Observations of the Bucs/Saints 1/2/11 Victory For The Ages

1) There was I think just one guy on the planet who had the Bucs winning 10 games this 2010 season.

If Raheem Morris does not win the Coach of the Year award for coaching the team to those 10 wins... it better go to that guy who coached the Chiefs.  If it goes to The Hoodie in New England I think we can Baker Act the whole sports media industry.

1a) Seriously consider most of the other 2-year coaches this season who were expected to perform great things, like Singletary in San Francisco and McDaniels in Denver.  They couldn't even finish the season.  Meanwhile, Morris as the guy most people expected to keep the seat warm for another HC -for Cowher or whoever was wowing people at the college level - proves that most of the media "experts" are talking out of their asses.

2) As I'm writing this, there's still no guarantee that the Bucs may make the playoffs.  The Bears/Packers game is tied up and too close to call.  And the Giants/Redskins game is leaning New York's way, which isn't good.

But the good news is this: Given the chance in the last week to win in order to make the playoffs, the Bucs DID NOT FOLD.  There'd even been teams under Dungy's regime that faltered in these situations.  This is, in all, a great thing.  The team has talent and the will to win.  Now all they need is depth of talent across all positions on the field...

3) Player of the game.  You know, I'm getting sick and tired of listed Josh Freeman's name here nearly every week.  It gets old.  And LeGarette Blount.  And Geno Hayes.  And Mike Williams.  I do miss Aliq Talib right about now.  So you know what?

Player of the game was DEZMON BRISCOE!!!  So what if he was a rookie off the Practice Squad.  He got 4 catches for 65 yards, one of those an awesome deep reception that kept the Bucs alive late in the game, and one TD that got the Bucs ahead by halftime.  THIS WAS HIS GAME B-TCHES!

3a) Every field goal kick by Connor Barth was meaningful.  It got the Bucs first on the board.  They kept the Bucs scoring and kept the Saints frustrated with trying to stay in the game.  And all three kicks were lasers straight into the net.

3b) Yes, Barrett Ruud had some lousy tackling attempts here and there, but he was good more often than not (led the team with 8 tackles) and he also caused a key fumble turnover at the goal-line that kept New Orleans from tying the game before halftime.

3c) Ronde Barber had so many chances - a tipped pass here, a tackle there - to make a highlight reel play to sign out what might be his last game as a pro.  He *may* come back another year... but nothing is certain.  But even in a back-up role, coming off the bench half the time, being the last player of the Dungy/Super Bowl Gruden era left on the team, it will be sad to see him go...

4) I just wanna take a moment to note that, while the Bucs played smart and professionally for 58 minutes, there was that 2-minute period where both Freeman and Blount and pretty much the whole offense had a collective brain fart.  The back-to-back WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT set of plays early in the 4th Quarter which finished on Blount fumbling a poorly-conceived shuttle pass from a pressured Freeman.  The only good thing out of that was that the Saints couldn't even get a FG try out of it.  Whew.

5) Stats of the game: Bucs had two turnovers (fumbles) in the game.  Saints had three (2 fumbles, 1 INT)

5a) Bucs had a terrible third down conversion rate - three out of ten - but a perfect one-to-one fourth down conversion rate.

5b) The stats haven't been fully compiled for Josh Freeman's 16-game season at QB, but given the 15-game stats (270 comp/448 attempts, 3200 yards passing, 60 percent completion rate, 23 TDs to 6 INT ratio, and at least a 93.5 QB rating) there's a good chance that Freeman had the best year a Bucs QB ever had.  Well, outside of leading the team to the Super Bowl (yet).  We'll need to see what the 16-game final stats say.

5c) With the last two minutes of the game, Blount was given a few more carries for good gains, and ended up with 1,007 yards rushing for the whole season.  Considering he wasn't even playing full-time until Week 3, that's a decent, better-than-good year for any back.

6) It *is* to some extent early to be thinking Free Agency and Rookie Draft for the Bucs - hint: the Packers are up 10-3 right as I'm typing this - but let's be honest: this was a weak and patchwork Bucs team this year.  Luck always plays a part in a winning season, but the Bucs were clearly lacking in talent in key spots.  Positions that the Bucs NEED to upgrade if they even want to stay competitive within the NFC South itself.

6a) Defensive End is a high-priority need.  McCoy showed promise before he went out with the injury, but even then we had nearly no pass rush for most of the year.  Getting a DE in free agency of any value is rare, so this looks to be a draft option (First Rounder)

6b) Offensive Line was for the most part solid but injury-prone.  Getting someone to be an ROT that will stay healthy (and one that won't get penalized like Trueblood) is a big need.  Getting some depth for OG is there too.  Suttah moving over from OG to cover C seemed to be effective, so C need not there for the moment.

6c) Safety is up in the air.  Do the Bucs risk bringing back Tanard "Smokin' Stash" Jackson?  Can the Bucs find a Free Agent of value?

6d) The linebacking all season was inconsistent.  Most observations was that Ruud was off his game from his earlier decent years.  Getting another MLB - one that can work magic in the Cover-2 type schemes the Bucs employ - is a need.

6e) Talib had pretty much locked down his side of the field.  Getting another CB to lock down the opposite side would help.

7) Packers/Bears game down to the last minute, Packs up 10-3 but Bears driving.

8) In other news: Detroit finished 6-10 but finished so well that they may be the scariest team to face next season.  Bigger news?  Detroit finished third place, the first time in AGES they didn't finish last in their division...

8a) The Oakland Raiders went 8-8.  Oh dear God...

8b) In today's Denver game, The Tebow has thrown for 2 INTs.  The Tebow Had Deserted Us...

9) Packers intercept Bears.  Game over.  Bucs out of playoffs.  LET'S TALK DRAFT!!!

10) Next up: who cares?  Super Bowl, Stuper Bowl, whatever.  Just as long as it's not New England/Seattle... shudder

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