Sunday, August 23, 2009

Game Review: Bucs Vs Jags Preseason

The Bucs beat the Jags last night 24 to 23 in a game that ended up going right down to the wire. I thought we played a lot better last night than we did in the first game but there were still areas that we could improve.


Quarterback: Im going to go ahead and predict that Luke McCown will be named the starter this week. He played well last night and threw two TD passes but for me that wasn't the deciding factor. I thought Byron Leftwich played well last night also even though he didn't get the team in the endzone. But both guys had a play that illustrated in my my mind why you go with McCown. With Leftwich his receivers were covered up and he had no where to go with the football. But all of a sudden the field opened up and he had nothing but green grass in front of him. Unfortunately when he tried to take off upfield he was caught from behind by a defensive end from the Jaguars, just barely making a couple of yards. On the other hand McCown had a play out of shotgun where his receivers were locked down also. However he didn't have any lanes in front of him to take off running up field. He also felt some backside pressure coming from a Jaguar defensive end. So he scooted over to his right just out of the grasp of the Jags player and threw the ball away.

I just do not think all other things being close to equal, that you can go with an immobile quarterback over a mobile quarterback in this day and age in the NFL. It is what it is.

Josh Freeman did some good things, among them taking off for a 26 yard touchdown. He is definitely athletic to be so big. But he also had a couple of miscues including an intentional grounding penalty where he should have probably just eaten the ball. For a rookie he did well but again he IS a rookie and, John Lynch's advice nonwithstanding, if the Bucs were to go with him, this would be an awful season. But Bucs fan feel heartened that when Coach Raheem Morris was asked about naming the starter the only two QBS he referred to in the coversation were McCown and Leftwich.

Josh Johnson came in at the end of the game and did a decent job of managing the team. He only had 4 opportunities to throw the ball connecting on two of them so he really didn't get to show case his skills. But I thought he did well all in all. On another team it would probably have been enough to make the 53.

Running backs: The running backs all played really well last night and now it looks even worse for Cadillac Williams from where I am sitting. With Earnest Graham resting Derrick Ward got the start and ran the ball well and had a couple of nice catches also. Clifton Smith came in for relief and showed a lot of shiftiness on a couple of inside runs and he also was back to his return duties last night. Kareem Hudgins, the rookie from Hofstra, had a couple of outstanding runs last night. He made a move to the outside on one of his runs that looked like it might have literally broken a Jags defender's ankle. I also saw him quite a bit on special teams.

A guy that I didn't talk about much last week was Jameel Cook. The reason being is that Cook was basically signed last year after starting FB B.J. Askew went down and I am not altogether convinced that the Bucs will carry two FBs. But after last night I may have to reevaluate that. See Cook has always been an excellent special teamer and he went down on the first team kickoff team last night. Usually at this point the guys on the first team of special teams have the best shot of making the team if they are on the bubble. But Cook also had a great night of blocking which brings me to the other factor that didn't look good for Caddy last night.

Most of the time when Cook was in the game blocking last night, he was in front of B.J. Askew who was getting some carries at tailback. And the kicker is THE GUY CAN RUN THE FOOTBALL! He might not be Mike Alstott (but then again who is) but Askew has very quick feet and he is a powerful runner. He also has more speed than you would think. So now you have a situation where you can carry two FBs and one of them can sub at TB in a pinch and give you good quality yards while both of them can contribute on special teams.

If I were Caddy I would be begging to run down on kickoff this week. Let me reiterate that I am a fan of Cadillac Williams and I would also point out that I went on the radio a couple of years back to defend him from what I thought were unfair attacks from Jon Gruden and his position coach at the time. But the NFL is a business first and I just see the writing on the wall.

Tight Ends: I want to state that my first instinct is that Jerramy Stevens will end up having a better year than Kellen Winslow. I like Winslow but he has been virtually invisible these first two games and he just isn't an all around TE. Stevens has worked his ass off since coming here and he is a mismatch in both the running game and the passing game. He has excellent hands, better than average speed, and he knows how to use his body to ward off defenders. The question will be if Stevens outshines Winslow will he go in the tank and become a cancer? And if so how much heat will the team take for bringing him over in the first place?

I try to give everybody the benefit of the doubt but I think these are valid questions.

Wide Receivers: Last night we saw the reemergence of Michael Clayton and nobody could be happier than me. What I was most welcome to see last night was the focus he had on catching the ball. I know that sounds like a duh statement but in my opinion Clayton's biggest problem over the last few years has been the fact that he just couldn't catch the ball. I felt like it was mental more than physical because its obvious the guy has the skills but he had lost all his confidence and so even when he would get balls thrown to him right on the money he would drop them more often than not.

Last night however he caught a couple of difficult balls that showed he has at least some of his swagger back. I have given him grief over the years, not because I didn't like him, but because he wasn't performing. The NFL is and always has been and always will be a bottom line business. I could care less about Clayton's skills as a blocker, which are admittedly impressive. A WR gets paid to catch the ball and do something with it, period. And it looks like he is well on his way back to doing his job.

Sammie Stroughter and Maurice Stovall also had a pretty good day yesterday. Stroughter was outstanding however and he had a couple of impressive returns on special teams, one for 75 yards and he also caught a TD from McCown. Brian Clark was dissappointing and he had a few drops and only caught one pass for one yard.

A guy who I am sure the Bucs are really going to be intrigued about is Mario Urrutia. You can't coach 6ft6 and the guy seems to have some skills as a receiver. I just don't know if there are enough WR spaces on the 53 for them to keep him though, especially considering I hardly saw him playing special teams.

Offensive Line: I thoguht the offensive line played really well last night. They didn't give up much pressure at all to the Jags defensive line and they did a great job in run blocking. We ended up with 330 yards of total offense which is pretty good for a preseason game. The starters all played well and two backups in particular looked good to me.

