Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Your Week Fifteen Leader

Oh yes, the crown has come back home to yours truly. And with two weeks left I am now just 3 points out of second place, and 23 out of first. Its going right down to the wire and every single pick is maginified now. And you know what they say, pressure bursts pipes!

I won't be blogging for the next week or so, so consider this your reminder to get all your picks in before tomorrow night's game. As always good luck, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bull Rush

Not much to say about the game yesterday.

But I will say this, if the Bucs don't get back to having everyone in their gap on run fits then it won't matter whether you call it Tampa 2.0 or any other nickname you can come up with, it ain't gonna work.

I don't give a damn how many blitzes you call.

Oh and boy did Coach Morris call them.

32 by my unofficial count.

And yet after all that the Bucs still didn't have any sacks, no interceptions, and very few pressures.

If you can't play your base defense eventually its going to come back to haunt you.

It wasn't as if the Lions came in with some kind of exotic blocking scheme. They ran basically what the last few Bucs opponents have run at them, zones, split action bellies and Iso belly cut backs (AKA The Saints' play). And yet the defense still hasn't seemed to fix it.

Every time one of the Bucs defensive ends face a kick out block its a potential for disaster. Either the End doesn't get under the block and the running back runs straight down hill into the secondary, OR the defensive end DOES get underneath the block but then the guy who is supposed to cover his back doesn't and the running back gets into the secondary on the perimeter with the potential for a big play.

No matter how many times teams have run kick out blocks against the Bucs this season it seems like one of these scenarios continues to play out several times during the game each and every week. And the run defense continues to get carved up.

I'm just going to give a few more comments about the defense and then the individual breakdowns.

- It appears that the injuries finally truly caught up with the Bucs. For one when you look and see Myron Lewis and Elbert Mack playing important roles in dime then you know there's a problem. Mack just is not a good secondary. Lewis has the potential to be but its obvious he isn't ready right now.

Nothing to be ashamed about there, most rookies aren't ready to play their first year. Ask Ronde Barber about whether that's such a bad thing.

But unfortunately because of injuries the Bucs don't have a choice but to play both guys.

With Lewis his technique is just so bad right now that him making any plays at all would be a massive feat. He turns the wrong way when looking for the ball, sticks out the wrong arm when trying to make a play on the ball, is not the greatest tackler. And yet the Bucs don't really have anyone else.

So you try to hide them with big cushions. But then a team picks on them BECAUSE of the big cushions. So you put them up in bump and then teams bomb them out of the stadium. It's clear to me that those guys being out there would severely hamper what any defensive coordinator in the world's play book.

Similarly with Gerald McCoy out now there is no big time pass rusher inside for the Bucs. That means that on first and second downs its not as likely that the defensive line will get a pass rush all on their own against play action. Do you blitz to help out with the pass rush? If you do then you might leave Lewis out there on an island by himself.

Is that really a risk you are willing to take?

But then again even if the Bucs play zone and rush four the fact that the quarterback won't be pressured means that the secondary will still be stressed.

That's the conundrum that Coach Morris is faced with because of the loss of McCoy.

And lets not forget about the free safety position where the Bucs have gone from a potential Pro Bowler, to a helluva late round gem, to a guy who has ball skills but just isn't very physical.

You put all that together and you have what we all saw yesterday.

It is what it is.

- By the way, the people who continue to make asses out of themselves complaining about Barrett Ruud will look particularly silly when they try to pin the terrible run defense on him this time. I don't think he was out of position the whole game. But hey, for some folks in this area it doesn't matter whose play it actually was, its still Ruud's fault, smdh.

- It still bothers the hell out of me that the Bucs defensive line isn't good at running pass rush games. Yesterday Mike Bennett and Tim Crowder try to run an EX. Crowder sets the guard up beautifully with a fake bull rush. Crowder, however, gets up field too much to come in and pick the guard so both he and Crowder ends up stuck in their one on ones.

Alex Magee and Stylez White are on the other side attempting to run a TEX with Stylez as the inside rusher. Stylez does a great job of getting off the ball, making a move on the guard, and then trying to get to the offensive tackle's back. Magee, however, only took two steps up field and then came inside allowing the offensive tackle to follow him right into Stylez's rush and pin him inside.

What is it about "looping inside late will allow the inside rusher a chance to get to the offensive tackle's back" that's so damn hard to understand?!?!?!

- Again, the Bucs ran somewhere in the area of 32 blitzes yesterday. And yet they came away with no sacks, few pressures, and no turnovers on the day. That, my friends, is a major problem.

On to the individual breakdowns.

Tim Crowder: Crowder had 1 tackle and two assists by my count. He was ok for most of the game but he was one of the ends who didn't get underneath the kick out block against the run. That HAS to get fixed.

Frank Okam: Didn't really know what to expect from Okam but I thought he played ok. He was in his gap most of the game and I had him with 2 tackles and 3 assists. As I did expect though he wasn't much of a factor as far as pass rush goes. They did have him drop underneath a tight end one time which showed they believe in his athletic ability. Not a bad start for his career as a Buccaneer.

Roy Miller: Roy is a guy who played well most of the day but again he got washed on some of those kick out block plays and made it easier for the running back to come down hill. I had him with 1 tackle and 1 assist.

Stylez G White: I thought Stylez played ok but he didn't get near enough pressure on the quarterback. He had many opportunities one on one against the offensive tackle but didn't even have a pressure. He did almost get to the quarterback late in the game but he was just a half a second late and it gave Drew Stanton just long enough to get the ball off to Calvin Johnson for a 1st down.

I had him with 1 tackle and 2 assists and he did hustle well to the ball all day. But the Bucs needed more production out of him yesterday and didn't get it. With McCoy out he has to find a way to make more plays if this defense is going to have a shot at being any good.

Michael Bennett: I still believe that playing Bennett at undertackle instead of Okam was the better option. Okam played ok but he wasn't dynamic and I believe Bennett would have been.

Just had to say that.

I only had Bennett with 1 assisted tackle. He did force a holding penalty with his penetration one play which was good. But he is another guy who needed to be more productive yesterday and wasn't. Potential is great but unless production follows it all goes to waste. At some point Bennett is simply going to have to play better or he will be one of those guys that get labeled as never fulfilling his potential.

Al Woods: I had Woods with two tackles. He played well most of the day but on a simple ISO play he got knocked into the opposite A gap opening up a huge lane for the running back to go through. He is going to have to work on anchoring in their against double teams.

Alex Magee: Magee got a lot more oportunities on Sunday and I had him with 1 tackle. He had an opportunity for a sack but he missed the tackle on Stanton. I thought he played ok.

Well that's all for now, see you in the comments section!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spiderman Shiiiiiiiiiii

This kick was BANANAS!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Your Week Fourteen Leader

And the winner last week was....Butt Watter Drinkers. LOL I crack up every time I type that handle.

In other news, oh how the mighty have fallen! 1Bigg_ER has come back to the pack in 2nd place, and yours truly is now only 27 points out of 1st.

Watch out fatmosh, these last 3 weeks are going to be intense!!!

Don't forget to get your picks in today, and as always good luck!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bull Rush

I, like many Bucs fans I imagine, was fired up during the first half of the game on Sunday about how turrible the Bucs looked playing the run against the Redskins. I figured, hey I just bought this new webcam and I have a lot to say so screw it, I'll just do a vlog!

Well after several attempted installations and troubleshooting I'm pronouncing that effort an EPIC FAIL.

I was so frustrated I just about said to hell with it and refused to blog about the game, especially since the Bucs won. But I figured that would be kind of trifling this late in the season to just drop the ball like that.

Which is why I'm up at 1:30 blogging right now instead of sleeping.


Anyway this will be another one of those instances where I just get it all off my chest in one post and then move on so get ready for a long post and probably a good bit of rambling thoughts.

I figured first off I might as well address the dismal performance by the Bucs defense in the first half. No diagrams this time but I'll give you the short version of what happened and who was at fault.

Keep in mind that in most of the Bucs' base defenses every guy has their own gap. It's why they call it a "one gap defense"(!). So all it takes on any given play is one guy to screw up and the running back can be out of the gate. But if you compound it with people in the secondary screwing up then you turn a good gain into a 54 yard run.

Other times however a team just runs a better scheme than your defense. This actually was the case several times as I will point out. Even when everybody essentially did their job the defense was still at a disadvantage.

You will notice many of these plays were back to back. It was truly unbelievable to see so many screwups in such a short period of time but the good news is the Bucs were still able to overcome it.

13:09 1st and 15 The Redskins just run a simple one back zone play. The first problem is that Roy Miller, who played a lot better in the second half, went up field and got reached by the center. Its the same problem he has had in other games and this time the defense paid for it. The ball ran in what was his gap after the guard went up to block the linebacker Barrett Ruud. Now Ruud is in decent shape to make the play about 6 or 7 yards up the field or at the least turn it to the safety, in this case Corey Lynch, who SHOULD be filling the ally. What ACTUALLY happened was that Lynch took a poor angle and ran right into the back of Ruud taking them both out of the play and opening the flood gates. 54 yards latter the Bucs at least kept the Redskins out of the endzone which although underplayed by many in the media, was really the catalyst for them winning the game. If they gave up TDs then there never would have been those missed field goals and the game would have been out of hand early.

