Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bucs Preseason Game 2 - @ Jaguars


Here's this week's version of "Like/Didn't Like". You'll notice I was a bit more pleased with this week's performance.

Luke McCown – A much better game for McCown tonight. He started with a 3 and out but followed that up with back to back TD drives. Luke seemed to be a little more focused/relaxed this week; comfortably completing passes in the pocket. On his first TD, Jerramy Stevens had good position on Sean Considine, and Luke put the ball right where it needed to be. On his second scoring drive, the Bucs converted two third downs, including one where McCown fired one in to Stovall who ran to the sticks. It was a nice sit down route, and both McCown and Stovall made nice plays. What I liked most from McCown tonight was the play where he went through his reads, avoided Derrick Harvey, and safely threw the ball away.

Sammie Stroughter – Wow, the only question now is how often the Bucs can get him on the field. The rookie only had one reception, but it was a big one. Stroughter caught a nice pass from McCown on 3rd and goal for the score. His dynamite kick return from the TB 5 to the JAX 16 set up a 2 play scoring drive for McCown’s first score. It was a very strong return; running up middle and fighting off a seemingly secure tackle, and busting it down the left sidelines.

Kareem Huggins – He did it again. On McCown’s second scoring drive, Huggins converted the first 3rd down on a run to his left. The defender had him stopped short of the sticks, but Huggins showed a nice shake, getting free for extra yards. Man this guy runs hard! I do want to see him stick his cuts a little better. When he’s drawing out a run play and finds his hole, he needs to stick his plant foot a little better/quicker and get through that hole. Hey TPE, how’s 4.2 yards per carry on the night for the Bucs suit you?

Gaines Adams – Where have you been Gaines Adams? He, Sims, and Hovan combined on a well executed pass rush. Adams rushed strong off the edge, and after the tackles collapsed the pocket, Adams continued his pursuit and brought down Garrard. On another play, Adams stretched out a run on 2nd and 4, stopping Maurice Jones-Drew for a gain of 1. Everyone wants to see him get to the passer this year, but he’s going to need to execute in run defense as well.

Josh Freeman – The guy doesn’t have to light the world on fire his rookie season, but I want to see him progress and show continuous improvement. He did it tonight going X of X for X yards and a nice 28 yard scamper for a TD. His accuracy was strong yet again, but I want to see a little more zip on his passes. One completion to Urrutia could have been made a little sooner. Urrutia made the catch but he was hit immediately. Nothing big; just an observation. Also, on a swing pass to Askew, I think he felt the rush a little too much and rushed his pass. His footwork was fine, but he looked hurried. Freeman’s follow up drive started with an intentional grounding penalty. Upon feeling the pressure up the middle, Freeman attempted to get outside to the left and made a sloppy ball flip to the line of scrimmage.

Maurice Stovall – Well, he looked like a receiver tonight making a couple tough catches in traffic; including his first reception of the evening on a nice 3rd and 16 conversion from Leftwich where he got to the sticks and made a tough catch in traffic.

Derrick Ward – More tough running from the veteran tonight including a gain of 10 on a hard run off the right side and a highlight run off the right side where he hopped over Sean Considine and juked Clint Ingram (?) for a few more yards. He’s the starter IMO.

Davin Joseph – He was key on Ward’s highlight run, completely taking his man out of the play. I like that the right side seemed to clear some lanes in the running game.

Roy Miller – He’s arrived. Two solid games in a row has the rookie as a certain fixture in the DT rotation. Very nice.

Kyle Moore – Here’s another rookie who made a few plays on the evening, including a sack of Garrard where he rushed from the DT position and showed nice pursuit pulling him down for a loss of 3. Moore capped off his evening with a nice TFL of 9 on a Jags running play. Moore has shown nice pursuit skills and the ability to finish a play when he gets there.

Angelo Crowell – Good to see him on the field tonight and blowing up Alvin Pearman on a running play.

Michael Clayton – He made a couple of nice catches on the night; going to the ground to secure the football.

BJ Askew = workhorse

Josh Johnson – It wasn’t a terribly special night for Johnson as the Bucs stayed fairly conservative up 7 late. He did complete a nice pass to Marcus Maxwell, perfectly thrown in stride for a 15 yard gain on 2nd and 11.

Chris Bradwell – Nice job of fighting the RG and taking Todd Bouman to the ground on 2nd and 10, setting up 3rd and 21 with less than 4 minutes to go in the game. He also combined with Louis Holmes to rush Bowman and cause an intentional grounding penalty.

Louis Holmes – In addition to the play mentioned above, Holmes showed nice aggression off the right side forcing a fumble by Todd Bowman and getting a sack for a 7 yard loss. Nice job by the backup linemen.

Ronde Barber
– I don’t care how old you are or what coverage you’re running, you cannot let a receiver like Troy Williamson run past you uncontested on the first play of the game for a 74 yard TD. A 13 year veteran doesn’t do that.

Sabby Piscitelli – Wow, he was as bad this week as he was good last week. Troy Williamson made him his bitch early on, taking the Jags’ first play from scrimmage to the house for 74 yards. After toasting Ronde Barber off the line, Williamson was met with zero resistance from Piscitelli. In the second quarter, Piscitelli was victimized by Williamson again. The receiver beat Elbert Mack in coverage and Sabby made a high schoolish attempt at breaking up the play; completely overrunning it in ugly fashion. I’ve said that discipline and consistency are the things we need to see from him, and he definitely didn’t show those skills tonight. I’m not liking how thin this secondary is getting.

