This game had everything to be set up as a good first win coming into it. Bucs has a lot of momentum with the new head coach Lovie Smith and all the new coaches. Bringing in all the new Free Agents players and the new direction. Being at home playing in front of the fans to start out the new season. Cam Newton being held out of the game with Fractured Ribs and Journeyman QB Derek Anderson starting at QB. It just looked like things were lining up for us to have a good game and come away with our first win of the Lovie Smith era. But then at 4:25pm eastern Sunday afternoon something happened. The crowd was ready to explode and get Ray Jay rocking. Everyone was excited and hungry for our new Bucs. We won the coin toss and just like a defensive coach Lovie chose to start out with the defense on the field. We didn't get a 3 and out but Defense was able to force a punt and give the ball to our new and improved offense. But there was one more problem. the offensive line much have though the game started at a later time because from the first snap it seems like Carolina knew our plays and the snap count. They were without DE Greg Hardy who was suspended for the first four games for violating the policy. So that was a big help for our offensive line who all preseason had a problem with blocking. They went out and made a trade for Guard Logan Mankins from NE for TE Tim Wright and by the end of the 1st half he was lost for the game and hopefully not any longer with a knee injury. Anthony Collins as of right now through the preseason hasn’t lived up to the big contract we gave him. Center Evan Deitric Smith didn’t play well either. As a matter of fact none of the offensive lineman got a good grade on Pro Football Focus. There just wasn’t anything to write home about. There was a few times where Josh took the snap and before he could get into his drop he had people in his face. He had a bad game but any QB will have a bad game without any protection. We don’t have a Russell Wilson or a Kapernick type of guy who can make plays on their own if things break down. Josh has some ability but to ask him to do that. You're asking for trouble. The running game was nonexistent also. Our biggest run came from our FB n a quick dive play that went for 50 yards in the first quarter. Doug martin had nowhere to go running for 9yrds on 9 carries before leaving the game with an injury and Bobby Rainey came in and ran a little better but ultimately same results. The offense continued to struggle until Josh McCown halfway through the first qtr. started calling his own plays and checking into Audibles and Managed to bring the Bucs back into the game after scoring two tds in less than 5min to bring Tampa Bay within a FG- with less than 2min left before Bobby Rainey fumbled after a reception to end any hopes of the Bucs to win the game.
Defensively the Bucs did everything that they could to hold Carolina at bay after falling down by 17pts. But I have to say Besides DT Gerald McCoy, LB Lavonte David and CB Alterran Verner. No one else failed to make any Impact during the course of the game and it was apparent that the defensive line was supposed to be strength and all preseason I had been saying that I haven't heard enough of Michael Johnson who was bought in for his pass rushing skills from the Bengals. He failed to make an impact play. All game long in 3rd and long or 3rd and 5. Carolina QB Derek Anderson had a nap in the pocket. Rarely feeling any pressure and having a clean throwing lane to get balls into the hands of his wrs. Lbs at times seem to be lost in coverage on the run/read option that the panthers were running even though we know that Anderson wasn't running the ball at all. Linebackers kept going for the fake and failing to get back into their drops which were allowing Derek Anderson to work the middle of the field with his tight ends. In the Tampa 2 scheme that is where the who9le is if you don't get back into your drops. The front 7 was not good at getting the running game contained as the Panthers found their running game rushing for 133 yards on 33 carries (3.4 yards per rush). Not a high average but the 33 carries just wore them down. It allowed the Panthers to sustain drives and east away at the clock possessing the ball for well over 23min in the first half of the game. Secondary was lacking in coverage also. Verner played well but bad plays made by Mike Jenkins and Banks struggled a little bit. Safety Deshon Goulson dropped a would be game changing INT late in the fourth qtr. As a defense they have to be better at opportunities to take the ball away. There were two chances we had to get INTs and not once did our corners turn around to locate the ball. You have to have ball instincts and know when to get your head turned around to locate the ball when running downfield. I never understand why corners think face guarding is a good way to cover a wr. It’s not being aggressive and most of the time you get penalties for doing it anyways. Bucs have to be better. They have a long way to go to be the defensive team they need to be but they did do some things well but in those critical moments when a play needed to be made. They didn't make it and good defenses make you pay.
Well on to next week against The St. Louis Rams Derrick Brooks day. Hopefully we can get a better performance from the offensive and defensive players and also, we should have our real OC Jeff Tedford calling the plays not the QB coach. So I expect the offensive rhythm to be a lot better. The offensive line issues need to be fixed in order to establish the running game and get the passing game going. I expect Josh McCown to play a better game also. They're going to need to have a great performance because their facing another Stud front 7 and they can get after the passer better than any team in the league. On defense we are facing another back up QB and that doesn’t guarantee anything. Bucs have to generate a pass rush and put some pressure on the Rams QBs and also make the plays when they're there to be made. Capitalize! Stop the run and get off the field on 3rd down and not allow the rams to sustain any drives. Defenses stays fresh and come away with a win and not start the season 0-2 before going on the road for 4 games against some pretty good teams. We need some Momentum or this thing can go south quickly.