Monday, October 11, 2010

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

The Good:

- Redemption: It was so impressive to see at least four guys who had bad plays yesterday come back and make HUGE plays to helps us win. You have Aqib Talib who gave up the early bomb to TO. All he does is come back and pick off Palmer at the end of the game to give he offense and opportunity to score the game tying touchdown. You have Sabby Piscitelli who got trucked a few times in the run game and gave up a touchdown to Jermaine Gresham. All he did was pick off the ball AND return it with mere seconds left down to give our offense an opportunity to score the game winning field goal. You have Michael Spurlock who fumbled a kickoff return. All he did was catch a highlight reel pass on he sideline with mere seconds left to move the team down closer to make the game winning field goal. And you had Mike Williams who fumbled the ball deep in Cincinnati territory come back and make just an unbelievable touchdown catch to tie the game.

These weren't the only guys who atoned for bad plays I'm sure but they are the first one to come to my mind. Most of last year there's a good chance players would have gone in the tank after making some of those bad plays. This year there is a definite change in attitude and its great to see.

- Connor Barth: Don't want to jinx the guy but its great to have a kicker that is so consistent and accurate, especially in tight games like yesterday.

- Cody Grim: I obviously had a lot of questions about the kid but he came up HUGE yesterday. By my tally he had 10 tackles and 2 assists to go along with that pick six that got us on the scoreboard early. It seems like they are playing him a lot more in the box like a strong safety than a free safety thus all the tackles, but either way the guy had a monster game. If he likes playing closer to the line of scrimmage then by all means keep him there because you can't beat that kind of production. I actually didn't have him down for a bad play or a missed tackle.

- Brian Price and Michael Bennett's pass rush: Check out my Bull Rush column to get the goods on this one. Both guys justified their playing time yesterday.

- Kellen Winslow: Sometimes its easy to over look Winslow's contributions because he is just so consistent. Its almost like you get used to it. But yesterday he made some outstanding catches all day and especially on third down. I'm not sure what our offense would be without him.

- Earnest Graham: You simply can not say enough good things about EG. The guy excels on special teams, blocks guys 30 pounds heavier than him or more, barely gets any opportunities with the ball in his hands after being our leading rusher just a couple of years back. And yet he does it all without complaint. It was great to see him get that big 60+ yard run yesterday and also the 1 yard touchdown. The NFL needs more guys with his kind of attitude.

- Josh Freeman: He did have that one questionable throw that was picked off but other than that Freeman with stood a Bengals team that blitzed him like there was no tomorrow. I'm sure after all those hits he took he's sore today but he still found away to win the game for us both with the touchdown throw to Williams and with the laser he threw to Spurlock on the sidelines. He even ran for a first down earlier in the game in the face of a 7 man blitz. Impressive stuff especially on the road.

The Bad:

- Roy Miller: Again just go read my Bull Rush post.

- Davin Joseph: Not sure what's going on with Joseph but he is having major problems blocking movement on both run and pass. He's definitely not looking like the guy we're used to seeing that was Pro Bowl character. I wonder if its lingering effects from the leg injury he sustained in preseason. Whatever it is the team needs him to play better if we want to get our running game going.

The Ugly:

- Chris Bryan: If this guy keeps his job it will be a miracle or he has pictures he is blackmailing people with. The Bucs partially blocked one of the Kevin Huber's, the Bengal's punter, punts and he still ended up with a better average by damn near 20 than Bryan on the exact same number of kicks. The 15 yard punt? Yeah that should be the nail in the coffin. Sorry bruh, but no country for punters with low averages.


- On first glance it seemed like the offensive line was terrible against the blitz again, and don't get me wrong its not like they had a banner day, but the truth is the Bengals kept sending one more than we had in to block. They were sending six or seven guys on a regular basis and as much as anything they were overloading one side (something I said we should be doing on defense more). What happens is that generally when you keep a back in to block the center slides to the opposite side to where he lines up. So that leaves the guard, tackle, and back to block that side. Well if a defense blitzes four what do you do? Generally you try to block the inside guys and let the end man on the line go because it should in theory take them longer to get there. But it doesn't always work that way.

Now we could have gone more max protect leaving a tight end in but that means Winslow likely wouldn't be out in as many routes and he is too big of a part of our passing game. We also could take those opportunities to try to hit homeruns which is what we started to do in the second half. The one thing we didn't do that I felt like we should have done is run more running back screens. We attempted one in the first half but it was a bad throw and Caddy dropped it. I kept thinking we would go back to it since they blitzed so much but we never did.