Just thought I'd point that out.

6:48 1st and 10 The NFL being a copycat league, the Redskins featured that Saints play I drew up a while ago with a new twist. Instead of using two tight ends they used two wide receivers. And instead of both of them going to the flat on the snap, this time the receiver that was wide and the one that was close to the tackle in the slot criss crossed. The effect this had was the slot receiver still took one defender, usually an outside linebacker, out of the box while heading out to the flat, but the receiver that was out wide had the opportunity to come back in the box and help double team the middle linebacker.

Let me say this, I watched those plays over and over and tried to come up with a defense to stop it and short of calling a blitz, which obviously you can't do every play, I had a hard time coming up with an obvious way to stop it. So kudos to the Redskins for their ingenuity. (of course I STILL wonder why the Bucs aren't using the same play which gives their own defense fits)

This particular time the problem was Tim Crowder not getting under the kickout block along with the fact that Miller allowed himself to be pushed too far inside by the guard. The result was a lane big enough to drive a Mac truck through and the Redskins ended up picking up 12 yards. The WR didn't make it to double Ruud but he didn't have to because Ruud went with his correct fit inside of the offensive tackle which walled him off from being able to make the play.

6:13 1st and 10 The Redskins ran a zone iso strong. I've wondered several times this year why the Bucs line up with a 3-4 look a few times a game. It hasn't really hurt them most of the year but I can't remember it ever being some huge help either.

Well this time, it hurt. The Bucs tried a cross blitz with Ruud running up in the A gap and Geno Hayes crossing behind him to the B gap. Unfortunately the guard was waiting on Geno and grabbed him and kept him from getting over the top. Up front Gerald McCoy was lined up in a 5 technique outside of the offensive tackle but on the snap he went inside to try to make a play. Instead he missed the tackle and gave up the C gap between the offensive tackle and the tight end.

Now Quincy Black was on the line outside of the tight end but he isn't a true 3-4 linebacker obviously so he got pushed off the line and wasn't able to squeeze the hole at all. At that point there is nobody on the second level to tackle the running back and there are blockers in front of him damn near like a screen.

End result, 23 yard gain.

5:29 1st and 10 Redskins run that Saints play again. This time the defensive line does a decent job. McCoy gets enough penetration to get a hand on the running back but can't bring him down with the offensive tackle still hanging on his back. Crowder did a good job of playing the kick out block which was a cut block and makes the ball bounce a gap wider. Unfortunately Ruud is doubled by the WR and offensive guard and Black is being blocked to the outside by the slot WR. That creates another natural lane and the running back finds it for another 10 yards.

2:22 1st and 10 The Skins run a zone cutback. Michael Bennett at left end decides not to try to get under the kickout block and instead go for the tackle on the running back. Unfortunately he missed and allowed the running back to continue basically going north and south instead of having to cut behind him. That was really unfortunate because this time the Bucs played a defense where Strong Safety Sean Jones was in the box to Bennett's side and was a free hitter to make the play if it has to bounce. Instead the free hitter was wasted and the running back gained 12 more yards.

2nd Quarter

13:53 3rd and 5 Redskins run a zone cutback with the tight end coming across the formation to kick out the end man on the line. Because its 3rd down the Bucs have their pass rushing group up front in and they blitz. Everyone is in their gap for the most part but Geno gets held by the offensive tackle and can't come off the block to tackle the running back coming straight through his gap. It was a pretty obvious hold to me but I'm not making any excuses.

What killed me about this play though was that Corey Lynch flew up into the box on the snap but instead of going for the running back he basically just ran blindly into the pile. He was a free hitter who could have, in theory at least, stopped the running back short of the 1st down marker. Instead there was nobody home and the Skins picked up another 8 yards and the 1st.

13:13 1st and 10 They ran the Saints play yet again. This time Alex Magee is at defensive end and he doesn't get under the kick out block. Also Jones comes flying in trying to get a knock out blow on the running back and instead misses the tackle. Instead of a gain of maybe 5 yards or so, it becomes a gain of 12 yards and another 1st down.

2:17 1st and 10 This was just a simple zone play. I'm sure the Bucs were in 2 minute mode though and they had Magee in at nose tackle I presume for pass rush. Well just like Miller, Magee got reached and the ball ran right into his A gap. Ruud had to give a little ground to play the cut block but he maybe could have been a little faster over the top but not by much. Everyone else pretty much played it correctly but one guy getting reached was the catalyst for a 20 yard run.

So lets do the math.


7 8 runs for 131 yards. Not a good look at all but mostly fixable. Not sure about that Saints play though.


I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all the injuries the Bucs have been hit with of late. It sucks when you lose 6 starters in 3 weeks. It hurts doubly when you are the youngest team in the league. And yet the Bucs still are finding ways if not to win, to at least stay in pretty much every game.

And I'll be honest with you, my biggest complaint and concern heading into the season was what I thought was a lack of quality depth behind most of the starters. I am officially eating my words now.

I'm not saying every guy that has gone from the bench to starting or contributing has been a world beater, but at the least they have been good enough to keep the train rolling. If there is one reason in my mind that most personifies why I think Coach Morris should be up for coach of the year in the NFL, its how he has been able to keep this team together and playing well in the face of all of losing so many key people. I may not agree with every decision or every scheme, but you would have to be a blind man not to see the phenomenal job he has done with, and I don't mean this as a knock, somewhat average talent in a lot of spots.

The one thing I do worry about though is how some of these players will come back next year off their injuries. For the Bucs to take the next step guys like McCoy and Brian Price etc will have to take big leaps forward next year and that's hard to do without having a full season of game experience and also trying to just get your body back to 100%. But I'm hopeful that they will dedicate themselves to their rehab and come back ready to roll by training camp.

- One thing about injuries is that it gives other guys opportunities as I kind of alluded to before. One such situation is Bennett potentially being the undertackle the rest of the season. Coach Morris was kind of coy about who would be at that spot today in his press conference but as I look at the roster I don't really see anybody else that fits the position.

Roy Miller CAN play undertackle but at this point he is more off a bulky run stopping guy than a pass rusher. And make no mistake, an undertackle has to be an up the field disruptive pass rusher in addition to being a terror against the run. Al Woods seems like more of a nose now too. And although I don't know a lot about Frank Okam, 330 pounds doesn't exactly sound fast and agile.

Could be wrong though.

The only other guy that I think might be a good match for the position is Magee. He played a little inside in the second half and when he wasn't at nose he looked decent. He has some pretty good pass rush awareness about him too.

But having said that I still think Bennett is the best option for now. I don't think it will be a long term place for him, but this is a chance for him to become a huge factor on the defense. I'm sure teams will run right at him and test his ability to play a double team or a slip block and that's fine, as long as he plays with reckless abandon I don't think it will matter.

But that's just it though, he NEEDS to play with reckless abandon. Its pretty obvious by now that I'm a big fan of who I think Bennett COULD be. He has every tool you could want in a defensive lineman. But its also obvious to me that he is still feeling his way through.

Last year and the beginning of this year Bennett's get off was so much better than everybody else's on the defensive line that he put them all to shame every time the ball was snapped. But here recently his get off has been average at best. When he plays blocks the way he is supposed to he makes plays, explosive tackles, against anybody. But he still tries to free lance a little too much. On pass rush his speed and power should be giving offensive linemen fits. But instead he has started relying way too much on finesse moves and head fakes instead of just smoking a guy around the corner or going right under their chin.

Or hell a combination of both!

If I could get that kid in the lab for a week or two I guarantee you I'd turn him into a monster. Basically I'd just teach him to unleash the beast that he already has shown he has in him and he would end up destroying people.

But since I don't have that kind of contact with him let me write one piece of advice for him at the under tackle position in hopes that somehow some way he gets to see it.

When in doubt, haul ass!!!

One of the things that drove me crazy about McCoy here lately is that he started relying too heavily on inside moves. For one they rarely worked. For two he was basically running himself into a double team if the center had any awareness about him.

With the undertackle you want a guy that pierces the heart of the offensive line's pass protection. That means a guy who is getting upfield and making the quarterback move in the pocket. It doesn't always matter if the undertackle gets a hand on the quarterback or gets the sack. If he can get around the guard and make the quarterback feel him then more than likely he will give the other three defensive linemen an opportunity to get the sack or force the throw.

I've talked before about a natural game where the undertackle gets up field and the defensive end sees the quarterback stepping up and just falls back inside to make the sack. Well that will never happen if the undertackle is never trying to get around the corner on the guard. And so you end up with everyone just stuck on blocks and the only guy really having a legitimate shot at pressure being the backside end who could possibly have a one on one.

This is where Bennett can really shine though, especially against play action pass. If he can start back flying off the ball and getting up the field as an undertackle he will be able to help not only his fellow defensive lineman but the secondary tremendously.

And really, if he isn't hauling ass and using his speed and quickness which are his best assets, what's the use of having him in the game anyway?

