When: Sun. 10/24 - 4:05 pm
10/24 - 4:05 pm - SIRIUS Ch TBD
10/24 - 4:05 pm
ET (DirecTV Sunday Ticket Channel TBD)
Meet the Bucs
vs. Tampa Bay Matchups
Tampa Bay, at 4 & 2, is feeling pretty good
about itself (HC Raheem Morris proclaiming "Rex Ryan style" that
they're "the best team in the division." The Cardinals sit
at 3 & 3 in second place in the NFC West but without a productive
QB to help make a fairly talented team competitive. The
Bucs have gotten where they are by playing pretty close to their
vest (relying on turnovers and FG's to keep them in games and
eventually win most of them). When the Cardinals win, it's usually
because their defense stepped up and made a number of impact
plays. Can a team that relies on big defensive plays beat a team
that keeps things close?
Late Breaking - Cards
released LB Alex Hall and WR Onrea Jones to make room for newly
activated LB's Gerald Hayes and rookie O Brien Schofield.
Both are coming off injuries. Schofield is a surprise (a) because
of his injury and (b) because he is an untested rookie draftee.
Doubtful: LB Clark Haggans. Questionable:
DL Alan Branch, WR's Steve Breaston and Early Doucet, LB Will
Out: DL's Faine and
Trueblood, DT Price. Listed but Status Unclear: G
Vincent. Doubtful: WR Parker.
Questionable: LB G Hayes, DE K. Moore.
Bucs came back in the final seconds to eke
out an 18 - 17 win over the StL Rams. What was really impressive
was that they came back from a point late in the first half where
- trailing 17 - 3 at the 2-minute mark, with 2:54 left and having
absorbed a 14-yard loss due to a sack - Josh Freeman and his
charges fought their way back to score a late quarter FG to make
it 17 - 6 and then plow on to eventual victory. (Would the
Cards have had the fortitude and the poise in a similar
circumstance to have replicated the Tampa Bay effort)?
Bucs received and moved from their own 30
to the Ram 42, where Freeman got sacked and TB was forced to
punt. Deep in Ram territory, Bradford fumbled after a sack on
the 4th play from scrimmage and TB recovered (play
survived challenge). Starting from the StL 6, two TB
penalties moved them back to the StL 36, but a 23 yard
completion from Freeman to (the other) Mike Williams
positioned the ball for a 35-yard Barth FG. Bucs 3 -
StL started from their own 21 and
ran off 12 plays to complete the quarter. First Quarter Score:
Bucs 3 - Rams 0.
Brown's FG attempt was good from 25.
Bucs 3 - Rams 3.
TB went 3 & out. Rams got the ball back on
their own 20 and (mostly off running plays by Steven Jackson
and a 21-yard end around) managed to score on the 11th play of
the drive - a 5-yard completion: Bradford to Amendola.
Rams 10 - Bucs 3.
A holding call on Penn helped TB to go 3 &
out again. A poor punt from inside the 20 gave StL the ball on
the TB 45. They couldn't stop the Ram running game. (Jackson
for +7 and +18. Darby for +3. Toston for +3. Incompletion.
Successful FG try nullified by penalty. Darby for +7.
Incompletion. TD pass to Hoosh. Rams 17 - Bucs 3.
2:59 til halftime. Spurlock's return put
the ball on the TB 36. Despite being sacked for minus-14
yards, Freeman completed an 8-yard pass, scrambled for +16 &
completed one to Straughter for +18 to put the ball on the StL
24 (where the Bucs settled for a 39 yard FG (that eventually
proved to provide the margin of victory. Rams 17
- Bucs 6.
StL ran one more play before the 1H ended. Halftime Score:
Rams 17 - Bucs 6.
StL received and started out from their
own 40, but went 3 & out. A penalty on the punt return pushed
TB back to their own 5-yard line. Heavy doses of Blount
(32 yards on 4 carries plus a 3-yard gain called back due to
penalty) led to a 53-yard FG by Barth. Bucs within 8.
Rams 17 - Bucs 9.
Rams started on their own 15 but TB
stalled them at the StL 30 and they had to punt. TB started
from their own 31. A face-mask call on StL helped move
TB to the Ram 20, where the drive stalled and Barth kicked
another FG to put the game within one TD's reach. Rams
17 - Bucs 12.
Kickoff ended the
quarter. Third Quarter Score: Rams 17 - Bucs 12.
Rams started from their own 27 and gave
the Bucs plenty of Steven Jackson. (+6, +9, +2, +2) but -
aided by a false start flag - TB's defense held and StL punted
from their own 45 Bucs took over on their own 18 but an
illegal block by Trueblood helped force TB to 3 & out. Punt
went out of bounds on the StL 32. 8:30 left to play. Mixing
short passes and runs by Jackson, the Rams made it to the TB
44, but a false start flag helped force another punt.
TB ball on their own 19 with 4:45 left.
Lots of short passes (to Winslow, C Williams and M Williams.
