Join Date: Jan 2010
Bucs Pats Player Highs and Lows
In a drubbing like the Bucs got, it might seem hard to note the positives... but with all the crappy play, the guys that stood out, really stood out like diamonds among the other lumps in the pasture. I've been on vacation for the last week and today was the first chance I had to see the game... which I watched, and rewatched, and watched in slo-mo, and paused... to come up with my game analysis.
QB Josh Johnson was really good. He had one throw early that he threw pretty much to #50 of the Pats who dropped it twice. After that, and before that, Johnson was cool, and athletic. Even against the Pats 1st team (while playing with Bucs 2nd teamers), Johnson easily eluded the rush, scampered down field, bought time, and rifled passes in tight windows. It's not hard to see that he really does have a future in the NFL as a starter. His numbers really stunk, but other than 2 throws that were off (the near INT and the out to the L sideline that bounced at his WRs feet) everything was pretty much on the money... even the INT that Spurlock giftwrapped to former Buc Kyle Arrington.
OG Brandon Carter was the only Buc OLineman that could handle the Pats Gerard Warren by himself. And he did it on every snap very well. One time he did allow Warren penetration after he let him go and then came back to him. Easily, he was the best OG on the roster that night. Joseph, Larsen, Hardman, and Claiborne all got pushed around, Carter never did. I don't see why he shouldn't get a shot playing with the #1s.
OC Zuttah was clearly better than Faine when the Pats 1st team was in there. His snaps were improved, he finished blocks, he reached the second level and most importantly, he didn't ole' any blocks like Faine did. He was the 2nd most impressive OLineman of the night.
RB Bradford ran behind his pads, flashed a tough stiff arm, ran with good lean, and looked more comfortable. Not having Ted Larsen as his LG probably didn't hurt his cause.
FB Erik Lorig made a stupid false start penalty and dropped a pass but if you watched him on every run in which he was the lead blocker, he met his opponent in the hole and either moved him or stalemated him. This was impressive as he launched himself into wouldbe tacklers and stuck to them lke velcro. Hopefully, the penalty and dropped pass were more a result of rust than being undisciplined and having no hands.
On defense there were far more players that flashed.
DT Gerald McCoy was very good at getting penetration. He was constantly in the Pats backfield and although he didn't make many tackles, and missed more than he made, he was disruptive, the way he is supposed to be... his teammates need to do a better job cleaning up. On the run where Woodhead broke free for 29, it appears Barber likely was the last man on the edge and probably had backside containment responsibilities and blew it... I forgive him as I know he will do his job more often than most.
LB Dakoda Watson was really the only LB to play well. Adam Hayward helped Larry Asante strip Ridley but didn't do much other than that. Watson was flying off the edge as the RDE in the nickel causing throws to come out fast and forcing the QB to stay tight in the pocket. As an LB he was quick to penetrate and tackle in the hole and was right on his men in coverage. He easily had the best game of all of the LBs. He must be on the field more.
S Larry Asante had a big head on a Pat RB and helped cause a fumble with Hayward. He penetrated and was disruptive a few other times and had pretty good coveage at other times. He is really making a case for being the starting SS for week 1. On the big hit, Asante obviously suffered a stinger as he held his left hand limp and had to get helped off the field. Most guys would not likely return, a series or two later he was causing a fumble.
CB Elbert Mack had a standout game as much as I hate to admit it. He was good in coverage, he was opportunistic when he had the chance on a poorly thrown ball, he was excellent in run support, and he was all over the field. I'm not a big Mack fan, but he sure played a good game on Thursday, even if he can't dance.
DE George Johnson got one of two sacks on Pats QBs. He was consistently disruptive with a wide reportoire of moves, going inside and outside to beat his blocker. Because of the injuries at DT, he even moved inside to DT and continued to be disruptive and get into the backfield despite giving away more than 50 lbs to most of his blockers.
DT Frank Okam took on double teams and kept on coming. He might not have made the play, but on the downfield plays, Okam was right there chugging downfield chasing it down. Big guy, big motor. We need Okam, he's a different kind of guy that would complement the other Buc DTs well.
CB DJ Johnson had a nice break on a ball that should have been a pick 6. He didn't catch the ball... so that's also kind of a negative.
CB Anthony Gaitor showed good make-up speed knocking away a pass intended for speedy WR Matt Slater. He also made some other plays and looks decent returning a punt.
ST/S Devin Holland was an absolute mad man on ST. He nearly KO'd Woodhead, came screaming downfield on another punt return and altered the returner's path. The guy has decent size, excellent speed, and has absolutely no regard for his body. An awesome combo for ST.
The negatives-there are many, but these are my most negative!
OG Larsen was turnstiled more often than not. I know what it's like to try to block somebody and to lunge and hit nothing but air... it was because I was overmatched... at least in my defense I wasn't in a phone booth like Larsen. He was completely overmatched and outclassed by Gerard Warren. Add the penalties and he's had a downright terrible game. Between him and Faine, and Joseph at times as well, it looked like the Bucs were a bunch of 2nd graders playing red rover with high schoolers.
CB Ronde Barber lost backside contain on Woodhead's long run and could have had 2 INTs as well. On one he mistimed his jump and got a finger on the ball despite having both hands out and over his head, but not fully extended, and on the other he got his head around, but to the wrong side and reacted late... or not at all. THat's ok, I'd rather Ronde save the INTs for the regular season.
OT James Lee may not be making the team. If it weren't for Demar Dotson being almost as bad as Lee, I would say there's no chance he makes the team. Trueblood hasn't been bad, but he looks great when compared to Lee. I was rooting for Lee to beat out Trueblood, now I'm not sure there's anything Lee can do to help the team. Penalties, getting beat wide repeatedly, more penatlies, it's like somebody took Kenyatta Walker and George Hegamin and they had a love child.
WR Preston Parker didn't do much on offense, he did have a nice gain on a play where he was wide open, but as a special teamer, he was absolutely dreadful as a gunner, failing to reach the returner, or at the very least, get the returner to run laterally. He is not a gunner to say the least.
LB Tyrone McKenzie stands a very good chance of getting cut. I guess as it turns out the comparisons to Battett Ruud were right on. Late to react, soft at the point of attack, doesn't make plays... and not athletic. I wasn't high on him when NE drafted him in 2009 and figured that the Pats knew more than I did and then they gave up on him, I was surprised when the Bucs picked him up and figured the Bucs knew more than I did... I think I was right about McKenzie and he has no special abilities as an NFL LB. Foster made mistakes too, but his mistakes were busting through the wrong hole or reacting a tad late as I tried to make the play in the hole, but TMac, he's usually the last LB to the scene, he doesn't get depth in coverages (neither does Foster) and he gets blocked out of the screen. I think if the Bucs are serious about liking Derrell Smith, expect to see Smith get more chances with the #2s as TMac finds that the media's annointing him of the Mike of the future means nothing in the NFL.
WR Michael Spurlock had a couple of nice plays, but also had a few crucial drops. One pass hit him in the gut and was ijntercepted, another for a good gain went off his fingers... With the ball sailing out of the endzone with alarming regularity this season, there will be less emphasis on KRs, and less of a need for a guy like Spurlock. I'm thinking that Stroughter takes over the full-time return role (as KRs won't have nearly as many chances) because he will likely be the #4 WR once Benn is healthy... this will make Spurlock irrrelevant.