they should be able to exploit the middle on runs, but that's easier said than done. Rucker is listed with a toe injury, so running to the perimeter at rookie Beason could be more advantageous. If the Bucs can get something of a running game going, the Bucs should be able to open the offense deep and beat the Panthers' secondary. I expect the Bucs to have some struggles with the running game, but the line's play has been steadily improving and they should get enough to keep the Panthers honest. That should allow time for Garcia to hit his targets, slowing up the pass rush. What's amazing is that the Panthers have only managed to get 2 sacks this season, and that bodes well for holding up the pass rush and burning the secondary. This is going to be a tough game for the Bucs to move the ball consistently, but they'll do it enough to put some points on the board. If they give Garcia all day, though, the offense could explode on the Panthers similar to what it did to the Saints.

On Defense, the Bucs 12th ranked offense (310.3 yds/g), 5th in points allowed (12.3/g), will be facing the Panthers' 12th ranked offense (351 yds/g), 19th passing (208.7 yds/g) and 6th rushing (142.3 yds/g). The Bucs defense is 9th against the pass (185.7 yds/g) and 21st against the run (124.7 yds/g), which creates something of a poor match-up against the Panthers' offense. The one thing that the Bucs have going in their favor, however, is that Delhomme is doubtful for the game, meaning Carr is likely to start. Carr got sacked once on just 4 pass attempts against the Falcons (who have just 7 on the season, 3 against the Panthers). He takes a lot of sacks. The Bucs will need to put the heat on and get Carr down as often as possible. Only twice in Carr's career he's managed to throw more TD's than picks, and that's only by a 3 in '05 and 2 in '04. He gets picked and sacked a lot and throws for few TD's. If the Bucs can get some pressure on him, they should be able to rattle him and force some mistakes. The team that's made the mistakes, in this series, is the one that's usually lost the game. The Bucs secondary will have to account for Smith, as always, but Colbert and Carter should be containable with our secondary. So far, the Bucs' secondary has been nearly dominant, as they aren't getting a lot of pressure help from the defensive line. This week, though, I expect to see some pressure, especially if Kalil plays at guard. If the secondary gets help from the defensive line, then they should be able to neutralize the passing game. The big key, however, will be with the linebackers. Ruud, Brooks, and June MUST stop, or at least slow down, the Panthers rushing attack, led by Foster and Williams. The Bucs have slowed them down before, so it's not impossible. If they can do that and force the Panthers to pass, they should be able to make it difficult for the Panthers to consistently move the ball, and the gap control and tackling by the linebackers will be the key in forcing them to go to the air. I believe the Bucs will slow down the Panthers' rushing attack enough to force the Panthers to ride Carr's arm, and that's where the Bucs secondary will get a chance to make a couple of turnovers to keep Carolina from moving the ball too much.

On Special Teams, the Bucs are currently one of the top units in returns and coverage. The Bucs are only allowing an unbelievably low 13.5 yards per kick return. While the yards per return allowed on punts is still 12.2, the reality is that one long punt is the only thing keeping that number up. The Bucs haven't in fact, even allowed many punt returns this season. The Bucs allowed 63 yards on 6 returns during the Seahawks' game. Since then, they've allowed just 10 yards. The coverage teams, which started out a little sluggish in the first week, have become dominant. With the Panthers averaging 8 yard per punt and 20.2 yards per kick, look to see that trend continue. Special teams coverage units could be huge by forcing the Panthers to go the length of the field on most drives. The Panthers are only allowing 7 yards per punt return, but are giving up 26.2 yards per kick return. The Bucs' return teams have been outstanding these last two games since Mark Jones came back. Jones has averaged 15 yards per punt return and 36 yards per kick return. What looked like a poor unit the first week, has become a strength, and giving the offense a short field to work with is paramount to winning this game. The Bucs need some short drives so that they can apply pressure to the Panthers' defense. The kickers and punters are pretty similar in numbers, so I don't see a distinct advantage in either. I expect the Bucs to consistently force the Panthers into long drives while giving the offense good field position to start its own.

This is a tough game to call, and this match-up is hard to figure out. I think, however, that the Bucs are more likely to pull a game out like 2005, than to suffer the one they had last year. In the end, I think the Bucs' defense will get the best of Carr, and the improve line will allow Garcia, the best QB we've had here since Young, to beat the Panthers poor secondary. That will be enough to allow the Bucs to escape with a win and the division lead.

Bucs 17 Panthers 13

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Piscitelli Out For Season

Well, I guess we won't be finding out just how good Sabby is at Safety this year. His foot injury, which is a fracture, is putting him out for the season, as the Bucs have placed him on IR. They've brought WR Chad Lucas back up, but he's not likely to stick if the Bucs decide to keep Cox on the roster without dumping Davis.

It's too bad that Sabby had to go on IR. He was pushing Phillips, and we saw Phillips respond hard. Hopefully, Jermaine will continue to play well, but I wanted to see what Sabby could do in real coverage. At least he'll be able to observe the defense from the sidelines and learn. Nevertheless, it had to be hard on him to know he's lost the opportunity to play this year.

Game Review - Week 3

This post is a little more delayed than I had anticipated due to the time it took to set the house. I was on my land all day watching the beauty of modular construction first hand. But I digress...on with the game review!

The Bucs hosted the Rams this past Sunday, with the Rams coming in desperate for their first win of the season. The Bucs, however, were clearly determined to continue the trend that they had started against the Saints a week prior, and, to some extent, against the Seahawks. In the end, the Bucs were able to down the Rams 24-3 and go to 2-1. So how did each unit do?