At the 2-minute mark with the ball on the Ram 37, a
roughness penalty on TB's J Lee moved the ball back to the Ram
49. But Freeman completed passes to C Williams
(+8), Stroughter (+11) and Mike Williams (+9) and, after a
couple of incompletions and with 0:30 on the clock, hit Mike
Williams for +20 yards. Two plays later (with 0:17 left to
play) he connected with Cadillac Williams for the winning TD.
(2-point attempt failed. Kickoff and final multi-lateral play
went nowhere). Final Score: Bucs 18 - Rams 17.
Bucs hung in there.Things didn't look good
for them and their comeback was, at best ugly, but they hung
around long enough for Freeman to take them on their one
impressive drive of the game - the last drive and a winning
TB was penalized 12 times for 92 yards.
They won the field-position game, with 4
field goals being just enough accompaniment to their final TD
to edge out the Rams at the end.
Neither QB was intercepted. Only lost
fumble was one by the Rams.
Freeman was sacked three times. TB pass
rushers (White) sacked Bradford once.
Rams ran the ball 32 times for 161 yards.
(TB ran the ball 21 times - 5 by Freeman & probably scrambles.
Take the scrambles away and they dialed up 16 running plays).
Jackson gained 110 yards on 22 carries.
Blount gained 72 yards on 11 carries.
Ruud and Barber led the TB defense in
tackles with 11 and 10 respectively (next guy was black with 5
Meet the Bucs
At first glance, the Bucs look like a solid,
low-key football team that's learning how to get it done - a
plodder more than a sparkler; a tortaise more than a hare. The
cliche would be that "they seldom do things to beat themselves",
but that would be wrong (when you consider their 12 penalties in
the Ram game). But that's the direction they're moving in and the
direction their head coach evidently wants them to take.
05 Freeman, Josh
QB 6-6 248 22 2 Kansas State
11 Johnson, Josh
QB 6-3 205 24 3 San Diego
12 Carpenter, Rudy
QB 6-2 212 24 2 Arizona State
Freeman has been brought along carefully to a point where he is a
very resourceful QB who seldom beats himself and who can beat you
either with his arm or his feet. Three years ago, I went 180
degrees against the book and rated Johnson my #1 QB in my draft
Williams, Carnell RB 5-11 217 28 6 Auburn
Blount, LeGarrette RB 6-0 247 23 R Oregon
Lumpkin, Kregg RB 5-11 228 26 2 Georgia
Graham, Earnest RB 5-9 225 30 7 Florida
Lorig, Erik FB/TE 6-4 275 23 R Stanford
Blount may be listed as the #3 RB on the TB depth chart, but he's
challenging Cadillac for a starting spot and - at a bruising 247
lbs - is the kind of RB the Cards have the most trouble with. I
expect Morris to play Blount early and often. Williams is more of
a Westbrook type slasher/pass receiver with home run ability.
19 Williams, Mike
WR 6-2 212 23 R Syracuse
81 Spurlock, Micheal
WR 5-11 200 27 3 Mississippi
85 Stovall, Maurice
WR 6-5 220 25 5 Notre Dame
18 Stroughter, Sammie
WR 5-10 189 24 2 Oregon State
17 Benn, Arrelious
WR 6-2 220 22 R Illinois
87 Parker, Preston
WR 6-0 200 23 R North Alabama
None of these guys is projected to make the Pro Bowl but they
somehow manage to get the job done. (The Other) Mike Williams is a
pleasant rookie surprise out of Syracuse. Spurlock is a former
Cardinal - good speed/reliable out of the slot/can return kickoffs
82 Winslow, Kellen
TE 6-4 240 27 7 Miami (Fla.)
88 Gilmore, John
TE 6-5 257 31 9 Penn State
46 Purvis, Ryan
TE 6-4 260 24 1 Boston College
Cards have had difficulty covering quality TE's and Winslow is
another one of those.
70 Penn, Donald
LT 6-5 305 27 5 Utah State
77 Lee, James
T 6-4 305 25 3 South Carolina State
Vincent, Keydrick LG 6-5 325 32 10 Mississippi
Zuttah, Jeremy G 6-4 308 24 3 Rutgers
Faine, Jeff C 6-3 291 29 8 Notre Dame
Larsen, Ted C 6-2 305 23 R North Carolina State
Joseph, Davin RG 6-3 313 26 5 Oklahoma
65 Trueblood, Jeremy
RT 6-8 320 27 5 Boston College
73 Hardman, Derek
T 6-6 300 24 R Eastern Kentucky
The impression I get is that the TB offensive line has
struggled a bit this year - especially at the tackles.
They may struggle even more this Sunday due to injuries. Faine
and Trueblood are out. Vincent is listed on the Injured list
with others who are Out, but his status remained blank.
