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.


  1. Great breakdown, Steve. Thanks for the work you put into this and the Bull Rush each week.

    All I can really say is there is SO much being put into the 4th quarter comeback by the Falcons that I think we're failing to see the missed opportunities earlier that could have made that point moot.

    Talib missed an INT that was in his hands. There were several other INTs that were missed, but they weren't quite as bad as that one.

    McCoy's penalty that gave the Falcons a first down immediately after Roddy White's penalty had them backed up really hurt us there. A 3 and out there could have also changed the game.

    I agree about the smoke route to Benn, and I also think he's been nearly brilliant on end around plays as well. I know he's only getting 4 to 5 yards so far, but he's making something out of nothing sometimes and there's always the chance he'll break through. He really knows how to run with the ball. The probably should have had Benn running the option play with Johnson instead of Stroughter.

    Anyway, thanks again. Always a good read

  2. Great take on the game! I couldn't agree more I'm tired of the 3-3-5 I don't see the point,it sucks! M.Lewis looks to stiff to play corner.I hope that everyone is out there voting for Penn for the probowl he has been great.He has been the only one sticking up for his QB...LOVED SEEING Freeman make the hit at the end of the game penalty or not! What do you see as our biggest need in the draft?Freeman has to start using K2 more he can't stare M.Will down so much even the average CB sees it.

  3. Steve,

    I really thought the secondary help up really well after Talib went down. In general, the defense has really stepped up the last couple of weeks. The Bates days are becoming a distant memory.

    Finally, I thought Freeman was pretty bad on Sunday. Mind you, I am very much a Freeman supporter. His miss to Purvis off a good play action pass in the third quarter was a killer. Honestly, in his second year I kind of expect these things to happen. To me, it is just part of the growing process. Finally, do you think Lee is the long-term answer at RT?


  4. @jester I have no idea what our needs in the draft will be right now and I doubt anyone else does either.

    @trox As sson as Trueblood went down I predicted Lee would Wally Pipp him and he has. I dont know how long term but I do think Lee is the starter next year.

  5. With all do respect Steve I think alot of people know what there draft needs are going to be.I would hope that Dominik would have an idea what players he will be resigning and which ones he won't.I was really just asking your opinion on who you would like to see in a Bucs uni next year.I would like to see them Draft the big guard Orlando Franklin out of Miami he reminds me of A. Searrs only more viscious he pancakes alot D-linemen(including grading out at a 93% on G.M.C.)I don't think they keep Ruud either(I'm a Ruud fan)so I was curious who you like either pro (G.B.s Hawk will be traded)or through the draft.

  6. Great Info as usual Steve,
    The smoke screen and the end around Benn is the focus of are good plays.I agree we should run it more than one time a game, but how many times? 2-4,4-6?
    IS there an advantage when we run that play to isolate the direction of the play at one of the DB's? Benn is a big guy and DB's tend to be smaller. He can take it to them and attack them. Sure they tackle him but,The next time he is running his route this DB is not so wanting to tackle him, or is overly aggressive creating a miss tackle or getting a penalty.

  7. Steve, No love for Dotson?? I am hopping he comes back and plays well.