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Separating Emotion: Week 4 Re-Cap

One of the hardest things to learn in life is to separate emotion and look objectively at things. If you can do that, suddenly things will be put in perspective and allow you to stay on an "even-keel" I am not advocating being a sociopath who feels nothing, just allow your brain to be involved in that process.Obviously we are all upset after starting 0-4 and looking pathetic as we do, but let's step back and look at this objectively.

So, I apologize for getting to this late, but I needed some time to cool off and figure out what to say about a loss like this. This was a loss that is hard for me to quantify, because we played well enough to win. Our defense gave our offense four opportunities to score. Our offense moved the ball fairly well (not great and we will look at the numbers in just a minute) and our defense was opportunistic. I had a coach in high school, whether this is true or not is irrelevant, that said you have to win Two of the Three teams (Defense, Offense, ST) to win the game. I think this is a good rule to evaluate a game on. So, without further ado, did we accomplish this?

Offense - The Basic Stat line says we produced 229 Net Yards of offense (not impressive) with One Touchdown to show for it. We had 12 First downs. 100 Net Yards Passing (-6 yard loss on a sack)  and 129 Net Yards Rushing. Let's get into more tangible numbers than those though. Per John Romano of the St. Pete Times

Take away a kneel-down and a short-field situation and the Bucs have netted 10 yards or less on 15 of their past 20 possessions. Hard to win when 75 percent of your drives are worthless.

We averaged 4.2 Yards a Play which isn't spectacular. Actually Washington out-gained us per play (which we will discuss in the Defense segment). What is even more embarrassing is that we average 3.65 Yards / Pass Play (not completion). One of the main reasons for this is that Johnson was bailing early. 7/29 Pass plays, he tucked and ran. Several others he scrambled and either was forced to throw on the run, or chucked it away. Johnson played an erratic game and was not confident or comfortable in the pocket. I don't expect this to change either. You may see him slow it down for one extra read, but even Michael Vick who was widely criticized for running, continued to bail out early and often throughout his career (regardless of the system). It's who he was and that's who JJ is. There is nothing wrong (well, there is, but we won't get into that) in being a Running Quarterback, as long as the coaching staff understands that. The Redskins coached their DE's to get upfield and protect against JJ bootlegs and designed runs (exactly how the Bucs used to defend against Vick, successfully).

Johnson also through an ill advised interception on a 25 yard Out Route. Deep Out routes are probably the most difficult throw in football. If it is not on time, it's intercepted. If its thrown slightly behind the WR, it's batted down or picked off. If he leads the WR too much, it's out of bounds. JJ was just a tad too late and didn't put enough on the ball. I asked Niko if this could be the slo-mo play, so you may get a more in-depth break-down of it later on.

Improving on third down: The first thing Morris hit on after the loss was the offenses terrible third down percentage. We said last week this was a must. The third down play isn't as crucial as is the third down yardage. Last week the Bucs were averaging a 3rd and 7.1. This week the Buccaneers average a 3rd and 6.8. Hardly much of an improvement. A productive offense will average around 3rd and 5.5 -5  (depending on how penalized they are). We are no where near that which forced us to be 15% on 3rd downs this week. For the season we have averaged 3rd and 7.3. This is just terrible and their is no way at having reasonable expectations of success on third down when they are that long.

If we can't move the ball well, it makes it hard for us to score. Ranking 27th out of points per drive with a 1.27 Per drive, we couldn't even live up to this with a 1.03 Per/Drive against Washington. Had we made the two FG's that our offense put us in position to have, this would of improved to a 1.58 which is a great improvement but still at the league minimum.

Balance - Last week I also emphasized the importance of balance. We were getting down early forcing us to get thrown completely off balance, which did not play to our strengths. This week we corrected that. 29 Designed Pass Plays and 23 Designed Runs. Not perfect, but far better. Watching the game I made an observation that was completely incorrect. It looked as if the Bucs were favoring the right side of their line when they ran the ball. 2,4,6, 8 Holes (Joesph, Trueblood). However, I couldnt have been more wrong. After going through it (this is not scientific) I calculated Williams ran Left 8 times/30 yards and he ran Right 8/48. Graham and Smiths sample size was too small to make a conclusion. Balanced. We also ran 11 times on First down and Passed 4 times (all ended up being JJ scrambles)...again this is not scientific just based off play-by-play (I easily could have missed something).

The last thing I will say about the offense (I will leave the grading up to BucWild) is that Johnsons ability to use his feet was pretty successful. He average 5.85 yards per Run (scramble) and only got sacked once. As much as it hurt, it helped.