- It appears that Mike Williams has caught a mild case of the butter fingers here lately. Thankfully fellow rookie Arrelious Benn has caught fire to take up the slack. Imagine what will happen if both of them start balling out. I asked a question on twitter Sunday and I didn't get a response but I'll ask it again here. Has there ever been too rookie wide receivers on the same team that were both as dynamic as Benn and Williams? I'm not engraving their names in Canton yet, but those two guys are explosive as hell, even though they aren't mirror images of each other. If they can stay healthy......DAMN!!!

- I expressed concerned about Derek Hardman starting at guard last week but I thought he played pretty damn well. I know some folks will blame him for the fumble on the goalline but it wasn't his fault. Either you don't call that play on the goalline, OR you don't have Josh Freeman reverse out for the handoff. One of the two. But aside from that play and another when he got knocked on his ass on a pass rush where Freeman got sacked, he held his own in there.

- Speaking of Freeman I thought he bounced back well from two "slump" games. He wasn't perfect but the biggest thing he did in my opinion was not turn the ball over (even though he came close a couple of times). And he still took his shots down the field and burned the Redskins with the big play a couple of times. His TD pass to K2 was one of the best throws he has made all year. Indefensible.

- Cadillac Williams made so many little plays in the game yesterday to help the Bucs win that its hard to point them all out. The one handed grab that moved them close enough for a field goal. The catch in the flat where he makes a move for the first down. He continues to be an asset and he has accepted his demotion with as much class as I think anyone could. I don't know what the future holds for him but I for one wouldn't mind seeing him continue here in the third down role he has carved out for himself.

- I have to give it up for Ronde Barber again. All he did was go out and make 10 total tackles by my count, get a pressure, a PBU and and hit on the quarterback. The old guy continues to be the glue that holds the Bucs young defense together.

Here are the defensive line breakdowns:

Tim Crowder: I had him with a tackle for loss, 1 other tackle, 2 assists a pressure and a pass broken up. Very good game for a guy that was questionable heading into Sunday with a bad shoulder.

Gerald McCoy: Only had him with 1 tackle before the injury. Thought he was getting good penetration though. He also tried another bullshit spin which made my head start spinning.

Roy Miller: As mentioned before Roy had a rough start to the game but he got better as the day went on. I had him with 4 tackles and 2 assists and I have to point out that on Crowder's tackle for a loss it was Roy who PWNED the center and drove him back into the running back which made that play possible in the first place.

Now he just has to work on getting off to a better start.

Stylez G. White: I had Stylez with 1 tackle for loss, 2 other tackles and an assist. He didn't get the pressure we are used to seeing from him per se, but I will say I was encouraged to see him working a lot more inside moves. He needs some help from the rest of his line mates though.

Mike Bennett: He wasn't always perfect but he made some nice plays. 3 tackles an assist and a pressure by my count. That one tackle he made down at the goalline was just ferocious. Hoping to see more consistency out of him in these last three games though.

Al Woods: I thought Woods played well at nose tackle. I had him with 1 tackle and two assists. He seemed to play the center reach block as well as anybody on Sunday.

Alex Magee: Magee continues to show flashes that intrigue me. He only had one assist by my count but I saw him make some pretty nice pass rush moves. In particular he had a nice hands move when rushing inside and he had a good long arm when rushing at defensive end. He, like Bennett, has to be more on the details but I'm hoping to get to see more of him the next few weeks to see how he progresses.

Well my eyes are glazing over so that's all for now. See you in the comments section!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shaming The Devil

The NFL screwed up yesterday in the Bucs vs Redskins game.

To compound matters they lied about screwing up.

And in fact the media helped them try to pull a fast one on the fans.

Well, you know me. I'm calling bullshit.

At the end of the game the Redskins were driving on the Bucs and got the ball down to the 12. I know it was at the 12 for several reasons. For one the line judge was standing right on the 12 looking down the line to see if anybody was lined up offsides. For two the ball was lined up on the 12. And for three the official scorer listed the ball as being on the 12 on the play by play viewable on

Now I'm no math major but that means the Redskins would have had to get to the 2 yardline or beyond for a first down. Well instead they completed a pass down to about the 3, and this is where it gets wacky.

The scoreboard, one sideline set of sticks and the Fox broadcast all had the next play as 2nd and 1. On the other side of the field however one set of sticks had the play as 1st and goal. How did this happen?

Well for some odd reason the people on that side of the field put the yard marker for a first down on the 3 instead of the 2 and instead of actually measuring the yardage after the catch on 1st down the officials just decided it "looked like" a first down. Now the thing of it is everything would have been fine had they just called for the chains for a measurement. It would have shown that somebody screwed up in putting the marker on the 3 instead of the 2 and it would in fact have been 2nd and 1.

Instead an official just pronounced it a 1st down albeit VERY quietly.

Notice on the play by play that the only way the official scorer can cover for the officials is to indeed list the ball as being on the 2. But it wasn't on the two. AND THAT WAS THE POINT! If you recorded the game its quite obvious that the ball is on the 3 at best and not close to the 2. Its at least a full 2 yards from the 2. But if the official scorer doesn't list it at the 2 then they are admitting that it wasn't a first down.

Technically the Redskins didn't get a 5th down. What they got was 5 opportunities when according to the yardage they should have only had 4. I don't know if their play calling would have changed had they been aware that they didn't have a 1st and goal but that doesn't change the fact that the officials screwed up that spot.

But what's most discouraging about the whole fiasco is that once the NFL saw that Fox had pointed this out and they went into spin mode, most of the media just repeated what they were told instead of checking it out for themselves. And in fact several were kind of cavalier about it, blaming all of the confusion on the Fox broadcast instead of the refs.

Well at least one journalist, AP writer Joseph White Jr. (no relation) saw the same thing I saw and tweeted this:
Watching replay, I see how #Redskins got "5th down": Chains only measured 9 yds for 1st down. (12-yd line to 3-yd line)

See the only way the explanation possibly works is if the ball was spotted on the 13 or further away. The mere fact that the NFL's own scorer listed the 12 as the spot before the supposed 1st down destroys the NFL's own explanation.

In the end the Bucs still won and for that we are all thankful, but I hope the journalists who so enthusiastically put out the NFL's version of events last night take a second look and question the NFL further about this. If not they really aren't doing their job in my opinion.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your Week Thirteen Leader

We have another newcomer to the weekly crown as Keanu Reeve's Beard took the title this week. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has continued to make picks every week even when it seemed like you were out of contention. Hopefully next year we can get a lot more participation.

As for the overall lead this 1Bigg_Er character is still in the lead but I'm closing at third place. Its going to come down to the wire and you know the old saying, pressure burst pipes!!!

Everyone remember to get your picks in today since we have another Thursday game and as always good luck!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Not going to go through any of the categories this time just going to give some thoughts on the game.

- Several people have asked me in the comments and offline whether I agreed with Coach Morris' decision to punt late in the third quarter. My answer is an unequivocal YES! I understand that people may have the opinion that we should have gone for it there but I'll explain my thinking on it.

First we were up 3 late in the third quarter and our defense this year has been very stingy in the second half. We were already on the Atlanta 41 true but that meant that if we didn't convert on 4th down we would give the Falcons the ball close to midfield only down a field goal. Also we had just tried to convert a 3rd and 1 and we were stuffed. Better to punt the ball, pin the Falcons deep and hopefully get them to punt backed up and play the field position game. In that scenario we get the ball back after the punt somewhere close to midfield which in theory would put us in better position to score.

Now the punt did indeed pin the Falcons back at the 3. Unfortunately we let them get two first downs so they were able to punt from their own 29 instead of from inside the 10, but we still got the ball back after the punt at our own 37 which is pretty good field position. And in fact the drive got off to a decent start but we had a penalty on 3rd and 6 when we had converted for a 1st down and ended up not converting on 3rd and 11. Our punter then booms a punt into the endzone so the Falcons got it on the 20 instead of it being again inside the 10.

So that part didn't work out. But hindsight is always 20/20. Punting on 4th and 1 in that situation and knowing our team was exactly what most coaches would do. And its definitely what I would have done in the same situation. And lets keep it real here, the Falcons ended up throwing an interception and we ended u scoring a touchdown to go up 10. It still worked out and I doubt anybody would be second guessing the call now had we not given up a touchdown on the subsequent kickoff.

- Speaking of that kickoff. I know that Mo Stovall has taken responsibility and that's admirable, but he should have been far from a lone in owning up to that play. Hell Stovall missed the tackle and at least got up and ran his ass off to try to get the return man from behind. Let's talk about the other guys responsible.

Elbert Mack, Myron Lewis, Sammie Stroughter, Vince Anderson and Adam Heyward ALSO all had opportunities to tackle Eric Weems, the Falcons' return man. Although in fairness Stroughter was blatantly blocked in the back WHILE HE WAS TRYING TO MAKE THE TACKLE!!! There is no excuse for the officials missing that call, it was egregious and definitely effected the outcome of the play and the game.

I will say though that the media shouldn't have just taken Stovall's word for it and stopped looking for who was at fault because there was a LOT of blame to go around.

