1) The Buccaneers continue their losing record in the creamsicle uniforms and winking Bucco logo. Here's an idea: let's use the BANDITS' team unis next time we do a throwback uni day, alright?
2) You'll notice in the title of this post that I'm accusing Schiano of "borrowing" Skip Holtz's playbook, if only because a lot of today's miscues, screw-ups, and BAD PLAY CALLS pretty much looked EXACTLY like the hideous game performance of the South Florida Bulls just yesterday. Right down to the horrific playcalling of the goal-line chances in the Third that could have tied this game up (run up the middle, run up the middle, run up the middle, oh NOW try for a QB scramble outside giving the defense 10 years to see it coming and having a defensive player there to stuff Freeman for turnover on downs).
3) And this game opened with such promise. Gerald McCoy getting a hand up to knock Brees' second throw of the day right into the willing arms of RONDE BARBER. Turning that straight into an sweet easy pass to Tiquan Underwood for a 1-play touchdown drive. And then another defensive stop getting the ball back for a well-schemed drive that paid off with a 36-yard TD scramble from Doug Martin (running off-tackle by the looks of it!) for a very sweet 14-0 lead halfway through the First Quarter.
4) And then the Second Quarter happened. If Drew Brees AND the Bucs' defense played like that for all four quarters, Brees would have racked up 10 touchdown passes and broken about 5-10 more passing records, I swear to God.
What the hell happened to our D? Our secondary suddenly stopped keeping their attention on where the receivers were going, giving New Orleans' WRs open spaces to easily catch and run. By the fourth TD drive of the First Half for the Saints, I swear to God AGAIN that our defenders weren't even pretending to care to stop anybody. What. The. Hell.
5) I blame the coaching above all else: whatever we were using for a defensive scheme the Bucs did not adjust and left themselves wide open to a QB and coaching unit able to adapt and score like mad. Worse, a lot of third-down situations had us going into some Prevent D where only three linesmen rushed at Brees, giving him all day to wait for a WR to find an open spot between 8 other defenders who couldn't figure out who they should cover. I know I've gone ballistic over the earlier blitzing calls that sent 8 men in leaving 3 Corners unable to cover period, but that Prevent-Nothing D was just as bad. We can't go to either extreme here: over-blitzing kills us, no D pressure kills us too. Sticking to a nickel with a 4 man rush and smarter coverage of the mid-field as well as the deep sidelines may sound trite, but our defense seems to play a lot better that way...
Overall defensive player discipline on the field was completely gone during that Quarter: again, a fault of the coaches (as well as the players mind you, but dammit coaches you are paid TO COACH these guys). I have not seen a bad Quarter of play like that since watching that hideous Raiders game ending the 2008 season.
6) To be fair to Freeman, he played above average today. He was excellent when given plays to roll out of pocket, giving him both the extra second he needs to find his target and avoid the pressure. It's when he stays in pocket that he gets to force the throws or make a screwy play.
7) I know it wasn't Vincent Jackson's fault he didn't reach the end zone on that spectacular catch-and-run: he couldn't outrun that guy. I just wonder if he should have made a juke move, make the guy commit to a tackle too early and shake out of the way and cruise into the end zone. But getting it to the 2-yard-line was great for him.
It wasn't Jackson's fault Schiano and Sullivan had a collective brain fart about trying to get 2 F-CKING YARDS with THREE STRAIGHT RUNS UP THE MIDDLE THAT THE SAINTS SAW COMING TEN YEARS AGO. /headdesk
8) Why were we using Mike Williams - our super deep threat uber-receiver - for short yardage pass plays?
9) This is the frustrating thing: you can SEE where the team is playing well. You can see the flashes of talent with most of the guys we've got (except the secondary which clearly needs more help, and a defensive line that needs more attentive referees to notice the number of times McCoy's getting held). You can see the Bucs having an offense that can score and a defense that can bend-not-break just like the halcyon days of 2002. But it's these goddamn play calls that make no goddamn sense. There's a learning curve for coaches too, Schiano, and you're falling under the wrong side of that curve...
10) Next week: short week, quick trip to Minnesota to play a Thursday night game (why not, there's still no hockey to fill that timeslot). Christian Ponder and Percy Harvin have GOT to be licking their chops... I pray to God DE Bowers is healthy enough to start this Thursday: we need a pass-rush threat on the outside to free up McCoy and save the secondary the hassle of figuring out who to cover twenty yards downfield...