Cadillac Williams: I thought the guy did a great job of running the ball and several times making something out of nothing. The cut back run for a touchdown was an absolute thing of beauty and he also did a great job of blitz pickup throughout the game. The question I have is why, after Offensive Coordinator Greg Olsen said just the other day that he wanted to make Caddy into more of a featured back did he only get 16 carries? We have a young quarterback, facing a tough defense at home and our workhorse only gets 16 carries? Now he made the most of them with 77 yards rushing but you have to wonder what he could have done with more opportunities. And for that matter the effect it would have had on opening up the passing game down field as well.
Tashard Jackson: In his second game back after serving a 4 game suspension to start the season Jackson was back to his playmaking ways. He started it off with a huge hit on Panthers wide receiver Musin Muhammaed, followed that up with a caused fumble deep in our own territory after our offense had turned the ball over, and capped it off with a pick six to tie the game in the second half. He made a lot of other plays in the run game and also showed the kind of pass coverage that we have come to expect from him at this point. If Tashard can keep playing like that we should always have a fighting chance on defense.
Sammie Stroughter: This guy showed up big time in a game where we needed to make something happen. His kickoff return was HUGE in the second half at a moment when I am sure a lot of people were about to write the game off because we had just gone down two touchdowns. He also had several big catches and he and Josh Johnson seem to have developed some good chemistry. In my honest opinion the kid has earned more playing time by virtue of making the most of the opportunities he has been given.
Greg (Stylez) White: In his first game starting at right end since Gaines Adams was traded last week White had a pretty good day. He had his first sack of the year and he also was close on another play where he literally crawled all the way to Jake Delhomme. But the best part of his game, in my opinion, was how he played against the tight ends in the run game. It is a lost art of defensive line play nowadays of escaping off a block to make a play. So often guys just try to stick their arms out and hope that somehow some way they will make the tackle. But White put on a clinic technique wise, getting full extension, ripping into his gap and then putting his face in somebody's chest. It was definitely encouraging to see.
Barrett Ruud: Ruud was all over the field making plays on Sunday. He had a gang of tackles several passes broken up and a big interception in the first half. He also was very physical on the Panthers' fullback, blowing him up several time on isolation blocks. I would love to see him come down hill more versus the run but I will talk about that more in a minute.
Ryan Sims: As I stated in my post on joebucsfan.com Sims didn't have a good game. He didn't hold up really well against double teams and he didn't get much push in one on one pass rush situations. I feel kind of bad lumping him in this group because he still gave one hell of an effort on every single play which ain't easy for a big guy. But it is what it is, he can do better, he knows he can do better, and he needs to do better for us to have a chance to win.
Josh Johnson: Josh showed some flashes of greatness during the game but he wasn't close to being consistent enough. The miss to Stroughter deep in the Red Zone was huge because we could have put the Panthers down two touchdowns early and tried to make them one dimensional trying to keep up. Johnson also put his offensive line in difficult situations at times because he held on to the ball too long. I know he didn't do it on purpose but we also can't have the fumbles that take us out of field position and threaten to give the game away. What I was most disappointed in however was Johnson's decision making in the second half. On the interception that he threw he had two other guys wide open without a lot of coverage around them. He also pushed the ball downfield several times for incompletions when he had underneath routes running free. And although Julius Peppers was a force on several plays, on the majority of the passing plays the offensive line and backs held up, even versus the blitz, and gave Johnson enough time to find the right guy. It appears that he will have just one more chance to make his bid to continue starting and I hope he makes the most of it.
Sabby Piscetelli: Sabby is simply going to have to grow up fast or else we need to see what Will Allen can do. Its one thing if you are a safety who is strong in coverage and average against the run or you are a safety who is strong against the run and average against the pass but what you can't be is average in both. Right now I don't think any running back or receiver fears Piscetelli and that is a bad thing. We can't afford to have him missing as many tackles as he is missing when he has one one one opportunities. At the least I am going to need Sabby to know where the hell his help is. Missing DeAngelo Williams is one thing, missing Williams and letting him bounce outside when you are the contain element of the defense is quite another. For all of Allen's deficiencies in pass coverage the guy will stroke you in the run game. If Sabby doesn't get any better at some point they need to pull that plug.
