It appears to be 2009 all over again for our Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The blowout count is now at two through five games, a decent improvement from the four beatdowns they incurred through five a year ago. They were destroyed for the second consecutive game at home to the New Orleans Saints who leapfrogged the Bucs into a tie for first place in the NFC South. There are a host of problems on both sides of the ball that leave more questions than answers going forward. It appears now that the defense could not stop B.J. Daniels and the collegiate team they share a stadium with, let alone a viable offense in the NFL. All three phases clearly struggled mightily against the defending Superbowl champions, which lowered our record to 3-2. Let's take a quick look at what went wrong in this latest home drubbing.
6 points. At the end of the day, that is the only stat that matters. The Bucs had 9 drives in the game, and only managed a touchdown and two field goal misses. Credit the Saints defense and coordinator Gregg Williams for allowing New Orleans to dominate the line of scrimmage for most of the game, limiting the opportunity for explosive plays or any long lasting momentum. There was no running game (yet a-freaking-gain) and the Bucs lost Kareem Huggins for the season with an ACL tear. Cadillac Williams remains the feature back by default, but LeGarrette Blount should have more chances to make an impact in future weeks. Because of the defenses inability to stop the Saints, the Bucs were forced to throw the ball 43 times. Josh Freeman had a solid game, but missed some open receievers yet again. He continues to make plays however and appears to be making steady progress on a weekly basis.
What can you say? 475 yards of offense allowed, 27 first downs, 7.4 yards per play. Absolutely atrocious. There was nothing positive to take away from the performance on the defensive side of the ball. The run defense was brutal again, allowing 6.6 yards a carry to the combination of Chris Ivory, Julius Jones, and Ladell Betts. Now I'm sure all three will end up in Canton someday, but the Bucs have got to get things turned around in a hurry. All-everything Stephen Jackson is coming to down to town next week with the St. Louis Rams riding high after an impressive display of their own. Drew Brees carved up the Bucs defense at will, which isn't exactly surprising. There was no pass rush whatsoever and Drew Brees took advantage of a weak secondary rather easily. The problem is clearly on the defensive line. Investing the top two draft choices on the line has yet to yield any production. The hope going forward is that Brian Price and Gerald McCoy adapt to the professional level and develop (at all) into starting caliber players. These are the growing pains that many of us described at the outset of the season.
Special Teams: D
Connor Barth ended his streak of makes with a pair of misses that ended somewhat productive Tampa Bay drives. This shouldn't be an issue going forward, as Barth has proven he is a servicable kicker. Robert Malone had a very good debut at punter, hopefully ending a frustrating spell of trying to kick the ball to the other team without losing a tremendous amount of field position. Michael Spurlock and Preston Parker were meh in the return game. I'd imagine coaching would look into making a change at some point, but options appear to be limited.
This was far more of a reality check than the Steelers game. There was every reason to believe that the Bucs would actually put up a fight on Sunday. Of course, that did not happen, and the Bucs suffered their second heavy home loss in three contests. The game was blacked out in the area, a trend that will probably continue for the remainder of the season. Who can blame the fans for not showing up after performances like that? The team is likely to struggle against good teams for the remainder of the season but fortunately enough, there aren't many on the schedule. However for this year to be any sort of success there has to be tangible evidence of progress. Aside from Josh Freeman and Mike Williams, has there been any on either side of the ball?