Hey folks, welcome back to another fun filled TTWTWL. While the Bucs certainly didn't make anyone feel they were world beaters this week, there's still a few things we think we learned.
Let's get it going!
1. Last pre-season, your Tampa Bay Buccaneers starters whooped the New England Patriots starters 23-7 in game that ended in a 30-28 Bucs win. Buc fans were feeling pretty darn good about their team and their performance while some Patriot fans freaked out. Of course, as we know, the Bucs would go 7-9 while the Patriots went back to the playoffs with another 12-4 season.
Moral of the story - it doesn't matter who did what against whom to anyone but the coaches trying to evaluate who will make this 53 man roster and it certainly has no impact on the fortunes of a team during the season. The Atlanta Falcons were 1-3 in pre-season last year and are 0-2 this year. They only hosted the NFC Championship game in 2012. Jacksonville was 3-1 in the pre-season last year, 2-14 in the regular season.
The fact that Cleveland is 2-0 and has looked fantastic in both games should tell you all you need to know.
2. So why did Josh Freeman play less than Tom Brady this week? Well, the horrible blocking of the Bucs offensive line and tight ends certainly had something to do with it. Freeman was sacked 3 times in two series against New England and now has been sacked 4 times in the pre-season. I have to imagine that the Bucs decided not to risk their starting quarterback with backups playing on the o-line.
3. Mike Glennon certainly has some raw ability Buc fans can be excited about. Already some of your less knowledgeable fans are calling for Glennon to replace Freeman. No, that's not going to happen. Josh Freeman has been and continues to be the unquestioned starter of this football team. What happened Friday night certainly wasn't his fault. What should have the Bucs fans excited though is unlike the past few seasons, if something does happen to Freeman the Buccaneers have a quarterback that is capable of running the offense without too much of a drop off. Few teams in the league have that luxury.
4. I have to say that Mike James has finally shown me something. I wasn't sold on the young rookie running back out of the U because up to this point, he hadn't shown any vision, quickness, moves...he seemed to be just a guy. In this league, you don't want to be just a guy. Friday night James displayed some explosiveness, elusiveness and hit the holes quickly in route to 81 yds on 15 carries. At one point, he was averaging 9 yards a carry. Not too bad, rookie. I finally see some of things that Mark Dominik and the scouting staff saw in the kid.
5. While rushing a quick pass, timing offense like the Patriots is difficult, it was disturbing to see once again little pressure coming from the Tampa Bay front four. You could have Revis and a young Deion Sanders with Ronnie Lott and John Lynch as your safeties - but if you can't move the quarterback off his mark, it's not going to matter.
6. Is anyone else starting to get a little concerned at the Bucs' run defense? Tampa Bay was number one in the NFL last season against the run, but so far this pre-season Tampa Bay is surrendering 133.5 yds per game and 2 touchdowns on the ground. One thing that makes me feel a little better? The Bucs gave up 163.8 yds per game and 6 rushing touchdowns in four pre-season games last year.
7. It was interesting seeing Ronde Barber unhinged to his Buccaneer talking points. Ronde laid it out there on Freeman, the play of the secondary and where he saw the fortunes of the Buccaneers before Fox's national audience. He was called "Mr. Buc" but there was certainly no pulled punches by Barber, who looks perfectly suited as a studio analyst. Randy Moss? Not so much.
8. One of the more interesting dynamics of that crazy 15 play drive by the Patriots to open the game is the amount of substituting the Bucs did during that series. At one point, even rookie 3rd string defensive ends Steven Means and William Gholston were on the field against the Patriots' starters. Ahmad Black, not Mark Barron or Dashon Goldson,was the safety who blew the coverage over the top on the Amendola touchdown.
9. I'm sure like many, the entire season flashed before my eyes when Doug Martin was helped off the field. In my opinion, the one guy the Bucs could not afford to lose on offense is Martin. I wouldn't expect the Dougernaut to play that much against the Miami Dolphins, even though it is the third pre-season game. And if Nicks and Joseph can't go, I wouldn't expect a full workload from Freeman, either. Not behind that line.
10. Despite dropping a catchable third down pass from Freeman in the first quarter, I think Kevin Ogletree may have the 3rd wide receiver spot on lock down. Tiquan Underwood continues to be feast or famine and the other wide outs simply aren't ready to challenge Ogletree. Ogletree leads all Buc receivers with 101 yds on 8 receptions and 1 touchdown catch.
Bonus - One other thing to consider about Friday night's game. These teams play again for real in about six weeks. Neither Schiano or Belichick were going to show anything that the other could prepare for in September.
Neither team game planned for the other and were running their basic plays. No one should take this performance as an indicator as how it's going to go on September 22nd.
Next week is the best look we'll get at the Bucs this pre-season before Sept. 8th.
Let's see what happens!