Monday, September 28, 2009

Bucs Film Review: New York Giants Week 3

I want to start off this review with some general thoughts about the game. It was obvious that the Giants were a better, more talented team than we were yesterday. But I don't believe they were or are THAT much better than we are. I will give the team praise for not giving up even after the game was out of hand. But a few things are really bothering me that were exposed to a greater extent yesterday than they had been to date.

My biggest beef right now is with the defense. For one it does not appear that the linebackers and secondary have a really good grasp of their run fits. In my opinion this is a direct result of trying to have our defensive tackles two gap instead of playing one gap defense. Not only that, but for some reason which ever defensive tackle is playing in the A gap are playing a G technique, head up on the guard, instead of a shaded technique on the shoulder of the center. Not only is that giving the opposing team's center a direct line up to your linebackers, its also creating a situation where that A gap is getting too wide for one player to hold down. Now in my experience you play a G technique mostly when an offense has you spread out and by formation takes your linebacker out of the box. But the Giants were going with two TE formations so there didn't seem to be a need for this.

Another thing that is bothering me is that our blitzes seem to be poorly designed. Several times in the last two games we have blitzed Rhonde Barber off the edge without sending the defensive end to his side inside the nearest blocker. Basically that means you end up with two guys outside the end man on the line of scrimmage which both leaves us vulnerable to a run inside and keeps either guy from being able to come down the line of scrimmage and make a play. Its one thing for us not to be able to generate any pass rush from our 4 man front, but our blitzes may actually be even worse when it comes down to it. We rarely get any pressure on the quarterback and we leave our corners on an island and susceptible to the deep ball.

Then there was the hand full of times on third down when our defensive line lined up with three guys on the right side of the center and one guy on the left. What he hell was that all about? I believe in moving people around, but anybody with even a little football knowledge knows that most teams do their rollouts and half rolls to our left an their right. By putting three players on the right side of the center we were practically inviting the Giants to rollout on us which they did and only didn't get a big play because of illegal motion. And also it invites them to run a draw which they did and got good yardage. I just don't get what that was supposed to accomplish anyway.

On offense we simply did not try to run the ball nearly enough. I know that we didn't have all that much success running the ball early, but at home and with a good team like the Giants you have to just keep pounding it up in there. You end up shortening the game by running the clock and you wear down the opposing team's defense in the heat and humidity down here if you make them keep defending the run. Instead we started trying to throw the ball a lot which put a lot of pressure on our offensive line to block some of the better pass rushers in the league. And that's not even to mention all of the blitzing the Giants were doing. And sure enough after our defense got a rare three and out in the first half, the offense comes out and on the first play of the drive Byron Leftwich gets hit as he is throwing the ball and the Giants pick it off.

Now here is the position breakdown.


Offensive Line: Sean Mahan is just not a good football player. The drop off since Jeff Faine got hurt has been tremendous. Yesterday on successive plays he was involved with double teaming a Giants defensive lineman that ended up making the play. I can't even decide if he is worse at run blocking or pass Boldblocking because he seems to be less than average at both. The rest of the guys held their own for the most part. I did think Donald Penn got called for a bogus hold on Osi Umenyura. But all in all I thought they played winning football.

Tight Ends: Kellen Winslow caught a few passes but he also dropped a couple. Considering the fact that he isn't doing much blocking right now that is simply unacceptable. If all or most of what he does involves catching the ball then he needs to be catching the ball dammit. Jerammy Stevens on the other hand didn't block well nor catch well yesterday and at times appeared to be lazy. He also looked lost at least twice when he stayed in to try to block a blitz and ended up getting turned around both times.

Running Backs: I thought our running backs tried to run hard but they just didn't get enough opportunities. I thought Derrick Ward was going to have a nice day after he started the game running the ball well. Cadillac Williams also had a few nice runs. Both backs also caught the ball well out of the backfield although they didn't end up with many receiving yards.

Wide Receivers: Not a lot of opportunites for this group. Sammie Stroughter had a couple of encouraging catches at the end of the game but Michael Clayton and Antonio Bryant both dropped balls that they could have and should have hauled in.

Quarterbacks: Byron Leftwich had one of the worst games ever for a Buccaneer quarterback. Now if you think about that for a second you will realize just how bad he had to play to reach such a dubious distinction. See as I stated when the Bucs made the decison to go with Leftwich, he has to have time to thrive as a quarterback. Most of that time would come from the running game going well and thus play action pass being effective. But when the running game either isn't working or isn't being called much like it was yesterday, then he is basically a sitting duck. The reason is that he doesn't make quick decisions nor quick throws usually, instead he likes to hold on to the ball until the deeper routes down the field come open.