On Offense, the Bucs started a little slow has the Rams' defense, led by Jim Haslett, found ways to make it difficult for the Bucs to maintain their drives. The running game started off slowly, and the Rams managed to put some pressure on Garcia early with their strong pass rushing defensive line. But as the game wore on, the Bucs' offense started making some adjustments, and then the breakthrough drive kicked in just before the half when Caddy started popping of some good runs and Garcia then hit a couple of key passes. While this drive is very memorable for Clayton's drop while wide open and the fumble after the first down catch, as well as the torrential downfall that hit in the middle of the drive, the field goal at the end was crucial. That score broke open the resistance that the offense felt during the first half. When the team came out in the second half, they were able to drive down the field and score a touchdown, via Caddy, to get the score to 10-0. After the Rams matched field goals, the Bucs' offensive line, which had blocked well in the first half, started to become dominate in the second half and started opening massive holes consistently that allowed Graham and Pittman to rip off big runs, and allowed Graham to score his first career TD. Then the Bucs got it back and did the same thing, allowing Graham to score a 28 yard TD run and put the Rams away at 24-3. The Bucs could have scored another TD late, but knelt during the final minute plus while deep in the red zone. Overall I was very impressed with the line play, as well as the play of Garcia who had an interesting day getting his helmet knocked off on one scramble, then blocking Little to spring Caddy for 3 yards on a cutback run where Caddy escaped two tacklers on the left side of the line and got back to the right to get positive yardage. Caddy was Ok, but had the fumble and took a while to get the big runs going. Graham and Pittman exploited their fresh legs and tired defenders, plus the large holes, to run big yardage up on the Rams. The Bucs finished with 186 yards rushing and 300+ yards of total offense. Joey was a little quiet, but that was expected. Clayton needs to get out of the mental block or step aside.

On Defense, the secondary did an outstanding job dealing with the Rams' talented receivers. Phillips knocked Bruce out of the game for a while and caused him to fumble it on that play. The ball was picked up and ran back for a TD, but that was erased by a questionable offsides call on Kevin Carter (lining up in the neutral zone). Phillips also managed a great snare of a Bulger pass for a pick on the sideline. It was amazing that the normally crappy handed Phillips could make an interception like that. It was Bulger's first in 179 pass attempts, but would not be his last. Buchannon ended a possible scoring drive by picking Bulger off in the endzone in front of Drew Bennett. Kelly was in and out of the line up, but played well. Barber played well, but drew a taunting penalty during the Rams' drive that started with the fumble being called back, extended with a Brooks unsportsmanlike penalty, and ending with Buchannon's pick. The secondary was quite good. The linebackers played well also, making Jackson earn just about every yard he got. The hitting was crisp, and the tackling solid. Ruud did get out of his gap twice on two of Jackson's longer runs, but that's expected of him on occasion. He did pick of a Bulger pass to end the Rams' last offensive series. Brooks played well again, and June had some nice plays including blowing up Jackson for a loss on a run blitz. The defensive line consistently forced Bulger to stick to quicker passes with some solid pressure. They did get one sack, but the Rams, trying to protect Bulger behind that poor line, used a lot of 3 step drops to get the ball away. Overall, the defense played very well, and managed to hold the Rams to just 3 points, which came off the Caddy turnover in Bucs' territory.

On Special Teams, the Bucs continued to actually make it look like Bisaccia knows what he's doing. Don't know why this unit has completely turned it around all of a sudden, but they are playing lights out. The unit shut Hall down all game long, avoiding any long returns. The return units were ripping off big returns consistently, including a kick and a punt return in the mid 30's by Jones, both career highs. This is the best I've seen the return game in years, and you just hope it's not a two game fluke. The punting was solid by Bidwell, and Bryant nailed his second field goal attempt in a down pour and hit all his extra points. He did miss his first attempt, a 54 yarder, though it appeared that his plant foot slipped on the attempt.

Coaching was excellent. Gruden's offense made adjustments, likely with input from Garcia who used the 3 play audible system of Gruden's to perfection. The offense started off slowly, but found what the Rams were doing and exploited their weaknesses, something we are starting to see consistently from this offense that hasn't been the norm around here the past few years. The defense, despite problems getting sacks, played extremely well and held an explosive Rams offense to just 3 points. Not much more to say about that. And special teams continues to be a surprise. I don't know what Bisaccia has done recently to reverse our return teams, but it's working, and I have to give him his due. Overall, it was a solid well coached team that, yet again, dominated a team that hasn't been playing well. Let's see if they can do it next week, on the road, against a team that's been playing well.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Slow Updates:

I have to apologize for not getting the game review up today. It should be up tomorrow along with some additional thoughts, but it will be late in the day. The reason for the slow updates is the arrival of my house, in 4 separate modules. My house is going to be installed (set on the foundation) tomorrow morning, but I had to do a lot today to make sure they shipped down and got here on time. Needless to say, this precluded me from developing a good post on the game.

So once my house is up and sealed, and the work crew is pretty much done for the day, I will hopefully find the time to writes some stuff up. For anyone curios a modular house is similar to a built on site frame house, but it's built in large sections in a factory using jigs and templates and computer controlled machines. It's also built stronger to survive shipping, which includes gluing the dry wall to the studs in combination with the standard screws. The modules are then set in place and strapped to the foundation. Instant house (takes about 2-3 weeks to build the modules in the factory and they come 80-90% finished). They shouldn't be confused with manufactured, i.e. mobile, homes which are built on a steel chassis to HUD code. Till tomorrow...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Talking Plank - Week 3

The Talking Plank -

Rams At Bucs:

With last week's dominating performance, the Bucs prepare to defend their house again in an attempt to go 2-1. The Bucs have an excellent chance to firmly plant themselves at the front of the Division if they win this week, then go up to Carolina and take care of the kittens. Before they get that far, however, they must first take care of business with the Rams. The Rams are coming in 0-2 and will be looking to desperately avoid going 0-3. But the Rams are banged up at several key positions and the Bucs will look to take advantage of those areas.