Defense - This will not be nearly as long as the offenses, so don't panic. The biggest concern I had of this defense was that it had no identity. It did not do one thing particularly well (in contrary it did a lot of things poorly). All good -> great defenses do one thing very well and another thing descent (typically 1st against run and 15th against the pass or something to that effect). The Bucs were 32 against the pass and 27th against the run coming into this game. I think if we were average on defense (15 and 15) we would have at least two wins by now. If we were 5th against pass and 25th against the run, we still have a win or two (all of that is hypothetical so I will stop now). Bates defense is designed to do "everything" and be "opportunistic." It was none of these. They did not create pressure on the quarterback nor did they create turnovers. That changed this week against a mediocre statistically offense and an offense that is less than that to the eye. They have a make-shift offensive line and like us, have no depth. As you know Talib had as Gene Deckerhoff "a hat trick in football," The Bucs forced Campbell to get rid of it quickly and added 3 sacks and 1 fumble. They simply got after it. Did they get tired in the second half? Yes. It was obvious when you watched Clinton Portis get going and the Skins consistently hitting their TE, FB and backup RB out of the backfield for first downs. However, they gave the offenses drives and opportunities to score, and it did not happen. While I question Bates ability still, he called a much better game. Talib didn't get any help on that TD play to Moss, but most NFL CB's should have the ability to cover elite speed without looking foolish.

Special Teams - There is not much to be said here that hasn't been said. They were simply bad.

Coaching  - I want a chance to respond to Niko. I haven't asked his permission to use this conversation we had in another thread, but since it's public why not. This is by no means any disrespect to Niko, just a civil disagreement.

I hear every press conference saying we as coaches have to get better. . As for play calls, thats not for us to call them mistakes, my piece tomorrow morning touches on that subject. And promises? he promised a team that will be physical. They dont run the ball as much as they should, but they do run the ball, and the defense did get physical.

UNFNole: I don't think it's his fault we are losing. It is the way it is happening and his attitude towards it. If we wen’t 0-16 and he handled himself the right way, I would still support him. I give him a break for the talent that is on the field and his player development. What I don’t give him a break for is the bad hires, bad decision making, his refusal to take responsibility for it and own up to his mistakes and his promises and statements that directly oppose what he does.

Niko Houllis: How do you see a refusal to take responsibility?

I hear every press conference saying we as coaches have to get better. . As for play calls, thats not for us to call them mistakes, my piece tomorrow morning touches on that subject. And promises? he promised a team that will be physical. They dont run the ball as much as they should, but they do run the ball, and the defense did get physical.

I think we are being to hard on everyone because we felt we had this game won. The bottom line is the game was winnable, and we were in it till the end. We are improving.
Lets see how we do in the coming weeks, as we are not even one quarter into our season.

First, Niko, your right. He does admit they have to get better. He has also taken responsibility for Freemans failures when they weren't his fault. I am not going to go transcribe all of his press conferences but I will take a few quotes from him. First yesterday he defended the decision to go for the field goal. Obviously this is Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but there are few people who would look at the Bucs situation as a team, look at the in-game situation and agree with that call. Why couldn't he just back away from it and own his mistake? He also defended his decision to hire Jeff Jagodzinski instead of owning the fact (publicly) that he didn't talk to people who had been around Jags who knew his coaching habits and work ethic. Regarding yesterday I will defer to this St. Pete Times article which said it better than I ever could have. This is a MUST READ.

It is our place to judge his play-calling mistakes. Any FSU fan who sat through the Jeff Bowden era can attest to this. There are simple do's and dont's in the NFL. You never go for overtime when you are 0-4 and on the road. Again though, read that above article. JoeBucsFan has a quick write up on this, but after listening to this "We’re always going to play not cautious. We’re always going to play, you know, fearless, you know, not cautious" and watching yesterday it affirms everything I believe about Raheem Morris. He has great potential as a leader of an NFL team, but he makes too many rookie mistakes. Often he says one things and does another. This is the absolute quickest way to lose credibility with the fans, media and his own players. The more he talks, the more trouble he is putting himself into and he just DOESN'T get that. He continues to just spout off at the mouth. Actually, instead of writing it here I am going to start another thread on this in the FanPost section. Feel free to comment there.

I really like how positive Morris is. You can't focus on the negative as a coach. None of this is personal. I think he is a great guy and again, will be a great HC in this league once he learns this stuff. I dont put that talent level on Morris. He has to do with what he has. That's more on Dominik, who I will not even get started with. If he were to be losing these 4 games and not saying one thing and doing another, I would support him even more. I haven't given up on Morris, I just think it's IMPERATIVE for him to learn.

Anyway, I have been working on this for over 2 hours and I need to spend time with the wife (or else she'll never allow me to listen to the game on Sirius on the ride home from VA this weekend). I apologize if this turned into a fluff piece, but I started going cross-eyed after a while.


Overall I think we only "won" on 1 of the 3 sides of the ball.