Bucs Win 30-21! And I'm Late!!
Just friggin' shoot me now. I just keep finding too much stuff I want to keep tabs on, and that's keeping me from saying things like this: Nice Game! Yes, a couple of late turnovers made this a game when it was a blow out, but the Bucs still turned around and put Green Bay in its place. The Bucs pretty much dominated the Packers. The final score wasn't indicative of how badly the Bucs took it to them, so let's talk about it:
Offense: Griese didn't have the best of days. He was having problems locking in on Bryant a bit, and failed to find some wide open guys (Clayton, Dunn, and Graham were frequently open and not always noticed by Brian). He threw three picks again, with one getting into the hands of Dunn, but behind him, allowing Woodson to take the pick back for 6. He also threw one at Clayton's knees, where Clayton tried to get it with a stretched out hand, only to see his knee bump it into the air to get picked. Another pick was piss poor. All three passes were poorly placed. Dunn and Clayton both managed to make some hand contact with the ball, but neither really had a good shot at catching the passes. But, Brian did lead the team from a point down to winning by 9 points. The running game racked up 178 yards on Green Bay, with Earnest sealing the deal on a big 47 yard run that nearly got into the endzone. He finished that drive with a fullback dive from the Rocket backfield (Dunn faked a run to the outside). Dunn ran for 63 yards as well. Bryant caught 4 passes, missing a couple, and Clayton caught 3 passes, dropping one at his thighs, running before he caught it. Hilliard also hauled in 2 passes. Stovall didn't do anything to earn more playing time though. So, right now, Bryant, Clayton, and Hilliard are pulling all the weight at receiver, and the three look decent doing it, but a little more consistency is needed, especially with Bryant's separation, though Woodson was on him a lot. The tight ends weren't as effective in this game, but Smith did manage 2 catches with one a TD pass to tie the game at 7 early on. The offensive line, once again, allowed no sacks, this time on 30 pass attempts, which is only 2 sacks in the last 128 attempts (the ones with Griese at the helm). That's remarkable. Combined with the 4.8ypc by the backs this past game, one can see that we finally have a REAL offensive line here. The offense, though it wasn't as effective as it has been, put up enough points to win on its own (23).
Overall grade: B+
Defense: The Bucs' defense was, except for two pass plays, pretty dominate. They shutdown a pretty good Green Bay offense, allowing only 181 total yards, with just 28 on the ground. The Bucs harrassed Rogers most of the game, and racked up 3 sacks against a decent line. More importantly, the Bucs got 4 turnovers by picking Rogers off 3 times (his first picks of the year) and by forcing a fumble by Grant that Phillips returned for a TD. Brooks caused that fumble and also got a pick. He also nearly had two more picks, which shows how much confusion they caused for Rogers. Ruud picked off a pass, as did Adams, who basically sealed the game. White hit Rogers as he threw, allowing Adams to pick off that pass. Ronde got burned again early, but then they failed to burn him again. The whole defense was making plays all over, including Brooks nailing Grant well behind the line and from behind, and Hovan chasing Grant down the line of scrimmage for an open field tackle. Ruud, Wilkerson, and Carter all got sacks. Overall, it was a team effort, holding the Packers 31% on third downs, and only allowing 14 offensive points, both TD's on blown coverages.
Overall grade: A
Special Teams: With the loss of Matt Bryant's infant son, one couldn't have expected much from Matt. Indeed, his kickoffs were a little short, with one going out of bounds with a little over 2 minutes in the game (Adams' pick ended that drive). But we got to see a gutty performance from a guy that was introduced after the offensive starters. He nailed all 3 field goals and all 3 extra points. And he looked up to the sky after every one of them. His performance justly earned him a game ball from the team, and undoubtably a huge amount of respect. Bidwell punted well (49.5 yards per), but the punt coverage teams allowed 10.5 yards a return. The kick coverage teams did better, only allowing 16.7 yards per kick. Meanwhile, Dexter Jackson grew a pair and started returning like he's capable of, returning one punt for 19 yards, and 3 kicks for 100 yards, 33.3 yards per return, with a 45 yarder that he nearly busted for a TD. If he keeps doing this, we'll regularly be seeing much better field position. Special teams was mostly an asset in this game.
Overall grade: A-
Coaching: Gruden had a solid game plan that worked well. He needs to really hammer Griese on the picks, though, and get that out of Brian's system. The Bucs can't keep winning games like this. Monte's defense was awesome in this game. They still have to work on stopping those big plays, but that was only 2 plays, and the rest of the game saw the Bucs' defense shutting down a potent Packers' offense. Bisaccia's unit was also pretty solid, save the punt coverage teams. The team was well prepared for this game, but still needs to clean up some penalties and turnovers.
Overall grade: B+
Now the Bucs have to go to Denver. Not looking forward to this one, though our offense should be able to make swiss cheese of that defense. Going to be really tough to win this game, but the Bucs have the talent to do it. They just can't go up there and turn the ball over three times and expect to win.