On Offense, the Bucs will be facing the 10th ranked defense (286.5 yds/g), 25th against the run (137.5 yds/g) and 4th against the pass (149 yds/g). The stats on that defense are a bit misleading, however, as the Rams gave up just under 200 yards of offense to the worst offense in the NFL, the 49ers. The Panthers put up just a little shy of 400 yards on the Rams, so the ranking is a bit misleading at this point. The Bucs will, once again, seek to establish the run while trying to attack the Rams suspect secondary, forcing the safeties to stay out of the box as much as possible. The Panthers were able to run for 186 yards on the Rams, and the Bucs' rapidly improving line will look to do the same. One of the keys, much like last week, will be to keep Garcia clean, which should be possible against the Rams, who've only gotten 4 sacks so far. Their DL has 3 of their sacks. Their starting linebackers, combined, have 24 tackles, the same as Ruud. In fact, the majority of the Rams' tackles are by the secondary, primarily the safeties. That's not usually the sign of a good defense. I expect to see Galloway exploit their secondary (who will be without Tye Hill, their starting corner). If they hit him early, we should see Caddy run loose, and if he continually gets past the linebackers, it's going to be a long day for the Rams' defense. I expect to see the Bucs have pretty good success against the Rams, and put up some points. It could be another offensive explosion, but the Rams are going to be hungry for the win, so I expect them to be flying around.

On Defense, the Bucs will be facing the 18th ranked offense (315 yds/g), 28th in rushing (68.5 yds/g) and 9th passing (246.5 yds/g). This is yet another high powered offense that the Bucs will be facing. But the Rams, who have already lost LT Pace for the season, will likely be without starting RG Incognito as well. That bodes well for us, and bad for them, as Bulger is already banged up after getting sacked 6 times by the 49ers. If ever there was a game for the Bucs' DL to feast, this is it. If the Bucs DL can consistently put the pressure on Bulger and put him on the ground a few times, the secondary should be able to deal with the Rams' receiving threats. I expect the linebackers and safeties to be crucial in this game. If they play like last Sunday, they'll keep RB Jackson in check and make it difficult on the Rams. It's going to be tough to stop the Rams' offense, but they will slow them down, and I believe it will be enough to keep the Rams from scoring too many points.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will have to be at their best in coverage with Dante Hall returning punts and kicks for the Rams. For the most part he's been held in check, but did manage to rip off an 84 yard kick return that didn't get into the endzone. His punt returns have been pathetic at around 2.6 yards per, but he's got the ability to take it to the house on any play, so the Bucs will need to be very careful and contain him. On the flip side, the Rams' coverage teams have been pretty soft, giving up 32 yards on kicks, and 14 yards on punts. The Bucs have been getting 36 yards per kick return, and 12 per punt, so the Bucs may have a distinct advantage in the return game if the coverage units tackle and use good angles against Hall. The kickers are both looking solid, and both punters are averaging around 44 yards per punt. If the coverage units do their jobs, I give the advantage to the Bucs. But Hall will be the wildcard. Wrap him up, and we should win the field position battle. Fail to do that, and he could win the game by himself.

In the end, I think the Bucs will have enough of an advantage to take the Rams on and win this game. I look for a couple of explosion plays out of the passing game and for the running game to finally get on track. In the end, the Bucs will hold the fort and go 2-1.

Bucs 24 Rams 20

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Barrett Ruud - NFC Defensive Player Of The Week

In a well deserved honor, Barrett Ruud was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his outstanding performance against the Saints. Watching the past two games, and despite not turning to defend the ball in the Seahawks game, it's becoming clear to me that Ruud is going to be a top linebacker in this league. Just how good he'll be is hard to tell, but he seems to have all the traits that Quarles had, but he's a little bigger and stronger, which will allow him to handle the power runners a little better.

I'm pretty good at spotting great linebackers (it's the position I enjoy watching the most), and I see Pro-Bowl written all over his future. Getting that award will cause people to wonder who he is. So if he continues to have similar performances, we'll see him in the Pro-Bowl either this year or next. Whether he can keep playing like this, and do it over the long haul, is still to be seen, but everything I've seen and know about him, makes me believe that he will do it all. Watching him play out there, he actually reminded me more of Hardy than Quarles. Of course, that's one helluva high standard to live up to, and I'm certainly not expecting him to, but I do see the potential. It's clearly there.

In any case, good job Ruud. The award is well deserved, as I think McAllister and Bush are still trying to ease the pain of the hits you put on them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bucs Demolish Saints 31-14

What a difference a week makes, at least in terms of feel. As I've mentioned on this blog, I thought the Bucs played well last week and nearly started that game off 14-0. If they had, might the end result have been something similar to what we saw today? Maybe. But I digress. The Bucs took it too the Saints, getting up 21-0 by halftime and putting it on cruise control during the second half to win 31-14.

On Offense, we saw what Garcia can do when he's more consistently seeing the routes on the field. He didn't have to throw many passes, as the one's he did hit were the big wide open plays that have tended to be there the past couple of years. Garcia has the ability to hit both the deep ball, and the shorter routes, and you wonder just how explosive this offense will be in a few more weeks when this offense starts becoming second nature to him. Galloway was big, and Clayton helped spring his big TD with an absolutely crushing block on a Saints Safety. The running game struggled in the first half due to a lack of big holes, and some hesitant running by Caddy. Williams did get better holes and ran the ball more effectively in the second half. He also rushed for two TD's doubling last year's total. The offensive line, which still needs to get better in the running game, was very good in pass pro, rarely requiring extra blockers, and giving Garcia a lot of time to hit the wide open receivers. This offense looks capable of really lighting up just about anyone once everyone is consistently executing. If they keep this up, this could be one of the best offensive units the Bucs have ever fielded, but they'll need to keep converting their drives into TD's and not rely on FG's.

