In what was a grim reminder of last season, the Bucs barely avoided a shutout in garbage time. The run game on both sides of the ball lacked any physicality and as a consequence, failed. Our pass rush was invisible and our DB's struggled to adjust their coverages respectively.
To all of us this should be a game in which we recognize that we are in a rebuilding mode still. As I said after the Steelers loss, the fan base of this team got a little ahead of ourselves. This is still a 6 win team and well on their way to accomplishing that goal. 6 wins is a success, not a failure, even with the early reasons for optimism.
There were plenty signs of the rebuilding movement yesterday. The DL, most notably, were on skates all afternoon. Giving up nearly 7 yards per rush attempt was a testament to UFL level talent on the ends and inexperience on the inside. The Bucs again failed to get a sack, and rarely got pressure on Brees giving the passing game ample time to pick the backfield apart. Seemingly, nothing the Bucs did worked.
And then there was the rushing game on the offensive side. Much has been said about Williams lack of production. I like Williams a lot and the poor offensive line doesn't help his case at all, but it's time his carries are halved at least. With Huggins going down, it would likely be Graham getting more carries out of a single set backfield. That's not to say that Blount won't see some action. For Olsen and Morris, it's time to move on.
We also saw lots of Preston Parker in the return game. It was a strange decision by Bissacia to go with him, one that I question. Spurlock fumbled last week, and probably attributed to the move, but Parker was largely unsuccessful.
And then there was Josh Freeman. Freeman avoided making "big" mistakes and had an OK day on paper. However, two early mistakes by Freeman cost us a chance of staying in it early. Those mistakes both came on 3rd down. The first (on the first series), Freeman launched it over an open Sammie Stroughter. It would have resulted in a huge first down and put us deep into their territory at the very least. At best, it would have resulted in a touchdown. The next same on the following series, again on 3rd and long. Slightly less Freeman's fault as it looked like Williams may have ran the wrong route. Freeman threw it about 10 yards deeper than a WIDE open Williams who would have surely scored. What bothered me on the first pass was Freeman's reaction. While I don't question his desire to win, his maturity still needs to catch up. The camera caught a shot of him just smiling. I know I'm putting too much stock into this, but there has got to be a hate-to-lose mentality that is evident throughout an entire game.
In the end, there was some good stuff. As I already mentioned, Freeman avoided big mistakes. Wide Receivers were getting open. I thought pass-pro was decent. We gave up one sack to former Buc Jimmy Wilkerson. Malone was much better than previous punters (though we'll give it more time). Williams looked great out of the backfield.
Those were far outweighed by the negatives though. Two missed FG's, the 7 YPC, our 2.07 YPC, Brees huge game, they were 75% on third down. All of this stuff that needs to be corrected during the rebuilding years. It is also unfortunate that we lost our backup running back to a torn ACL for the rest of the season. I think we all are hoping for a good recovery for Kareem Huggins.