Grading the Units: Week 3

 

Hopefully Bucs Nation has recovered from Sunday’s annihilation by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The performance was not pretty by any means. The Buccaneers gave up at least 28 points on 7 occasions a year ago, and the defense appears to have major issues again in 2010. It appears that losing Tanard Jackson is going to be a major problem, as Charlie-freaking-Batch was able to chuck the ball deep down the field at will. Let’s take a quick look at what went wrong and what the Buccaneers can work on as they enter the bye week.

 

Offense: C

Considering the manner of the defeat, there were some positives in the performance on the offensive side of the football. Josh Freeman looked comfortable for the majority of the time he was in, and was able to find open receivers at times. The Steelers defense is ferocious and finding throwing lanes is often very difficult, making Freeman’s day all the more impressive. LeGarrette Blount provided a much needed spark in the running game and made a strong case for more carries going forward. The biggest problem was in the red zone, when the Bucs had to settle for field goals early on. There were a few center-quarterback exchange problems that helped stall these drives. By the time they could blink, the score was 28-6 and the contest was settled. Because the Bucs lack the talent of many of the other teams in the league, they have to punch the ball in the endzone whenever given the chance. Josh Johnson looked solid in garbage time and guided the Bucs to their lone touchdown.

 

Defense: F

Not much positive can be said about a defense that gave up 31 points and almost 400 yards against a Charlie Batch led offense. They only forced one three and out and were gashed by long runs when they weren’t giving up big plays in the air. The first touchdown catch is completely inexcusable from a Buccaneers point of view, as Cody Grimm wasn’t even looking back for the football. The third TD of course was a fluke; Aqib Talib makes that play 99/100 times. But the bottom line is that he didn’t, and the tendency to give up big plays a year ago returned in full force. Rashard Mendenhall had no problem against the Bucs either, gaining almost 143 yards on 19 carries. It’s good that the Buccaneers were able to sustain long drives on offense because this could have been way worse on the scoreboard if the Steelers had more opportunities. Overall this was a bad day at the offense for the young Buccaneers defense. 

Special Teams: C

What stood out to me in special teams was the atrocious punting. Chris Bryan struggled mightily throughout the entire game. His long was 38 yards. Although this clearly did not cost the Buccaneers the game, it’s not comforting to know that every punt is going to be a significant project. He performed well against Carolina, so let’s hope this is an aberration and not a sign of things to come. Connor Barth hit a pair of field goals, and hasn’t missed yet this season. In fact, going back to last year he has connected on 11 in a row. The return games were OK, and it was nice to see Preston Parker get some work. The coverage units were solid as well.

 

Overall:

The final score was not a fair reflection of the game in my opinion, but the Steelers were clearly the better team. They overcame an early mistake and pummeled the Bucs scoring touchdown after touchdown. I think the team’s bye week would have been better off being later in the season during the brutal stretch of road games, but the Bucs have to be shell-shocked after that performance. A week off might not be the worst thing after all. 

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