This is hard to write, because the numbers were so pathetic. Before this week I said a lot of good things can come out of a loss. If we were to do one thing really well, we could have had something to build off of and be proud of as Buccaneer fans. That didn't happen. Instead of you just listening to my opinion, my hope is that the numbers will speak for themselves. I will of course add my thoughts to them, but what you will see will pretty much tell the story.
If there was one hope we had in beating the New York Giants it would have been to pound the run game. The Giants were the 32nd DVOA Run Defense in the league. They were simply getting gashed on the ground game. Without going into DVOA ratings (They are explained here), Washington and Dallas were very successful running the ball. The Bucs perceived strength (ranked 8th with a 16.1%VOA Running the Ball) was handing off to Carnell Williams, Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham.
Unbalanced offense that plays to our weakness: Today we averaged 2.8 yards a carry (28 Yards on 10 Carries). However from the 15:06 mark of the game we were playing from two touchdowns down (which will greatly change the offensive game-plan). We talked all week how un-balanced our offense has been, simply because we are trying to cover large deficits. Again we passed the ball 72% of the time (2nd straight week). We have a Quarterback who is going to struggle (he's not a bandage that's going to stop us from bleeding) with young, inexperienced or ineffective Wide Receivers. Obviously a completely balanced team will be 50/50, but as a reference, even 'passing' teams are only throwing 50-60% of the time (Week 2 the Saints threw 53%, Week 2 Colts threw 62% of the time). Both teams just mentioned have 2 of arguably the most talented Quarterbacks in the game. If we want to win, we have to be successful at running the ball early. If not, we are doomed. Yes, this is on our offensive line who didn't open up holes and our running backs who showed no patience, but it's also on Greg Olsen.
While the sample size is small, even in the first quarter we threw 75% of the time (only being down by 7 points). When down 14, that number decreased to about 55% (much more reasonable). This is mostly due to terrible First Downs. If you are to balance you game out more, 2nd and 3rd and longs have to be eliminated. Because most of the 2nd half is irrelevant because of the deficit, let's look at the 1st downs (again, we didn't have the ball much so the sample size is small). (Per NFL.Com)
Drive 1 1-10-TB 30 (7:56) 7-B.Leftwich pass short right to 82-K.Winslow pushed ob at TB 33 for 3 yards (24-T.Thomas) [72-O.Umenyiora]. NEGATED BY2-7-TB 33 (7:34) PENALTY on TB-76-J.Zuttah, False Start
Drive 2 1-10-TB 41 (4:08) 7-B.Leftwich pass deep right intended for 82-K.Winslow INTERCEPTED by 24-T.Thomas [94-M.Kiwanuka] at NYG 31. 24-T.Thomas to NYG 34 for 3 yards (82-K.Winslow).
Drive 3 1-10-TB 20 (14:54) 28-D.Ward right guard to TB 20 for no gain (58-A.Pierce).
Drive 4 1-10-TB 19 (11:41) 24-C.Williams right guard to TB 24 for 5 yards (23-C.Webster). (Considered a DVOA success because we gained more than 45% of the yardage needed for a first down)
Drive 5 1-10-TB 17 (8:31) 28-D.Ward right guard to TB 12 for -5 yards (98-F.Robbins).
Drive 6 (Second Half, First Poss) 1-10-TB 26 (14:51) 28-D.Ward up the middle to TB 26 for no gain (41-C.Brown, 58-A.Pierce).
I don't mind passing on first down, but I also like high percentage passes. If an offense is going to be successful, first downs are key. You make what you want of those 6 First Downs. It is no-wonder that it was until the 5:06 mark in the 3rd quarter that we moved the chains.
The defense has no identity. Bad defenses have no identity. They aren't built to stop the run, and they don't focus on stopping the pass. It is much easier to win, if you are able to make a team one-dimensional. For example, the best pass defense in the league is Philadelphia, but they are the 15th ranked Rush Defense (again, all DVOA rankings after Week 2). Tennessee (who has been slightly suspect) is the 1st rated Run-D and 29th rated Pass D. The #1 DVOA Defense is Baltimore who has the 21st best Pass Defense but is 3rd against the run. Do you get the point? Jim Bates defense isn't built to do one thing well. His blitzing schemes are inconsistent as are his coverage calls. While I thought our DB's played well today (much of the Giants success in the passing game was due to the Bucs poor pass-rush), it is no wonder they have struggled with assignments. They are all over the map. At times Cover 2 is being thrown in at random, and opposing Quarterbacks are recognizing and exploiting it. Hence the 31st DVOa against the pass coming into this week. We have (by design) DE's who run up-field with out discipline which opens up massive holes between the G's and Tackles that are designed to be plugged by LB's. Only problem is our LB's are built to be coverage and Blitzing backers and not Hole-Pluggers (for lack of a better term).
While unscientific (but based off my game notes and the play by play) 10 of the 13 run plays that went for more than 5 yards were off the guards, inside the tackle, or outside). Our DT's catch a lot of heat, but they are 1-Gap DT's (which is read by the Quarterback before the play if any adjustment to the call needs to be made). It sounds to me like you are asking the Linebackers to make all of the plays in the run-game. While this is going to go down as one of the worst offensive performances in Bucs history (3rd according to Pewter Report) the defense missed a ridiculous amount of tackles (I searched feverishly to find a number on this but to no avail).
This defense was also supposed to create turnovers. It would allow talented cornerbacks to jump routes, give S's more playmaking opportunities. Per Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report.Com.
Jim Bates’ bump-and-run defense was supposed to be a risk-reward scheme that would generate more turnovers. So far it’s been all risk and almost no reward.
The Bucs have Two turnovers (both Sabby picks). The things that Bates defense were designed to do is not happening. It's a scheme that does not fit the talent. It's like trying to run the spread offense with the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers.
More Numbers that should scare you:
- 0-9 on 3rd Downs. I Said earlier, but the third downs were too long. We averaged 3rd and 7.1 yards. While Leftwich was in the game, we averaged 3rd and 8. Miserable.
- No WR had a reception until 9:33 mark in the 4th Quarter. This is a combination of bad throws, dropped passes, WR running lazy routes, Bad Pass-Blocking and Leftwich not making correct reads.
- So far this season, we are allowing 6.6 Yards a Play. The only team that is worse is the Houston Texans.
Some positives that can come out of this: No injuries. Seriously. Our team is so thin, we really can't afford any more injuries. Williams should have a better knee next week, EG should be back. Also 5 penalties for 25 yards is a job well done. Most of those came late. I will take 5, 5 yard penalties any day. When you are getting your butt handed to you, it is easy to make stupid penalties (late hits, Facemasks, Un-necessary holds, etc). The Bucs didn't. We also forced 60 yards of penalties from the Giants.
Focus for this Week: Balance out the Offense. The Bucs travel to Washington whose offense has just as much if not more work cut out for them than us. If we can put some points on the board 14-17, that may be enough.