Thoughts From the Morning After

The Bucs were outplayed on Sunday.
The Bucs were outplayed on Sunday. /

To say that the Buccaneers wanted to get a better jump on the season than they did on Sunday would be an understatement. The Bucs were the inferior team yesterday, there is no way around that. From the failures along the offensive line to the defense continuing its inability to stop anyone early in the game, the Bucs were quite frankly dominated in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.

If yesterday felt like it was still 2010 it was with good reason. The Buccaneers continued their pattern of poor defensive starts by surrendering four different scoring drives in the opening half. The Lions held the ball for nearly 15 minutes longer throughout the course of the game and by the fourth quarter Josh Freeman was trying to lead the Bucs back with more late-game heroics. Unfortunately this time they would fall short.

While it’s certainly not time to panic, the entire in NFC South is 0-1 now after all, there is also very little to be excited about after yesterday. I’m not being hard on the Bucs when I say that yesterday they were outplayed and outclassed by Detroit. It may not be fun to read but it’s the truth. The Bucs were incapable of handling the Lions defensive line, the defense had little success stopping the Lions passing attack and aside from a couple big plays in the first half, the Bucs should have been out of the game by halftime. Here are a few more thoughts from the morning after…

Problems Along the Line

Even though the Bucs only surrendered two sacks, the offensive line had a very difficult time with the Lions. Kyle Vanden Bosch got the better of Donald Penn, if that’s surprising to you it shouldn’t be. Chances are if the Bucs face a team with an above average edge rusher on Penn’s side you’re going to read Monday morning that the Bucs’ left tackle struggled. Yesterday because of the presence inside of N’Damukong Suh on the inside the Bucs weren’t able to help Penn as often.

Now let’s step back a second, the fact the Bucs have a left tackle at all that needs regular help is a huge problem. I’ve always been very open that I’ve never found much impressive about Penn. The elite left tackles in football, the Jake Longs and Joe Thomas’ of the world, aren’t guys you need to worry about handling their assignments. I literally fear for Josh Freeman’s blindside when Penn doesn’t get help.

This is a problem. Yesterday the Lions line, lead by Vanden Bosch and Suh, tormented the Buccaneers offense. The timing and rhythm of the passing game were off early, Freeman was on the move more than you want to see and it seemed like someone was getting into the backfield on almost every single down. For the Buccaneers to succeed this year, they’re going to need to make some adjustments along the line.

Things may naturally get a little better over the first month of the season too. Remember the Bucs line is adjusting to new coach Pat Morris and a new blocking scheme, with an abbreviated preseason it’s possible the line just hasn’t quite gelled. But there’s also a difference between a line still gelling with a new coach and scheme and players just getting beat. If you watch the replay try to watch the line and see if you can tell the difference.


Credit the Buccaneers with coming up with solid second half adjustments after letting the Lions run wild in the first. The Bucs gave up just one score after yielding four in the first half and gave their offense a chance to get them back into the game. The line was able to put the lid on Lions RB Jahvid Best and start to cut down on some of the breakdowns in the secondary.

If you can take one positive out of this defensive performance it is that the potential for a good defense to emerge does exist. But it’s a ways off at this point too. For one thing the Buccaneers overestimate the ability of their revamped defensive line. They simply cannot supply adequate pressure with a four-man rush. Down the road I do think that will be an option, but as of right now the Bucs cannot bring just their front four and expect to get the results they are looking for. They need to do a better job of bringing more men down to the line, giving the perception of a loaded box and disguising pressure. They did very little of that and ended up without a sack and with only a handful of hurries.

Too Little, Too Late

The Bucs did finally seem to find some direction on offense but it wasn’t until late in the 4th quarter when there was just not enough time. Josh Freeman still has the moxie, if you were worried Bucs fans, if he’d had another minute he probably would have tied the game on that last drive and there was little doubt he’d bring the game to within one score on the penultimate drive of the 4th quarter.

The problem is the Buccaneers just cannot afford to be in that position this season. A lot of people point to the injuries last year as a sign of the Bucs’ bad luck but they also got six comeback wins in games that they were outplayed during the first three quarters last season. In the NFL that simply doesn’t happen. The Bucs can’t rely on that MO, they need to work on starting stronger so that Freeman doesn’t frantically have to try and bail out the Bucs offense every 4th quarter this season.

I’ll have more throughout the day. The offensive breakdown should be up by this evening.