The Buccaneers dropped their 11th game of the season on Sunday losing to the Panthers 19-17. It was Tampa Bay’s fifth blown halftime lead and leaves the Bucs just 2-12 on the season. Below is the weekly breakdown of the unit games grades.
The Josh McCown experiment has been a failure in Tampa Bay. On Sunday, McCown’s turnover streak continued as the journeyman suffered three fumbles, losing two and tossing a late meaningless desperation interception. While the interception didn’t mean a whole lot, the third quarter fumble was a momentum-changing play, giving the Panthers the ball on the Bucs four-yard line and put the Panthers in the lead two plays later. While blame can be shared with one of the worst offensive lines in franchise history, McCown’s nine fumbles, with four lost this season, and some early season interceptions, have been backbreakers and directly led to losses. McCown did a few things right on Sunday, including a 16-yard TD scramble that got the Bucs within two points. But for the most part his passes lacked zip and accuracy. McCown has one more year left on his contract and will be a great tutor to the next Bucs quarterback, but is certainly not the long-term solution. The former Bears backup and part time starter finished 13-of-28 for 158 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown and an interception.
Doug Martin continues to show improvement since returning from a knee injury a few weeks back, and had another solid first half that included s 63- yard run on Tampa Bay’s first drive of the game. But as we have seen the last few weeks, the offensive line and Martin struggle once opposing defenses make adjustments, and despite having 92 yards in the first half, Martin ended up with 96 when the final gun sounded. Charles Sims had his best game of his young Bucs career, totaling a 79 yards from scrimmage in Sunday’s game (45 receiving, 34 rushing). Overall the Buccaneers ran for 151 yards, a 6.6-yard average which is normally good enough to win. Unfortunately for Bucs fans, the team still found a way to lose, and only put 17 points on the board.
What was hyped up a potential Rookie of the Year battle between Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans and Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin was pretty much a one-sided affair as the former Noles star put up eight catches for 104 yards while Evans was held to two receptions for 13 yards although Evans did tie former receiver Mike Williams rookie record with his 11th TD of the season. Vincent Jackson led Tampa Bay with six catches for 70 yards. Russell Shepard had one catch for 23 yards a Louis Murphy was held without a catch and had a drop on a play that he ended up getting hurt one.
Tampa Bay’s tight ends were held without a reception on the afternoon and did nothing more than help block for the running game. It will be interesting to watch the coaches’ film on Tuesday to see how often they were even utilized in the passing game. The Panthers play a lot of zone coverage like the Bucs and had no problem finding soft spots in the middle of the field or Greg Olsen to settle in and help extend drives for Carolina.
The good news is the Bucs were able to get a running game going, helping Tampa Bay run for 152 yards. The bad news is they couldn’t continue the momentum in the second half. Tampa Bay’s offensive line also improved over their terrible performance protecting McCown a week ago at Detroit, but still surrendered too much pressure in pass protection. Demar Dotson, Garrett Gilkey and Oniel Cousins all had penalties on Sunday, hurting the chances for the fragile offense to move the ball. Dotson played well in relief of Anthony Collins who was a healthy scratch, and Evan Dietrich-Smith rebounded nicely from a poor effort against the Lions last week. Logan Mankins was also solid on Sunday. Still this unit has way too many breakdowns and negative plays. I expect another overhaul this upcoming preseason and would also expect a new offensive line coach to be in place shortly after the season ends.
Losing Gerald McCoy early in the game on Sunday really hurt the Bucs defensive line. Tampa Bay managed a bit of pressure on Derek Anderson, but not nearly enough as the veteran threw for 277 yards going 25-of-40 with one touchdown and no interceptions. The line did register 1.5 sacks but early in the game allowed the Panthers to gouge them for big chucks of yards on the ground. Add in Larry English committing a personal foul that negated an interception that would have swung momentum back to Tampa Bay, and it wasn’t overly impressive day from the line.
The linebackers are hard to grade, as their stat numbers look good, but Panthers tight end Greg Olsen had his way in the middle with the Bucs defense. Is that linebackers or safeties, or a combination of both? Nonetheless, Tampa Bay was happy to have Lavonte David back on the field as he registered 12 tackles. Danny Lansanah was credited with 1.5 sacks on the afternoon to go along with eight tackles. Orie Lemon had just three tackles but two were for loss.
