Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Breaking Down Their Week 2 Game Tape - Bleacher Report

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up a lot of points to the New York Giants on Sunday.

41 of them, to be exact.

But upon further review, what plays stood out as those that were worthy of a second look and further analysis?

Let's break down a little game tape, shall we?

Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson for a 29-yard touchdown pass

Three plays after the Mason Foster interception of Eli Manning, Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman connected on a 29-yard scoring strike to receiver Vincent Jackson.

On the play, the Giants sent linebacker Jacquian Williams on a blitz from the right-side, where he came through untouched into the Tampa Bay backfield.


With Williams blitzing, safety Antrel Rolle was tasked with the assignment of covering running back D.J. Ware, who runs a flat route to Freeman's left.

With Rolle in man-coverage out in the flat, Giants cornerback Michael Coe is left one-on-one with Jackson, who ran a fade route to the front pylon, hauling in the Freeman pass at the 4-yard line before being dragged down just inside the end zone.

Even with the blitzing Williams baring down on him untouched, Freeman delivered a perfectly-timed pass to Jackson, who was able to get past Coe at the line of scrimmage with relative ease.

Freeman-jacksontouchdownframe3jpeg_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

For whatever reason, Coe did not press Jackson at the line, which allowed the much bigger receiver to streak by on his way to a quick touchdown catch.

Freeman-jacksontouchdownframe2_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

Doug Martin 8-yard touchdown run

On 2nd-and-5 from the Giants' 8-yard line, Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin takes a hand off and initially attempts to take the ball up the middle, but quickly spins and bounces outside to the left of the defense.

Dougmartintdrun1_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

After breaking away to the outside, Martin runs untouched into the end zone for the first professional score of his young career.

Receiver Vincent Jackson was flanked to the left side, where he was drawing double-coverage. Both the cornerback and the safety covering Jackson follow him as he runs a slant route into the end zone.


As a result, both run themselves away from the path of Martin, who again, found no resistance once he spun outside and away from the Giants' defense.

Dougmartintdrun2_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks for a 23-yard touchdown pass

Down 17-6 and badly needing a score with the first-half winding down, quarterback Eli Manning found receiver Hakeem Nicks on a go route for a 23-yard touchdown, capping a 10-play, 80-yard drive.


Safety Ronde Barber came on a blitz, leaving cornerback Aqib Talib alone against Nicks to the left side of the defense. At the line, Nicks fakes to his right and is able to get Talib to bite on it, thus allowing the speedy Nicks to run past him unblocked.


Manning, initially looking to his left, finds Nicks streaking towards the end zone and hits him in stride with the pass. Because Manning was looking to his left, he was able to hold safety Mark Barron away from Nicks, which again, allowed for the touchdown to occur.

Manningnickstdpass3_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

Eric Wright's 60-yard interception return for a touchdown


With the Giants threatening with another scoring drive before the end of the half, cornerback Eric Wright blitzes from the slot, but stops halfway to Eli and, mid-jump, intercepts a Manning pass intended for Victor Cruz.


After dancing around a handful of would-be tacklers, Wright races his way 60-yards for a touchdown.

It is the third interception of Manning of the half, and the Bucs were able to generate 21 points as a result of the three turnovers they created.

The Bucs went into halftime leading 24-13.

Eli Manning to Victor Cruz for an 80-yard touchdown pass

With the Bucs leading 27-19 with just under seven minutes remaining in the game, cornerback Eric Wright attempts to blitz Manning from the slot. With Wright blitzing, safety Ronde Barber is tasked with covering slot receiver Victor Cruz.


With the offensive line of New York protecting Manning on all fronts, Eli is able to step up in the pocket and connect with a wide-open Cruz, whose double-move on Barber allowed the speedy receiver to get by with minimal resistance.


Once Cruz has hauled in the catch, he races pass safety Mark Barron on his way to an 80-yard score.

Manningcruztd2_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

After a successful two-point conversion, the Giants tied the game up at 27 apiece.

Eli Manning to Martellus Bennett for a 33-yard touchdown pass

Tight end Martellus Bennett is in the slot, lined up next to receiver Ramses Barden on the outside. At the snap, Barden runs a slant route in front of cornerback Brandon McDonald, who then switches to cover Bennett, who is running a wheel route towards the pylon.


Because Manning is afforded ample time in the pocket, he is able to make his passing progressions, where he notices the much-taller Bennett paired against McDonald. With Barden running a slant route towards the middle of the defense, safety Mark Barron is held in place, rather than offering over-the-top coverage for McDonald on the sideline.


