Grading the Units: Week 2

 

Wow. 2-0. Not many thought the Buccaneers would be able to win consecutive games to start the season, let alone with such dominance on a certain side of the ball. This week's victory was particularly gratifying as it came against the hated Carolina Panthers. Let's take a quick look back on Sunday's win to see how each unit performed and what the team has to do better if they want to keep this momentum going.

 

Offense: B-

The offense was all about QB Josh Freeman. He made some great decisions (whether it be to scramble, throw the ball down the field, or simply throw the ball away) that must be encouraging to Bucs nation. He made some excellent throws to Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams, showing he can make some plays when given the time. Williams' TD catch was his second on the year, this one was impressive because he displayed his explosiveness in the open field. The offensive line is becoming a major concern at this point, as discussed on a few posts. Freeman was forced to scramble a bunch, and the running game was non-existent. Although they did not allow a sack, this can likely be attributed to the Panthers having no pass rush now that Julius Peppers is in Chicago. This is very concerning, because the Steelers come to town next week and we all know they love to bring the heat.

 

Defense: B+

25 carries for 97 yards. Probably the most important stat of the entire game yesterday, this is what the Buccaneers held running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams to rushing the football. The defense play a great game for most of the contest on Sunday. The only big play given up was on a 4th and 4 touchdown to Steve Smith, which coach Raheem Morris later admitted came as a result of a bad coaching decision. He called for an all out blitz that never reached the QB, allowing Smith to score on an easy slant pattern. I know most were probably expecting an A, but the fact that Matt Moore (with less than 100% of his brain functioning no-less) was under center for the opposition, its hard to justify giving the unit an A. Like I mentioned in my preseason article, it looks like bringing Cover-2 back is the single most important reason why our Bucs are 2-0.

 

Special Teams: B

Not much too report on this section, which I guess is a good thing. The kickoff coverage was gashed for one long return in the 4th quarter, but other than that both coverage units were outstanding. The Panthers rarely had good field position, which always helps in forcing turnovers. The return team got in on the action this week, as Spurlock had a nice return in the second quarter to set up the Bucs first score. Other than this, the unit was unable to get anything going but a lack of chances is part of the reason. Overall, a solid performance by the Special Teams.

 

Overall: The Defense stood out to me in week 2. Although Williams and Stewart were able to break a few runs in the 11-20 yard range, the Bucs did a great job of stuffing them at the line most of the time, which prevented the Panthers from sustaining drives. They pitched another shutout in the second half, capitalizing on mistakes which created chances for the offense. The offense remains a work in progress, but there are signs the Josh Freeman is starting to get into a groove at the quarterback position. Going forward they have to get help in the running game somewhere to take some pressure off of Freeman and his weapons. Nonetheless it was another solid victory for the Buccaneers.

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