2008 Bucs' Schedule: PNG

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Turnovers Doom Bucs 17-23

After really taking that game in and looking back at what happened, it was unfortunate to think of those turnovers occurring. Why? Because it was clear that the Bucs were really dominating the Jags on a couple of levels, and playing well enough to win on others. More than anything, this game reminds me of the regular season contest against Detroit last year. Detroit had no business winning that game, but we kept giving them the ball, and they won.

When you turn the ball over 4 times, it is a rare feat to win a ball game in the NFL. The Bucs nearly pulled it off in the end, and might have done so if Anthony Davis hadn't needlessly held on a play, and had Smith gotten out of bounds to stop the clock on his two big plays during the last drive. Heck, if Bryant makes that 20 something field goal attempt, the Bucs could have tied the game and sent it to overtime. This is one of those "stats is for losers" type games. No doubt.

The best thing I noticed, besides the ability of this team to stay in the ball game despite the 4 turnovers, is that the stats looked very similar to the other two games. The defense held another team to around 200 yards. The offense racked up around 300 yards (322). The third down conversions were in the 30's for the opponent and the 50's for the Bucs. The running game, despite a very slow start, began opening holes and getting some good runs (though they did fail to get to 100 yards rushing). Overall, the Bucs looked like the same team: dominating defense, and a strong, if not spectacular, offense, save the turnovers.

So, one more game to go. We'll see if Garcia can look better than he did this past game. He looked very rusty and his arm strength was questionable at times. Could be a lack of practice, or it could be something of concern. If something happens with him, I personally hope they go with Luke because he gives this offense a chance to make big plays on a more consistent basis. Certainly better than Captain Checkdown who nearly got picked twice in the endzone.

A little note: I'll be traveling later this week (Tues-Fri) and again the following week (same days) for my day job. I hope to be able to get my positional analysis, season predictions, and then the Talking Plank for the Saints game. So keep an eye out for them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Davin Joseph Out With Broken Foot

In the "that *beep* sucks!" department, Davin Joseph was reported to have had surgery to repair a broken foot. The exact nature of the break and the exact length of time he'll be out is unknown. The Times reported 4-8 weeks. Some doctor stated, on the radio, that it could be an "out for the year" type injury. In any case, it's clear that either Dan Buenning or Jeremy Zuttah will be starting at RG. Both are very capable, but I think Dan is the better player at this point in time. Buenning would likely represent very little drop off in the running game, and may be a slight improvement in pass protection. Zuttah would be a slight drop in both.

In each case, however, the Bucs have outstanding depth to cover the position, and the loss will hopefully not be noticeable (watching the game tape from the Pats game, Buenning wasn't a drop off at all). So we'll see what happens. Maybe Joseph will actually have to fight for his spot back because of the play of his replacement (a very real possibility).

Doesn't it just suck to have excellent depth?

Petitgout Suspended 4 Games

Well, the plot thickens. The Bucs suddenly released Petitgout and now he's suspended for 4 games, meaning whomever picks him up will have to sit him for 4 games before he can play.

The league hasn't stated why yet, but PFT has already speculated that it may be roids due to the suspension length. Until the NFL says something, however, that's purely speculation, so I wouldn't assume anything yet.

Now the cut makes more sense, seeing as the PUP list could have been used without taking up a roster spot for him.

Bucs Beat Pats 27-10

Yeah, I'm late with this post. Thought I put this up late Sunday night, but most of done something on the PR forum. In any case, we all know the Bucs rolled the Brady less Pats over and basically dominated from the start. The first and second team offense was strong, the third and fourth string...not so much. The defense was solid all night, only giving up points late with the back end of the defensive roster playing.

Offensively, Griese looked good on the first drive, but his lack of willingness to risk anything down field caused the Pats to roll their defense up to the line and stuff the Bucs on two drives after that. Then McCown came in and was pretty effective leading the Bucs on three scoring drives out of 4 possible. He was able to stretch the field, and also hit Antonio Bryant on a nice crossing pass that was turned up field for 33 yards. Simms and Johnson were mostly ineffective. The backs were solid, though Darby looks like the first cut of the group. Bennett was strong, and Dunn showed he still has it. Graham was highly limited, but scored a TD. Tight ends weren't involved a lot. Clayton only saw a handful of plays as it looked like the coaching staff was trying to get long looks at Bryant, Stovall and Hilliard to see where these three players are right now. The line looked dominating, opening some rather large holes against the Pats' 3-4 defense. While the Pats don't do a lot of coverage mixing in the preseason, they usually aren't push overs like that, so that should tell you something.

