Buccaneer Breakdown: Offense

Arm-tackling is not recommended with Blount.
Arm-tackling is not recommended with Blount. /
The Bucs offense was solid again on Sunday.
The Bucs offense was solid again on Sunday. /

The Buccaneers offense is really beginning to evolve from where it was earlier in the season, when Josh Freeman had to win games in the second half, to the point where they now have an effective run game and can dictate the tempo for four quarters.

The Buccaneers still aren’t a fast starting team, going three-and-out on two of their first three possession and not really threatening until the beginning of the second quarter, but yesterday that wasn’t as big an issue because the defense didn’t put them in a hole to start the game. Eventually, the Bucs were able to wear down the 49ers and score three touchdowns, winning easily 21-0 on the legs of their rushing attack and some good (but limited) passing from Freeman.

We’ll start with Freeman and the passing game, which despite throwing just 20 times managed to score two touchdowns and provide the Bucs offense with just enough balance to keep the box from getting loaded. Freeman to Mike Williams is going to turn into a good combination if Williams can keep his nose clean. Coming into the game, Williams had a tumultuous week being arrested on suspicion of DUI and facing the media storm that comes with it. And while I still think the Bucs should have acted differently, it’s obvious why they wanted Williams to play. He ended the day with three receptions for 54 yards and a nice score in which he came back and made a fantastic adjustment on the ball.

Donald Penn also had a touchdown on a brilliant tackle-eligible play in which he snuck into the flat after the play-fake and was wide-open for the score. Linemen don’t score often, so it must have been a great feeling for Penn as he made his way back to the sideline with the ball still under his massive wing. That also segues into the run game which is dramatically improved since LeGarrette Blount entered the fray and the alignment up front was adjusted.

I don’t know if Jeremy Trueblood will make it back on to the field with emergence of James Lee, Lee took almost all of the snaps at right tackle again on Sunday and was extremely effective next to Davin Joseph. Jeremy Zuttah stepped in late in the game to replace Ted Larsen, I still don’t have any information as to whether that was performance-related or because of a physical problem, but Larsen is a favorite here at The Pewter Plank so we’ll have any information as soon as it comes.

Arm-tackling is not recommended with Blount.
Arm-tackling is not recommended with Blount. /

As a whole though, the Bucs rushing attack was exactly what fans hoped it would be at the beginning of the season. LeGarrette Blount’s 26 carries for 82 yards is watered down because of a slew of unproductive late-game carries while the Bucs ran the clock and one unfortunate decision late in the 4th to run about 12 yards backwards. Those numbers are hardly indicative of just how well he played though. Blount was absolutely fierce, hitting the whole with much prejudice and absolutely decimating a 49ers lineman at one point. If you didn’t see it, I’ll try to find video later, Blount literally destroyed the poor guy. I would not want to be him in the film room this week.

Cadillac Williams also ran well, and looks rejuvenated with less carries. He had just seven carries on the day but turned them into 51 yards and a score, including a long of 26. Williams looks fresh and capable of really being a great change of pace to Blount and the other things he does for this offense, the blocking and receiving can’t be understated.

Last and not least, this Bucs Wildcat is truly exciting. Josh Johnson is a talented running quarterback (though clearly not going to beat out Freeman) and finding ways to insert him in the game and keep the defense off-balance is brilliant. Who knows how deep the Wildcat package goes, but there are plenty of options with Johnson as the triggerman.

All in all it was a solid day for the Bucs on both sides of the ball, for the first time this year the edge goes to the defense, but the offense still more than carried its weight, accumulating 21 points and over 160 yards on the ground for the second straight week.