Examining the Defense: The Patriots

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Frank Okam also had a good performance, as well.  Okam led the defensive line with four tackles.  Okam also defended well against the run and was disruptive on several key plays, including the one where his pass rush led to an under thrown ball falling to cornerback, Elbert Mack, who zigzagged all the way to the endzone.  The first round pick also had some bright moments.  Clayborn struggled to get to Brady against a powerful offensive line, but was able to be a handful for Brady’s pass protection.  He also displayed great use of his hands and flew into Brady just as the ball was released from his hand.  The pass went incomplete.  George Johnson looked sharp when he teamed up with Tyrone McKenzie on a blitz and sacked the QB.

 

Elbert Mack returns an interception for a touchdown

Linebackers

The linebackers looked as if they could have contributed more if absent on most plays.  They looked lost in coverage on passing plays, and missed tackles on running plays.  One linebacker, however, was on fire all night long.  Dekota Watson not only led the team with six tackles, but was all over the field and never looked like he wasted a step.  He also was exceptional in blitzing and played a huge role in Tim Crowder’s sack against Brady.  He displayed good use of his hands in shedding blocks and looked strong against the run.  Watson looked fast and alert, and is really making a case for a starting spot in the Bucs defense.  Although those odds are slim for the beginning of the season, it will be impossible for the coaching staff to ignore how well the young linebacker is playing.  With Foster locking down the middle spot, and Black returning to start as the SAM (strongside) linebacker position, Watson could eventually be given a chance to start over the under-performing Will (weakside) linebacker, Geno Hayes.   Hayes had a pretty good game against the Chiefs, but really needed to perform well against the Patriots to maintain the coaching staff’s faith in him.  Mason Foster had a terrible game outside of a ferocious hit he put on Chad Ochocinco.  Although he was penalized for hitting Ochocinco helmet to helmet, he still covered the receiver well on that play, which shouldn’t be ignored.  Foster looked nervous and confused throughout the game, which could be fixed with time and experience.  He still looked aggressive and played ambitiously.  He shot through a gap, just missing Green-Ellis, which would have stopped the running back from a 16 yard gain, and a 1st down on the 1 yard line.  He also had a good stop on Patriots rookie running back, Ridley.  Experience and repetition will be his best instructor.  Quincy Black looked as if this was his first year playing.  He had a few nice plays, but for the most part didn’t look spectacular.  Lawrence and Smith both had decent performances, but nothing like their last game.  Tyrone McKenzie showed up to play, but did nothing to make the coaching staff regret their decision to start Mason Foster.

 

Rookie, Anthony Gaitor, prevents Wes Welker from scoring

Defensive Backs

Pass coverage seemed confused for the first half of the game, and completely failed against Brady’s accurate arm.  However, it seemed that Brady’s absence provided a sense of hope in the defensive backs.  Elbert Mack intercepted a deep

pass, ran it back 69 yards, and gave the Buccaneers a TD and more time for the offense to rest.  He also stopped a key TD pass.   Outside of the pick six, Mack looked alert, but not amazing.  He also had a good tackle for a loss on RB, Ridley.  Anthony Gaitor had another great game.  The rookie defended against two TD passes, was good in coverage, and was a sound tackler.  He also showed intelligence in angles he took to defend against short passes.  Another defensive back who did really well was Cory Lynch.  Lynch played like he was the doorway to the endzone.  He hit hard, covered well, and didn’t let anything past him.  He also recorded five tackles, making him second to Watson.  Asante defended against a TD pass and forced a fumble on a 4th and 1 play, forcing a turnover.  Unfortunately, he looked a bit shaken up after taking a poor angle on a tackle, but came back in and continued to play well.  Asante has been blessed with more playing time due to the absence of suspended safety, Tanard Jackson, and Ahmad Black not participating due to a high ankle sprain.  So far, he’s made a case for himself, and could secure his position on the roster.  Sean Jones looked sloppy and blew his coverage on a play action play where he closed in for a running play, leaving the endzone open for Ochocinco to score a TD.  DJ Johnson almost gave the Buccaneers another pick six, but failed to hold on to the ball.

 

Bucs D top 3

Dekota Watson

Watson continues to show the coaching staff that he can be a huge contributor.  He’s good at everything.  Experience could make him great.

 

Gerald McCoy

McCoy played with a nonstop motor and looked hungry on every play.  If he stays healthy, he can be a real threat.

 

Cory Lynch

Lynch didn’t have any extremely flashy plays, but also didn’t let anything past him.  He played like he had something to prove.  He also came close to another one of his punt blocks.  I would like to see him

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