- The injuries to Jeff Faine and Aqib Talib were of course huge. I will say though that E.J. Biggers stepped up big time to fill in for Talib against Roddy White. He played like a starter and there wasn't much of a drop off at all. Myron Lewis however, who was pressed into Biggers' role, played like...well a rookie. He had some good plays but everyone will probably focus on the game winning touchdown he gave up to Michael Jenkins. I'll point out though that the kid was in really good position and I really think had he stretched out his close arm which was his right arm to knock down the ball instead of his right he probably would have gotten a PBU. That's not to say whether the Falcons would have scored or not, but it just shows how something that small technique wise can be a huge thing during the game.

Faine going down however kind of exposed a quirk of the Bucs' decision to keep Derek Hardeman, a tackle, up for the game instead of the Brandon Carter, a guard, whom they had just brought up off the practice squad to take Davin Joseph's roster spot after he went on IR. Now I don't pretend to know what kind of week of practice Carter had last week, but I do know that with Trueblood up the Bucs didn't really need another tackle active. At least not on paper.

Now I'm not trying to knock Hardeman because I thought he came in and held his own, but you could tell that the offensive line was missing something with all the shuffling. Maybe ultimately Hardeman will be a decent guard, but it just makes me wonder if Carter would have been the better backup option on the interior on Sunday.

- The Bucs have not one but the top two steals of the draft this year in my opinion. Mike Williams is obviously supremely talented but Legarrette Blount going over 100 yards was huge on Sunday. I really believe his running was the main reason the game was so close to begin with. If these young guys we have that are performing can stay healthy the foundation has been set for many years to come.

- I really wish the 3-3-5 would die a spectacularly gruesome death. Check the comments section on that post also for my answer on how successful it was, or rather wasn't on Sunday against the Falcons.

- Josh Freeman was pretty bad on Sunday, but at the same time he made several outstanding plays both with his arms and his legs. But the interceptions including the one that was overturned, just appeared to be cases where he stared down the receiver and tipped his hand. In fact it appeared that the Falcons were sitting hard on all of the Bucs' short routes which made it curious to me that Freeman didn't take the shots downfield against them like he did against the Ravens the week earlier. I hope he didn't lose some of his aggressiveness. What he has to do is find that happy medium where he hits the open guy to keep the sticks moving but once he has an opportunity down the field he takes it and makes the opposing defense pay. But that last interception was picked practically before it left his hand. He gave himself no chance of success throwing at Grimes who was in tight coverage when staring down Mike Williams whom its apparent he favors a lot.

- The defense fell apart on the drive where the the Falcons scored the game winning touchdown, but not in the way some probably think. Yes they gave up the 3rd and 20 which should have been a gimmie, but they also committed two very costly penalties to keep the drive alive. On 3rd and 1 Ronde gets called on a PI on a pass that I think was probably uncatchable by Tony Gonzales. And in reality I think it looked worse than what it was because Gonzales fell down after stepping on Geno Hayes who had fallen down covering someone else. That was another spot where we could have gotten off the field. And then of course the horse collar by Quincy Black on 2nd and 8 from our 31. With a horse collar you can't grab a guy by the back of the shoulder pads BUT if you let go and don't take them down by the back of the shoulder pads its not a penalty. Black on the other hand didn't just grab Michael Turner by the back of the shoulder pads, he grabbed him with one hand and then grabbed him with the other to make it painfully obvious. And the tragedy of it all was at that point Turner was already headed out of bounds, Barrett Ruud was right there to help out on the tackle, and it was going to bring up an 3rd and 8. Instead it turned into 1st and 10 at our 16 and well...we all know the rest.

- Arellious Benn had a fantastic run after the catch on a simple smoke route to set up the Bucs just shy of the goalline in the fourth quarter. To be honest I can't understand why he doesn't get more of those opportunities when corners are 7 to 10 yards off him pre snap. I'm not talking about a WR screen which tends to bring defenders over with the blockers. I'm talking about Freeman getting under center, raising up and throwing it to Benn and letting him work to make the corner miss in a one on one situation. It's what I thought was missing from the game plan against the Ravens and I thought the Bucs could have used it more against the Falcons as well. I'd definitely try to use it more going forward if I were them.

- Speaking of plays I'd use on offense, remember some weeks back when I drew up the Saints' running plays? Well diagram number 7 is a damn monster. With the variation of sending both tightends out to the flat at the snap it makes it hard as hell for a defense to stop that play because of the angles and the rules most defenders have to follow. If I were the Bucs I would run that play 4 or 5 times a day if not more. I can tell you this much, damn near every opponent they have faced this year have run some variation of it and they have all found some degree of success too. Hell what's good for the goose is good for the gander and that's one way to get Blount up into the secondary with a full head of steam on a consistent basis.

Well that's all for this week. See you in the comments section.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bull Rush

When writing my posts about the Bucs I try to stay as objective as possible. You may not notice it but a lot of times I have to go back and substitute "they" for "we". Its because no matter what I will always feel allegiance to a franchise that I played for for six years of my life. But I don't want to give the impression that I am biased towards them in my posts because I don't want anyone to be able to question the credibility of the substance of my critiques. But every once in awhile the Bucs will play a game where its damn near impossible for me to hide my biases.

The Atlanta game yesterday was one of those games.

We should have won that game.

Don't get me wrong, before the season started I had plenty of doubt about whether we could beat the Falcons this year. They looked to be a much improved squad and we couldn't even beat them last year. Add to that all the recent injuries before the game and during the game yesterday and you could make the case that it was a long shot.

But after watching the game for the second time I am even more convinced that WE SHOULD HAVE WON THAT GAME!!!

There was no one play that lost us the game any more than there was any won play that put us in a position to win it. But at crucial moments in the game the Bucs just fell short. But it was so close. So damn close that I'm sure those players could damn near taste it. And that makes the loss just that much harder to digest.

What makes it worse is the talking point that all sports pundits have now to dismiss everything these young Bucs have accomplished this year. That they haven't beaten a team with a winning record. Never mind that other, to most people better teams, have lost to some of those same teams that the Bucs beat out (Patriots losing big time to the Browns for example). People haven't wanted to believe in the Bucs all year and now this loss helps their case. It doesn't matter that a team which many are calling the best in the NFC could only beat the Bucs by 6 at home and 4 on the road. Nope, the Bucs are supposedly frauds in a lot of people's minds after yesterday.


You're talking about a team where only one offensive lineman has started all 12 games. A team that is down to its 3rd free safety (or technically fourth). A team that is the youngest in all of the NFL and they STILL have 7 wins including 4 on the road.

Yeah they might not make the playoffs but lets be real for a moment. They have ALREADY exceeded most people's expectations, "soft" schedule or not, and then some. And they still have a chance at a winning record with their remaining schedule consisting of the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks to go along with the defending world champion Saints.

So if you want to call the Bucs frauds its best if you not do it around me. Because I still remember all the naysayers BEFORE the season started. I remember all the people who didn't think it was possible for the Bucs to win six games all year. This team has and continues to out perform expectations, sometimes even in a loss. And I for one am not about to allow the same people who dogged them before the season act like they were predicting a Super Bowl now.

As for the game yesterday the defensive line played well if not spectacular but that was partly by the Falcons' design. Instead of running at the defensive line as they had in the previous game, this time they ran a lot more at the edges. They were pinning in the defensive end and undertackle and getting a pulling guard out on the linebacker. They put pressure on the secondary to be perfect in their run fits and unfortunately that wasn't all the case. But there wasn't much the defensive line could do about it except try to get up the field on those blocks which they did a decent job of all day. And not for nothing the defense did hold Michael Turner to less than 100 yards for once.

Now I know I have beaten this dead horse all year but it literally made my head hurt to see the Bucs use the 3-3-5 so much yesterday. We may not have any pro bowlers up front but we do have some guys who can pass rush if given a chance. Instead they were put in situations where they three guys had to try to beat five along with a chip block or we blitzed which never seems to get much pressure either. Don't get me wrong, a few times guys still were able to beat two offensive lineman and get some pressure, but why make it so damn hard? I just will never understand why Coach Morris is so wedded to a defense that doesn't produce favorable results the majority of the time. Especially when in my eyes its clear that a four man rush has been much more productive this year.

I'll tell you this much, no matter what anybody says I am convinced that we would have been better off rushing four to at least have a shot of getting some pressure on Matt Ryan on 3rd and 20 instead just rushing three. And while that one play didn't lose the game for us, that conversion was definitely a back breaker.

Individual breakdowns:

Tim Crowder: I didn't have Crowder down for a single stat. Some of that I'm sure is due to the Falcons' blocking scheme because its not like he played poorly. But some of it is also because of how much 3-3-5 the Bucs ran which he isn't in on. I will say this, some people believe that the touchdown run by Turner was Crowder's fault. It wasn't. He had to try to spill the play by getting underneath the tight end coming across the formation and he did that. But the hole Turner had to run through was just too large and so he couldn't get far enough inside the block to make the tackle. Roy Miller was actually the problem on that play which I will get to later.

