Revisiting the Bucs Final Drive

The Bucs had a number of problems on their final drive Sunday.
The Bucs had a number of problems on their final drive Sunday. /
The Bucs had a number of problems on their final drive.
The Bucs had a number of problems on their final drive. /

A lot is being made about the Buccaneers final drive against the Falcons on Sunday. If you missed it, the Bucs found themselves facing 4th-and-1 on the Falcons two yard-line, down 27-21 with less than three minutes on the clock. The final series had more than a few things fall apart on it, Sunday. Between bad officiating and poor team discipline, things didn’t go the way Bucs fans hoped.

It started with a non-reviewable play. According to Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson, Raheem Morris and a slew of NFL media, the pass interference penalty that put the Bucs in the red zone was spotted incorrectly.

"“First of all, we should’ve been first and goal at the 6-yard line,” said Olson."

On the play Falcons safety William Moore slammed into Arrelious Benn around the Falcons five yard-line, however due to a multitude of ridiculous factors the Bucs got the ball at the Falcons 11, with room for a first down at the one. That would set up the Bucs final four plays and ultimately their defeat. It wasn’t the causal reason for the defeat, but it definitely would’ve made Preston Parker‘s seven yard screen to be a lot more impactful if the Bucs had started at the Falcons six.

And moving on to Preston Parker’s screen pass, which was later ruled a run, the formation called for an unbalanced formation with a screen to Parker, however the rookie failed to line up correctly. Instead the Bucs had issues getting the play off and instead of running essentially what they called, the Bucs ended up playing a little backyard football and improvising the best they could on the play.

This all goes back to a point I made a couple of weeks ago, Raheem Morris needs to have better control over this team. Two weeks ago against the Rams the Bucs couldn’t line up for a 2-point conversion. Yesterday they had issues getting set up for the most important plays of their final drive. Morris is quick to point out how young this team is and that’s a valid point. But when you watch the best teams, even the best college teams, they have the team-discipline to know where to line up. It’s inexcusable to have that sort of confusion with the game on the line. I like Preston Parker, he’s a former ‘Nole and one heck of an athlete. But if he doesn’t have it down, he shouldn’t be in the game. Especially at such an integral point.

Damn you, Motorola!
Damn you, Motorola! /

Then after a 2 yard LeGarrette Blount plunge down to the Atlanta two yard-line, the Bucs faced 4th and 1 with the game on the line and the funniest thing happened… the radio from coach-to-quarterback died. Now I’m not crying foul, but this is one hell of a way to have to burn your final timeout.

"“I think they made a mistake,” Morris said. “We’re in Atlanta and somehow our headsets went out in that play. We had to run out there and tell our quarterback (Josh Freeman) and ran out of time. We had to use our timeout because we didn’t have enough time to get to the line of scrimmage and snap the play because our headsets were out.”"

I’m not saying the Falcons pulled the plug. That’s crazy. But I do think in that kind of a situation the NFL needs to step in and cut the Bucs a break. When you lose a timeout and thus a competitive advantage because of a technical failure, that takes away from the game. Now I know some low-life Falcons fan will probably be trolling and take issue with this. But if that goes the other way and the Falcons can’t challenge a close 4th down play because they had to burn a timeout due to radio-error, they’d be pretty pissed too.

The Bucs burnt their final timeout to get the 4th down play in and were then unable to challenge the spot after they came up short. Not that it would have mattered, I’m pretty sure LeGarrette Blount didn’t make it, but it’s the principle of the issue that bothers me.

Here’s what else, the final play was botched. LeGarrette Blount didn’t run behind his blockers into the correct gap, he chose instead to bounce it outside and try to make it on his own. That’s a small problem, but still, I don’t want to see a runner like Blount trying to kick runs outside unless that’s where it’s designed to go. The whole appeal of LeGarrette Blount is his physicality, that’s not on display when he’s trying to bounce outside.

All things considered, had the Bucs won Sunday it would have been more of a theft than a resounding victory, but the final moments give a great indication of some of the problems the team still faces. This team needs to become more disciplined, it needs to mature a bit. Granted, the Bucs are getting a practical education week in and week out, but the coaches need to improve their program too. You can’t have players lining up incorrectly in week nine. The Bucs are halfway through the season, youth isn’t an excuse for lack of discipline anymore.