So the Buccaneers 2011 season got off with… well not a bang. More like a gun that, instead of shooting bullets when you pull the trigger releases a flag with the word bang on it.
On this melancholy Monday I am attempting to look for a silver lining in the Buccaneers 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The only thing that I can think of to take away as a positive is that Mike Williams is still an outstanding receiver. I also don’t think that our defense played quite as poorly as the stats sheet will indicate.
We did give up 431 yards of total offense to the Lions but when you’re on the field for 21 out of 30 minutes in the first half it’s a little difficult to keep the opposition out of the endzone. Not to mention the fact that both touchdown catches by Calvin Johnson came on perfectly thrown balls by Matthew Stafford. Our pass rush didn’t have much time to get going as the Lions gave us a healthy dose of 3 step drops, delayed handoffs, draw plays, and mixed in just the right amount of trickery even ripping off 20 yards on a reverse to Nate Burleson.
The Lions came in with a great game plan and for the most part executed it with excellence. It made for a stark contrast to the Buccaneers lack of execution on the offensive side of the ball for the better part of 3 quarters of the game. After seeing the Bucs preseason I was already concerned at the complete lack of anything resembling a running game. Not to mention the fact that Josh Freeman was shut out of the endzone through the air for the whole preseason. Now after watching their first regular season game I’m more concerned than ever. Freeman’s Stats may not look all that bad: 28 of 43 for 257 with one TD and one INT. However, much of that yardage came in the 4th quarter when the Lions were playing a prevent coverage with 3 safety’s 25 yards off the line of scrimmage. Freeman was not good yesterday. None of the Bucs were.
Here are 10 questions about the Buccaneers pitiful performance yesterday:
1. Exactly how do you justify calling exactly 11 running plays out of 64? That’s 17% of plays. Where is the balance in that offense? In a game where we were never down by more than 14 how do you give our #1 running back 5 carries for the whole game? Greg Olsen needs to do better.
2. Was I the only one who snickered when Maurice Stovall whiffed on another tackle as Sammie Stroughter brought the Buccaneers opening kickoff back 78 yards?
3. How amazing was Mike Williams back of the endzone tiptoe catch to make it a one possession game with under 2 minutes to play? The pressure was on and Williams delivered in a big way. Not many receivers in the game could make that catch.
4. Can Preston Parker step up and fill the void long term in Sammie Stroughter’s absence?
5. How baffling was it that one of the 11 running plays the Bucs ran came on 4th and 1 deep in Lions territory in the 4th quarter? If the running game hasn’t been working for you all day long why do you run in that situation? More than that why do you run a delayed draw play to your backup running back???
6. How many Bucs fans in the Tampa area are happy with the blackout rule now?
8. How disappointing was Luke Stocker’s dropped TD pass and overall performance?
9. How much better did our run defense look than last year?
10. Which offensive lineman looked the most offensive? I think it was a tie!