Defensively, the Bucs got some pressure on the QB's but failed to register a sack. On several occasions they got to the QB, but the QB's both had success breaking free of the initial tackle attempts and would get past the line of scrimmage. Thus, no sacks. The linebackers and secondary were excellent, stuffing the run most of the night, making plays against receivers. Sabby picked up a fumble snap and ran it back for 6, while Mack picked off a pass. Ruud almost picked off a pass as well, but it was later shown to hit the ground. Overall, the defense dominated the Brady less offense and held the Pats to 184 yards and 10 points. Another dominating performance.

Special teams was solid with all field goals made and some solid punting. The coverage teams were good until the scrubs got in. And the return teams were solid as well. A solid performance all around.

Overall, the Bucs took it to the Pats from the opening kick and never looked back. The Patriots really never got anything going offensively, and had a tough time stopping the Bucs running game which amassed 170 yards on the ground. Another strong performance to build on. Jacksonville will be the next and really last test for the starters. The Bucs aren't likely to use many of their starters against the Texans.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bucs Whack Pettigout

So much for Pettigout getting back healthy. It looks like Pettigout just couldn't get himself right soon enough and the Bucs felt the need to cut him. This leaves Penn as the starter, and probably means Davis will be the back up. Penn has been working hard on his pass pro, and he's reportedly doing much better in the area that he was somewhat weak in, though not too bad.

What a steal Penn appears to be. If he can really solidify his pass pro, the Bucs could have an outstanding young line, end to end, for the next 5 years or so. Could we be seeing the beginnings of a long term dominate Bucs offensive line? Let's hope so. I know I am tired of substandard play in that group.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bucs Beat Dolphins 17-6

The Bucs went down to Miami and beat the Dolphins in a 17-6 contest that could have been a big blow out. The Bucs had a couple of opportunities to really open the game up, but missed out, making the contest closer than it should have been. Let me talk about my overall impressions of the 3 main units.

Offensively I expected a little more pop out of the offensive line. Of course, Bill Parcells is now in charge in Miami with Tony Sparano leading the way as HC. The Dolphins have changed their defense around, and it's really hard to tell if the Bucs were just going up against a unit that will be really good this year, or if there is something else going on. The line did make some holes that Bennett occasionally hit, but also tended to be slow getting into. I think Graham may have had more success up the middle than Bennett, but at least we know Bennett can run up the middle along the lines of a Pittman type back. The protection was good for almost the entire game but 4 breakdowns led to 4 sacks. Luke McCown was the first victim when Joseph let a defender blow through him. Overall, the line was solid, but not as good as I was expecting. With a base offense, though, it's hard to judge how it will carry forward.

Luke McCown was alright at QB. He had 2 drops and a failure of Stovall to complete his route fully, but he drove the team toward a possible TD, where he over threw a wide open Clayton, and a possible FG (missed by Bryant). Griese was a little better and kept drives alive, including a TD pass to Clark, but he was also the latest version of Captain Checkdown, as PR is putting it. Simms came in and got it going on his second drive and looked solid during his time. He didn't throw anything really deep, but he didn't throw anything close to a pick, nor did he have anything batted down. He made sound decisions and actually looks like someone they could keep if another QB got injured in the preseason.

The receivers were solid, but not spectacular. Clayton dropped an easy deep pass, but then caught two tough catches, and was wide open in the end zone when Luke threw the ball to high and deep. Stovall failed to run through one route, nearly resulting in a pick, but caught two other passes. Bryant looked good in limited action, as did Spurlock. The tight ends were alright, but Smith dropped a pass.

Overall the offense was alright, but not spectacular. They did hold onto the ball for 36+ minutes, keeping the defense fresh, and did not give up a turnover, or have a penalty.

Defensively, the Bucs were able to shut the fish down for most of the night. The Dolphins did manage a couple of field goals, but never got into the redzone. Barber was used on a blitz to get a sack early, and two more sacks occurred via Wilkerson and Charles Bennett. There was a good deal of pressure, but not enough sacks or contact with the QB. The defensive line did hold down the fish running game most of the time, though Ricky Williams managed a couple of good runs. The safeties were hitting, and the linebackers had solid play behind the defensive line. Adams wasn't very productive, neither was White or Carter. Which does lend to some concern, but we'll see. Brooks didn't record a tackle, but wasn't on the field too long. Talib made a nice play on what looked to be a possible long run, but he tackled the back by diving at the legs, and prevented the play from getting anything.

