Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman (5) throws a pass during warmups before the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE

Midweek Gameplan 9-26-12


The Bucs Most Recent

Much has already been chronicled about the Buccaneers recent offensive ineptitude against the Cowboysthis last Sunday.  It was incredibly painful to watch and it will be very difficult to watch them this year if this vanilla offense continues.  Last year was forgettable, but I think one of the answers to moving the ball better may lie in the 2010 campaign.

Josh Freeman may need to start using his feet to get yards rather than just his arm.

What was lost in the analysis of that season and how great Josh Freeman was that year is the fact that he often made plays with his feet rather than with his arm.  He had many runs where he escaped the pocket and gained positive yards on the ground, often resulting in a first down.  A few of these runs went for 10 yards or more.  This year, he stands tall in the pocket, moves around if he gets pressured, but very rarely takes off for a positive gain.  If he does this more, it creates a new aspect to the passing game, makes the defense keep a player up towards to line to try and stop it, and can increase the throwing space for him in the intermediate routes.

I don’t think this is the ultimate solution to the offensive woes from last week, but it is a simple solution that can be implemented next week in order to sustain drives and move the ball effectively.  Despite missing some stars, the Redskins defense is still pretty good and moving the ball may be difficult at times.

Injury News and Notes

Adrian Clayborn sustained a season ending knee injury this past game and is lost for the season.  It was not been revealed what the injury is specifically within the knee, but it is likely an ACL or PCL  (Anterior and posterior cruciate ligament) injury. These ligaments make up what is termed the central pivot of the knee and contribute to front to back stability of the knee.  If one is out, the shin bone will translate too far in relation to the thigh bone resulting in poor stability of the knee.

With either an ACL or PCL injury, surgery is required and the recovery time is going to be six months or more.  The good news is that he will likely return next year without much of a problem as linemen tend to do well after this injury and tend to get back to their pre-injury level.

Around the NFL

The big news story around the NFL right now is the mistakes and controversy of the replacement officials with emphasis on the final play of the Monday Night Football game where the Packers lost to the Seahawks on the final play with a simultaneous catch.  Many are saying it is an outrage and that the integrity of the game is less due to the many mistakes that the officials have made and especially this call in particular.

While I agree that the play does appear that the defender appears to have more “control” of the ball and 9 out of 10 people would rule it an interception, it is still an interpretation.  Whether you like it or not, Golden Tate (Sea) has both hands on the ball and his backside on the turf, as M.D. Jennings (GB) second foot comes down to the turf.  Thus, there is room for interpretation.  My point is that the regular refs may have screwed it up just as bad and may have ruled the exact same thing.

If your response to the last sentence of that paragraph is “no way they would have screwed that up, that was an obvious interception”, I will remind you that the regular officials had plenty of controversial calls like this in the last few years.  The most recent example that comes to mind is Calvin Johnson’s game winning catch last year against the Bears early in the season which was reversed because the officials said that he did not complete the act of the reception. Show that play to 10 people and 9 or 10 of them would say it is a catch.  Therefore, this is not unprecedented with the regular officials.

More importantly, why is nobody talking about how idiotic Jennings is in this situation by trying to go for the interception.  If he knocks the ball down, or better yet, out of bounds or out the back of the end zone, there is no room for interpretation.  Tom Jackson yelling “Knock it down” was a staple of NFL Primetime for years, and it still holds true today.  I remember my coach in college telling us that when the Hail Mary play is in the back of the end zone or near the sideline, it is even better to knock the ball out the back of the end zone or to the side.  There is no possible way the offense can score if the ball is only a couple of yards out of the playing field.  Instead, Jennings tried to be a glory hound and get an interception rather than a pass defended and it cost his team the win.  Bottom line, if he knocks it down, there is no controversy and Green Bay gets the win.

At The End of the Day

I like the new rule in college football that requires any player who loses his helmet during a play to go off the field for at least one play.  The only part I don’t like about it is the official announcing it on the public address system each time.  I have said before that players are not wearing their helmets properly and that is why they are coming off in increased numbers over the past couple of years.  Last week’s Sports Illustrated had three straight pictures in the Gallery section on player’s helmets coming off just last week.  Properly fitted helmets should rarely come off and when they do, it should almost be like Matt Schaub‘s and take a small section of the earlobe.

The NFL would be wise to adopt this policy also, but I would like them to go even farther and add that the player needs to be evaluated for a concussion and can’t return until cleared.  This way the player would have to miss time and this would be the best deterrent for poorly fitting helmets.

Until next week, “Knock the darn ball down”

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