The Bucs won their season opener against the Cleveland Browns, 17 to 14. The game was a hard fought victory and we learned several things about the team in the process.
Josh Freeman is the leader – Coming off a 3-13 season and a fractured thumb in the preseason, Freeman looked like poised veteran out there, leading the team with both his arm and legs. The Bucs were down early and could have thrown in the towel early, but Freeman kept battling out there, finding receivers when he needed and doing just enough to help the Bucs win. The Bucs are much better when he is under center and proved to many, he is the franchise now.
The running game stinks – Cadillac had a solid game, but he only had a few plays where he was able to break out for big runs (if he can’t get big runs against Cleveland, what happens when he faces an elite defense?). Kareem Huggins didn’t get a carry and LaGarrette Blount watched from the sideline. The Bucs need to get the running game going in order to help Freeman and the young receivers out. They need to get Huggins to the outside where his speed can be showcased and let Blount pound the ball inside.
Mike Williams is for real – After an impressive preseason and an opening day start, there were some that doubted if Mike Williams could live up to the hype, he answered those doubters with a touchdown in his first career game. Williams, a 4th round steal, ran crisp routes, was physical against corners, and showed speed in his first career game. Williams looked like a veteran receiver and came up big for the Bucs. He could have a monster season.
Defense appears solid – The Bucs defense was solid yesterday, not great, but solid. An early touchdown was due to confusion in the backfield between Jackson and Jones, but they got it together. Defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price were great, they did not post big numbers, but altered the running game and constantly put pressure on the Browns. E.J. Biggers and Ronde Barber had interceptions and Geno Hayes and Barrett Ruud played physical in the box.
Solid start – The Bucs are 1-0, a far cry from the 0-7 start they had last year. They played fast and anyone who was watching, saw that the team was a team. They rallied among each other, helped each other, and played as one (look at Earnest Graham’s fumble, the team surrounded him and helped him get over the mistake). The team has a long season ahead of them and there are questions everywhere, but they won. Winning the first game of the season can go a long way for the moral of the team and right now spirits are high, let’s hope they can carry that as they prepare for Carolina next week.