Gerald McCoy: I had McCoy down for a tackle, 3 pressures, a hit on the quarterback and a forced holding penalty off another good pass rush. It was a decent game for him production wise but again he didn't have near enough opportunities to rush from a 3 technique in my opinion. He also had the stupid personal foul penalty after the Falcons were already in a hole because of their own personal foul against Roddy White. The replay didn't show clearly why he hit the offensive lineman in the back but it was way too late and way too obvious for the refs not to throw a flag.

Now I said my peace about bullying the bullies on Friday but what he did simply didn't fit into that category as best I could tell. I don't know what the guy did to provoke McCoy but when its that late and away from the actual play he has to let it ride until the next down.

One question I had was why he decided to all of a sudden start doing spin moves. I don't think that was a good move for the kind of offensive lineman he faced anyway but more to the point I don't know if that's a good move for him anyway. It could be, at some point. But why try it out against a big game like this one? Kind of a head scratcher if you ask me.

Roy Miller: I had Miller with a tackle and an assist and a forced holding penalty on a running play. I thought he played ok for most of the day but the Falcons' blocking scheme along with the Bucs game plan of having him line up in a G technique a lot on the guard rather than the center didn't lend itself to him having a big day of production. On the touchdown play to Turner he simply allowed himself to be caved in too far by the guard. He ended up all the way over by the opposite defensive tackle which created far too great a lane for Turner to run through. Now that play was an anomaly for him yesterday as he wasn't getting pushed around most of the game. Still he has to learn how to anchor in and fight pressure better, especially that close to the goalline.

Stylez G. White: I had Stylez with a tackle, an assist, 3 pressures and 3 hits on the quarterback. If there is one guy who probably could have made more of a difference with more 4 man rushes it was probably White who was really getting after it yesterday. I'm sure the left tackle for the Falcons is grateful that he didn't get those opportunities though.

Michael Bennett: By my count Bennett had 2 tackles. He had an opportunity for a tackle for a loss but he couldn't bring Turner down. Bennett continues to be frustrating to watch because he never seems to put it all together. He had a really nice spin but he fell down. He has improved on playing the run but now it seems like his pass rush has fallen off. He keeps trying to be too finesse for my taste instead of just running around or through his opponents. I don't think he has a clue how good he could be. But at some point you have to show more than just potential and that moment is fast approaching.

Al Woods: I had Woods down for 1 tackle. I thought he played well, if sparingly.

Alex Magee: I didn't have Magee down for any stats.

That's all for today. I haven't been in the comments section lately but I'll try to do better this week.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

Just finished watching the first Bucs vs Falcons game from earlier this year and the Falcons vs Packers game from last week and I had some thoughts specifically for the defensive linemen.  Not that any of them will ever read this but if they did here's what I would say to them.

- I backs was almost always a run. Weak offset I backfield was usually pass. I'd take that into account presnap.  Meaning if its I backs I'm looking run first and especially looking at the offensive line to see if there are other give aways as to where they are trying to go with the ball.  If its a weak offset I backfield then I'm looking to see if the offensive line is light in their stance and planning my pass rush move.  Nothing wrong with making educated guesses.

- Chip the chipper. In the first game Jason Snelling chipped our defensive ends several times and knocked them down on the way out for a pass. I would suggest that when a defensive end sees him lined up offset to his side on a passing down to go right at him and knock him on his ass. Or at the least chuck the hell out of him. For one it may give you a chance to knock him into the offensive tackle so that you can get a sack. For two Snelling is a big part of the passing game, not only as a receiver but also as a guy who attracts the underneath coverage and opens things up at the intermediate level for Tony Gonzales. Delaying him from getting out into his route will help the pass coverage a lot.

- Roy Miller started with his improved play for the last few weeks with a good showing against Atlanta the first go around. He will need a better performance this time to help get the win. One thing about the Falcons is that they allow their center to single block the nose tackle a lot more than normal. What he tries to do is get the nosetackle to push him upfield rather than expanding, especially when there is a zone running play called. My advice would be for Roy to tighten down his alignment a little bit so that he heavier on the center. And then when the center tries to reach him rather than getting up field he should try to rip off and go laterally to either make the tackle or make the ball bounce back behind him. And Al Woods who backs Miller up should be doing the same thing.

- I think Gerald McCoy can have another dominant game this week. They key in my opinion will be for him to also get heavier on his guard and go with mostly power rushes against the pass. One of the things Atlanta is really good at in the run game is doing a slip block where the guard gets a piece of the undertackle then goes up to the linebacker while the offensive tackle gets inside of the undertackle. If McCoy gets heavier on the guard he can make it harder for him to get up to the linebacker and also harder for the offensive tackle to get inside of him. With Michael Turner the Falcons don't run a lot of wide stuff anyway so getting reached isn't really a big worry this week.

On pass rush I know McCoy has some great finesse moves but the Matt Ryan is a guy who generally tries to get the ball out of his hands quickly. That means you want to try to take the quickest route possible to get to him and that's right through the guards. Now I wouldn't mind him doing some bull rushes and then ripping inside but I don't think this is the week to just make finesse inside moves. Cullen Jenkins made a really good one last week and got good pressure but the thing to notice is that he didn't reach to make the move. Instead he kept his hands tight and insteaad of going for the guard's shoulder he went for his inside hand and got it. McCoy will be able to do that one day but right now he is still reaching for the guard's shoulder which means he is still getting punched in the chest. For the most part I would stick to outside power rushes quite honestly and I think he will dominate the Falcons' offensive line.

- When its a definite passing situation and the Bucs have the occasion to keep four defensive linemen in and let them rush I would go with EX games all day with the left end and left defensive tackle. I wouldn't run any games on the right side because for whatever reason the center tends to slide that way a lot regardless of formation. The EX game allows the end to get away from the chip block while going in and punishing the guard. The key will be the set up by the defensive tackle. They need to either show a bullrush to get the guard to sit down or make a realistic inside move to get the guard to follow them down and allow the end time enough to get inside the offensive tackle. Once they feel the end hitting the guard they can loop around to contain Ryan who while a decent athlete isn't exactly a speed demon.

- Stylez White should make power rushes and inside moves all day long to start the game and then in the second half once the offensive tackle is tired of getting hit under the chin, give him some stutter and go moves to get around the corner. One thing about the Falcons offensive line is that because they run so much zone none of them are especially big. Stylez should tear the left tackle up in the second half, if given the opportunity.

- This is a game where Tim Crowder and Michael Bennett could be huge. In addition to chucking Snelling they are both good bullrushers around the edge. If they can just concentrate on being definitive with that move they will get a lot of pressure. They also should have some opportunities to run natural games behind McCoy if he is getting up field a lot. Kyle Moore actually almost got a sack that way in the first game but Ryan just barely gained a yard before he could bring him down.

- The Falcons like to run that Saints play a lot where they have the tight end run out to the flat to get the end upfield and then send the fullback to kick him out. Atlanta also runs a lot of split belly/split zone type stuff too where the fullback or a backside tight end comes across to cut off the defensive end. It will be major for the ends this week to get inside all of those cut off blocks. If they can do that they will make a ton of tackles and or make the running back have to try to bounce outside to all the help.

- This last suggestion maybe should have been first. One thing I notice from watching several games of Atlanta this year is that their right tackle and right guard are assholes. They cheap shot guys and late hit. They will try to give a guy the business on the ground after the play is over. One time in the first game Roy had shed the center and was about to make the play when the center shot at his knee and started rolling.

My suggestion? Its time to bully the bullies.

I'm not talking about getting kicked out of a game. I'm not even necessarily talking about getting a personal foul. But its time to show the Falcons that there aren't any punks in a Bucs uniform. See a guy trying to clean up a pile? Clean his ass up. See a guy giving your teammate the business on the ground? Snatch his ass up and get in his face.

I know some folks will say that's just what they want you to do but in my experience that's bullshit. Bullies are generally bullies not because they are smart but because nobody has ever stood up to them. Those assholes play like that because they think it makes them look tough. Well you punch a bully in the mouth and they tend to close up shop. Oh and if there's a chance to run that EX game the defensive end should come in and earhole the guard and try to knock his block off.

This is a division game against two teams that don't really like each other anyway. Its time for somebody or somebodies on the defensive line to show that they have some dog in them. I'm not saying start the fight, I'm just saying END IT!

That's all I have for today. Can't wait to see the Bucs shock the world on Sunday!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Your Week Twelve Leader

Finally the crown has come back home! With 77 points I crushed the competition last week and am now 3rd and back in contention for the #1 spot. With 5 weeks left its anybody's ball game and I'm going for mine.

Don't forget to get your picks in tonight for the Thursday night game and as always, good luck!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Making Moves

So the Sabby Piscitelli era is over in Tampa Bay. I can't say I'm all that surprised. Remember I didn't think he would or should make the final roster coming out of training camp. He didn't help himself by complaining about being beaten out by Sean Jones and his play Sunday certainly didn't merit any additional playing time.  I don't know if there was more to why the Bucs released him but I do know that we are a better defense without him on the field.

