By: Steve Balestrieri
The Patriots hung on for a hard fought, albeit ugly 13-10 win over the New York Jets last Thursday. While the majority of fans are focusing on the struggles of the rookie wide receivers, we’re moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here at PatFans.com we’ll break down the game later in the week and give a closer look at the matchups.
But today we’ll take a quick look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are struggling to put games away to start the season.
Penalties Hurt As Bucs Lose Again In Final Seconds- The Bucs lost to the Jets on a field goal in the final seconds after taking a bad personal penalty during Week 1 and then had undisciplined play hurt them again. As the Saints behind Brees, moved down the field for a 27 yard Garrett Hartley field goal as time expired to take the win.
Tampa was penalized 13 times for 102 yards in the opener, and had three costly personal foul penalties against the Saints, all of them in the second quarter.
Defensive end Adrian Clayborn got flagged with an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on QB Drew Brees, safety Dashon Goldson was flagged for a blow to the head on Sproles just a few plays later, and safety Ahmad Black later was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Graham on an incompletion down the middle off the field.
Goldson is facing a one-game suspension for repeated personal foul penalties, however it is reported that he will appeal his suspension and will probably be in uniform.
Tampa Bay finished with 10 penalties for 118 yards, including an illegal motion flag that wiped out a 73-yard TD pass to Vincent Jackson from Josh Freeman.
Sloppy Play Has Hurt Tampa-The Buccaneers aren’t just taking ill-disciplined penalties, they’re making too many mental mistakes and although they out-played an opponent for the second straight week, mistakes ultimately cost them the game.
From being late to getting the play in to the huddle, (TV cameras caught Freeman mouthing an obscenity, “Send in the (bleeping) play!”, to illegal formations, one wiping out a 73 yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson, to poor substitutions and communication issues, the Bucs have shot themselves in the foot.
They conducted an excellent four down goal-line stand with only 10 players on the field. These are the type of mistakes losing teams routinely make, and the Bucs have too talented a roster to keep this up.
The Josh Freeman Situation is Bad and Getting Worse-The Bucs quarterback has played himself into a bad situation and it is getting worse rather than better. Freeman has the look of a quarterback whose confidence is shot and even with the weapons he has at his disposal, he could only manage to complete 9 of 22 for 125 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
This was on a day where Doug Martin rolled for 144 yards on 29 carries. So the running game was there for the offense to capitalize, but Freeman may be tuning out Head Coach Greg Schiano. At this point one thing is for sure, by removing him as a captain, Schiano has drawn a line in the sand that he isn’t happy with nor planning on keeping him around long term unless things change.
Freeman is supposedly going to demand a trade, something he has vehemently denied, but in situations like this, many times where there is smoke, there is fire. This could be a game where Freeman either completely turns things around or falls apart….stay tuned.
Tampa’s Pass Rush Should Be A Concern-The Buccaneers pass rush was on full display Sunday and against one of the better QBs at avoiding the big rush. They now have 9 sacks through 2 games and with New England’s rookie WR class having issues right now, may smell blood in the water.
Brees was sacked four times and harassed all afternoon and completed only 26 of 46 for 322 yards with 1 TD but 2 big INTs including one brought back for an 85 yard touchdown.
Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn each had a sack while Lavonte David had 1.5 sacks and new safety Mark Barron chipped in the other half sack. This will be a big matchup to watch this week against the Patriots offensive line.
Revis Is Back, But No ‘Revis Island’?-The Bucs brought in Darrelle Revis this past off-season and he looks completely healthy and recovered from 2012’s ACL surgery. But reports are surfacing that Revis isn’t happy with coach Greg Schiano’s schemes where he’s playing the vast majority of his snaps in zone.
If so, it makes little sense, Revis is still the gold standard of cornerbacks in the NFL when it comes to man coverage; he effectively takes away his portion of the field whenever he matches up with a wide receiver. Having him sit in zone constantly is like putting a Ferrari in a tractor pull.
This may be a tempest in a teapot or a sign that Schiano is beginning to lose this team. With things deteriorating with Freeman on offense, Schiano can ill-afford to alienate the best CB in the NFL after just a few weeks. While it is tough to read this based on the information we now have, the Buccaneers could blow up completely or this will bring the team together. One thing is for sure, the Patriots are planning on the Bucs to bring their “A” game on Sunday.