Well if you do that enough time as a drop back passer you are going to get knocked down by the opposing team's pass rush. And sure enough even when the offensive line had decent protection early, Leftwich would hold the ball just long enough to still take a hit. One of those times led to an interception as I mentioned earlier. But many other times he missed opportunites to just hit guys on underneath routes. By constantly looking for the big play, Leftwich left a bunch of good plays out there on the field yesterday. His lack of mobility, which I also decried previously, was also on full display yesterday. Several times the Giants pass rush was undisciplined and left lanes for Leftwich to run. But because of his lack of mobility he was never able to take advantage.

Enter Josh Johnson. I was impressed with Johnson in the preseason and dissappointed that the Bucs didn't give him more time. Yesterday the brought him in the game in the fourth quarter and you could immediately see a difference on offense. He was able to move around the pocket and avoid the rush and when need be take off and make something happen with his legs. He also had some mustard on his throws and was generally on target the whole drive. In fact it appeared that a few of the wide receivers had trouble making catches because his passes had so much zip on them. He hooked up twice with Sammie Stroughter and they seemed to have a bit of chemistry between them. He also threw a ball that Michael Clayton should have hauled in for a touchdown. He didn't get the team in the endzone but he did march them down into the redzone and in fact mere yards away from the goalline. And he looked damn good doing.

With the Buc's decision to start Johnson the next game against the Washington Redskins I will have much more to say about him in another post shortly.


Defensive Line: The Bucs need to sit Gaines Adams in favor of Greg White. Notice I said "need to". This league is driven by quarterbacks and people who can sack them. Greg White gives us the best opportunity to get constant pressure on the quarterback on any given down. Until we get that our secondary will continue to get picked apart. Not only that but Gaines should not be in on third down anymore either at left end either. Jimmy Wilkerson is our best pass rushing left end by far, and right now he isn't getting a damned thing done as a defensive tackle on third downs. I would much rather have he and Greg coming off the corners and putting someone else in to rush inside. As it stands for he most part we have one guy getting pressure (Greg) and three other guys stuck on one on one blocks on most third downs. That is simply not acceptable and it shouldn't have ever been acceptable. The only reason in my opinion that the Bucs keep putting Gaines at left end on third down to rush anyway is to hide the fact that Greg is just better at pass rushing than he is. But its time out for worrying about hurt feelings. If the Bucs want to win games they will make these moves right now.

For what they are being asked to do I would say that Ryan Simms, Chris Hovan and Roy Miller played pretty good inside. The problem is they are being asked to play 3-4 techniques in a 4-3. How can they be expected to get a pass rush on early downs if they are also coached to run right into the middle of the guards and two gap them on every play?

That's a rhetorical question of course.

Besides that, how are the linebackers supposed to know which gap they have when both defensive tackles are two gapping?

Again another rhetorical question.

But both of those are questions that somebody needs to be asking Defensive Coordinator Jim Bates and if he can't come up with a good answer people need to make a note of it. Nothing about his scheme so far gives me any indication that it would work no matter who the Bucs had playing in it.

Linebackers: I thought both Geno Hayes and Quincy Black played decent, but I am a little dissapointed in Barrett Ruud. For as much talent as the guy obviously has he doesn't seem to be coming downhill on running plays. There was such a contrast watching the Giants linebackers on run plays and then turning around and watching Ruud. Don't get me wrong, he made some really good tackles on Brandon Jacobs yesterday and that is no small feat at all. But because he was running laterally rather than down hill he was making contact 3 yards past the line of scrimmage rather than behind or at the line of scrimmage.

Again it was apparent that several times during the game that the linebackers didn't know where to fit against the run. And if you ask me that is a very bad reflection on the guys coaching the defense.

Secondary: I know this group is much maligned but they actually played reasonably well yesterday. Aqib Talib was all over Steve Smith most of the day but he just wasn't able to make any big plays. Ronde mad several plays in the run game on blitzes and also had decent coverage most of the day. On the one touchdown that he seemed to give up its not clear to me what the coverage was. After watching it several times that if Ronde was playing the coverage the way he had been coached to then he was set up for failure. But unfortunately I have no way of knowing if it was the defense or if Ronde had a bust. Sabby Piscetelli was hit or miss again. He missed several tackles again but he also had some big plays like his tackle on 3rd and one behind the line of scrimmage to force the Giants to attempt a field goal (which they missed) near the end of the first half. I thought Will Allen had a decent game starting in place of the injured and out for the year Jermaine Phillips. If there is one reason to still feel optomistic, its that Tanard Jackson will be back after this next game. Lord knows we need him.

Well that is it for this week. See you again next week for the Redskins game.

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