Josh Freeman is confused by the predictable playcalling, and suffering because of it.

Midweek Gameplan 10-12-11

The Buccaneers’ Most Recent

This may be considered piling on, but my take on the Bucs’ game against the 49ers is that they got outcoached.  Yes, they looked horrible and the players need to execute on the field, but the 49ers were better prepared for everything the Bucstried to do on Sunday.  They have become predictable on offense, and their defense seemed surprised throughout the game.

Regarding the offense, I was just amazed at how the Bucs run the same few plays over and over again with just slight variations.  They always start the game with a run inside the tackles, a slant or deep pass, then try and throw their way out of a problem or run a screen if they are really backed up.  Freeman consistently makes two throws on the early down play action plays.  He either throws down the sideline to a receiver on a deep route or a deep out or cross to Winslow.  The 49ers knew this and when he didn’t throw a deep pass right away to the receiver, the corners dropped off the route and went inside.  This led to the first interception and happened a couple of more times during the game.  This is difficult for Freeman to read because the corner does not drop off until he is delivering the ball.  This can be a very good play, but they run it so much that it is incredibly predictable.  The solution to this is to do a double move on the outside with the receiver, which will turn the corner around, and then have Winslow break on a curl rather than an out.  Thus, if the corner tries to turn he is caught in limbo and out of position.

In contrast, the Bucs defense seemed completely unprepared for the passing game.  The 49ers were billed as a smash mouth running team and even Tony Siragusa was raving about how both teams would run the ball this game.  Instead the 49ers came out with a pass first philosophy and ran secondarily.  This completely threw off the Bucs early, and made their running game even that much more effective as the game wore on.  The Bucs are in for a tough stretch in the next three games if they don’t play a more complete defense.

Injury Updates and Commentary

The Bucs suffered two big injuries this week, which are the first major injuries to really impact the season.  Gerald McCoy suffered what is being called an ankle sprain, but this looked more like a high ankle sprain to me (and some reports have also stated this).  The difference between the two is where the ligaments are torn in the ankle.  In a “standard” ankle sprain the ligaments are torn between the leg bones and the foot bones and this can usually be treated with taping and external bracing for support.  In a high ankle sprain, the ligaments are torn between the two leg bones (the lower tibia and fibula), and thus they are not stable.  Taping and bracing does not help this injury as much and it is very painful to push off and cut with this injury as every time a stress is applied to the leg, it stresses these ligaments.  Fortunately, this usually only takes a couple of weeks to heal and I expect him to return after a couple of weeks and no later than after the bye week.

As for LeGarrette Blount, it appeared to me that he took a shot to the lower quad area and did not have a ligament injury to his knee.  It is possible that he has a strain to his MCL, but it is more likely that he just has a deep thigh bruise.  While this sounds like no big deal, this hurts quite a bit and can really hobble a running back or receiver for a week or two due pain and stiffness of the muscle.  Blount is supposed to try and practice today and we will see if he can go.  My prediction is that if he is running remotely well on Wednesday, he will play on Sunday.  If he is not able to go, he may be limited if even able to play on Sunday.  These injuries usually take around 5-10 days to heal.

If only these players would set up an appointment in my office, it would be easier to speculate.

NFL Matters

This week Tim Tebow will get a chance to start for the Broncos as they have essentially given up on the season and want to see what they have in the young quarterback.  I have never seen a player so polarizing in the NFL as Mr. Tebow, but either way, almost all of us will watch to see what happens or at least check the stat line.  I actually feel a little bad for John Fox in this situation, he did not draft Tebow, and he had a vision for the team that didn’t necessarily include starting him at this point.  In addition, Brady Quinn played much better than Tebow this preseason, and thus was named second string for good reason.  It is just that there is such pressure in Denver to play the golden boy, that Fox has now given into it and the worst part is that it will be his job on the line.  Simply put, if Tebow succeeds, Fox keeps his job, if Tebow fails; Fox is on the hot seat.  I just don’t think that is really fair to a guy who did not select him as the face of the franchise, but he did know what he was getting when he signed the contract early this year.

Fantasy Focus

It is an interesting week for the Bucs as they are playing a so-so defense, yet I can’t recommend one player on their team to start.  Freeman has been inconsistent and was exploited this last week, so it is hard to trust him this week.  Blount is very likely to be day to day, and the receivers have been a mixed bag all season.  That leaves Kellen Winslow, who should have a decent game as the Saints tend to let him catch the ball over the middle and Earnest Graham as a potential sleeper if Blount is unable to go.  Hopefully, you have other players on your roster with good matchups until the Bucs offense gets the ship righted again.

At The End of the Day

It will be interesting to see how the college football season will shape up this season.  I think this year has some real potential of leaving a team out of the championship game who is undefeated and from a major conference.  Often times, these things sort themselves out as one of the good teams gets tripped up and eliminate themselves, but it could be interesting.  I think there are four teams who look better than the rest of their conference and have the ability to go undefeated.  I will start with LSU/Alabama, where the winner will likely waltz into the BCS championship without question.  After that, Wisconsin (Big Ten), Oklahoma (Big 12), and Stanford (Pac 12), will all be competing for the other spot and have the ability to win all of their remaining games.  Unfortunately, Boise State will definitely be an afterthought if multiple teams are undefeated.

In a way, I am actually hoping that all of these teams stay undefeated.  It only strengthens the argument for a playoff system.

Until next week, “Natural” doesn’t always mean better for you.  Take arsenic, for example.

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