Bennett is able to make the grab over McDonald near the goal line, before falling into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown.

Manningbennetttd3_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

The score put the Giants ahead 34-27 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.

Josh Freeman to Mike Williams for a 41-yard touchdown pass

With the Bucs trailing by a touchdown, they look for a quick score to even things up. On the play, receiver Mike Williams is lined up across from cornerback Justin Tryon. At the snap, Williams runs a simple go route, with Tryon staying step-for-step with him down the field.


However, the Giants are unable to generate a pass rush, leaving Freeman with a clear, uninterrupted passing window to work with. Freeman is able to step up in the pocket and attempt a long pass attempt towards the end zone.


Williams is able to out-jump Tryon for the ball, then while attempting to bring it in to his body, temporarily uses Tryon's helmet to secure the pass, before landing on both feet inside the end zone for a touchdown reception.

Freemanwilliamstd3_original_originalImage courtesy of FoxSports

The score tied the game at 34-34, with just under two minutes left in regulation.

On the ensuing drive, the Giants are able to work their way down the length of the field, finally punching it for a touchdown with 34 seconds remaining.

With a timeout and 25 seconds to use, Freeman completes a 19-yard pass to Vincent Jackson, who is able to get out of bounds and stop the clock.

Freeman appears to connect with Mike Williams along the sideline on the next play, but after the play is reviewed, it is ruled that Williams did not fully possess the ball before dropping it on his way out of bounds.

On the very next play, Freeman is flushed out of the pocket to his right and attempts to find tight end Dallas Clark over the middle, but his pass sails high and into the arms of linebacker Michael Boley.

The game ends on the controversial kneel-down, with the Giants winning 41-34.

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Josh Freeman: Why Isn't the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Scrambling? - Bleacher Report

Josh Freeman introduced an exciting dimension to the quarterback position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they drafted him out of Kansas State.

Freeman, in addition to his big arm, had the wonderfully valuable ability to take off and run for some clutch first downs when his receivers were covered.

Notice the use of "had."

The Josh Freeman who scrambled so well in 2010 and 2011, has done virtually nothing with his feet thus far in the 2012 season.

This facet of the Buccaneer offense may be more puzzling than the absence of LeGarrette Blount.

In 2010, Freeman took off 68 times for 364 yards. The big guy averaged more than five yards a carry (5.4) and broke a long one for 33 yards.

In 2011, he took off 55 times for 238 yards, averaged better than four yards a carry (4.3) and his longest scamper went for 25 yards.

This year, it started in the preseason. Freeman often had a wide-open fieldâ€"10 yards would have been a cinchâ€"but he chose to stay in the pocket. No big deal, you don't want your quarterback getting whacked when it doesn't count.

Now that the Bucs are two games into the regular season, Freeman has done virtually nothing with his legs. And that's puzzling. He showed up for camp 20 pounds lighter and everyone figured that would make him more dangerous and more mobile if he chose to dash from the pocket.

Why isn't Freeman running the football?

Why isn't Freeman running the football?

  • A: They don't want him to.

  • B: He's forgotten how.

  • C: They want Doug Martin to run.

  • D: Only Sullivan knows.

Through two games, he has 13 rushing yards, seven carries, and considering that he did have a 12-yard run in there, those other six carries have netted one yard. That's pretty un-Freeman-like when you look at past performances.

As bad as that is, Freeman's still out-working LeGarrette Blount, who has three carries for eight yards this season. Which begs the question: What Up With That?

The opportunities have been there for the third-year QB. There were at least a half-dozen opportunities in these first two games for him to pick up first downs or really good, easy yardage with a quick scramble.

Could it be that offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan wants to go totally "Eli Manning" on us and turn Freeman into a pocket statue? That's fine if it's Eli, but this is Big Josh, by gosh.

Is head coach Greg Schiano totally fearful of what might happen to the offense if Freeman gets injured?

Whatever it is, it doesn't make much sense, considering Freeman's past history as a pretty darn good runner when needed.

It's just another weapon, something for the defenses to think about.

Did we mention it's very puzzling?

Why isn't LeGarrette Blount getting any carries?

Why isn't LeGarrette Blount getting any carries?

  • A: He's in Schiano's doghouse.

  • B: They don't trust him with the ball.

  • C: He hasn't practiced well.

  • D: They want him to get healthy.

  • E: They would rather Doug Martin get the carries.

No one in the un-curious Tampa MSMâ€"that's mainstream mediaâ€"has asked anyone about it, not Schiano, not Sullivan, not Freeman. Right now most of them are recovering from the "Kneel-Gate" hub-bub.

