Starting with the first play from the scrimmage, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like they weren't ready to play a game today. On that first play, Matt Schaub faked a handoff, rolled away from his offensive line and lofted the ball to a wide open Jacoby Jones. Sean Jones had reacted to the play-action fake, leaving Jones wide open behind him. Jones walked into the endzone untouched. A blocked extra point then contained the damage to 6-0, but it was a sign of bad things to come.
On the next Texans drive, the Bucs intercepted Schaub near the goalline. But the referees reversed that play, calling it incomplete instead and giving the Texans another field goal. Two drives later the Texans got some more points on the board when the Bucs seemingly forgot that tackling was an option. Arian Foster made Sean Jones, Tanard Jackson and Aqib Talib miss on his way to a 78-yard touchdown on a dumpoff pass that should have been contained for a 10-yard gain. Oops.
That kind of performance was everywhere today. The Bucs defense couldn't do anything right, occasionally showing up, but more often than not getting pummeled. Edge runs were a real problem, as the Texans managed to outflank the Bucs' defense time and again. The Bucs never seem to care about keeping contain, and Ronde Barber is especially at fault on those plays.
In the end, the Bucs gave up a ridiculous 185 yards on the ground, for 4.2 yards per play. That per play average isn't too bad - until you realize the Bucs' run defense didn't really show up until late in the game, when the Texans made it clear they were running out the clock and ignoring the pass. The Texans spread the love, as all three of their backs got touchdowns: Arian Foster, Ben Tate and even Derrick Ward (yes, that Derrick Ward) ended up in the endzone for the Texans.
With so much running the Texans didn't need the pass the ball much. Matt Schaub dropped back just 16 times, but got 242 yards and two touchdowns on those dropbacks for a ridiculous 16.1 yards per pass. Play-action killed Tampa Bay today as Schaub had oodles of time on bootlegs after faking handoffs.
But this loss wasn't all on the defense. The Bucs' offense couldn't get anything together either. Legarrette Blount got ten handoffs in the game for 34 yards. Once again Josh Freeman had to win the game through the air, and once again he couldn't do it. Freeman ended the game completing 15/33 passes for a putrid 170 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
Freeman once again was not helped by his receivers, who failed to separate from their defenders, dropped too many balls and failed to make tough catches. But Freeman himself was not sharp as he was sacked four times, three of which he could have prevented. In addition, his passes were often just slightly off the mark - too high, too low, behind or ahead of a receiver; few balls were thrown perfectly. Those three turnovers are inexcusable as well, and one on an out-route to Preston Parker was especially ugly. Josh Freeman's third-year slump continues, and the end doesn't appear to be in sight.
Overall, this was an embarrassing performance in a season that is quickly spiraling down the drain. The Bucs are now 4-5 and third in their division, with the playoffs quickly disappearing from sight. That wasn't unexpected coming into the season, but more worrying than the record has been the quality of play. The Bucs have been good at one thing this year, and that's running the ball - but they have failed to do that consistently because of offensive philosophy and game situations. The Buccaneers have failed to improve on their promising play last season, and that's an indictment of the coaching staff.