For the longest time most Buc fans had "W" next to the name of the New York Jets. We told you in the big darn preview that there was a way the Bucs lose this game. If they made the same mistakes they did during the pre-season and basically beat themselves, the Jets could pull off the upset.
Unfortunately, mistakes and just bone-headed plays personified the Bucs 18-17 loss in New York.
Don't let anyone fool you, this loss hurt and it hurt badly. It could be one that resonates the entire season.
If the Bucs somehow put out this dumpster fire and return to the team we think they have, this loss may haunt them when it comes to accounting for which teams make the NFC Playoffs.
Let's see what else we think we learned:
1. If Greg Schiano is a disciplinarian - why are his teams so undisciplined? From the very first drive of the game, the offense made one penalty after another. Blown blocking assignments, wrong routes, what the flip throws by the quarterback. It was horrid. Then on defense, a tremendous performance tarnished by multiple personal foul penalties, drives extended by defensive holding calls. In all, 13 penalties, 102 yards. Talented or not - the Buccaneers cannot possibly win games this way.
2. I will say this about Dashon Goldson, he's a heat seeking missile. Yes he got a personal foul for destroying a defenseless receiver and was in on another penalty on fellow safety Mark Barron (although I thought that one was bogus), Goldson has let it be known that the catching balls in the center of the Bucs defense will get you jacked up. Good thing he signed the big contract so he can handle all the fines.
3. Freeman. Oh Freeman. Outplayed by a rookie quarterback who had less talent to work with, then had his three wide receivers sent to the locker room by the Bucs' No Fly Zone. Yes, Freeman was under duress the entire ball game - but so was the rookie. Yes, Freeman lacks a middle of the field threat (is Tiquan Underwood still available?). Yes, he got no help from his running game or his o-line. Neither did the rookie. Yet Smith still managed to complete 24 of 38 for 256 yds, a touchdown and an interception. 63% completion percentage for a supposedly inaccurate QB. Freeman's line: 15 of 31 for 210 yds, 1 touchdown, 1 horrible interception (that led to New York's only touchdown) and a 48% completion percentage. That doesn't even take into account the communication problems, delay of game penalties, missed snap counts and that awful safety.
Freeman looks like he's crumbling under the pressure. I'm not ready to give up on Josh but each week that we see this type of performance, the fact that his team doesn't even see him as a leader and looking worse than a rookie QB you have to wonder how long the Glennon lynch mob can be kept at bay.
4. The offensive performance certainly wasn't all Freeman. What happened to that rock solid Bucs offensive line. You know? The one that regarded as one of the best in the NFL? Donald Penn needs to start stuffing cheeseburgers again because the skinnier, more fit Penn is a turnstile. Gabe Carimi was lost and Zuttah had a horrible game. Add to that the fact that Doug Martin had no running lanes...I don't even know if the return of Carl Nicks can do much at this point. Until these guys play better, the Bucs offense has no chance of being successful.
5. Darrelle Revis played very well in his first game back. It looked like he was beaten just once by Santonio Holmes, who had one catch for 13 yds. Revis was credited with 2 passes defensed. The Jets eventually stopped trying to go to that side of the field, which helped the Bucs' blitzers to get to the quarterback.
6. Tampa Bay sacked Geno Smith five times but only one came from a defensive lineman (Teo-Nesheim). Mason Foster is certainly a better blitzer than coverage linebacker, which to me confirms my belief that he is miscast as a middle linebacker in Schiano's defense.
7. As the offense sputtered, the defense held the Bucs in the ballgame. While they surrendered 90 yds rushing, 47 of those were by the quarterback Geno Smith after the Bucs' defensive line lost containment. The Jets running backs combined for 44 yds on 22 carries, a 2.0 yd average. The Bucs held the Jets offense to just 16 points and 304 total yards. That's including overcoming 5 penalties that gave the Jets first downs. To me, they did their part - even with how the game ended.
8. Some will say Freeman again put the Bucs in position to win only to have the defense choke it away. Folks, the Jets do have a talented defense - but managing only 17 points (with 7 gift wrapped to you by your defense) and giving the Jets 2 points out of sheer stupidity (not to mention Freeman's inexplicable interception that led to the Jets only touchdown) means the the defense is absolved of their responsibility for this loss. This game shouldn't have been close...yet the ineffectiveness of the offense kept the Jets in the game, made them believe and bit them in the ass at the end.
9. Doug Martin certainly is not absolved from criticism this week. Martin didn't have any running lanes, but he didn't help with 2 fumbles and two drops. This was by far Martin's worst performance as a Buccaneer.
10. I know Kevin Ogletree is the teacher's pet of WR coach of John Garrett, but how he is on this team and Tiquan Underwood is not is beyond me.
Bonus: I said that pre-season didn't mean anything and I stand by that. However, it was certainly disturbing to see many of the unsettling trends carrying over to the regular season. It tells me that the Bucs first team offense should have gotten more reps in the pre-season.
Bonus II: It seems early to say a game is a must win but if Tampa Bay can't get their act together and loses to New Orleans in the home opener next week, the Bucs will be two games back of the Saints and staring 0-3 right in the face with a trip to New England.