On Defense, we saw this team play with aggressiveness and just literally pound the snot out of the Saints running backs and receivers. The Bucs forced three fumbles in this game, and ganged tackled like the defenses of old. This unit was my biggest concern going into the season, but the guys are just getting it done. Ruud was unbelievable, and looks like he may have Pro-Bowl potential if he keeps playing like this. June was very good, picking off a pass. And Brooks had a strong game, and popped one of the runners forcing a fumble which the Saints managed to recover. The secondary, despite missing Kelly, played a very good game with Buchannon breaking up some passes, and Davis nicely defending an endzone pass. The defensive line still isn't getting consistent pressure, but they did enough to keep Brees from getting to comfortable in the backfield, and they did get two sacks, by Haye and White, and nearly saw both Adams and Ruud get sacks (they both just barely missed getting him in time). They hurried Brees enough to keep him from burning us, though the secondary did a good enough job keeping the receivers covered to make it difficult on him. Overall, the defense looked very good, though I hated seeing them play a prevent style late in the game. Should have kept getting after it.

On Special Teams, we saw a turnaround from last week. The coverage teams were excellent, and the return teams did a nice job giving the Bucs' offe4nse good starting field position. Kicking and punting were solid again, with Bryant getting a couple of touchbacks. Excellent overall effort, without stupid penalties killing returns.

Coaching was excellent. The game plan on offense was solid, and we can see just how effective Gruden's offense can be when the QB executes it properly. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. The defense was well prepared and was very fundamental with few missed tackles, and a gang tackle mentality. Special teams coaching was night and day better than last week and it showed on the field. The other good thing was the lack of overall penalties with just 3. The Bucs looked very well coached in this game. Let's hope that trend continues for most of the year.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Talking Plank - Week 2

The Talking Plank -

Saints At Bucs:

After a solid start, but a rough second half, the Bucs lost to the Seahawks, going 0-1. Now they face the 0-1 Saints, who just had there rears handed to them on national TV. The Saints will be mad, and have a couple of extra days to prepare. The Bucs will be without Kelly, and will likely have to see if Caddy can go, though I believe he will. Who will win this battle and avoid the 0-2 start?

On offense, the Bucs come in ranked 17th in yards, but 29th in points due to failing to put the ball in the endzone. Last week the Bucs had chances and opportunities, but a combination of fumbles, penalties, and a "still getting to know the offense" effort by Garcia, made it difficult for them to put points up, despite moving the ball well. This week they will face the 30th ranked defense, one which gave up 164 yards on the ground to the Colts. The Saints secondary is suspect, and their linebackers are so-so. The strength in the Saints defense is at the Defensive End spots where Smith and Grant will be trying to duplicate last year's success against the Bucs. However, the Bucs offensive line is much more experienced and just overall better than last year. Yes, it's still not consistent, but that will come with more game-time as a unit. The Saints aren't very big up the middle, so the Bucs' guards should be able to get some movement on the inside. I'm personally expecting Caddy to play, and I think, barring a setback with the ribs, that he'll have a pretty strong game, which he'll need to take some of the pressure off the line during pass pro. Without the intensely loud crowd to deal with, the Garcia and the line should both be able to play much more settled and the results should be readily apparent. I expect Garcia to make plays he missed last week, and I believe the result will be a number of touchdowns. If the Bucs can pass protect with the 5 linemen and just the occasional use of a single tight end or running back, then they'll be able to move the ball on this secondary. I think the offense will surprise some this week.

On defense, the Bucs are coming in ranked 21st overall in yards and points. Nearly a third of Seattle's offense came on three big plays. Overall, in a hostile stadium on the west coast, the defense played pretty well. Better than I thought they would, making it tough for the Seahawks to move the ball with any consistency. This week the Bucs will face the 16th ranked offense (just one yard better than the Bucs) and will do so here at home. Not only that, but the Bucs will be playing this game at 1:00 in the stifling heat, and they will likely make the Saints where black. The key will be how the Bucs play at the line of scrimmage and if they can limit Bush and McAllister. The Saints have pretty good size up front, so the Bucs' defensive line will need to use their speed to disrupt things at the line and let the linebackers clean up. I like the ability of Ruud and June to deal with the speed of Bush, and for Ruud to handle the power of McAllister running up the middle. I'm still not sure about Brooks though, and that will be the wild card. Kelly was downgraded to doubtful, so, barring a miracle, he'll be out and Buchannon will step into his place. Davis will play the nickel when needed. With Horn gone, the Saints really aren't nearly as explosive or capable at the receiver position, having to rely heavily on Colston, and TE Johnson. This is likely the primary reason why the Colts defense had a good game against them, and it should help the Bucs focus more on stopping the run and blitzing Brees to keep him uncomfortable. I think the defense will do well, but they will still have some problems at times, allowing the Saints to put up some points.

On Special Teams, the Bucs will be looking to rebound from the effort they put forth in Seattle. They allowed some big returns, including one that allowed the Seahawks excellent field position before the half, from which they scored a TD to go ahead in the game. Without that return, the Bucs may have held the lead longer and might have changed the outcome of the game. There were some good punt returns that got called back by stupid penalties, so the team will need to eliminate those And someone else needs to return kicks. I like Graham, but he's not fast enough for kick returns. We need someone back there that can get vertical quickly and apply pressure to the cover team. The kicking and punting games are in good hands, though, and shouldn't be a problem. The Saints have an excellent punter and kicker as well. Mare has a strong leg, and Weatherford's averaging 48 yards a punt. The Saints also have an excellent punt return team. Their kick return game isn't a whole lot better than ours, though. The Bucs will need to keep the Saints from getting any big returns, and need to get some of their own to give the Bucs' offense a chance with a shorter field. I think we'll see better coverage and return units this week, as the rookies now have a game under their belts.

