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...