While few if any predicted the Buccaneers would go into the Superdome and upset the playoff-bound Saints, not many saw this poor of a performance coming either. The Bucs moved the ball better than most expected, but had took a huge step backwards defensively on Sunday.
Which players stood out and which ones should have stayed at the team hotel? Get Mark Cook’s thought in this weekly postgame feature.MOST IMPRESSIVEDE Adrian ClaybornClayborn had his best statistical game of the season and was credited with one sack on the NFL’s official stat sheet. It is easy to spot Clayborn on the field as he has a motor that is always revved wide open, and his long dreads standing on end. Clayborn probably hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves after coming back from an ACL injury and rarely leaving the field this season. Will he ever be a double-digit sack producer? Probably not on a consistent basis, but if he can stay healthy he will play a long time in the NFL.
Clayborn led both teams in tackles with 10 stops, one sack and four tackles for loss.
QB Mike GlennonWe have beat Glennon up over the last few weeks for his inconsistent play, but for the most part the Bucs signal caller had a solid game on Sunday, particularly in the first half.
Glennon still had a few rookie moments, locking on receivers at times, getting flushed by false pressure and also tossing a second half interception. Glennon’s second half wasn’t his best but by midway through the third quarter the Bucs were down a number of scores and the Saints knew Glennon would have to throw on nearly every down. Glennon was also not helped by at last four drops in the game, with two coming from Vincent Jackson.
On the afternoon Glennon finished 22-of-41 for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
TE Tim WrightWright continued his rise from nowhere when the season started, to a genuine receiving threat at the tight end position. Wright’s acrobatic leaping touchdown against the Saints gave him five on the year where he finishes the season tied for fourth most in team history by a tight end.
Wright isn’t, and most likely won’t ever be counted on to contribute as a blocker, and that is something the Bucs will need to address in the offseason, but as far as a receiving tight end, it appears the Bucs are well equipped.
Wright finished with five receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown.
WR Tiquan UnderwoodIf the Buccaneers had any shot to upset the Saints, they would have to get some production from a receiver with a last name other than Jackson. Tiquan Underwood did his part, but it was far from enough. Underwood hauled in the Bucs first touchdown in the first quarter on a fleaflicker from Mike Glennon and also nearly had another score in the second quarter but was unable to collect the barely off-target Glennon throw near the pylon.
The Bucs will certainly look to upgrade the receiver position in the offseason, but if Underwood can ever play with the same consistency as he did on Sunday in New Orleans, he could stick with the team next season and be a contributor.
Underwood led the Bucs with 93 yards on five receptions and the one score.
LT Donald PennAfter getting abused last week in St. Louis Donald Penn had one of his best games of the season, not giving up a sack and helping to give Glennon solid protection for the most part. Penn knows his starting job with Tampa Bay is not guaranteed next season and needed a redeeming game. On Sunday Penn showed he isn’t finished yet.
DT Gerald McCoyIn the first half it appeared that McCoy had notched his 10th sack of the season with a takedown of Drew Brees. But in the final stats sheet from the NFL, the sack was credited to Adrian Clayborn. Whether McCoy finished with nine or 10 sacks, it was a terrific year for the Bucs most consistent pass rusher.
While McCoy officially was credited with just two tackles and a pass breakup, the former Sooner was a disruptive force all game long. Unfortunately for the Bucs defense, Brees was able to sidestep McCoy on a number of occasions and hurt the Bucs with downfield throws, gouging the Tampa Bay secondary.
MOST DISAPPOINTINGS Dashon GoldsonGoldson had faded down the stretch for the Buccaneers and hasn’t had a very good second half of the season. How much the fines this season have played a part mentally is worthy of questioning, but even if it is wearing on him, better things were expected from the Bucs prized free agent signing.
On Sunday Goldson was tentative in coverage and just seemed out of sorts all game long. Goldson totaled just four tackles for the game. On the bright side, there were no 15-yard penalties, although that is little consolation to the fans and coaching staff.
G Ted LarsenWhile Penn and Davin Joseph have had substandard seasons, the left guard position is the one spot the Bucs will need to concentrate on perhaps more than any other on the offensive line. In a perfect world, Carl Nicks recovers from his MRSA and toe injury and gets back in the starting lineup, however that may just be wishful thinking.
Larsen had two terrible penalties on Sunday, both 15-yarders, one of which took the Buccaneers out of field goal range.
CB Johnthan Banks and Leonard JohnsonThe entire secondary was terrible on Sunday as Brees torched the Bucs defense for 381 yards and four touchdowns. Banks, or Leonard Johnson, either one is interchangeable on this list, played tentative and without much confidence. Of course Drew Brees has made a living doing that to cornerbacks even much better than Banks or Johnson. But Tampa Bay had no chance to beat the Saints without recording some turnovers and splash plays in the secondary. With Darrelle Revis on the other side of the field, both had plenty of opportunities to standout, and neither was up for the challenge.
CB Darrelle RevisRevis was named to the Pro Bowl on Friday and was very deserving of his spot, but if Revis had played the previous 15 like he did on Sunday against New Orleans, he most likely would have been left off the postseason honor.
Without talking to the staff it is hard to determine how many of the blown coverages could be attributed to Revis, but Tampa Bay’s top cornerback let one get over his head that he would love to have back. That play proved that Revis is actually human, and even though he was beaten on the play, he still almost was able to recover and record the pass breakup. Unfortunately he just missed swatting the ball away, and the Saints were able to add to their lead in the first half.
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
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