It appears by looking on the depth chart on the Bucs website that Corey Lynch will indeed be the starter on Sunday. It also appears that he will be backed up by a guy we signed off the Browns practice squad yesterday, Larry Asante. I liked Asante in the draft this spring and was disappointed that the Bucs didn't draft him in the later rounds. But we all have to hope Lynch is healthy the whole game because I can't see Asante being ready to play meaningful snaps after only one week in the system.

Another move the Bucs made was signing Vince Anderson off the practice squad to the active roster. Anderson was a guy who caught my eye in the preseason with his physical nature at the safety position. I didn't write much about him because it was apparent numbers wise that he had little chance of making the team. But I am excited to see what he can do when he gets on the field. Granted any time he gets, if any at all, will be on special teams, I still have this feeling that he is going to blow somebody up if given the opportunity.

As for the other moves of bringing up Dezmon Briscoe and Brandon Carter, I think the Bucs decided to reward two guys who have been on the practice squad all year. I don't we particularly need another wide receiver since here lately Preston Parker hasn't even been active but Briscoe has some upside to him. As for Carter I think he may end up being a valuable backup at guard with Davin Joseph going to IR. I hope that they don't end up needing him though or the Bucs are really going to be in a pickle.

Injuries never happen at a good time but Cody Grimm and Joseph going down right before a showdown against the Bucs division rival, the Falcons, really sucks. But I wouldn't count them out just yet. Lynch isn't the hitter that Grimm was in my opinion but I think he has better ball skills. While the Bucs may give up something on defense when Atlanta is running the ball, I think they might gain something when they try to pass it. And I think the offensive line will be ok with Zuttah in the starting line up. This is still a winnable game for the Bucs if everyone just focuses on doing THEIR job.

In a season where the Bucs have shocked a lot of people already I think the biggest shock may be on Sunday...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Stop Shopping

Ok so I'm a little under the weather today so obviously no Bull Rush post. So I have made an executive decision to just write everything I'm going to write about the Bucs vs Ravens game in one post almost in a stream of consciousness style and then put the individual D Line break down at the end. I expect it will be longish and I expect some folks may not like it. And I expect I don't care all that much at this point but I'll still do my best.

I think its best if I go by offense/defense and then the breakdowns so guess what, that's what I'm going to do.


-After the game I had an interesting back and forth with one of the Bucs fans who follow me and has been a loyal reader of my blog since last year. His contention was that Greg Olsen's offensive game plan was lacking and that it played a major part in the loss.

I didn't agree with him and in fact I thought it was one of Olsen's better game plans of the season. Understand that I'm not really an Olsen fan and I have called him out previously on this very same blog, so me giving him any props isn't what you would call normal. But watching the game live I thought he committed to running the ball and he called down hill runs which our O Line is much better at blocking. I also thought he dialed up some good play action passes that they just didn't end up converting. It was my belief right after the game that it was the execution that was lacking, not the game plan.

Turns out others evidently also were questioning Olsen's playcalling judging by local sports talk radio and questions lobbed at Coach Morris by the papers. Obviously this was something worth looking into more closely.

So I watch the game again and...

I haven't changed my mind AT ALL. In fact if anything I'm even more convinced now that the game plan was sound. But I also realize that if people watched the game on TV the announcers kept harping on the game plan and offering up the opinion that the Bucs should have gone to a no huddle or a "sugar huddle" (what ever the eff that means) to change the tempo of the game.

Well first let me address the no huddle deal. It's true the Bucs could have gone to a no huddle offense and I can respect people who have that opinion. But here are the facts about that. Fact number one is that the Falcons who were most effective at it DID IT AT HOME. Obviously its going to be easier to run a no huddle offense when you in a dome and your fans aren't screaming at the top of their lungs to disrupt your communication. Fact number two is that the Bucs started going no huddle with 7:43 left in the game. They had an opportunity for a touchdown with 6:19 remaining when Michael Spurlock dropped the touchdown. If they score with that much time left would anybody be saying they should have started the no huddle sooner? Fact number three is that the drive preceding the one that started with 7:43 left in the game started with 14:15 left in the game. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Bucs didn't think it would be wise to go no huddle for the whole fourth quarter. And fact number four is that the Ravens are a team that is built around defense. If you think that running a no huddle is some kind of magical cure to beating them or that they can't still dial up blitzes against a no huddle you are out of your mind. Going no huddle earlier may have helped but it also could have gotten Josh Freeman killed, especially if the offensive linemen had bad communication.

Now that we got that out of the way let me also talk about Freeman's performance. I know Coach Morris and Freeman himself said he was "off". But I don't know if fans or even some media knows what they meant by that. I would guess that some would take it to mean his accuracy was "off" and in a few circumstances it in fact was. But after watching the game three times what was really off about Freeman was his reads.

Understand that Freeman was getting pressured most of the day so he wasn't always able to go through all of his progressions downfield. But there were times when I felt like presnap he should have had a good idea of who would be open but either didn't hit them or scrambled at a time when the rush didn't really call for it. Of course its easy for me to say that from my couch and I know its different when you are in that pocket and a bunch of 300 pound guys are trying to rip your head off, but I can only go by what I see on the tape.

And this goes back to the argument about the game plan. People see Freeman take a shot down the field on 3rd and 2 and they figure "why in the hell is the Olsen calling that play?!". Not realizing that there were other routes being run, and many times other guys who were open for a first down but Freeman just chose to go for the deep ball.

Now I like Freeman a lot. I think the maturity he has shown this year has been amazing. I also believe he is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league already. But I want to go through some plays during the game, not to throw him under the bus at all, but to illustrate to people who may not know what other options there were available to him.

-10:10 in the first quarter, 3rd and 3. Freeman feels some pressure so he rolls right and throws deep to Mike Williams but it goes incomplete. Nothing wrong with taking a shot early in the game but he over threw Williams who was indeed open. At the same time Michael Spurlock is running a shallow crossing route from his left and he is open for a first down. Don't know if he would catch it but he is open. Whether it was the roll or the read Freeman chose not to throw it to him though.

-6:44, first quarter, 1st and 10. Freeman takes another shot downfield to Arrelious Benn but again over throws the receiver. At the same time Ryan Purvis was wide open in the flat as the Ravens did not adjust when he motioned out.

-2:58, first quarter, 1st and 10. Its a play action pass but damn near every offensive lineman gets beat and once again Freeman has to roll to his right. He ends up throwing the ball away which I have NO problem with. But at the same time John Gilmore slipped out into a route and he was open for a nice little dump off.

-8:56, second quarter, 1st and 10. The left corner for the Ravens was giving the wide receivers a lot of cushion all day. On this play he was at least 7 or 8 yards off. Benn runs about a 7 yard stop route and is wide open. But instead Freeman throws a swing pass to Cadillac Williams which nets about 2 yards. Now this is a play where I believe good quarterbacks see that cushion and automatically hit the WR and let them work. Its definitely what the Ravens did to the Bucs when they played off coverage. But again maybe that wasn't the read.

-6:18, second quarter, 2nd and 7. This was an opportunity for a touchdown. Williams and Benn lined up on the same side with Benn in the slot. Benn ran a skinny post and Freeman tried to hit him in the seam but he couldn't come down with it. However Benn attracted the underneath coverage and the safety while Williams was running his own skinny post. Williams ended up inside the corner and WIDE open. I honestly don't know how he doesn't score there if the ball is thrown to him.

-2:15, second quarter, 2nd and 13. The Ravens blitz and Mo Stovall runs a hot route at about five yards and he's wide open because the corner has once again given a lot of cushion. Freeman however throws to the other side to Williams who is bracketed by underneath and over the top coverage. Thankfully he saw it and made sure it wasn't an interception by throwing it low and outside. But Stovall was good for at least 8-10 yards.

-10:51, third quarter, 3rd and 2. This was the one time all game when I thought Freeman ran when he didn't actually have to. The Ravens ran a pass rush game against the right side of the Bucs' offensive line but it appeared they had it picked up. But for whatever reason Freeman decided to roll to his right again and he tried to hit Caddy in the flat but couldn't. Now it may have been that the play was designed to go to Caddy to begin with because they had both WRs on the right side run crossing routes and then he snuck through the line to go to the right flats. Maybe it was their way of getting him open in space. I don't know.

What I do know is that Ray Lewis ended up picking up Caddy which I'm sure made Freeman nervous about throwing to him and at the same time Sammie Stroughter was open for a first down running the shallow crosser the other way.

-7:04, third quarter, 2nd and 6. Once again the left corner is in off coverage. This time its Williams that runs about a 5-6 yard stop and is wide open. But Freeman decides to try Stroughter in the slot on a skinny post. In fairness Stroughter was open but the pass was a bit off. Still Williams probably gets a first down and then some with his ability to run after the catch.

-2:30, third quarter, 3rd and 2. Bucs line up in a trips bunch formation and it appears that Stroughter is open at the sticks after they all scatter. But Freeman once again feels the pressure and rolls right and almost throws an interception trying to flip it to Caddy.