That leaves the rest of us to wonder if Freeman is going to do anything when the field opens in front of him this coming Sunday, or the next Sunday, or the next.

It seems like the only thing scrambling with the Bucs these days are the eggs in the facility cafeteria.

And that's a shame.

More Buccaneer news and views:

NHL Free Agency: 3 Goalies the Tampa Bay Lightning Could Still Pursue - Bleacher Report

With the lockout in full swing, the threat of missing games in the 2012-13 season is a concern. That’s not a good situation for the Tampa Bay Lightning that still have questions in goal. A shortened season could open the door to the Bolts pursuing some goaltenders in a pinch.

Tampa’s offseason has changed the attitude in the community following a disappointing 2011-12 campaign. With additions of high-profile defensemen like Sami Salo and Matt Carle, the league’s worst defense in 2011 should be much improved, whenever the NHL resumes play.

In goal, the Bolts brought in backup goaltender Anders Lindback from Nashville. Mathieu Garon looks to be healthy, following a late-season groin injury.

If this duo isn’t the answer for the Lightning this season, pursuing these three goaltenders may help the Bolts―especially if it’s a shortened campaign.

Dwayne Roloson

Could Rolly get the Bolts back to the Eastern Conference finals?
Could Rolly get the Bolts back to the Eastern Conference finals?
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Dwayne Roloson scratched his way into the hearts of Lightning fans with his performance in 2010-11. The Tampa version of Martin Brodeur brought the Bolts within one game of the Stanley Cup finals.

The magic from that postseason run brought high hopes last season. But, the magic never came back. Roloson went 13-16-3 with a 3.66 goals-against average.

He platooned in goal with Garon, but eventually conceded the starting role. Garon has a contract with the Lightning for 2012-13. Roloson doesn’t. He doesn’t have a contract with an NHL team at all.

Despite his struggles last season, Roloson could be a great pick up, or re-signing for the Bolts. If the NHL lockout leads to a shortened season, teams’ margin for error is slim.

In an 82-game season, teams with unproven goaltenders can afford a few hiccups and growing pains. A shortened season adds a lot of pressure to unproven goaltenders, especially in the unique Lightning system under Guy Boucher.

There’s no learning curve for Roloson at 43-years-old. Maybe, he has just one last hurrah in him.

Dominik Hasek

The Dominator knows the NHL and has enough experience to benefit the Lightning.
The Dominator knows the NHL and has enough experience to benefit the Lightning.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Sticking with the aging goaltender and shortened season themes, the Bolts may want to take a run at Dominik Hasek.

The Dominator has played in 735 career NHL games and has apparently been keeping in shape. He hasn’t played in the NHL since 2007-08 with the Detroit Red Wings, but Hasek feels as if he is NHL-ready.

At 47-years-old, he may not be ready for an 82-game season. That’s great news if the lockout cuts the upcoming season short.

HC Pardubice in the Czech Extraliga plays a 52-game season. They won the league crown in 2010 and 2012. Hasek re-joined the team in 2009.

Hasek is a proven winner and, with all the career games accrued, not much would surprise him. A spot with the Lightning for a year might be a great asset, especially to teach the two young goaltenders in Lindback and Dustin Tokarski.

Antero Niittymaki

He played for the Lightning two years ago with a respectable 21-18-5 record.
He played for the Lightning two years ago with a respectable 21-18-5 record.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Currently a group 3 free agent, Antero Niittymaki is another veteran goaltender the Bolts could pursue, again. Niittymaki has seven NHL seasons to his name, including a successful season with Tampa in 2009-10.

In 2010, the Finnish goalie went 21-18-5 in 49 games. He even posted a 2.87 goals-against average―third lowest in his career.

Tampa finished that year 34-36-12 and missed out on the playoffs. Niittymaki split time with Mike Smith and actually had a much better record than Smith. Yes, Tampa, the same Mike Smith that just led the Phoenix Coyotes to the postseason.

Despite familiarity with the team and the community, the 32-year old hasn’t played for Boucher. Boucher was hired following the 2010 season. Niitymaki joined the San Jose Sharks that season.

A career 95-86-31 record is acceptable, especially if the Bolts lose a goaltender to injury, want additional depth or want to save their youngest goaltenders from a premature call-up.

His two-year deal that expired with the Sharks was worth $2 million per season. Tampa has the cap-room currently with nearly $7 million in space. The terms of a new collective bargaining agreement could adjust that, but Niitymaki could be a good insurance pick up for the Bolts.

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