Tampa BayWatch – My Thoughts on the Bucs

Week 1 Round Up

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It’s football time !! Thursday night heralded the start of the new NFL season and here in the UK we are getting more games than ever. In previous seasons we generally have had a choice of 4 games on a Sunday and the Monday night game plus a magazine show covering all the other action. However this year the main satellite broadcaster in the the UK, SKY, has pulled out all the stops. We have had preseason games, we now get NFL Total Access and NFL Playbook, and they are also showing Americas Game. Game coverage has nearly doubled with 6 games being shown each Sunday and then the Monday night game. With the NFL’s flexible scheduling we will also see more of these games. Anyway enough about the coverage here’s some thoughts on the games I have seen this week.

Manning led the Colts to an easy win over the Saints

Indianapolis 41 – New Orleans 10

To kick off the season we had the Indianapolis Colts playing last years surprise package New Orleans. After a sluggish start to the first half the Colts blitzed the Saints in the 2nd with 31 unanswered points. Manning certainly had a gameplan and that seemed to be to attack former Colts CB, Jason David as often as possible. Scores to Marvin Harrison and two from Reggie Wayne were both in matchups against David. The evening wasn’t without incident for the Colts as on the first play from scrimmage Joseph Addai had to be helped from the field after a tackle. With Dominic Rhodes having been traded to the Raiders in the off season there was no proven backup. Luckily for the Colts it appeared that Addai only had the wind knocked out of him and returned to the game to rack up 118 yards on the ground. Offensively the Colts found their feet in the second half and Manning dissected the Saints secondary, with 288 yards and 3 TD’s.

One area of concern could be the play of Tony Ugoh at LT. Unexpectedly thrust into the starting lineup after the retirement of Tarik Glenn, Ugoh struggled in pass protection and will need some time to bed into the Colts offensive line. As for most starting rookie linemen his running game was more solid but teams will look to attack Manning thru his left tackle.

Drew Brees and the Saints offence just couldn’t seem to get themselves going. A stuttering performance on the ground from Deuce McCallister and Reggie Bush and with the Colts pass rush getting pressure to Brees the Saints just couldn’t execute. The Saints line appeared to struggle against the front four of the Colts and rookie Ed Johnson performed well in place of the injured Booger McFarland. The standout player on the Colts defence seemed to be Freddie Keiaho, who as well as making key tackles intercepted Brees in the 3rd quarter to set up an Adam Vinatieri field goal.

The Colts looked sharp in the 2nd half and certainly sent a message to other AFC teams that they are going to be a team to beat.

New England 38 – New York Jets 14

Randy Moss announced his arrival in a Patriots uniform in style with 183 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. He capped a great performance with a 51 yard TD catch, catching the ball and left 3 Jets defenders trailing in his wake. Brady seems to have generated excellent chemistry with his new WR core and Wes Welker also impressed with 61 yards and the games opening touchdown. Brady and the Patriots looked impressive on both sides of the ball. The offensive line gave Brady all the time he needed to pick his passes, the receivers looked sharp and Maroney and Morris provided a nice 1-2 punch from the backfield. Ellis Hobbs also set a new NFL record for a kick off return, with a 108 yard return.

The Jets were fairly anonymous throughout this game although one concern could be an ankle injury sustained by Chad Pennington. Kellen Clemens came into replace Pennington but couldn’t inspire an already beaten team.

However the fallout after the game has had far more interest than activities on the field. It is alleged that a Patriots employee was filming the Jets defensive coaches and this information was being passed on to the Patriots coordinators.

In a statement from league spokesman,Greg Aiello ”The rule is that no video recording devices of any kind are permitted to be in use in the coaches’ booth, on the field, or in the locker room during the game, Clubs have specifically been reminded in the past that the videotaping of an opponent’s offensive or defensive signals on the sidelines is prohibited. We are looking into whether the Patriots violated this rule.”

Today Bill Belichick made the following statement, “At this point, we have not been notified of the league’s ruling, although it remains a league matter, I want to apologize to everyone who has been affected, most of all ownership, staff and players. Following the league’s decision, I will have further comment.”

Commissioner Goodell is considering what sanctions to impose on the Patriots who have been accused of a similar act before although nothing was proven. The sanctions could be the loss of multiple draft picks as this action is in violation of a previous warning issued to all teams.

A decision is expected on Friday from the commissioner and it will be interesting to see what punishment the Patriots will receive.

San Diego 14 – Chicago 3

A defensive humdinger of a game with both sets of defensive players knocking seven bells out of each other. It took a moment of trickery from LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates to break the Chicago defence. From the snap the ball was handed from Philip Rivers to LT, who rolled out to his right and found Gates who was able to sneak into the corner of the endzone for a 17 yard completion. LT was held to his 2nd lowest rushing total ever but was able to find the endzone in the 4th quarter to effectively finish the game. The Chargers will take confidence from this result but have another tough game as they face the Patriots at Foxboro.

The Bears have a lot of questions to answer. The biggest one could be why they traded Thomas Jones to the Jets. Neither Adrian Peterson or Cedric Benson ran with the authority that Jones showed and a fumble from each player also stopped promising drives. Admittedly it’s not an easy thing to run against one of the best front sevens in football but Benson will need to step up to help Rex Grossman, who apart from an interception had a solid game under centre. Sadly there is also some bad injury news for the Bears. Both Mike Brown and Dusty Dvoracek have been lost for the season after tearing their ACL’s. It’t tough on Brown who has only played 28 games in the last 3 seasons thanks to injury.

Seattle 20 – Tampa Bay 6

The Bucs travelled to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seahawks and unsurprising didn’t come away with a win. This game wasn’t on UK coverage and it will be about 10 days until my contact in the US can provide me with a DVD of the game. I’ll provide some thoughts on this once I have seen the game.

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