It's that special time of the week again. Time to look back on the prior week's game and see how players and units played. We'll be player specific when possible and will grade out the players/units based on that week's performance. Also, without having the ability to watch tape at this point, I'll be grading them out based on what I saw at the game and on the replay at home.
Let's jump on in.
Byron Leftwich - It's nice to only have to look at one quarterback here. Leftwich provided a pretty efficient day going 25 of 41 for 276 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT's, 1 fumble (recovered by offense) and 0 sacks. Except for the 41 attempts, I'll take that every week. Leftwich showed good poise in the pocket, hung in there and delivered strikes. He didn't show much touch on the ball, particularly on a play where he missed AB in the end zone. Threw several strong passes over the middle. Missed high on a few attempts. I liked what I saw. We were able to stretch the field a little bit, use the middle and sidelines and spread the ball around. Would like to see him not get hit as much and tone down that overthrow. Grade: B+
Cadillac Williams - Hope you guys are ready for some Caddy praise. I said it once, I'll say it again, he looked like a feature back, like the guy we drafted. Stat line was 13 carries, 97 yards, 1 TD. Thats 7.46 YPC. He routinely hit the hole and fell forward at the end. Showed good vision and good reads. Picked up the pass rush good minus one occassion that had no bearing on the play. The fact that he stayed on the field and produced goes a long way. Hope there are more of these to come. Grade: A
Derrick Ward - Not the showstopping performance we may have envisioned, but a good day nonetheless. 12 carries for 62 yards and 1 TD. 5.16 YPC. Also caught 2 passes for 21 yards. Showed his affinity for hurdling players again. Was able to hit the hole and showed some good speed outside. Formed a good duo with Cadillac Grade: B+
Earnest Graham/Clifton Smith - Not enough tape here to make any assessments. Graham had one carry, which you can't read into. WIth Caddy and Ward going strong, Morris stuck with them. Grade: Incomplete
Michael Clayton - We knew he was a beast in the run game, and did nothing to deter us from that assessment. On the receiving side, he did drop two tough passes but had 5 catches for 93 yards, including a tough catch on a 47 yard bomb just before half. Truly a tough guy after going over the middle and getting lit up, only to see the safety be the one who went down. His blocking combined with his receiving makes him worth the money at this point. Would like to see more of this type of performance. Grade: B+
Antonio Bryant - 2 catches 29 yards. As an interesting side note, if you take his pay and evenly distribute it over his 16 games he plays (hopefully), it equates into $617,750 per game. So each catch in that game cost the Bucs $308,875. Bryant and Leftwich may not have been in sync with the whole preseason being a waste. Bryant also tweaked his knee and was removed from the game. No word on severity, although Im guessing it's not bad. A big performance wasn't necessarily needed as other guys stepped up. Still, we need our #1 guy. Grade: C
Sammy Stroughter - 3 catches for 25 yards and his first heartbreak in the NFL with his TD being called back. Welcome to the NFL little guy. Wasn't a big factor in the game, but showed he can get open and play. Had a drop, but made some tough catches. Grade: C+
Kellen Winslow - Was more involved in offense at start and end of game, but vanished during the middle. Did score a TD late in the game, but had a crucial 4th down drop that would have extended a drive. Morris threw praise at K2 for not "riding the emotional roller coaster" after his 4th down drop. Sorry, no praise here. Catch the ball. Finished with 5 catches for 30 yards. Not quite the game changer we imagined. Yet. Grade: C-
The rest - Jerramy Stevens led the way with 4 catches for 41 yards, and Clark and Stovall had some contributions, but nothing major. Stovall looks lackluster in the regular season. Same as prior years. These guys performed at an average clip for backups Grade: C
First Team - Looked very solid against both the run and pass. Zero sacks given up with a good pass rush and a cinder block at QB. Rush did break through at times, but Leftwich had time to deliver the ball. 5.6 YPC in the running game. Were able to open and hold holes and finish blocks. I'm very itnerested to look at some advanced stats once they are available to see how this unit did. Looked promising. Anytime Leftwich drops back 41 times and is kept clean (no sacks), that seems like a win. Did allow Leftwich to get hit, but could be a product of his propensity to hold the ball. Gave up 8 QB hits. Grade: B+
450 total yards. 276 passing. 174 rushing. 0 turnovers. 3 TD's. A HUGE change from the past. The Bucs were able to move the ball more times than not. Drives were sustained and involved a good mix of run and pass (42 pass plays, 31 rush plays). The switch in schemes came together in Week one. The OC being fired, at least for now, did not cause any disturbance on the offensive side of the ball. The worst part of the offensive day was the playcalling on the 2 minute drive that left too much time on the clock resulting in a Dallas score. Hopefully we can chalk that up to youth or a rookie mistake. This was a performance to be encouraged about. Grade: B+