Overall, this is a game I initially pegged as being a loss following a win at Seattle. After watching the Bucs come out nearly good enough to put 14 points up on Seattle early, but watching the Saints get blasted, and considering how important this game is, I've changed my mind on this one. This game is too important. While the season isn't over if the Bucs lose, it will get tougher and tougher each week as the sharks continue to circle. This is why I think the Bucs will come out and use the home field advantage to take it to the Saints.

Bucs 24 Saints 20

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Boston Out; Jones Back In; Caddy's Health

With the foot injury to Boston, the Bucs decided to cut him loose with an injury settlement. Bruce Allen mentioned it was a similar injury to someone else the Bucs had go out of the season. Whether or not this is a cover for the DUI mess or not is irrelevant. Boston is gone.

With Boston's departure comes the return of Mark Jones. It will be interesting to see if he's active or not, as Galloway and Hilliard had some stellar returns, limited only by the stupid penalties. It's possible that Gruden may want to bring the guy in the game for a second deep threat, as Jones has good speed, but this is where we really, really miss Paris Warren.

But, on some real good news, it appears Caddy is recovering pretty quickly from his injury. Personally, I think the NFL needs to eliminate the use of the helmet in tackling and hitting, as it is the cause of both Caddy's and Garcia's injuries, as well as the one to TE Everett of the Bills. The NFL needs to fine and suspend guys until the spearing stops and guys get those helmets up. It's too dangerous these days to let it lie. Irregardless of that, Caddy will, in my opinion, play on Sunday if he continues to heal at this rate. The Bucs will only hold him out if it looks like his season could be in jeopardy if he plays. I think Caddy is approaching it as a "must play" game. The Saints are vulnerable to the running game, and when that gets clicking they become vulnerable down the field. The Bucs need to be able to exploit this weakness.

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.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Talking Plank - Week 1

The Talking Plank-

Bucs At Seahawks:

If you've read my 2007 Season Prediction (posted below) you'll already know who I'm predicting to win, and what I think the score will be. Now's the time for me to go in-depth and explain my reasoning. We've just seen the Saints get shredded on the road, and road teams generally have a tough time starting the season out like this, but teams do win their openers on the road enough to have hope. More importantly, as you begin to look at this match-up, you begin to realize that the overall roster talent may favor the Bucs.

On Offense, the Bucs will be facing a defense that's not as banged up as last year, but has already lost DL Tubbs for the season, and has had some turnover in some other key positions. They have Trufant at corner and Grant at safety, as well as Tatupu and Peterson at Linebacker. Beyond that, they aren't overly impressive at any position other than Kerney at DE, though he's never really been a big thorn to us. The Bucs new look line should be able to open holes against the likes of Tapp and Darby. While Sears is a rookie, he's very well coached and shouldn't take nearly the time to acclimate as Joseph and Trueblood. Pettigout is a vet, and his impact will be immediate. The Bucs should also be able to give Garcia plenty of time to pass without having to keep two tight ends, and that will spread the Seahawks' defense out, which will, in turn, allow Caddy room to run. I expect the Bucs to start out trying to open it with the pass, the switching to the run. If the running game starts producing early, you'll see a ton of it (25-30 carries). The Bucs should be able to get players open and I expect to see the offense move the ball effective for most of the game. It will have to, as the offense will need to carry the defense for most of the game.

On Defense, the Bucs should be able to get after Hasselbeck at times, and they'll likely make it hard for Alexander to consistently rip off yardage, but both players will make some plays against this defense. The lack of experience will cause some messed up plays, and it will take several games before the defense really gets into a groove. How Jackson holds up in the secondary will be key, but I do like the match-up of our linebackers on Pollard and Heller (their TE's). I also think we can make life difficult for the Seahawks' receivers. The problem is that the defense will give up some drives and scores do to those mistakes and the likely lack of a consistent pass rush. Adams will have a hard time getting past Jones, and the rest of the line may have a tough time getting a consistent rush on Hasselbeck, as they can't get caught running by Alexander. The defense will give up more points then we like, but they'll do just enough to allow our offense to outscore theirs.

On Special Teams, both come in with similarly capable units. The Bucs will go with a committee approach on punts and kicks, but it's unlikely we'll see any breakthrough returns. If we do, it could tip the balance in favor of the Bucs. I don't envision the Seahawks' having any huge returns against the Bucs, though the Bucs will miss Cox in coverage. The Seahawks' have a little bit of a better FG kicker than us, but the punters are roughly even with a slight edge to us. If it rains, the weather could become a factor on field goals and it's hard to tell which team can be favored here.

In the end, I think the Bucs, having a much better offensive line, and an improved linebacking and safety corps, will be able to do just enough on both sides of the ball to pull off the upset.

Bucs 24 Seattle 21

Thursday, September 06, 2007

2007 Season Prediction

It's that time of year. Time to prognosticate on the upcoming season. One of the biggest problems I am having is the backside of the schedule, as I am finding it hard to see losses except for San Fran and NO, but I just can't see them going 7-1 or 6-2 down the stretch, at least not quite yet. I will say that, heading into the preseason, I felt that this team was an 8-8 team with breaks and injuries putting a margin of +/- 1 win. Now that I have actually seen the team in action, and focused in on the key match-ups and how certain players looked, I now have a different opinion.

Right now the defense appears to be the biggest question mark. I think the Bucs have clearly increased the talent level on this team, and the defense will likely be in high gear during the second half of the season. In fact, I would be shocked if they gave up more than 100 points in the final 8 games. The first 8 is going to be more iffy. The offense looks like it will be able to spread teams pretty effectively and I don't think it will take very long for Garcia to be able to regularly drive the offense for scores. Special teams looks to be about the same as last year.

