Tampa BayWatch – My Thoughts on the Bucs

Bucs Bye Week Review

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After a fast start the Bucs have stumbled to the half way point of the season with a record of 5-4. The Bucs could easily be 7-2 but lost winnable games against the Lions and Jaguars. The season has progressed under a cloud of injuries to key starters but there has been a number of bright spots through the first half of the season. Jeff Garcia has been a revelation at QB and has provided key leadership under centre. Should i be happy with 5-4 or feel that the team have let slip 2 winnable games ?

Garcia has led the Bucs to 5-4 at the bye week

The early season schedule certainly helped the Bucs as they were able to play the Rams, Saints and Panthers who were either poor teams or just showing no early season form. The Rams are now 0-8, and both the Panthers and Saints look like they will be much tougher the next time we face them in NFC South games. The Bucs got through the first four games at 3-1, went 1-3 in the next 4 and beat the Cardinals to go 1-0 in the next four. A loss against the Colts was to be expected but, a close win against the Titans seemed to suggest that the team could build on their performances so far. However turnovers in the games against Detroit and the Jaguars have cost the Bucs these 2 games.

Defensive Review:

There have been a number of strong performances through the first half of the season. On defence the play of the safties, Tanard Jackson and Jermaine Phillips has been a definite upgrade on last year. Before going on IR Sabby Piscitelli was making key contributions on a special teams unit that was amongst the best early season.

We seem to have a settled CB unit with Ronde Barber leading the way as normal. The injury to Brian Kelly has been worrying but Philip Buchanon has stepped in well. The play of the corners has been helped by knowing that the Safeties behind them aren’t a liability like they were last year.

The line backing core with 2 new starters has kept up the level of play that we come to expect from Bucs LB’s. Barrett Ruud has stepped in well at MLB, his skills in coverage still concern me but he’s certainly been a force against the run. After a slow start Cato June is starting to look like a nice pickup.

The main concern on defence is the lack of consistent pressure from the front 4. Despite utilising all the players available no one seems to be able to generate a consistent threat from either DE or DT. Jovan Haye has stepped in well alongside Chris Hovan but we need to get more pressure. Gaines Adams so far hasn’t lived up to that #4 draft pick billing and will need to step his game up in the next 7 games. I’m willing to give Gaines Adams more time to develop but was expecting more than he has delivered so far.

Offensive Review:

On offence, had a less mobile QB been under centre the Bucs would have been looking at a far worse record. Early season the O-line looked more solid but since Luke Petitgout to injury the line has been struggling and its only thanks to Garcias mobility that we are 5-4. The line has showed flashes of improved play and the Tampa media has been quick to suggest that its a strength. I’m not so sure.

I’ll be first to admit that its a young line with only John Wade providing any veteran nous. However, against the Lions the line was being breached time and again and they’ll need to improve, if heaven forbid we have a less mobile QB under centre. The one thing I do like with this line is their togetherness and Truebloods spat in the Cardinals game shows a real competitive edge that’s good to see. However the line is definite work in progress

Garcia has been a great addition to the Bucs and his veteran nous and QB skills have provided a definite upgrade at the position. Apart from his meltdown against the Jags he has been the epitome of a ball control QB. For now the Bucs have a definite #1 QB, but what does the future hold in this position ?

Neither Gradkowski or McCown look like starters and I think Simms time in Tampa is done. Will the Bucs look at the draft or look for another veteran ? If Gruden remains in charge it’s most likely another vet will be added to the roster once Garcia hangs up his cleats.

I have to admit I thought the season was going down the drain when Cadillac Williams was lost to injury. However, Earnest Graham has been a revelation. Powerful on the ground, with nice hands out of the backfield, Graham has provided a key outlet for Garcia. Michael Bennett was brought in when Michael Pittman was injured and has shown to be a nice change up to Graham. It’ll be an interesting training camp when all 4 are back fit as to who gets cut.

At WR its all about the veterans, and to be honest thank god we have them. Galloway and Hilliard have shown the youngsters how its done. Michael Clayton has made some key grabs, however he will be worried that he only has 7 receptions this season. Garcia is spreading the ball around the offence but we can’t rely on Ike and Joey forever. Alex Smith at TE is starting to develop into the pass catching TE I hoped he would be and will be buoyed by his performance so far this season. The Bucs also seem to be concerned with the WR production as rumours have it that Mike Williams has been contacted by the Bucs.

The Bucs will be glad of the bye week to rest some battered bodies, before embarking on the next half of the season. The Bucs have winnable games against the Falcons and Texans and this will get us to at least 8 wins. If the Bucs can get to 9-7 or more would be a surprise and given all the injury set backs this season I think 8-8 will be a good season.

However the knives seem to be out in the Tampa media for Gruden. The St Petes Times have already decided that Gruden even if the Bucs win the NFC South could be looking for another job. It would be harsh if Gruden was fired but the Glazers already have a track record of firing coaches who they feel aren’t getting it done – just ask Tony Dungy.

So far i’d give the Bucs a B- for their performance so far but there’s still a long way to go this season.

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Written by UK Bucs Fan

November 11, 2007 at 7:51 pm

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