I thought Marx Dile and Xavier Fulton were the best of the second team guys on the offensive line. Dile got to the second level and made some really nice blocks on LBs. Fulton was really good on pass protection for a young guy.

I still don't feel like the Offensive Line as a group has embraced the cut block on the back side of the zone runs. When they do you can expect the RBs to have much bigger cutback holes to run through.

One of the downsides was, however, that the O Line had more than a few penalties. They have to get that eliminated because penalties are drive killers.


Defensive Line: Gaines Adams flashed a little bit last night. I thought he had an excellent series when he started off on first down by defeating the TE and tackling a big back in Greg Jones for a loss. Then he followed that up with a nice bullrush for a pressure on Garrard. But these were pretty much the only two plays he made all night. I am always going to be harder on defensive linemen because that is the position I played but it is what it is. Gaines got chipped several times by a running back last night and got put on the ground. That is just not acceptable that when a QB on the other team is setting up to pass you are down on the ground muddling around. He also still hasn't mastered the concept of turning the corner tight. Too many times I still see him turning the corner too wide. Now make no mistake, he has all the tools in the world to be a double digit sack guy and even a Pro Bowler, but he is going to hav to start putting it all together.

In general i want ot also point out that the defensive line attempted some pass rush games last night and they were AWFUL! None of the players seem to understand that the guy who is the set up man actually has to set their guy up. Instead they are all looping around each other immediately and the end result is 4 guys bumping into each other while the QB pats the ball. (if you don't understand what any of this means not to worry I will be explaining defensive line play in an in depth fashion in the upcoming weeks.)

Has anybody seen Jimmy Wilkerson by the way? I don't think the guy has made a play in the first two preseason games. Its not like he has played poorly but he hasn't shown up on film and this team is going to need for the D Line to make plays for the defense to work.

I thought Ryan Sims had another strong night as he picked up a sack of David Garrard early on. I also have to say that right now he is the Bucs most consistent pass rusher. Which leads me to ask why they are taking him out on 3rd down? Whose "genius" idea was that? Don't get me wrong, the guy basically only has a bullrush as a pass rush move, but dammit its effect. And from what I have seen its a helluva lot more effective than all of those cute moves that the other defensive linemen make. So maybe, just maybe they could keep Sims in the game on 3rd down instead of putting Wilkerson in at defensive tackle when he really isn't getting any pressure from there. Oh and why they are at it they might, just maybe, want to keep Gaines on the right side so he can get a rhythm over there.

Im just sayin

The backups really don't inspire any confidence in me other than Roy Miller and Greg White. I like Kyle Moore's ability but he seems to be better suited as a tackle than an end but the new regime likes bigger tackles. I suppose he would be a good swing guy on game day though who can help the team by playing both.

I hope Chris Bradwell took his jersey home with him last night because he cut himself. I don't know if he had a shot before the game of making the team but after the mistakes he made during the game I can tell you he doesn't now. When you get called for a penalty that makes your head coach walk on the field and yell "What the fuck is wrong with you?!", its a safe bet that you aren't making the team.

Linebackers: I have a question. Why in the hell aren't people talking about Rod Wilson?! I'll be honest, I am not familiar with the kid but I like what I have seen from him the first two games a lot. He reminds me a lot of Shelton Quarles in the way he moves and how physical he is. I am more than a little bit surprised that he isn't being given the opportunity to vie for a starting job on the outside and instead is stuck behind entrenched starter in the middle, Barrett Ruud. Now maybe he is a flash in the pan but I don't think so. I have a sneaky suspicion that this kid will be around this town for quite awhile.

I didn't see a whole lot from any of the other LBs last night. I will say that after two preseason games I haven't really been all that impressed with Quincy Black's much hyped pass rush skills. I also thought Adam Hayward didn't really play to his level last night either.

Jermaine Phillips was having a decent night until he injured his shoulder. Every Bucs fan should hope and pray that its not that big of a deal because with Tanard Jackson being suspended the first 4 plays Phillips being injured could create a void at two different positions.

Secondary: Sabby Pisitelli had an awesome first preseason game and he had an awful second preseason game. He started it off getting torched for a TD in cover 2 by Troy Williamson up the seam, something that should never happen. And he followed it up with some missed tackles and a terribly misplayed attempt at another pass to Williamson on a post route which resulted in another big play for the Jags. Now just like one game shouldn't crown him the next John Lynch, another game shouldn't crown him a bust either. But with Jackson being out for the first 4 games and Phillips now at LB, Sabby is going to need to get better and fast!

I thought Jackson played well and dished out some punishing blows. Aqib Talib, playing with the threat of a suspension hanging over his head, also played well and had the hit of the night on Maurice Jones-Drew.

Another injury worth keeping an eye on is Elbert Mack. Im not sure what happened but it appeared he went off the field favoring one of his legs. Again depth could be an issue now with the suspensions and injuries. And keep in mind that DBs are an integral part of most of the special teams as well.

I thought Torrie Cox and Kyle Arrington both had good nights in coverage.

Overall I would say the team did well but the penalties have to be cleaned up. I think the talent is there for us to be a decent team this year but I am not sure how it will all come together. There are still some major decisions to be made this preseason about guys making the team and I look forward to seeing the team take a collective step forward in the next preseason game which will be more like a dress rehearsal

1 comment:

  1. Chris Bradwell may have made a bad play. But it doesn't outweigh the tackles,Sack and the Pass Deflection he caused during the game. Don't just look at the bad he did, look at the positive contribution he is giving to the team. These are the things which will gaurantee him a spot on the roster. Big Chris Bradwell fan since Troy Days. You will become a Believer 2. Real Soon. See you in the 2009-2010 NFL Season