So let's look at the games and how I think the Bucs will do based on what I've seen so far. As we get into the regular season, my Talking Plank may reflect a different result as the games come and go, but this is how things look to me right now.

At Seattle:

The Bucs will come into this game with an offense that will surprise the Seahawks and be able to stretch them with numerous receiving targets. I expect to see Caddy get some big runs and a lot of action around a passing game that will be used roughly 60% of the time. The Bucs will score on the Seahawks' defense. Whether or not the Bucs' defense can stop the Seattle offense is another story, but there are changes along their offensive line, and that could play a factor in limiting Alexander and getting to Hasselbeck. In the end, the Bucs surprise the Seahawks and take a tight game.

--Bucs 24-21

New Orleans:

After upsetting the Seahawks and coming back home to open things up with an emotional tribute to Alstott, the Bucs will get caught a little flat footed against the Saints, with the defense finding it hard to keep the Saints out of the endzone on a consistent basis. The Bucs offense will score a good amount of points, but the rebuilt defense, still learning to work together and get the rookies up to speed, will let them down.

--Saints 27-20

St. Louis:

After loosing in the home opener, the Bucs will regroup and find a way to shore up their defense some. It will be tough sledding against the potent Rams' offense, but the defense will come up with some key turnovers and stops to keep the Rams out of the endzone at times. The offense, on the other hand, will have a field day against the Rams' defense. I expect to see Caddy running for a lot of yards and for Garcia to hit numerous receivers while hitting 3 or 4 TD passes. In the end, the Bucs offense, with that solid offensive line, will put up the points and send the Rams home losers.

--Bucs 35-24

At Carolina:

After a convincing win against the Rams, the Bucs will head up to Carolina to play their much hated rivals, the Panthers. With Carolina having issues with its offense, the Bucs defense will be able to keep the Panthers from putting up the points. They'll give up some yards, but the Bucs pick happy secondary, with Sabby and Jackson playing most of the time at Safety now, will cause turnovers just when it looks like the Panthers will move the ball into scoring position. The Bucs' offensive line will have its hands full with the Panthers' DL, but, for the first time, the Bucs OL will be able to hang and keep the heat off Garcia for most, but not all, of the game. That will be just enough for him to use his weapons and get a couple of scores in a defensive slug fest. In the end, the Bucs will choke up victory number 3.

--Bucs 17-13

At Indy:

After getting the season off to a solid 3-1 start, the Bucs will travel to Indy and face a tough game in a hostile environment. While the Colts' defense looks pretty poor, their offense will be hard to stop with any consistency. The Bucs will score on this defense, and will do so quite often. In fact the possibility of an upset is there, and I might even pick the Bucs if it was here at Ray Jay, but the defense is just going to have too hard of a time trying to stop that potent Indy offense in the dome. In the end, Indy's offense is just too much.

--Colts 35-28


After a tough road loss, the Bucs come up needing to right the defensive ship to deal with Vince Young. Thankfully, that's pretty much all they have to gear up to stop. The Bucs defense will start to show that they are coming together by having one of their most impressive outings, shutting Vince down and making it tough for the Titans to score. The Bucs offense will have a solid day against the Titans' defense and we'll see Caddy leading the way as the Bucs try to keep Young off the field. In the end, the Bucs will be the better team and will win this home game.

--Bucs 20-10

At Detroit:

The Bucs travel to Detroit to face Marinelli and Calvin Johnson. The Lions, who look to be improved in many areas, will be a tough team to beat, as they always are when these two teams play. After the emotional roller coaster of the last couple of weeks, the Bucs look to be down slightly heading into this game, and I expect the defense to have problems consistently keeping the Lions' receivers from getting open. The pressure will be there, but just enough big plays will keep the Lions' offense going enough to score. The Bucs' offense should be able to get some things done against the Lions' defense, but it will be a tough game, and the offense will have some key mistakes and fail to get into the endzone when they need to. The Bucs fall in this one.

--Lions 17-13


Having lost to Detroit on the road, the Bucs get the privilege of coming home to face the Jaguars. The Bucs have historically had huge problems dealing with the size of the Jags. In this game, the Bucs' offensive line will hold up much better than in past contests and the offense will find ways to move the ball and score, but it will be tough. The Bucs' defense will have to try to defend a powerful Jags attack, and will have problems stopping them at times. While the Bucs will match-up much better than in the past, they will still struggle to keep the Jags out of the endzone. The defense will be starting to look dominate at times, but a couple of long drives doom them, as well as fortuitous field position for the Jags.

--Jaguars 20-17


With the first half over, and the Bucs at .500, they get a break by going into the "easy" half of their schedule at the same time that the defense is starting to dominate on a more consistent basis. The Cardinals will come in with a decent offense, but it won't be able to do anything against a strong defensive effort that is a sign of things to come. The Bucs offense will also be displaying its capabilities against a decent defense. The end result will be a strong win by the Bucs.

--Bucs 24-9

At Atlanta:

The Bucs finally get into the heart of the division schedule with 4 division games in the last 7. Atlanta is the first team up to bat in the second half of the season, and the Bucs are ready to take it to them. The Atlanta offense will run into a very opportunistic defense that will take advantage of Falcon mistakes. The running game will be shutdown without Vick to open the lanes up. The Bucs' offense will also find the Falcons' defense to be less capable in years past with all the key losses they've suffered. In the end, the Bucs will simply be too much for the Falcons.

--Bucs 27-13


The Redskins are back, but the Bucs are better. The Redskins' offense will have a tough time getting the running game established this time around as the defense will be bigger and faster than the one the Redskins last faced. The Bucs' offense will also be able to move the ball pretty effectively against a defense that never seems to get its act together. Once again the Bucs will win and take their record up to 7-4 with 3 straight wins.

