The PAINFULLY Ugly: The Play-calling and Mike Sullivan’s Mindset
I firmly believe that Josh Freeman’s awful day under center was perpetrated by horrible play-calling by Mike Sullivan. Okay, I get what he was trying to run plays that set up third and manageable situations but when was the last time a team won a Super Bowl or was a serious contender by running schemes that were based around third and manageable?
It’s not a bad strategy to get the offense familiar with itself, but there comes a point where you remove the lit cigarette from your flesh and tend to the wound. That never happened on Sunday as rather than bandage the burn when the cigarette went out, they grabbed a blow torch and took it to their forearm.
It was brutal to watch — again, psychic pain. The game literally got so boring that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman found conversing about Rob Ryan’s hair more entertaining.
The Bucs were playing within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage the entire game and that’s being generous. Freeman went mildly deep a few times but as soon as it was batted away, the next ten plays were runs. It was mind boggling: you don’t get elite receivers in Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson only to be scared off by a so-so corner and a rookie you passed on in the draft.
Sure the Cowboys were running two safeties deep the entire game, but nothing was opened up in-between the line and the deep coverage. Dallas Clark and Luke Stocker were just blockers all day and none of the new receivers the Bucs signed were able to get open.
I love Doug Martin, but even he had to be saying come on man when the constant slew of run plays were called. The Bucs ran the ball 24 times but it was how and when they were called that frustrated everyone watching.
Third and long: run it.
First and 10: run it.
Second and short: run it.
Third and 20: run it.
Third and manageable: run it.
See the sickening pattern here? When the Bucs threw the ball it was either because the run play broke down or Freeman was forced to get rid of the ball. It honestly felt as though we were stuck in a time warp and somehow Raheem Morris was the head coach again in some cruel Twilight Zone twist.
I’m not against a balanced attack but I am against sticking to a broken gameplan. Everyone and their Grandma jumped down Greg Schiano’s throat for his kneel down play last week, but where are those harsh critics this week when Schiano committed an even bigger crime: imitating Rah-Rah Raheem?
Last week should have showed the Bucs that conservative ball is the worst way to win a game and the best way to kill momentum. All those turnovers the Bucs defense forced and the offense mustered up 10 points. That’s incredibly troubling and it’s a trend that is unfortunately reaching an insane level.
The Bucs didn’t get things going in the second half last week until Mike Williams caught that crazy pass in crunch time. This week it was as though the Bucs came into the game thinking they’d play horrible all game and then kick it into gear at the last minute and make their win look sharp and clutch.
That last drive when they got a field goal to make it one score game, they looked good. Where was that team the whole game? This conservative stuff needs to stop and it needs to stop now. If it doesn’t expect frustrating games like this to be common place this season until something happens.