The Bucs secondary lost Isaiah Frey in the game to injury but that can’t be used as an excuse to allow a backup to pick them apart. Anderson had plenty of time to throw for the most part but slowly drove the team down the field on several occasions finding soft spots in the Bucs zone coverage. Bradley McDougald finished with 15 tackles, but it is never a good thing when a safety in your leading tackler on the team. The secondary allowed both Olsen and Benjamin to notch 100 yard receiving days.
Solomon Patton was inactive on Sunday so the kick return duties were passed back to bobby Rainey who had no return opportunities. Punter Michael Koenen was decent on the afternoon and Patrick Murray kicked a 48-yard field goal. Nothing special on the afternoon, but no blunders either.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disagree with the QB rating. It should be F. Don’t care that he scored a TD, his less than 50% passer percentage and his key fumbles in games earns him a failing grade. And Lovie says he gives us the best chance to win. Someone is smokin something.
Heck, if Love was smokin’ something, he’d have the inspiration to put in Glennon, or *blache*, sign Tebow (anybody REALLY think Tebow leads us to anything but a winning record, when he’s never, ever, ever had a losing one?). The fact that professional talent evaluators thought McCown + Glennon would = anything BUT the top pick is out of their mind.
Mark, I’m surprised of your grading. Didn’t the Defense hold them below 20 points? Didn’t one of the TD’s started from our 7 yard line? Lets give the Defense some slack. The Offense was bad as usual. Our punter was bad.
True Horse but 390 yards is a ton of yards to give to a backup led offense. Just my opinion though.
The score didn’t tell the true story. We couldn’t get off the field on third down, they had the ball 15 minutes more then us. If it wasn’t for the fact they settled for field goals, we would’ve been blown out.
I usually agree with the grades but I don’t see how that offensive line can get a better grade than the defensive line missing two starters. One hole for #22 to run through that gains 63 yards is nice but it was but one play. The rest saw Cousins getting his butt whipped time after time and Gilkey making his presence felt immediately when he stepped on the field by getting a penalty. In typical fashion one play can be the deciding factor that lands a player on the Most Disappointed List or the Most Impressive List. Here, we get an average grade of C when the team lost and was dominated by a mediocre Panthers team.
Really basing it on the 151 yards on the ground. And Cousins was really bad, but from first look Dotson, EDS and Mankins played pretty well. Watching the all-22 today, may change my opinion.
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I give them all an “A” in “Get the #1 Draft Pick 101”.
After this performance I really hate to see us use the first overall pick on a QB — unless we totally revamp the OLINE.
The intense pressure put on McCown and the number of times over the past few weeks that he has been slammed to the ground and ridden into the dirt by a 300 lb lineman has been the primary cause for his failures. I don’t blame him for getting rid of the ball as fast as possible to avoid some of those bone jarring hits.
Anyone who thinks a kid straight out of college could take that kind of pressure and will be our savior is nuts! He will just be the next sacrificial lamb and will be just as gun-shy and throwing interceptions (but a lot more) than McCown.
There isn’t a QB in the league that would look good behind our porous oline. Nor a running back.
Let’s move down in the draft, pick up 2 first round linemen (LT, then G) and go from there. Why draft a QB when your OLINE is a QB KILLER?
Oh yeah, for those who think we need a faster, more mobile QB, I will agree, but with our oline they will just run backwards faster!
Sorry OLINE, but you guys gotta go! I hear Micky-D’s may be hiring…
My apologies to anyone who works at Micky D’s.
Does anyone else find it hard to reconcile the differences in Tampa’s pass defence vs Carolina’s (or anyone else’s in the league for that matter? While they both played a lot of zone, the CAR corners were all over the TB receivers, and contested nearly every catch. Meanwhile, I am sick of watching TB corners back away from uncontested receivers and watch as they catch first downs repeatedly in gaping holes in our secondary. I’m sorry, but while NFL coverages may be complex, it shouldn’t take this long for NFL players to ‘catch on’ to the scheme. If they are not playing it right, then it must mean either bad players or bad coaching. But no defence should be that easy to pick apart. Frustrating to watch….
This is why it was so vitally important to draft OL early and often last year (despite all of the calls for a QB high in the draft) and THEN draft for skill positions, including a QB, a yr or two later depending on who is available and what our draft position is. L&L blew It, so now we have to decide whether to draft Mariota next yr. I say yes, but keep Goennin since unlike McCown he has potential, start him and let M come in during the 2nd half of the season if things aren’t working out. McCown suuuuuuucks and should be cut immediately after securing two more losses for us.
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