Elbert Mack – He and Piscitelli didn’t have a great night. To make things worse, Mack’s evening ended with him limping off the field after covering a 4th quarter punt.

Byron Leftwich – He still showed the arm strength and completed a couple intermediate strikes that the other QBs wouldn’t have, but I didn’t see the progress I wanted from last week. He was also only 1 of 4 on 3rd down conversions. I think he’s still got the #1 job, but I want to see longer drives.

Maurice Stovall – If I praise the good plays, I’ve got to call out the boneheaded ones. Near the end of the first quarter, Stovall had a chance to down a Dirk Johnson punt inside the Jaguar 10 yard line. Stovall fielded it like a rookie and sauntered into the endzone. Uh, touchback genius. He’ll hear from Morris and Bisaccia on that one.

Chris Bradwell – Don’t jump offsides or hit the QB in the head when you’re up seven with two minutes to go. The second one was just plain stupid. The ball was clearly out of Bouman’s hands, and Bradwell smacked him in the helmet after a couple of steps. Plays like this are why he’s a practice squad guy instead of a 53 man guy.

All in all, good performance by the Bucs. The QBs are stating their cases for the starting job, and I like what I’m seeing from the running backs. Stovall needs a couple more games like this, but Stroughter looks like a player. The young defensive linemen are working hard, but the secondary is showing weaknesses.

Short week this week, as the Bucs hit the field Thursday against the Dolphins in their last “meaningful” preseason game.

Go Bucs!



  1. Interesting to read your opinions, thanks. I agree that the receivers took a big step forward yesterday.

  2. I was really only concerned about the first quarter and a half or so when it was starters on starters (modulo missing injured players of course). The Bucs popped off runs of -1, 2, 10, 2, 27, 3, and 3, with Ward doing the damage (I don't worry about sacks and QB scrambles). That works out to nearly 6.6 ypc, but of course, we have a large standard deviation, so while they isn't statistically signficant, those are solid numbers. What's encouraging is there was only one carry for loss and two substantial gains. In a perfect world we would all like to see 6 ypc demoralilzing drives, but that's not going to happen in the modern game against fresh defenses. So all in all, things were much improved there.

    I like that McCown stepped up. Martin Fennelly has pointed out that the competition is a sham, and the job is BL's no matter the on-the-field performances. We'll see. Frankly, whoever ends up being #1 will be a flawed player, so I predict he will be benched five or so games into the season and #2 will be named the starter to 'shake things up.'

    Looks like low-motor guy Ryan Sims might have gotten a wake-up call from a couple of gentlemen from Texas and California. There must have been SOME reason(s) he was the sixth player taken overall a few years ago, reasons which I have yet to see.

    After a couple of years of his being in the league, I'm beginning to think Sabby is going to make the occasional highlight reel play but end up costing more yards than would justify his presence on the field.

    I think Freeman is playing tentative, which is why we're not seeing the consistent zip from the advertised big arm. That may also be contributing to a lack of pinpoint accuracy; he's getting it there, but it's not getting there in ideal position. Josh Johnson threw the best ball of the night, but he also threw the worst. Still, I really hope they can find a way to keep him.

    Hey! This isn't my blog! I need to shutup!


  3. so while they isn't statistically signficant ---> so while they aren't ...

  4. TPE,
    You’re focusing on the important points – like no negative plays. Even a “scatback” like Clifton Smith is consistently getting positive yardage. That and avoiding stupid sacks is a big key for this team. We don’t have the weapons like the Patriots or Eagles, so we need to minimize the bad plays.

    Fennelly speaks pretty definitively without having anything to back it up. Don’t get me wrong, I want Leftwich to get the job, as I believe he gives the Bucs the best chance to win, but Fennelly’s piece looks like simple columnist smack. Leftwich is the tougher player and looks far more focused and comfortable on the field that McCown. I also expect the Bucs to be behind a lot this year, and Leftwich can lead quicker scoring drives with his dart-like arm than McCown.

    Sims certainly wasn’t worth the 6th overall selection in ’02, but he’s been a cheap investment for the Bucs. He faded last year, but this scheme should work more to his strengths of clogging lanes and pushing the pile. What’s great is to see Roy Miller playing so well early on and Kyle Moore doing well inside on passing downs.

    Those paying attention know how inaccurate the Lynch-Piscitelli comparisons are. Yes, the youngster can make big plays, but he’s still too undisciplined and inconsistent in his assignments. There wasn’t a better example of that than last night when he looked like a high school safety by coming up and completely whiffing on Troy Williamson during a 61 yard play. When you’re the last line of resistance, you can’t play that sloppily.

    Regarding Freeman, he’s a guy who comes into the league with a really strong arm. For some reason, I’m not seeing it so far. If he’s being tentative, that’s not good. There’s no pressure on the kid at this point, so he needs to just go out there and play within himself. With Johnson, I didn’t like the plays that were called for him last night; too conservative. There are several ways the Bucs could configure their 53 man roster to keep 4 QBs. They would need to go out of their way to not keep him.

    As always, thanks for the comments!