1) Well, on the bright side, this was not a last-minute heartbreaker like I thought it would be going in...
2) There are others - Sander in particular - who can break down the game tape and figure out just what the hell went wrong today, especially after having such a solid start in the First Quarter when the Bucs showed an aggressive offense before the Pats could get their game revved up. But I've got a few ideas where to look:
2a) Failure to sign a reliable field goal kicker during the off-season the second Barth went out with the season-ending injury. The guy we kept - Lindell - can't be trusted outside of the 25-yard line, and when that happens your scoring options get a lot worse. Lacking a reliable FG kicker led to the Bucs going for it on fourth down whenever we got inside the 35 yard line...
2b) Which pointed out the failure of the Bucs to have a quality-grade fourth-and-short offensive gameplan. Bucs went naught for fourth the whole day, which falls under the "dammit we can't score" category more than the "we can't drive" category. The "we can't drive" tends to point towards punting a lot.
2c) Lack of a solid short yardage offensive gameplan period. This is where the lack of a TE and the lack of a solid No.3 WR hurts the team.
2d) Questionable passing defensive scheme. Brady may be a genius QB but he's working with rookie and untested WRs: the Bucs seemingly gave the Pats offense enough room to let Brady and his receivers get in sync. The second that happened... BOOM, game over.
2e) Dropped passes. Freeman may not be the most accurate thrower in the league but when he gets the ball to the receivers they ought to do something to secure the catch. Vincent Jackson has dropped far too many passes in his hands the last three games. He's supposed to be our sure-fire gloves guy.
2f) Freeman's overthrowing. Dropped passes are one thing: he keeps throwing to his targets like they are six inches taller and with 9 inches more arm length than they really have.
3) and HOW MUCH OF THIS IS ON THE COACHING? That's my argument. The first two weeks, the high count of penalties were a problem. This week, the penalties may not have been an issue but the poor play-calls and overall team sloppiness from before remain major issues.
It's up to the coaches to get a game plan that doesn't make the same call 20 times a game. It's up to the coaches to train up the players. There still looked to be a lot of times where guys on defense seemed out of position, where the line-ups seemed off... where the players kind of gave up the second the Pats were up by 20 and went straight into a "should have seen it coming" ground-pound attack.
4) This is the frustrating part. THERE IS TALENT ON THIS TEAM. We're getting sacks now on defense that we didn't get the last 4 years. Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn are beasts. We've got talent at linebacker in Lavonte David and Mason Foster making sacks and tackles. We're starting to see Mark Barron play up to his First Round selection. We know Jackson can be a great receiver. We've seen Mike Williams kick ass when Freeman gets to looking at him as a receiving target. Doug Martin is getting bottled up by defenses KNOWING he's the ball-carrier and he's still able to eke out 5-yarders when he can. Freeman had one good quarter where, yes, he looked like a franchise QB... right up until he threw that WTF interception, which pretty much ended his day.
5) Oh, by the by, New England didn't have much of a problem today utilizing this ground-pounder running back. THAT'S HOW YOU USE BLOUNT, SCHIANO! /headdesk
6) In other NFL News: Bucs fans can't enjoy the luxury of being the most upset at their team, because I'm pretty sure there's mass rioting going on in the swamps of Jersey over the Giants getting their asses stomped far worse than how the Bucs played today.
6a) Cleveland traded one of their key offensive players in RB Richardson this week. And promptly won this Sunday. Um. that's not how you're supposed to cash in and tank your season, guys...
6b) Dear Washington fans: I think you might want to wonder why your team's owner Snyder keeps trading away draft slots that your team would need to take care of, you know, some of the gaping talent holes you've got. Considering the number of billionaire lobbyists you've got running around DC, have you considered buying Snyder out with an offer he can't refuse...?
7) In college football news: Florida Gators defeated a Tennessee team still rebuilding after the Lane Kiffin implosion.
7a) Florida A&M and Florida International seriously should not be playing Top 25 teams. It's just... damned embarrassing. Schools shouldn't schedule patsies like this: have good teams play good teams, dammit.
8) In other Florida sports news: RAYS! WIN!
9) In other news: I promised photos of hot actresses for my Observations post and so here you go:
10) Next week: How bad can it get for the Bucs when the Arizona Cardinals are looking at YOU as an easy win...?