Monday, August 23, 2010

The Good The Bad And The Ugly

The Good

- Michael Bennett: The guy just keeps showing up on film. He racked up another sack, this time with a caused fumble, along with several other tackles. He was physical, fast and quick and he is making a serious push for playing time at either defensive end spot along with inside at defensive tackle on obvious passing downs.

- James Ruffin: Ruffin went old school on us and was unstoppable with his grab snatch and rip pass rush move. Seriously

- Josh Johnson: Talk about bouncing back. Josh Johnson looked great in relief of Josh Freeman and nothing like the guy who held on to the ball too long against Miami. Against the Chiefs Johnson was quick and decisive and when nothing was there he used his legs to move the ball down the field. 6/10 for 113 and a TD? I'll take that.

- Kareem Huggins and Michael Spurlock: I'm calling it now. Barring an injury or a felony arrest both of these guys are making the team. Huggins was superb once again rushing for 44 yards on 8 carries. Spurlock had 3 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. And we all know what he can do in the return game on special teams. If preseason matters at all to the Buccaneers they have to keep both of these guys. Otherwise I don't know how they could ever stand in front of the team again and look them in the eyes and talk about the value of hard work and production.

- Mike Williams: It may be just the preseason but I think everyone realizes at this point that Williams is the real deal. When someone comes up with a legitimate reason why he can't put up big numbers this year as a rookie please let me know.

- Donovan Raiola: Last year we all got an abject lesson in what happens when you don't have a qualified backup center. When Jeff Faine down our offensive line fell apart. In the first two games Raiola has shown that he is ready willing and able to take over should something happen to Faine. I know that Jeremy Zuttah is getting reps as the second team center right now, but from my vantage point Raiola is out playing him at that position.

- Connor Barth: Quietly this guy has become Mr. Reliable. Much like with offensive linemen, when people aren't saying much about the kicker it probably means he is doing his job. A position that was a decided weakness for the Bucs the early part of last year has now become a strength.

Now excuse me while I go over in the corner and hope I didn't just jinx him lol.

The Bad

- Donald Penn: Tamba Hali worked over Penn pretty good for most of the first half. Its not that Penn played horrible but its been a long time since I have seen a guy beat him like that. Hali is an up and comer for sure but Penn is going to have to do a lot better than that. And I think he will.

- Dre Moore: Just as I was about to get on the Dre Moore bandwagon it seemed like he regressed this game. It appeared that he fell victim to fatigue. Unfortunately you can't get tired when you are fighting for a job. He is going to have to pick it up and fast.

- Brain Price: The rookie had some issues staying on his feet in his first live action under the lights. Obviously the time away from the field had a major effect on his game. I would expect that once he gets a few more practices under his belt that he will hold up better the next time out.

- Josh Freeman's thumb: I know everyone is bummed out because Josh Freeman fractured his thumb. But as I explain here its not the end of the world. He should be fine by the first game and the team will still do whatever they were going to do from the get go in my opinion.

- Backup Fullbacks: I generally like Chris Pressley as a "thumper" type fullback and I also believe that rookie free agent Rendrick Taylor has a lot of potential. But something is wrong when the team decides to use linebackers or defensive linemen to be lead blockers instead of the backup fullbacks. Adam Heyward looks the part but didn't really set the world on fire as a lead blocker against the Chiefs. However the very fact that he got game reps doing it does not speak well of Pressley or Taylor's chances of making the roster.

The Ugly

- Kickoff team: They gave up a 54 yard return to rookie Javier Arenas that set up the Chiefs' first touchdown.

- Derrick Ward: First off I hope he is ok. Head injuries are obviously not anything to play with. But before he got hurt Ward got 5 carries behind the very same line that Huggins ran behind but could only manage a total of 11 yards. I can't say what exactly it is that's holding Ward back but at the moment he looks like a major free agent bust. What qualified him for the Ugly category is the fact that he promised he would have a big game this week.

You know I went back and checked my notes and scanned the game again trying to find something else to complain about but the truth is we played pretty damn well as a team from top to bottom. Not everyone was outstanding but most played at least ok. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going into our next preseason game where the starters will play the majority of the snaps.


- I couldn't give James Lee a good this week because he was beaten a couple of times on pass rush. But the more I see of the guy the more I like. He actually reminds me of Penn in that he has a nasty streak. You see him blocking guys all the way across the formation. Pass blocking that is. Other times you see him finishing guys off with pancake blocks. I have a feeling that we will see more of him in the years to come.

- I think Sean Jones will be named the starter at strong safety. Its not that he had a great game against the Chiefs as the starter, although he did have some nice open field tackles. But more so its that he didn't look bad. I have always felt that a tie would go to Jones because we know what Sabby can do from his play last season. I think the staff will at least give Jones the opportunity to start so that we can have a break from everything that happened last year. Had Sabby obviously out performed him maybe it would have been different. But that didn't happen so I fully expect an announcement in the next few days to that effect.