Jeremy Trueblood: Trueblood gave up two sacks to Julius Peppers but he should have had some help both times. Unfortunately for him nobody cares about whether the guard kicked out or not. What they DO care about is seeing Josh Johnson getting slammed hard to the turf several times. Admittedly Peppers is a BEAST but Trueblood should be able to hold his on with him at this point. One good thing I will say is that at least he didn't get another bs illegal procedure (jumping off sides) penalties that he has been plagued with of late.
Dick Stockton and Charles Davis: I swear that the crew calling the game on Sunday was one of the worst I have ever seen or heard. When they weren't getting basic facts like the correct names of the teams and players wrong, these guys were showing replays of big plays without taking note of the penalties occurring. On DeAngelo Williams' first rushing touchdown Aqib Talib is OBVIOUSLY held by Steve Smith. I mean you see the jersey pull and everything and it was right in front of the referee, but even though they showed the replay several times neither Stockton nor Davis even raise the possibility that it might be holding. Later on when Johnathan Stewart scored on a play right up the middle, the Panthers' center all but tackled Barrett Ruud to the ground from behind and again nothing but silence from that duo. I really thought at some point the camera would cut to them and we would catch them getting stone cold drunk like the announcer in the movie "Major League". Come to find out evidently they were actually sober although I would need to see a breathalyzer to be really sure.
Jerramy Stevens: I am going to keep this straight and to the point. If Stevens doesn't want to block then they need to keep his ass off the field, period. It doesn't make any damn sense for him to be that damn big and keep getting his tail handed to him when he tries to block defensive ends. I like his athleticism, I think he can help us in the passing game, but right now he is a frikkin liability unless he is out on a route. Even though John Gilmore had that crucial penalty on 4th down, he needs to be in the game more. Watching his effort blocking and watching Stevens effort is like seeing night and day. We are 0-6 now and we don't need any weak links so either Stevens starts manning up or its time to sit him down.
Defensive Scheme: I have tried to kind of talk around this all season so far but I am done with that. Our defensive scheme sucks, there I said it. Its hard for me to even know where to start but here goes. First of all as I have said numerous times, trying to two gap with your defensive tackles requires that you have two guys who are 6 ft 5 or better and 330 lbs or better. And even then its still not a given that it will work. But we do not have the frikkin personnel to pull this kind of scheme off. Neither Ryan Sims nor Chris Hovan are gonna grow several inches or gain 10 or 20 pounds or so as this season goes on so at least for the rest of this year its going to be a problem. What is so messed up is both Sims and Hovan and for that matter even Roy Miller, are all quality NFL defensive tackles. But they are being put in a position to fail damn near every single play. They can't use their quickness and they aren't being allowed to play in a gap which would actually help them hold up better against double teams. Having them so tight in their alignments also hurts them when they have line stunts because the offensive linemen don't have to step as far to block them initially which means they don't have far to go to recover on the movement. I now a lot of people won't understand what I just said, but those that do will feel me. Hell a few times during the game, whether by hook or by crook, Sims actually lined up closer to a more traditional alignment on the center and stepped into him on the snap and whaddya know he was able to control the guy and make the play both times. Just imagine if he was able to actually tilt in and put his inside hand down and really get off in his A gap. I bet he has day dreams about it.
