Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grading out the defense - Week 1

The column I've least looked forward to since taking over Buc 'Em.  We all have a pretty good understanding as to how bad the defense played at times.  It's also tough to assign blame when someone gets beat.  I was discussing this point with a few guys over at DRB and it's a tough thing to quantify.  Did the DB's fail due to lack of pressure?  Did the LB's not get enough depth in drops?  Tough to assign blame, but that doesn't mean I won't give it a go.

Click on over to the Tampa's little shop of horrors

Defensive Line

Gaines Adams - The whispers are mounting that he is a busy.  I'm not ready to make that leap just yet, but his performance on Sunday didn't help his cause.  Gaines didn't show up in the boxscore.  Wait, he did.  He registered an offsides penalty.  That's it.  He did pressure Romo on one or two occassions, but as a #4 pick and our top DE, he did nothing.  Pressure has to be consistent.  He has to be a guy teams game plan for.  He isn't there.  We need this guy to do more than he did.  Grade: D

Roy Miller - Two tackles for the rookie.  Not a huge impact, but as we've discussed, the DT's aren't asked to bring the heat, just stop the run and clog the middle.  Dallas did run for 119 yards (4.9 YPC) against us, so there still is some work to do.  But a 3rd rounder stepping in on day one is a good thing.  Grade: C+

Ryan Sims - See the story above.  Except he's not a rookie, nor a third rounder.  He can occupy space and he does that, but he HAS to be stout against the run.  Provided pressure on one play that I recall.  Ultimately, a pretty average performance.  Grade:  C

The others - Was surprised at no Kyle Moore.  Hovan played alright, but his (lack of) size is going to be a detriment.  But he has a high motor so he fits nicely in rotation.  Wilkerson was pretty much non existant.  Pressure was put on Romo at times, but it wasn't consistent and didn't often come from the front four. Grade: C

Linebackers

Geno Hayes - Stepping in for a legend (once he got on the field) and he filled in pretty well.  Six tackles, 3 QB hits and a tackle for loss.  Not a bad start for his first as heir apparent.  Was flying to the ball, didn't get out of position on coverage.  Pretty happy with his play.  Grade:  B

Barrett Ruud - 4 tackles.  For the leader of our defense, he didn't play much like it.  He was beat several times in pass coverage.  Tough matchup, but he has to do better.  The system should fit Ruud well as its supposed to funnel everything in his direction.  Something didnt work as intended then.  While I was clamroing for him to get a new contract in the offseason, thus far the Glazer's have done the right thing.   I hate saying that.  He needs to pick it up and be a destructive force.  Grade: C-

Quincy Black - Six tackles.  Not an eye popping stat, but for another young guy who was getting his first start, he did well.  Looked average in coverage.  Was beat several times but had good closing speed to recover.  You can tell he is still learning the position.  A step in the right direction, but nothing to write home about.  Grade: C

Touchdown Observers Defensive Backs

Ronde Barber - Did well in his first day as a non Cover 2 corner.  Had the only sack of the day on a nicely timed blitz.  Added two tackles and a pass deflection that was almost a pick.  The biggest feat?  Not calling his name on ANY of the long touchdown passes.  Grade: B+

Aqib Talib - For being labeled a head case, and still trying to learn the NFL game, thought he acquitted (pun intended) himself rather nicely.  4 tackles with 2 pass deflections he did well when matched up with the physical Roy Williams.  Some confusion on a few plays but again, we didn't call his name on the long TD passes.  Grade: B-

Jermaine Phillips - I'll buy into the "he still has LB weight on him, that's why he's slow" argument as to why he looked a bit lost in coverage.  But the missed tackles?  This is a trend.  He hasn't learned to wrap up.  His best hit of the day was taking out Elbert Mack on Austin's TD catch.  Loves to come flying in only to miss a tackle.  Has to get more disciplined.  I'd rather see the ball carrier get another yard or two if Phillips would just slow down and wrap up.  Grade: C

Elbert Mack - Missed jams at the line several times. Was beat on the Austin TD.  He'll be on the field a lot.  That's not a good thing at this point.  Grade: C-

Sabby Piscitelli He who shall not be named - I don't even know what to write.  He led the team in tackles.  That was usually a result of being beat in coverage.  Gave up two long TD plays on completely blown coverage.  He wasn't out manned, he simply was out of position, inexcusable.  Got caught looking in the backfield too many times, bit on play action, bit on no play action, this was a game to forget.  Finds himself involved in a lot of plays, either being a ball hawk, or chasing a receiver down the field.  Just a gross day for HWSNBN.  Grade:  Z - It's the lowest letter I know of.

Overall

Bates' system was blown up.  The pass rush was minor at best, the line backing crew played the run well, but didn't inspire confidence against the pass, and we all saw the secondary.  The biggest surprise to me?  No turnovers and only one sack.  This wasn't a much better performance than Kiffin's refusal to adapt towards the end of his tenure.  Minus the Austin TD, the first half was actually played very well by the D.  Maybe it's the personnel not fitting the scheme, maybe it's coaching, maybe it's talent, lack of preparation, lack of discipline.  It could be anything (though I fall in the lack of discipline area).  What the Bucs (and we as fans) have to do is forget it.  All will be forgiven if the Bucs shut down Buffalo, but if we see another repeat performance, the whispers will grow to yelling. The grades above may seem harsh, but I don't think our DL played any better than average, our LB corp, while they had some good plays, weren't game changing, and our secondary, well, when I have time to stand up in the stands during a play and yell they're going deep before Sabby and crew can realize it, I consider that a loss for the team. Overall:  D+

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