Overall the defense was good enough to hold the Dolphins to 198 yards and 33% on third down. They held the Dolphins to just 64 rushing yards and 134 passing yards while getting them off the field with regularity. They didn't record a turnover, though, but were also penalty free.

Special Teams was alright. Bryant missed two field goals, one a chip shot. The second was a 50+ on the baseball clay, and he just barely missed. Punting was solid. The punt coverage and returns were outstanding. The kick coverage and kick returns were below average (the Bucs averaged 2.8 yards better returning punts than kicks). So it was a mixed outing. Except for one 38 yard kick return by the Dolphins, the coverage teams held the Dolphins to poor field position all game, which was a big plus.

In summary, it was the first preseason game, and there was some rust that had to be shaken off. Overall, I think the Bucs did good, but they clearly need to address a few areas. They basically dominated a team that they should, but they still need to capitalize on opportunities to put points on the board. The final score was a lot closer than it should have been. Now the Bucs get a much better test against the Patriots at home. They should see Brady for at least a couple of series, so the defense will get some good work in. Let's see if the offense can improve too.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The QB Shuffle

I waited with some sense of enthusiasm to see if Favre was coming here or not. When I found out he wasn't I was a little bummed, but now I'm fine and waiting to see how well Luke wields the force against the fish tomorrow night. What's funny is to learn that, essentially, the Packers used the Bucs to drive up the cost for the Jets. In any case, it's now clear the Bucs were never really all that interested in bringing him in. A lot of fans are upset and think Bruce was lying in his presser, but the reality his Bruce never said anything about the Bucs being interested or making offers. The reality is that Bruce is probably telling the truth, at least as much of it as he is willing to tell.

Now we have some columns talking about poor Garcia. The man who has refused numerous Buccaneer attempts to extend his contract and give him his $1 million back that he missed from playing time incentives. Garcia doesn't need to have his ego stroked. He does need to realize that the Bucs have been making offers that he may want to accept. Since nobody in the media really know what Bruce has offered him, I can't understand why some people think he's not getting a good offer. Quite frankly we don't know what he's being offered, so we need to stop making the assumption that the Bucs aren't trying to do right by him.

But, going beyond Garcia, I am more interested in seeing what Luke McCown can do. We'll get a chance tomorrow night to see if he's improved his decision making skills or not. If he has, he could easily become the future QB of this team as he possesses all of the physical traits you would want in a QB for the WCO. Good arm strength, fast delivery, tall, mobile, and accurate at all levels. Those skills only need experience to make him a top tier QB. If he gets to the point where he consistently knows where to go with the ball before the snap and learns how to avoid mistakes when under duress (i.e. pressure), he could actually become a Pro-Bowl caliber QB. His numbers for last season, especially in the first quarter of games he started, prove it. Remember, he holds the team record for consecutive completions.

So let the fish get squished, and hopefully we'll get a good look at our future QB. In the meantime, Garcia needs to heal up and get back on the field before he loses his job to McCown. This season we need to start hot, and Jeff gives us the best chance to do that.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Fridge Schedule

Here's the 2008 Fridge Schedule. CorelDraw format available upon request.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Injuries Starting To Pop Up

Jeff Garcia slightly pulled his calf and Jovan Haye apparently has a slight groin pull. Both of these guys should be alright, and Garcia will probably be back in action within a day or two, according to reports, but Haye's injury will probably keep him out for a week or so. That will give Dre Moore more (say that 5 times fast!) time to practice at that spot and get into shape.

Sabby also has a mild knee strain and was being held out for precautionary reasons. Faine also has a sore back, which is probably the injury I am most concerned with. It may be mild and nothing worth mentioning or it could blossom into something bigger.

These little bumps and bruises are why Gruden has started to back down a bit during training camp. The team is in pretty good shape system (offense and defense) wise from the off season program and he's trying to cut back to reduce wear and tear as well as injuries. As such a morning practice (today's) as already been canceled. It will be interesting to see if a slightly reduced TC work load will translate into less injuries down the road, or will it contribute to poor performance? Maybe both...or neither.