-12:16, fourth quarter, 3rd and 2. Freeman takes another shot downfield to Spurlock. And Spurlock is once again open on a go route but the ball is just a bit over thrown. At the same time Stroughter gets inside the safety who is lined up on him in the slot man to man and he is absolutely open for the first down.

Now this is the ultimate in Monday Morning Quarterbacking and I understand that. I don't mean to say that Freeman was wrong in all of these situations or even in any of them. The point is that while he may have taken shots down the field that doesn't mean Olsen wasn't calling plays where guys were open for the first down. You never want to take away a quarterback's aggressiveness as long as he isn't throwing into coverage. But the fact remains that just because a bomb was thrown it doesn't mean that was the only route being run.

I personally thought we ran the ball better than expected against the Ravens. We didn't get a ton of yards but LeGarrette Blount and Caddy made their presence felt several times. One thing that killed some drives was penalties though. For whatever reason Kellen Winslow jumped several times and when he wasn't getting penalties he was getting abused by the Ravens defense when he tried to block in the running game. He had a couple of nice catches including a touchdown but overall I thought he had a pretty bad game.

For the offensive line to be as patchwork as it is I thought they performed at a decent level. I thought Donald Penn was outstanding most of the day both run and pass blocking. I thought James Lee held his own at right tackle as did Jeremy Zuttah who was pressed into service at right guard. Ted Larsen did get over powered a bit by Haloti Ngata but hell who doesn't? The offensive line wasn't great but I thought they played winning football for the most part.


I don't really know what to say about the defense. On the one hand they held the Ravens to 17 points and they had an outstanding interception by Aqib Talib and they also came home with 4 sacks including 3 by the defensive line.

On the other hand they blitzed something like 25 times and many times those blitzes were ineffective. There was one situation where Stylez G. White went to drop and ran right into Ronde Barber who was trying to blitz. And of course there was the blitz and the end where somehow Tim Crowder ended up one on one in space with Ray Rice with the game on the line and the defense needing a stop which ended up with Rice getting a first down. Not only did the Bucs go back to using the 3-3-5 extensively, they even went to a 2-4-5 with only two defensive lineman in the game several times. Now I can't say it wasn't somewhat effective but it just drives me crazy seeing Gerald McCoy getting two sacks rushing from an undertackle position but then getting limited reps there because of all these other formations they are sticking him in. But it is what it is at this point.

On another note Barrett Ruud is a guy whom I have defended from what I feel like are baseless knocks against him. But at the end of the game, again when the defense needed a stop, he inexplicably was not in his gap on a one back trap and the result was Rice cutting back where he should have been for a first down. He had a decent game otherwise but you can't be out of position like that when the game is on the line.

I have watched the play where the Ravens tight end Todd Heap catches the 65 yard touchdown and in my mind there is only one explanation. Everyone in the secondary appears to be playing cover 2. Everyone that is but Sabby Piscitelli. He rolled up in the box and then kind of stood flat footed at the snap while Heap ran right by him. I don't know how he ended up that out of position but with both corners rolled up and with Sean Jones on the opposite hash at cover 2 depth its hard to see how the call was anything but cover 2.

No matter what it was an embarrassing play on a day when the defense didn't play bad at all otherwise.

The pass interference on Myron Lewis was a horseshit call. But at the same time I think Coach Morris losing his cool about it might have had a negative effect. We have all heard by now about the verbal altercation between Talib and a ref after the game over the call. I can't help but wonder if Talib felt he was taking his cues from his head coach. Now I love Coach Morris' enthusiasm and see nothing wrong with it, but there are times when adversity hits and in my opinion the head coach has to stay calm so the rest of the team will follow suit. Just my two cents.

Again, it WAS a horseshit call though.

On a positive note the Bucs held the Ravens to less than 100 yards rushing. So there's that.

Now to the individual defensive line breakdowns.

Tim Crowder: I thought Crowder played well with a sack and 3 other tackles. He had to drop so many times he probably felt like a db by the time the game was over. One thing I did notice is that when the Bucs were going to blitz with their four defensive line rush package in with Crowder, White, McCoy and Michael Bennett in they put Crowder at end instead of defensive tackle. That's a tip off that other teams may end up being able to pick up on. Not a good thing.

Gerald McCoy: McCoy had the first multiple sack game of his young career and both rushes were outstanding. On the first sack he beat a double team by the offensive tackle and guard for the sack. On the second he bullrushed and then came off the block inside for the sack. I honestly don't think they could have blocked him one on one all day but again unfortunately he didn't get all that many opportunities to rush from a 3 technique. Still there is no denying that the young man is coming on strong and I think folks who were calling him a bust early on will end up with quite a bit of egg on their faces. Oh he also contributed another tackle by my count and held up well against several double teams.

Roy Miller: Gotta say that Roy is back on track now. He isn't getting pushed around near as much as he was earlier in the season and by my count the guy had 4 tackles and 3 assists on the day. That's damned impressive for a nosetackle/part time 3 technique. He even had a good rush through a double team. The only negative on him for the day was the offsides penalty but I'll take that as a trade off for all that production.

Stylez G. White: Stylez had 2 tackles 2 pressures and 2 hits on the quarterback by my count. I thought he played well but he probably could have made a couple of inside moves to get more pressure on Joe Flacco. Another reason why it was frustrating to watch all the blitzing and 3-3-5s and 2-4-5s was that the starting offensive tackle Michael Oher got hurt and I thought White could have really taken advantage of his backup if he had some more one on one pass rush opportunities. I'll let it go one day I suppose lol.

Mike Bennett: Bennett had a really good physical tackle coming off a tight ends block a couple of good rushes and a hit on the quarterback. One thing I wish I could say to Bennett is to lay off the finesse stuff. He is a guy who I believe should be throwing fastballs just about every play. I'd love if he would just stick to one of three moves. A speed rip around the corner, a bull rush to a rip, or a quick inside move. The last couple of games he has started doing all these stutter and go moves which look good but aren't really all that successful. He should be putting tremendous stress on every right tackle he faces because most of the time they aren't all that athletic. I guess I just see so much of what that kid could be that its hard watching him not doing it every Sunday. But I have a feeling that his time is coming soon.

Al Woods: I had Woods down for 2 tackles. I thought he played extremely well in spot duty and held up well at the point. Its funny because the Ravens were supposed to out physical the Bucs but I personally didn't see it at all.

Alex Magee: I had Magee with an assisted tackle on a really good hustle play. He didn't have a whole lot of production but it appeared that he did his job while he was in there.

Well that's all for now. I'm still a little sick so I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing the rest of the week so hopefully this will tide you over. If not...oh well lol.

See you in the comments section!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Your Week Eleven Leader

I don't know how he did it but 1Bigg_ER busted out a 119 to not only win the week but also move into first place.


At least I got my respectable 98 and moved back into 4th place. Looks like its anybody's game with 6 weeks to go. Don't forget to get your picks in early for all the Thankgiving Day games. And as always, good luck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good

- The Defense: Two turnovers, six sacks, hold the 10th leading rusher to less than 25 yards and a shut out on the road. That's what you call an ass whupping!

- LeGarrette Blount: 26 rushes for 82 yards and two more highlight reel runs. If he can just fix that fumbling problem he is going to be a monster.

- Cadillac Williams: He didn't start and only got 7 carries but he gained 51 yards and scored a touchdown. People who think Caddy is washed up are sadly mistaken.

- Donald Penn: He kept Josh Freeman clean for most of the day and he caught a touchdown. Nuff said!

The Bad

- Fake punt: Don't mind the idea but the execution was horrible. I don't think that play had a chance in Hell of working.

The Ugly

- Fox's closeups: I'll keep complaining about this until it changes. I don't want to see a closeup of the quarterback or whichever player the announcers feel like talking about before the snap. I DO want to see the whole got damn play from the wide angle well before the snap. I can't understand who Fox is trying to appeal to with that bullshit.


- About that run defense: Not sure what it was about their offense that gave it away but it appeared the Bucs had a really good handle on when they would be running or passing. And because of that you saw a LOT more 8 man fronts with one of the safeties either walked down in the box presnap or coming down from a cover 2 look at the snap. Cody Grim obviously had a big day with by my count 6 tackles and 2 assists but everyone seemed to be a lot better with their gap discipline from the front four to the back line. That's why there weren't many places for Frank Gore to find to run. Its also possible that the Bucs just didn't fear the 49ers downfield passing game and so they felt more comfortable with a rolled up safety on most early downs.

The only problem of course is that every team won't be as easy to read and so it may be hard to duplicate that success when they aren't able to play as much 8 man front. But hey, I'll take it especially in a win.

- Mike Williams' arrest: I made a decision not to blog about the arrest or the Bucs' decision to play Williams until after more information came out. I know personally that the area he was pulled over in is an area where you can get pulled over for DWB. I have been pulled over at least 3 times but thankfully never charged with anything. And it turns out that all of the most recent information is pointing to Williams not being over the legal limit for alcohol and not having been on any other illicit drugs. So it appears he was only guilty of speeding late at night, hardly worth a full blog post.