--Bucs 21-10

At New Orleans:

Just when the Bucs were on a roll, they go on the road and make some critical mistakes. While the Saints offense will find the sledding much harder the second time around, the Bucs offense will also. A tight game in a loud dome will go to the home team, and the Bucs will be swept by the Saints who are battling the Bucs to win the division.

--Saints 17-14

At Houston:

The Bucs will travel to Houston hoping to rack up one one of their last two road games and avoid a two game losing streak. The team, however, will come out a little flat and have issues executing on both sides of the ball. The Bucs will score easily on some drives, then screw up on others. The defense will be effective, but a couple of blown plays will let the Texans secure the winning points via a FG fest. This game is, however, a wild car in my mind. It could easily go the Bucs' way and lead to an additional win on my predicted season result, but I think the Bucs are going to lose a game they should clearly win, and this one is it.

--Texans 19-17


After two straight losses, and with a division foe coming to town, the Bucs shape up in a hurry. The Bucs will just absolutely dominate the Falcons in a game that reminds many of the late season home game in 2002. The Bucs offense will make scoring look easy while the defense will shutdown the Falcons' offense. The defense will cause a get a couple of picks and maybe a caused fumble or two. The Bucs will win a division game that keeps them just one back of the Saints.

--Bucs 35-6

At San Francisco:

The Bucs will make their second dreaded West Coast swing to go play the 49ers. While the Bucs will look to be the better team, the WC trip will get them again in a place they have had virtually no success. The 49ers offense will score some points off short drives and move the ball around some in one of the sloppier defensive efforts of the season. The Bucs' offense will find it difficult to hang onto the ball and get the scores they need to win the game. While I expect Caddy to have a good game, and keep the time of possession in the Bucs' favor, and thereby keep the score close, the Bucs will have too many mental errors to win this game.

--49ers 21-17


The Bucs wrap up the season against the Panthers with a chance to win the division if the 8-7 Saints lose and the Bucs win. The offense will have a tough time moving the ball against a stout, and pissed, Panthers' defense, but they will move it enough to score some points. The Bucs' defense will show up big time for this game and render the Panthers' offense ineffective. The Bucs will win this game and go 9-7. Unfortunately, the Saints will win as well, taking the Division and being the first to repeat.

--Bucs 17-9

So there you have it. I see 9-7, a one game improvement over the result I expected going into preseason. Whether or not it will get the Bucs in the playoffs is hard to tell. What is for certain is that the Bucs will exit the regular season with a strong offense as well as a strong defense and will be ready to fight in either the playoffs or the regular season in 2008. I do see an opportunity for this team to go 10-6, just as much as I see one for them to slip to 8-8. I do think 7 wins is the absolute floor with this team, and I wouldn't be totally shocked, just pleasantly surprised, if this team managed 11 wins. It should be a fun season no matter what, and people will finally start to see the real offense that Gruden's been trying to acquire the talent to run. The offensive line will be a big key, as its ability to block with the DL with just 5 will allow the Bucs to totally open up the playbook. A young and inexperienced defense will be dominating down the stretch and get the Bucs back into the top 10 (barely).

This team has talent, more than many realize, but the inexperience factor will hurt them early. If they don't make the playoffs this year, they will next, and they will be a factor in 2008.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Why Simms Stays

Well, the Trib's put out two articles basically stating that the Glazers made Gruden keep Simms. I alluded to the money as being an aspect of it, however, after really sitting back and looking at the Bucs' current situation at QB, I came to realize why, in my opinion, the Bucs kept Simms on the roster. Shall we...

Let's be frank. Bruce Gradkowski has 3 wins in 11 games played. His deep ball continues to be a major problem. In this league, you MUST be able to hit the 30-40 yard passes on a regular basis or teams will simply tighten up and take away your running game and short passing routes. It's what they did to him last year. Force him to beat them, which he couldn't. Until he gets those passes down, I don't think he'll ever be an effective QB in this league. Luke, on the other hand, appears to have all the tools to be a very good West Coast QB. But he has exactly ZERO wins in this league. None. Nada. Zippo. He's what we like to call "UNPROVEN".

Now Simms, like or hate him, has 7 wins out of the last 14 games he's started or been the primary QB (against Miami, Griese went down early in the first half). It should have been 8 wins if not for the defense folding against the Panthers on 4th and long, allowing Delhomme to run for the first down and set up the winning FG. Simms is, quite frankly, the only proven QB in this offense that's on the roster. Garcia is proven if you count West Coast offenses in general. If Garcia goes down, the Bucs' options are an unproven McCown, and a QB that can't stretch defenses to open up the WC short and intermediate routes (Bruce). With Simms on the roster, if he can continue to improve at the rate he has during the last month, he may be serviceable by the time October rolls around. That would keep the Bucs from being in a situation like last year when Simms went down and the Bucs really didn't have a proven guy to come in (Rattay looked horrible in practice, and there was no reason to believe it would be much better on game day).

For Gruden, this year is very important for him to show that the team is heading in the right direction. If the direction of this team looks bleak, he'll likely be out of a job. If the team appears to be headed in the right direction, he'll get extended and at least another year to coach here. He needs to win at least 7 games, and Simms could get him there if Garcia goes down. Gradkowski probably couldn't and Luke is a question mark. So the Bucs keep Simms at the expense of someone like Darby, who they reacquired on their practice squad. It's an insurance policy. And, who knows, maybe Simms comes back and learns how to not get passes batted down and how to scramble some. If he did that, he might actually turn into the long term solution. I think McCown is looking like the best possibility to take over the team after Garcia is gone (assuming Plummer never plays here), but you just never know.