- It was good to see Arrelious Benn out there making plays. He made two nice catches for 25 yards but he also made a couple of tackles on special teams. I think fans will learn to love this guy the more he gets opportunities.

- I thought Ronde Barber didn't have his best game. He got caught peeking in the backfield one time and his guy caught a long pass on a seam route. He also dropped a pick in the first half which he seemingly never does. He still ended up with 6 tackles so he didn't have a bad game per se. He just didn't seem to be all over the field like normal.

- I don't know if anybody else noticed but I don't think I saw Jerramy Stevens in for a single snap of offense. And further more we didn't miss him. John Gilmore did a good job of blocking and even had a catch which is rare for him. I think as Erik Lorig comes on as a blocker this will become the norm.

- Coach Morris said Sean Jones just had back spasms and should be ok. Its worth noting that it appeared we played the first play with 10 men though I can be sure because of the camera angle. During the game several Bucs beat writers said Jones was hurt on the first play but now I wonder if they meant on the kickoff. Either way we got away with one there as we were about to play second down with only 10 as well until we called a timeout as Sabby was running on the field late.

- Not that it means he isn't going to be a good runner but I wonder if folks will now temper their enthusiasm about LeGarrette Blount taking over for Caddy after his 4 carries for 3 yards. He didn't have that many opportunities but everyone needs to stop crowning guys the next big thing after one decent outing. Just my opinion.

- I do worry about how Earnest Graham will hold up if he is the full time lead blocker. With Chris Pressley inactive yesterday EG took just about all of those reps and although he did a good job I just have to wonder how much pounding his body could take.

- Question: Does anybody know what our bread and butter running play is? I certainly don't. And that's not a good thing. Every offense should have one running play that they rep so much they can run it in their sleep and get a couple of yards. But with our offense our running schemes seem so disjointed and unconnected. I'll tell you this much, we ran a Ram Belly/Split Belly yesterday and Caddy got good yardage out of it. Its a play that I think is perfect for him but we hardly ever call it and after we had success on the one play yesterday I don't think we ran it again all game. Its hard to run the ball when you don't have that bread and butter play you can always count on.

- Jeremy Zuttah subbed in decently for Jeff Faine yesterday but he still isn't able to get movement on a nosetackle unless he has help from a guard on a double team. It looks like he is going to have to start there for a couple of weeks and we had better stay away from plays where he has to single block or its going to be trouble.

- I thought Donald Penn came back and played well after a bad game against the Steelers. He had a highlight block on a defensive back on a wide receiver screen play. In the immortal words of a former Bucs tight ends coach "Break out the syrup!"


  1. I think at this point they're trying to make Lorig the FB/TE/H-Back. That would take pressure off EG.

    I didn't see him on offense yesterday, though. Which makes me wonder why they deactivated Chris Pressley, who I think is a pretty good blocking fullback.

  2. I missed the game but great breakdown man. I just hope we can get that running game going. I agree with your accessment of Stevens, the dude doesn't like to block and hes not good at it.

  3. I would add Grimm to the list of "Redemption", if only for the TD given up in the Steelers game. He made up for that, and then some.

    I think Zuttah will be better than Mahan was last year, not that that's saying much.

    Our bread and butter run play is definitely NOT the stretch right. Both Caddy and Blount ran that, hit traffic 4 yards deep in our own backfield, tried to turn it back the other way and ended up with 6 yard losses each. That'll kill a ypc average.

    On Graham's 60+ yard run, Vincent basically tripped into the LB, springing Graham. I wonder if he would have made that block if he'd kept his footing?

    The line couldn't seem to figure out how to pick up any of the blitzes thrown at them. I understand the overload blitz, but they couldn't stop any blitz. If one or two extra came blitzing, 2 or 3 made it through.

    Lorig should replace Pressley AND Stevens. One roster spot, two positions. There's our blocking TE and FB to spell Graham.

    I think the screen to beat the blitz should be a FB screen to Graham, he has better hands and is tougher to bring down.

    Love the combinations of Williams/Benn/Stroughter and K2, with Spurlock in the mix.

    Just my take/additions.

  4. Steve,

    Big fan of your commentary and analysis.

    I have a request, you obviously have much more insight on the entire defense then any of us could imagine. I always look forward to reading your bull rush section, I was wondering if you could do something similar for the defensive backs and LB's so we can indeed know who is playing well and who isnt.

    Thank you in advance brother,

    Steve from Oregon