Every morning after the Bucs play, editor Josh Hill gives you a dose of analysis with the gift of hindsight, breaking down the good, the bad and the horribly ugly from yesterday’s game. Grab a warm glass of milk and get ready to take your shot of The Morning After Hill.
The Buccaneers are an NFL football team. No, I didn’t hit my head or have a brain aneurysm last night, I’m simply stating a fact. Furthermore I’m stating a fact that couldn’t be stated last year as the Buccaneers looked like an entirely new team on Sunday when they dismantled the Panthers.
Everything looked great, from Josh Freeman and his opening drive to Aqib Talib blocking a punt and the utter denial of Cam Newton the defense was in — they were having none of what he was trying to get going. The season is still long from over and lots can go wrong, but the Bucs are off to a hot start and the Rah-Rah Raheem Morris days look to be far behind us.
The Good: Where do I start? It’s not like the Buccaneers turned in the best performance in NFL history on Sunday, but they were solid which is more than anyone asked of them. Particularly. Josh Freeman was solid and efficient the whole game. Last year he was forcing throws and completing them to the wrong team. Big stat here: the Buccaneers committed ZERO turnovers against the Panthers which is key to not only why they won the game but it’s key to illustrate how far Freeman has come from last year. Freeman went a perfect 7-for-7 on his opening offensive drive of the game, a drive that ended in a touchdown.
The Bucs also got off to a quick and fresh start and stayed that way throughout the duration of the game. Last year, it was a blessing when the Bucs started at 4:15 because when they played at 1:00, they didn’t show up until the final two minutes of the game it seemed. This year the Bucs stayed consistent throughout the whole game — again one of the reason they actually looked like a real football team on Sunday. Offensively, defensively and on special teams the Bucs looked great and ‘good’ doesn’t begin to describe how it feels.
The Bad: Although the offense was efficient the whole game, things can be improved. The Bucs scored on their opening drive after marching down the field, but that was the only time they made it in the endzone after marching down the field. In all honesty, the game should have been a blowout but because the Buccaneers redzone offense was less than fluid is something that needs to be adjusted. The Bucs second and third offensive possessions saw the Bucs march down the field ala their first drive, but the drives ended in Connor Barth field goals rather than Doug Martin touchdown runs or Vincent Jackson corner endzone catches.
Again, this isn’t a terrible thing to have happen in week one, but what we saw last year was little problems violently explode into epic issues that sunk the team. Obviously being under new management means that those problems likely won’t happen again, but never say never. When the Bucs face a solid team like the Giants next week, every touchdown will count and empty trips that end in mere field goals won’t always cut it.
The Ugly: There really wasn’t anything too ugly that happened on Sunday, rather little things that can’t be classified under this critique. The ugliest part of the game had nothing to do with the Bucs, rather the lovely Florida weather that graced Raymond James Stadium. At the half, a lighting storm delayed the start of the second half and forced all eleven people that went to the game to huddle in the concorse (okay sorry but I had to because it’s a segue). That brings me to the other ugly aspect of the game: the attendance. No one was expecting a Super Bowl crowd as the game was blacked out locally due to low ticket sales, but it really zapped a lot of the fun out of the win to see so many empty seats. Obviously with the harsh economic times in Tampa and the nasty weather on the day, fans aren’t going to be leaping into the stadium. This will change if the winning ways continue but until it does, seeing a half empty stadium is no fun at all.