- Geno Hayes continues his habit of making hard plays look easy but totally blowing easy plays. Mostly its because he is so fast that he over runs plays a lot of times. But at some point his propensity to free lance is going to really hurt our defense. He has to learn to play within himself if he ever wants to make the most out of his abilities.

- I hate 3 man pass rushes. It had to be said...again.

- Carlos Brown looks good late in games but I don't think he has a chance of making the roster. He might very well get stashed on the practice squad though.

- Rudy Carpenter had a decent game also. I have very low expectations of him because I don't believe his arm is strong enough to compete in the NFL but he really impressed me against the Chiefs.

- I was nervous about having a rookie punter but it looks like Brent Bowden may really be a weapon for us this year.

- Ok I have a pet peeve. Why in the hell does whomever it is that broadcasts our game think that we want to see a closeup of the quarterback right before the snap? Especially when it prevents us from seeing any shifts the offense and or defense is doing before the play starts? It drives me to cuss when they keep the camera on the QB barking signals and then right after the snap they try to go to a wide shot and you can't tell what in the hell is going on. I don't know of anybody who actually thinks that adds to their viewing experience. In fact most of the people I have asked about it hate it just as much as I do.

Can somebody, anybody, get them to knock that $#%& off?! Please and thank you!


  1. Steve,

    Do you believe Ruffin has made it to the practice squad with his performance? To expect more at this point, do you think would be premature? Bennett has a ton of physical skills, I agree with your assessment. Curious as to what you think of Quincy Black this year so far? Obviously, a physical freak, but is he getting better at his craft? Thanks.

  2. @Trox

    I'll have more to say about Ruffin in my Bull Rush column later but yeah I think he's a strong candidate for practice squad as it stands. He just looks like he belongs out there to me. As for Black I think he is being asked to do things that are more in line with his particular skill sets now so yeah he is getting better. He has played well in both preseason games and from everything I hear he is having a great camp overall. Im expecting big things out of him this year quite honestly.

  3. Greta notes. Like we said over Twitter, JJ just needs to be directed to go 2 deep and tuck. He is a talented kid and reads defenses well. Trust your reads, check and go.

    It really seems to me that the line is not blocking as 'aggressively' for Ward. What are your thoughts on his help from the supporting cast? I know how much faster Huggins hits the hole, but it just seems like a different line when Ward gets in the game.

    As for FB, I think the team is trying to save roster spots so for short yardage (perceived simple) sets they may feel Adam or Roy is sufficient. Guys like Lorenzo Neal (I feel) prove that FB is an important spot but if the team has tweeners that they do not want to risk on psquad this is a way to stretch the 53.

    Nice point on Geno. (Enjoy these posts tremendously.

  4. @OldSchool

    Yep we are in total agreement about JJ. The kid has some skills as long as he doesn't out think himself.

    As for Ward I don't think its like that at all. Funny thing about offensive linemen in the NFL, they kinda like to keep their jobs too. So they can't really afford to dog it when one guy is in over another guy, especially in preseason even if they hate him. Thing of it is Ward's vision is horrible right now. I mean to mention this in the post but there was a play where the line blocked well and Earnest was in as a lead blocker and he lead up on Eric Berry. There was a HUGE lane there for Ward to cut back in. I mean I could have run through the hole. Instead he followed right behind E and Berry ended up submarining E and taking both of them out. That play should have at least been a 10 yard run if not more since one of the safeties was already eliminated. Instead it went for maybe 2 or 3. The truth is Caddy or Huggins would have seen that lane and hit it. When you watch Huggins run he explodes as soon as he sees a crease to run through. For whatever reason it looks like Ward doesn't have that kind of explosion and vision any more so blocking that Caddy and Huggins can get something out of he gets hit in the backfield on.

    And remember Huggins went against the Chiefs first string D for the most part and the same exact line as Ward this time. I don't know if Ward has just gotten lazy or what but he doesn't even look at the level that he was last year. Maybe he can pick it up but I don't see how. Looks like a huge waste of money at this point.

    The thing about using Heyward and Roy at FB for me is this, I understand trying to shuffle the numbers game, especially during the season. But its very rare that you will see a team using a guy like Heyward in any role other than a short yardage/goalline lead blocker. Hell against the Chiefs they were using him out in the middle of the field in several different situations. As if they are really getting him ready for that role. I don't think I've ever seen a defensive guy play that much offense as a blocker in a preseason game, especially when there were other healthy fullbacks available.

    I personally like Pressley and Rendrick just looks the part but something is very wrong if Heyward is getting that much burn. My only other theory is that they want to keep Huggins AND Peanut and so they won't have a backup fullback. I could see that happening but I think it would be the wrong move. I have nothing against Peanut and he has performed really well for us but the truth is he has been beaten out by Huggins for that spot at this point and while Peanut is a great return guy its obvious that Huggins gives us more in more different ways. If we are really going to be a team that is serious about running the ball we are going to need more than just E at fullback even if E stays healthy. I hope that they aren't really going to try to go that route.

    And thanks again for checking me out!