Grading out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offense

It's game like this that give me a love/hate relationship with this column.  It's hard to be a fan and to be objective at the same time, and after a frustrating game like last night's it makes it difficult to put the "writer" hat on and be fair and balanced.  This week we're gonna run through position by position in some cases, not player by player as we saw mostly starters, and I'll be honest, when in the seats at a game, it's nto always easy to tell who is who, particularly on the offensive or defensive lines.

 Quarterbacks

I feel like we've said all we can say at this point.  But let's dive in player by player here since this seems to be the hot topic around the Bay area

Byron Leftwich - We know who he is.  Us expecting more is a pipe dream.  He has a slow windup that will result in fumbles and sacks, as we saw last night.  He has a cannon of an arm, which is a belssing and a curse.  He rifles everything, which is great in places, but caused him to miss several open receivers.  He felt pressure in the pocket and delivered the dump offs at correct times.  Led our (only) two scoring drives.  Not as accurate as I'd hoped, but kept the chains moving.  Grade: C+

Luke McCown - Again, we know what we have, but we keep expecting more.  Maybe he needs more experience, but i disagree with that notion because in probably 75% of his games, he has looked the same.  He has a problem staying in the pocket.  He makes reads and decisions in slow motion.  He scrambles into too many sacks.  He can deliver a nice ball, as we saw him hook up with Jerramy Stevens (though Stevens dropped it).  Has a habit of rolling back and right on most plays.  His mobility does help in places where players are covered, but just like Leftwich's cannon, it's a good and bad thing.  Must learn to read and react faster.  Allow wide receivers to make plays.  Grade: C-

Josh Freeman - This is what I expected of him all along, to look like a rookie.  When he wasn't running for his life, he was off on his throws and stared down receivers.  I'm still encouraged in the long run with what I've seen of him, but this performance pretty much sealed his opportunity to play early.  See you in Week 8-10 rookie (unless we are gunning for a playoff berth).  Grade: C-

Josh Johnson - So much for him getting a chance to show his stuff.  This leads me to believe that either he is cut material, or his position as 3rd QB is safe.  I'd like to give him a chance (which I'm sure he and Freeman will get in the next game) to see what he can do.  Too bad we can't see him with starters.  He may not be great, but give the guy some snaps.  Grade: B for being on the bench (in reality he's a definite INC)

Running Backs

Cadillac Williams - A great performance from this guy.  No he didn't shatter any records (or body parts) but he didn't miss a beat.  He ran with authority, found holes, made guys miss.  Remove my obvious bias for the guy, and I like what I see as a Buc fan.  Three strong, solid backs, and thats not counting Clifton Smith.  This was a great (beginning of a) comeback for Caddy.  Keep it up. Grade: A-

Everyone Else - Our running game has to be relied on this year.  I know we were trying to evaluate three QB's last night, which is why we didnt run as much, but we've got a stable of very good running backs.  Ward had a bit of an off night, but I'm not worried.  Graham and Askew looked strong.  I like it.  Grade:  B+

Wide Receivers

It's so hard to grade these guys because they aren't starters.  We know that.  Stovall had a atypical Stovall preseason game.  He looked good.  I want to see that in Octoboer.  Clark was jsut average.  Stroughter looks like a definite playmaker.  This guy will be a weapon.  Cortez Hankton caught a ball!  Now please catch a bus out of here.  Jerramy Stevens dropped a nice pass from McCown and though Winslow did some other things well (fumble recovery), where is his receiving threat?  Paid alot of money for a blocker to this point.  Hard for the WR's to make an impact when the QB's either deliver the ball high, check down, or get sacked Grade: B-

Offensive Line

I heard Davin Joseph say the line still has a long way to go.  If thats the case, Im pretty dang excited.  The line looked pretty good for most of the night.  Both Leftwich and McCown had some time to throw, though there were some break downs on blitzes.  The running game had some great blocking going on with both Caddy and Graham finding space to run.  Again, progress was made.  Grade: B

Overall

The Bucs had some good stuff happen on offense.  The good news is we ran the ball well, we were able to move the ball through the air, no interceptions were thrown, and no fumbles were lost.  The bad news?  We put up 6 points, all in the first half.  That isn't acceptable.  For all this talk about red zone efficiency, we put up a huge goose egg on Thursday night.  It seems we can have Wyche, Dungy, Gruden, or Morris as the head honcho, we still settle for field goals.  We have to put a touchdown up on the board.  Our defense played pretty darn good and to give them 6 points to work with isn't a good thing.  The execution was off at times, but there was enough good stuff there that it wasn't a total failure.  Grade: C+ (B- for execution, and moving the ball, D+ for scoring)

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