I must admit, I found some personal satisfaction in the Bucs loss on Sunday. Well, let me explain. I don't want to see the Bucs lose. I'm a fan and while some people get a perverse pleasure out of seeing their team lose just so they can stomp around and rant and rave, I'm not one of those guys. The satisfaction I derived from the loss, was the wealth of topics I'd be able to write about this week. There was no shortage of second guessing during and after the game, some curious decisions, play calling, etc gave us a lot to discuss.
But before we get to any of that, let's discuss the Game Balls for Week 4.
If nothing else, at least this week I'll be able to single out three players on each side of the ball, as opposed to last week where there was just nothing good about the game.
Cadillac Williams- You know, I don't even feel guilty about hyping him up right now. I think the consensus is that he is playing well and performing at a good clip. Thus, I don't feel like it's a complete homer pick, though I do root a bit harder for him than other players. He ran with determination again. 16 carries for 77 yards (4.81 YPC). Feed him the ball. He also improved in two other areas, blitz pick up and receiving. No drops for Caddy, which was a problem we saw pre-knee injuries. 4 catches, 22 yards on that end.
Gaines Adams- Did he dominate the whole game? Nope. But he looked pretty good early on, maybe an indication that the light went on. A sack, a few pressure, a recovered fumble, a pass deflection, I'll give credit where it's due. Now (let me summon my inner Herm Edwards) let's use this. This is something we can build on.
Antonio Bryant- Caught his first TD of the year, got deep on a few plays, made some nice catches. After being hurt and ineffective, it was nice to see him produce. Didn't have many opportunities, but did well with what was there.
Mike Nugent - Let's get the most obvious out of the way. 2-4 on field goals on Sunday. 2-6 on the year. I'm not a math major, nor am I a psychic, but I'm pretty sure 33% won't be acceptable and won't win us a lot of games. But I guess he did improve from 0% to 33%. Progress, right?
Michael Clayton - I feel weird putting his name here because I've been rooting hard for the guy. He's made mistakes and as of Week 3 (and I'm sure this hasn't changed) he leads the league in dropped passes. He registered zero catches in Week 4, but at least one drop. As a Wide Receiver, that can't continue.
Clifton Smith - I could probably write a thesis on this point. It is not his call to be put in the game at the end, he does what the coaches tell him to do. But as a guy who has a fumbling problem, with your team down 3, and you're running the 2 minute drill, you HAVE to protect the ball. 99% of fumbles are inexcusable, this was one of those.
There was some good that came out of the game on Sunday. We saw Josh Johnson in front of live fire for the first time. We had a pass rush, at least for two drives anyways. Our #1 highly paid WR got going. Our linebacking corp, while a bit undersized, continue to make plays. They need to eliminate the missed tackles (and do it quickly), but Hayes and Black in particular are showing good skills and an ability to learn on the job.
The inability of the coaching staff to give JJ any help. I saw very few easy throws for him early in the game. Hindsight is 20/20 but a lot of people thought (maybe incorrectly) that Rah should have gone for it late in the game on 4th down. I was one of those people. The defense continues to wear down. It's a lack of depth, inability to get off the field, and inability of the offense to stay on the field. JJ managed the game, but didn't push the envelope. He's hailed as a smart guy, a film rat. It seemed he was thinking too hard and wanted to stay away from that big mistake.
I'll be brief. The kicking game is in shambles. Nugent went 2-4, and all things being the same, cost us a win. (I know, I know, had he made those kicks things would have panned out differently). The 2 minute drill was pretty atrocious and Smith's fumble was inexcusable. Leaving points on the field, not closing out games, etc etc etc. It's a young team with a young head coach, that was evident on Sunday.