So that's my reasoning. Feel free to comment.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cuts Are In

Here is the list of cuts made by the Bucs today. No major surprises, though I expected that Warren would be kept, but placed on IR, which doesn't count against the 53 man roster. Probably the biggest names in the cuts were Wyms and Winborn. Apparently neither player made enough plays or impressions to be retained.

One cut I'm disappointed in was Kenneth Darby, who played well at times and showed some promise. If he clears waivers, the Bucs may pick him up for the practice squad, but he could still be snatched up by someone else.

The biggest retention on the team has got to be Chris Simms. Of course, when you understand that the Bucs just signed him to a 2 year extension with $3 million up front, I think you have to believe that they aren't ready to piss that money away. Chris will get at least a month, more than likely, to improve his performance. That's when Cox is eligible to come back, and the Bucs will either have to cut someone or cut Cox. Of course, there are other candidates that could get whacked. The Bucs also may not be done, as other cut players may be of interest to the Bucs. We'll see if this ends up being the 53 man roster that actually goes into the season, or if something changes during the week.

Bucs Over Texans 31-24

Well, I had a chance to review the game on DVR after watching the game live at Ray Jay, and I think I can now back-up what I thought I saw at the stadium with the TV broadcast. The game was very entertaining, but had a somewhat bittersweet ending when Paris Warren, who had clearly been the most productive receiver during the Preseason, ended his chances to play with the dislocation of his ankle. It was pretty gruesome to see it on the TV broadcast as you could see that the foot wasn't aligned with the leg anymore. It was good, to see the entire team come out to wish him the best and show their support, and I think the camaraderie of this team looks to be very strong. Paris got a good send off from his teammates and the fans. But let's look at the performance of the team.

On offense, the Bucs started out horribly bad when Luke McCown got sacked while scrambling to the side and the ball got knocked out of his hands. That ball was picked up and run back for a TD, which put the Texans up 14-0. But then the offense came back on the field and went no-huddle. From that point on, the offense moved the ball with regularity with McCown on the field. The Bucs established the run in the first half with 65 yards, but then kind of backed off running it, ending up with 40 passes versus 24 rushing attempts. But the make-shift line held up pretty well after initially looking to be pretty poor. The ability of the offensive line in this game, and all games this Preseason, to protect the passer with just the 5 linemen, has allowed the Bucs to really open the playbook and really start moving the ball at will, which happens when your Tight Ends and running backs can get out into pass patterns instead of staying behind to block. You can really start to see just how dangerous Gruden's offense can be once it's free to let loose all of its receiving threats. When the Bucs went down by 14, I though this game might get ugly, but I waited to see the next drive. Once the Bucs marched right down the field and put it in the endzone, I knew the Bucs would likely score a lot, and only needed the defense to show up some to win the game. Stevens, being freed to run routes, was instrumental, along with Warren, with both catching 7 passes for over 100 yards each. The running backs caught big pass plays over the middle, and the whole field seem to be a sieve with so many threats running to open spots in the secondary. The Bucs could have added 4 more points to the score if not for a bobbled snap to McCown at the 1 yard line, where the drive eventually went backwards and only went for 3 points on the FG. Bruce was not as effective as McCown, and looked horrible on his deep route passes. If Bruce has any hope of becoming a starter in this league, he MUST get to the point where he can accurately hit receivers in the 30-40 yard range. If not, teams will just continue to come up tight on him and take away the short passing game. He did, however, lead the Bucs down the field on the winning drive, hitting several intermediate routes for long first down making catches. Overall, the offense was, again, explosive and shows signs of being able to score almost at will. Whether or not that carries into the regular season...

On defense, the Bucs opened up the game doing their best matador impersonations. Zemaitis looked horrible in coverage, and the pressure failed to do much during that first drive. I will say that the third down TD pass was not a TD as the second foot of the receiver clearly hit the chalk and the play should have been reviewed and ruled no TD, but it's the Preseason (the Refs missed a few things that night, including a tackle out of bounds that should have been flagged). After the first drive, though, the defense tightened up and regularly forced the Texans' QB's to make throws on the run, which they sometimes could not do. The Bucs got 2 sacks, but created disruption for most of the night. They got a little sloppy on a couple of drives late, one of which the Bucs ended by forcing a fumble, with another being ended after a couple of nice plays that forced a fourth down where White hit the QB's hand causing the 4th down incompletion. Sabby looked amazing at times, and shows that he may be the fastest safety we've had here in some time, which was on clear display on one screen pass where he came from the deep middle and flew to the running back and took him down. Jackson was alright as well. Philips and Allen must know that they can't afford to slack off at all, because it's easy to envision both Sabby and Jackson starting in their place. The linebackers were so-so, missing some tackles on run plays. The corners were alright for most of the game, making it at least a little hard on the often scrambling QB's to make passes. Overall, the defense did OK, but they still have drives where they just can't seem to stop teams, then turn around and have a couple of 3 and outs in a row. I think inexperience and not talent is the key factor, which is a good sign. It means this defense will get better over the course of the year and start dominating about half way in. If the offense can put the points up early, for once, they may be able to carry the defense until the experience comes around.

On Special Teams, you saw a mix and match of players, and the coverage and return teams were equally mixed in terms of results. Torrie Cox was clearly the best player on the coverage teams making several great plays. Punting and Kicking were solid.

Overall, this game showed the resolve of this team and it's ability to spread teams out and score almost at will. It also showed that this defense can, at times, be dominating, but is too inconsistent, and needs to improve the speed of the pass rush to actually get to the QB's a step or two quicker and get them down on the ground. I think this Preseason shows that this team may be the deepest the Bucs have had in several areas since Gruden has been here. It's got a lot of talent, but it also has a lot of inexperience. That's going to hurt us early, but if they can win some games during the tough opening stretch, the schedule gets easier just when this team will start hitting it's stride. A fun game, save for Warren's season ending injury.