This situation, of course, has an effect on the play our linebackers also because when one of our defensive tackle is pushed three or four yards off the ball because of a double team then that means our backers have a harder time seeing the action in the backfield and also recognizing their gap responsibility. It is frustrating as hell to watch time and again when our linebackers have to go lateral instead of down hill because they have to get around their own guys first. But explain to me how Sims or Hovan or Miller are supposed to hold their ground at the line when they are lined up damn near head up on the guy in front of them and there is another guy coming down hard on their backs. It would damn near defy physics for guys their size to not get moved down field.
Another effect of the two gapping with the inside guys and the defensive end on the weak side is that there is practically no penetration in offensive line and running plays are allowed to bounce outside. It happened several times on Sunday and its going to keep happening every week. In this instance we are getting the worst of both worlds. See in a real 4-3 your ends and your strong side defensive tackle would be getting upfield in the gap and making most running plays cut back. In a true 3-4 you would have stand up outside backers who could get up field and turn most running plays back. Instead we end up with a neither nor proposition and we see good backs like Williams exploit that.
We also are running blitzes that are poorly designed and haven't been successful so far this year. What is worse is the guy you would think we would usually want blitzing, Quincy Black, hardly ever even gets his number called. Instead its usually Ruud and Geno Hayes trying to find their way through the A gaps or both of them trying blitz strong. Not only that but evidently the only person who gets to blitz off the edge is Ronde Barber. Now I like Ronde and he is a helluva blitz guy but its a problem when we are in our base defense and we never show a blitz with the defensive end coming inside and Quincy Black rushing from the outside. In general what makes most blitzes work is confusing the offensive line as to who they have but the way we send our blitzes we might as well raise our hands and let them know where we are coming from.
Also pertaining specifically to the fourth quarter on Sunday we don't even have a solid plan for stopping the run when we have to get the ball back for the offense. We show 8 men in the box and yet the linebackers evidently aren't being coached to spill the play to the free hitter. That means we have Piscetelli or Jackson just sitting their waiting to blow somebody up and instead they are being wasted because nobody is turning the ball back to them. And in the process we are giving up 3 to 5 yards a pop and that's on a good play.
Oh and then how about the scheme we went to with a 3-4 look inside evidently to try to stop the run? I can't do anything but laugh at it at this point because I spent so much time already yelling and screaming about it watching the game. I will say this much, had the Panthers tried to run a quarterback sneak or two, we would have been ALL over that shit. But being as they didn't yet again our guys were set up for failure. I can't even think of a team off hand that plays a 4-3 then goes to that look to try to stop the run other than the Buccaneers. Most teams want to cover both A gaps and both B gaps in that situation but hey I guess everybody else is crazy, and we are the geniuses. Doesn't quite explain that 0-6 record though does it?
I doubt if Coach Morris would ask for or perhaps even wants my advice, but I am going to give it to him anyway. Defensive Coordinator keeps saying over and over that his scheme works, well we haven't seen any signs of that so far. Coach Morris its going to be your job on the line if things don't get any better, its time to step in and get back to Buccaneer football on defense. You don't need to switch Joe Barry to defensive coordinator but I can promise you that he remembers how we played the run her for years and can teach it if you ask him. Both you and he definitely know the Tampa 2 inside and out. And quiet as kept I know that we ran a helluva lot more Cover 3 in different permutations than Cover 2 over the last few years and you can definitely put that back in the game plan too. But what we are doing now can't get much better. Notice I said can't. Either you are going to make a change or somebody else above you is and I would much rather it be the former than the later. So try to take this advice in the spirit its given because I am pulling for your success.
But this is the NFL and we both know what that stands for. It is what it is.
Update: I swear I hadn't seen this until after I finished up this post.
"It wasn't the calls," Morris said after fielding a question about the number of run blitzes the Bucs tried during the game's last critical drive. "We just got physically overpowered there.
"How did it happen? They wore us down. Some of (changing that) is about getting a little bigger. Some of it's about getting more physical. We did play better than we did (the last time we faced Carolina). But not enough."
I am not quite sure how Coach Morris plans on our guys getting bigger during the season but at this point all I can do is shake my head.