- James Lee/Jeremy Trueblood: When Trueblood went down I said that he might end up getting Wally Pipped. Well he was healthy and dressed for the game on Sunday but Lee started and played every snap. Now the Bucs' twitter feed says that they will decide who starts based on who practices better during the week. From my experience there aren't enough reps to go around at practice during a game week for one guy to beat another guy out unless one of them falls completely on their face. So who does a tie go to? Worth watching...

- Ted Larsen: Did Larsen get hurt during the game? I missed it if he did but I noticed that Jerremy Zuttah played the end of the first half and all of the second half. What's up with that?

- Don't forget to check out my Bull Rush post to find out how the Bucs got all of those sacks.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bull Rush

Soooooo all the Tampa Bay Buccaneers yesterday was go out on the West Coast where they supposedly can't win, throttle an offense that was supposed to run all over them, and damn near doubled their sack total for the year in the process.

I'd say that's grounds for celebration!!!

Did I forget to mention that the defense pitched a shut out?

Now that was impressive to watch.

Its funny because before the game I tweeted that the weather and the 49ers style of play might force the Bucs to win by making them play to their strengths. On offense in my opinion that meant leaning heavily on the run and then hitting some nice play action passes without getting Freeman killed.

On defense because the 49ers are so run oriented on offense it meant the Bucs would have to avoid playing so much 3-3-5. And that turned out to indeed be the case as by my count the Bucs only ran a 3-3-5 four times before the the final 3 minutes of the game.

Of course it COULD just be a coincidence that the biggest sack game of the season for just so happened to occur when the use of the 3-3-5 was curbed, but I definitely am not buying that. And while the 49ers don't exactly have a bunch of world beaters on their offensive line, 6 sacks is 6 sacks.

Now I could act like everyone played perfectly and not criticise anyone or anything after a game like that but I am always going to look for ways the defensive lineman can improve. Even after they have a dominant performance.

I am not sure how many people watched NFLN's pregame show yesterday but there was a segment where Warren Sapp talked about how the Giants would have to rush Michael Vick in order to be most effective against him. The same kind of rules could be said for most mobile quarterbacks and they definitely applied to how the Bucs should have approached pass rushing Troy Smith. The truth is the Bucs probably could have and should have had a couple more sacks and or at the least they shouldn't have given up 45 yards rushing to the guy.

The basic premise is that you don't want to run behind a mobile quarterback because then you have no shot of getting any pressure on them. You have to adjust your pass rush, especially at defensive end, to be more power and inside moves so that you can have a shot to get a mobile quarterback on the ground or at least flush him to your buddies. But as Sapp said if you run deeper than the quarterback you might as well "buy a ticket" to watch the game because you have made yourself a spectator.

It's a point I made last week in my quick scouting report but I figure maybe coming from Sapp it holds more weight with people. Unfortunately even on a day when the pass rush was humming, several times the defensive ends "bought tickets" to the show. And that's why I said they could have had at least two more sacks because with better rush lane discipline Troy Smith wouldn't have had anywhere to go.

Having said that the criticisms I have today are definitely nitpicking. At the end of the day the Bucs are 7-3 and one game out from the division leader with 6 games left and they just shut out a team that was coming off a two game winning streak and they just shut down the NFL's 10th leading rusher and held him to 23 yards and less than 2 yards a carry, on the road. It doesn't get much better than that.

On to the individual break downs.

Tim Crowder: Crowder had 2 tackles two good rushes and a hit on the quarterback. He seemed to be snake bit though in that he missed two sacks. On a day when seemingly everyone else was getting the quarterback on the ground, Smith managed to break out Crowder's grasp twice. I know it had to be frustrating for him but I thought he played a really good game and I also thought he had a much better showing rushing inside on 3rd downs.

Gerald McCoy: The big guy finally got his first sack and I'm sure he is happy to get that monkey off his back. But that wasn't the only play he made. I had him with 1 tackle 5 assists, two pressures and four other good rushes. I'm not sure why but it appeared that his pass rush was a lot better early on in the game and then fell off a bit at the end. The 49ers were jumping him at the line a lot and he did a great job of coming off the ball, getting his hands on them, and quickly coming off with a rip or an arm over. He really was giving both guards fits with that approach. But later it seemed like he might have started making too many finesse moves.

I don't necessarily think McCoy should be a bull rush only guy, but I do think that some times it might be better for him to really work his power on the guards and then get off them quickly and just keep doing that until they start sitting on it. If he can force them to change their pass set THEN he can start working more finesse moves and be more effective with them.

Still there is no denying that his pass rush is getting better and he is giving interior linemen headaches at this point. Consistency will be key for him the rest of the season.

Roy Miller: After a rough patch it appears that Roy Miller is getting back to playing the way I always thought he could play. He still got pushed around twice on Sunday but you aren't going to win against every double team. The more important thing is that the majority of the time he stood his ground or got penetration. He had a tackle for loss 2 other tackles and an assist by my count. He also forced a penalty on an offensive lineman by getting quick penetration on the snap. On another play he got good pressure on Smith and forced him up into the pocket to be sacked by one of his line mate.

The Bucs have finally wised up and now they are allowing Miller to play some undertackle when McCoy goes out also. He isn't the pass rusher that McCoy is but he does have a quick get off and he knows how to get up field. I think allowing him to play some undertackle will insure that the Bucs are getting the most production that they can out of him.

Stylez G. White: After 2 sacks a pressure and an assisted tackle what can you possibly criticize???

Well I'll tell you what.

Stylez getting those two sacks was awesome and it upped his season total to 5 which means he still has an outside chance of getting to double digits with 6 games left. But you know what? I think he could have had 4 sacks.

I'm dead serious.

I counted four times when Stylez made a wide outside rush instead of using power or making an inside move when I think he could have at least gotten a hit on the quarterback. And there was one other time where he made an inside move but didn't really commit to it because Smith started scrambling to the other side. But eventually Smith changed directions and came back his way but at that point Stylez was pinned inside and couldn't come back out of it.

Its hard to argue that he had a bad game with two sacks, and in reality he didn't. But I just look at the fact that he left some opportunities out there on the field. Opportunities that don't come around every day. And I'll bet when he turns on the film he will see exactly what I'm saying.

On his first sack he had a really nice long arm bull rush to a rip that shortened the corner and put him right on track to sack Smith. On the second sack he made an inside move on the tackle out of the 3-3-5 alignment and ended up on Smith's back. If he just added power and or an inside move into a few more of his opportunities he doesn't end up behind the quarterback and Smith doesn't end up being able to step up and either throw the ball away or take off running.

But again, 2 sacks is 2 sacks so I salute him. Even when I'm pushing him for more.

Michael Bennett: I had Bennett with a sack 2 assisted tackles and 3 other good rushes. But if there was one guy I was most frustrated with watching the game again last night it was him. I don't know why but Bennett didn't do many power rushes at all when he was at left end. Instead he opted to try to stutter and go a lot with an offensive tackle that was setting to ride him by the quarterback every time. If there was one thing the Rams tape showed it was that Anthony Davis did not like to get bull rushed. But for what ever reason Bennett let him off the hook for most of the day. He didn't even make many inside moves which are usually a staple of his. And again its not like he had a bad day rushing the passer. He did make some decent moves and he did get his first sack of the season after all.

But his pass rush plan just left me scratching my head. There's no doubt in my mind that had he done more bull rushes Bennett would have had a multi sack day. Instead Smith was allowed to step up in the pocket time after time after time as he went by.

Al Woods: Al didn't have that great of a game this week but that's to be expected. He was a little soft at nose tackle against some of the double teams and he did get full on pancaked at least once. He did have an assisted tackle though on one of Stylez's sacks. At least that's how I recorded it. When I played the first guy to the quarterback got credit for the sack but that may or may not have changed. I still like Woods potential a lot but he still has work to do on his technique.

Alex Magee: After not impressing me much against the Panthers, Magee definitely showed me some flash against the 49ers. He had a sack a pressure and a really outstanding tackle on a reverse to his side. He also missed another opportunity he had for a sack when Smith ran out of his tackle. But the biggest thing that impressed me this go around was his awareness of the level of the quarterback. Out of all of the ends he was the guy who probably had the best most consistent rush plan. And that's even though his individual rushes weren't necessarily all that good.

The thing about his rush is that he always ended up where Smith was going to be, up in the pocket, instead of where he started. That's what allowed him to run what we used to call a "natural game", falling in behind Miller who was getting up field at undertackle, and for all intents and purposes running a TEX game without it being called. And he got a sack on that play. He also had a good play that probably will get over looked where he sniffed out a tight end screen and prevented Smith from throwing it which led to another sack.

I wasn't sure at first that he was athletic enough to play defensive end in the Bucs' scheme but yesterday it appears that he is. I can't wait to see more of him as the season goes on.

One last thing. I was somewhat disappointed that the Bucs didn't run any pass rush games. I thought running games would be a pretty good way to keep Smith either in the pocket or make him move laterally instead of gaining yards up the middle. Again, I know I'm nitpicking but I just don't get why they didn't run any games at all.

Ok that's enough for today. See you guys in the comments section.