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Thread: Rams-Bucs Postmortem
Quarterback - Bulger didn't always have a lot of time to throw, but he looked more comfortable in the pocket than last week. Unfortunately, I was less than thrilled with his accuracy.
On one play, Bennett was arguably interfered with in the endzone but Bulger's throw was so high the refs may have deemed it uncatchable. On the first interception, it was hard to tell who he was throwing to; maybe he was just throwing the ball away. The ball looked like it was headed out of bounds, but a savvy linebacker hauled it in. On the second interception, Bulger threw a jump ball. I guess this is what we hired Bennett for, right? Well, the defender was in better position to make the play and came down with it. Speaking of our big off-season catch, he had 0 receptions for 0 yards today. The last interception was in junk time. We were just desperate to get something going. In general, it seemed like Bulger was hitting his man on short stuff, but the few long balls were off target.
Receivers - Bruce made some plays that a 35 year-old shouldn't be able to in the first half. He took a nasty shot to make a leaping catch over the middle only to have the refs call a fumble after he was down and then call the whole play back on a defensive penalty. On another play, he leaned out and snagged a ball that looked like it was already out of bounds while keeping his feet in perfectly. Holt had a decent game, but I don't recall any standout plays. Here's a stat worth noting: Holt's longest reception was 18 yards. No one else had a gain of more than 11 yards (except the Bruce catch that got called back).
Running Backs - Well, we sure committed to the running game early, but maybe we went a little overboard...The first drive ended when we decided to run on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down and failed to get a first down. Later, during our first possession of the second quarter, we ran on 11 out of 15 plays including 8 consecutive plays. Jackson looked hungry for yardage out there, but Leonard actually seemed a little better at finding the small holes the line was opening up.
Offensive Line - Well, it wasn't pretty. The pass protection wasn't terrible, but Klopfenstein in particular let blitzers by all too often. Okay, I know he's not a lineman, but if he lines up at the end of the line and blocks, he counts. It looks to me like McMichael isn't getting involved in the passing game much because they need his help on the line. We did see more two tight end sets mostly when we were going to run, but that didn't seem to help. The backs had to fight for every yard they picked up.
Defensive Line - The pass rush was inconsistent, which seems to be our modus operandi these days. Early in the game, it wasn't uncommon to see five guys closing in on the ball-carrier or quarterback in the backfield. Little had one sack on the day but came real close to getting two more. Garcia did a good job of escaping, but I wonder if Little's hyper-extended toe didn't slow him down just enough to keep him from making the play. Clifton Ryan had a forced fumble and continues to make a case for more playing time. The running game allowed very little up the middle, but much like the Panthers game, opponents find more room to run on the outside.
Linebackers - One play I really loved was nothing more than an incompletion, but Brandon Chillar body-checked Joey Galloway so hard when he tried to come across the middle that they sent the doctors out to check on him afterwards. It wasn't even a tackle; it was just a legal jam on the receiver within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Chillar also forced a fumble, although the Bucs recovered. They were doing a pretty good job against the run until the second half and a good job against the pass until the whole defense seemed to give up in the fourth quarter. I tend to blame the linebackers more for these big gains on the outside. The Bucs scored once with Carnell Williams and again with Earnest Graham using the same run play to the right. The linebackers need to do a better job of reacting to the play.
Defensive Backs - I was impressed with the corners' play in run support in this game. On the first play the Bucs ran Ron Bartell brought Cadillac down for a 2 yard gain. Bartell brought down Cadillac by himself two more times, and pushed him out of bounds for another stop. On another play, Jonathan Wade got one hand on Michael Pittman and managed to pull him down. The pass defense gave up a couple plays to Galloway, a couple to Hilliard, but the Bucs got nothing deep and no touchdowns through the air. Bartell, Wade, and Walls are filling in admirably with Hill and Brown out. The only thing more I could ask is maybe an interception sometime this season. Please? Atogwe made a nice hit that contributed to one of the fumbles. Chavous got called for a facemask when he finally decided to bring down Graham after he got into the endzone. But look on the bright side: it was only a 28 yard run for a TD this time and not 43 like last game.
Special Teams - Dante Hall was getting nowhere. Donnie Jones had a great punt to pin the Bucs down on their one yard line, but special teams coverage was not good on the whole. The second half started with a 36 yard kickoff return. On the only punt that actually got returned Jones booted it 59 yards, but a 35 yard return got them back in good field position.
Are we too predictable on offense? I was looking back at the play-by-play. On the 15 play drive with 11 runs, one of the four passes was out of the shotgun. So you run, run, run, then send your fullback to the sideline and bring in extra receivers. And whadayaknow, It's the first pass of the drive. Am I crazy or does it seem like you can often tell what's coming? Maybe we feel like the line won't hold up long enough to run play-action or fakes or counters.
On defense, the only really questionable call I saw was the play before the second touchdown run. It's 2nd and 5 on the 20. Draft leaves the field, Walls comes on. So we're in the nickel. Garcia takes one look at that, audibles to a run, and they pickup 13 yards giving them first and goal on the 7 yard line. Do we really need five defensive backs in to defend a short field against the Buccaneers? They hadn't completed a 20 yard pass all day.
Will we ever score a touchdown after the first quarter? I've heard many coaches will script their first 12 plays or so. If we do script our first plays, we're pretty good at preparing playcalls when we have plenty of time to work on it ahead of time and awful on the fly. I'm at a loss to explain how we could be this bad in the redzone.
How do we deal with the line situation? Is there any hope for success when Bulger has to throw on the run and Steven Jackson looks like he might have more yards after contact than total yards? The offensive line is in trouble. This isn't a matter of blame; this is a matter of fact. Pace is out. Incognito is out. Setterstrom is out. Steussie is out. Terrell is nursing a bruised thigh. Barron is switching sides. That means Romberg is the only one left playing where he started the season.
Do we ever plan on throwing it deep? This is a corollary of the offensive line question, but here are the avg. yards/catch for our receivers today:
Bennett 0.00 (no catches)
Hall 2.00 (1 catch)
Jackson 4.50 (4 catches)
Bruce 4.67 (3 catches)
Leonard 6.00 (1 catch)
McMichael 6.50 (2 catches)
Holt 12.60 (5 catches)
So Holt was the only one consistently picking up good yardage, and according to Stats, LLC he is only picking up a first down 54.5% of the time this season. Others have mentioned it, but if Holt is our only deep threat and his knee isn't at 100%, we're going to have a tough time stretching the field.
Re: Rams-Bucs Postmortem
Well, it's not so much a question for me as a question I'd be asking the coaching staff at this point.
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