In a post-game interview, Gerald McCoy explained why the Bucs did not look ready for the Patriots: the Bucs could not get lined up (listen to the entire interview - it's hilarious and insightful), because the Patriots were playing with a very high tempo.
"Um, Mr. Brady, can we line up?"
This was a far cry from last week, when the Kansas City Chiefs came into the game and didn't look like they wanted to be there. The New England Patriots had an entirely different mentality: they treated this like a real game, with a real tempo. The Bucs have a lot of youth on this team, a lot of players who are not used to the pace with which the Patriots ran this offense, and a lot of players who may have been lulled into a false sense of security by last week's game.
Josh Freeman echoed Gerald McCoy's comments in his post-game press conference. "In a normal game we would probably do a little bit more film study," said the quarterback.
It wasn't just the tempo, it was a lack of a gameplan for the Bucs. The Bucs came into the game trying to run their base schemes, as most teams do in the preseason. The Patriots came into the game trying to outscheme the Bucs - they threw a lot of different looks and blitzes at the Bucs, and the Bucs had not prepared for that sort of thing. The Patriots treated this like a normal game. The Bucs treated it like a preseason game.
The issue of gameplanning should not be a problem in the regular season. The Bucs weren't outschemed last year, and this is more a consequence of two different approaches to the game.
But all that doesn't excuse a lot of other problems. The offensive line was losing individual battles, especially in the run game, while the defense could not even get lined up against an offense playing at a high tempo. That needs to be fixed, especially because the Bucs have a team in the division that likes to run its offense at the same tempo: the New Orleans Saints.
The difference in tempo also illustrates a problem for the Bucs on offense that showed up throughout last year. They never could get a good tempo going early in the game, and defenses (except the Seahawks') never had a problem matching up with the Bucs' personnel and scheme. It wasn't until the Bucs had to go into two-minute mode that they would really slice through an opponent, and part of that was because of the high tempo they were playing at. Hopefully the Bucs and Josh Freeman in particular look at this tape, and then steal what the Patriots were doing.