Moore, Kyle LDE/DT 6-5 272 24 2 USC
Crowder, Tim DE 6-4 260 25 4 Texas
Magee, Alex DE 6-3 298 23 2 Purdue
McCoy, Gerald DT 6-4 295 22 R Oklahoma
Sims, Ryan DT 6-4 315 30 9 North Carolina
Miller, Roy DT 6-2 310 23 2 Texas
Price, Brian DT 6-1 303 21 R UCLA
White, Stylez G. RDE 6-3 270 31 4 Minnesota
Bennett, Michael DL 6-4 274 24 2 Texas A&M
Bucs employ a 4-man front. McCoy is the high-profile rookie
penetrator. Stylez is a surprise - plays his position smartly
(holding the edge and seldom losing outside contain, but still
occasionally pressuring the QB
58 Black, Quincy OLB1 6-2 240 26 4 New Mexico
56 Watson, Dekoda
LB 6-2 240 22 R Florida State
51 Ruud, Barrett MLB 6-2 241 27 6 Nebraska
53 Koutouvides, Niko
LB 6-2 238 29 7 Purdue
54 Hayes, Geno
OLB2 6-1 226 23 3 Florida State
57 Hayward, Adam
LB 6-1 240 26 4 Portland State
Bucs are stout up the middle.
Talib, Aqib LCB 6-1 205 24 3 Kansas
Biggers, E.J. CB 6-0 180 23 2 Western Michigan
Barber, Ronde RCB 5-10 184 35 14 Virginia
Mack, Elbert CB 5-10 175 24 3 Troy
Lewis, Myron CB 6-2 203 22 R Vanderbilt
Jones, Sean SS 6-1 220 28 7 Georgia
Piscitelli, Sabby S 6-3 224 27 4 Oregon State
Grimm, Cody FS 6-1 203 23 R Virginia Tech
Lynch, Corey S 6-0 206 25 3 Appalachian State
Alib is the talented youngster at CB. Barber is the cagey Pro
Bowl veteran. Rookie, Grimm has made a quick name for himself
as a play maker. He's Russ's kid - definitely makes for
interesting color story. Piscatelli has been a perennial SIRIUS Radio
interview favorite since he showed up 4 years ago as a
Barth, Connor K 5-11 193 24 3 North Carolina
Economos, Andrew LS 6-1 250 28 5 Georgia Tech
Malone, Robert P/H 6-2 215 22 R Fresno State
81 Spurlock, Micheal KR/PR/WR 5-11 200 27 3 Mississippi
Barth kicked 5 FG's vs. the Rams (one from 53). Any questions.
I don't know anything about Malone. Former Cardinal, Spurlock
has quietly been making a name for himself as a returner.
Greg Olsen Offensive
No Defensive Coordinator
Special Teams Coordinator Listed
CNo doubt theBucs have trhe DC and ST
coaching functions covered, but it does indicate their young
head coach has his own unique way of doing things.
Tampa Bay Stats
means good stats/Red
means bad stats/Black means average stats.
||Tampa Bay Bucs
|TOTAL FIRST DOWNS
|THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS
|FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS
|TOTAL OFFENSIVE YARDS
|TOTAL RUSHING YARDS
|TOTAL PASSING YARDS
|TIME OF POSSESSION
The above set of team stats suggest a team
that's having trouble scoring touchdowns and has difficulty
stopping the pass, but is getting the job done via
opportunistic play (i.e. field goals, turnovers).
Josh Freeman has an 82.8 QB Rating (58.8%
completions; 7 TD's; 3 interceptions). He's been sacked 12
times. He's also run the ball 23 times, averaging 6.7 yards
Cadillac Williams has been the feature back
with 80 carries (Freeman is next with 26. Don't ignore 247 lb
rookie RB LeGarrette Blount (21 carries) who fits the big
thumper profile that gives us fits. The good news is that
Cadillac only averages 2.5 yards per attempt. Bad news is that
Blount is averaging 4.9
What does it tell you when your top receiver
is your TE and your 3rd best receiver is a RB? Kellen Winslow
leads the Bucs with 29 catches followed by (the other) Mike
Williams with 28 catches (& 3 TD's) and Cadillac Williams with
23 catches and one touchdown. Sammy Stroughter is 4th with 15
catches. Former Card Mike Spurlock has a couple of TD's to his
Barth has nailed 10 of his 12 FG attempts
(going 3 for 5 outside the 40).
It looks as though Robert Malone has
replaced orginal punter (Chris Bryan) and tacxed on an
additional 5.0 yards per punt.
Bucs are slightly better than their average
opponents in both kick and punt returns - Spurlock does both.
No TD's scored/none given up.
Defensively, top two tacklers are Ruud
(47) and Barber (41) Next best tackler (Hayes) has 33.
TB pass rushers have sacked opposing QB's
just 5 times (vs. 12 sacks surrendered). White and Crowder
lead the team with 2 sacks apiece.
Interceptions are an entirely different
matter - TB pass defenders have picked off 10 passes. (TB
quarterbacks have only thrown 3 picks)
Talib leads the team with 3 interceptions
followed by Barber (2) and Grimm (2)
QB - 06
Hall, 03 Anderson, 19 Skelton,
To put it bluntly, we don't have a QB
who can make plays when needed - even 50% of the time. It remains
the Achilles heel of our team and we will struggle to reach .500
unless the lights magically go on for either Hall or Anderson. An
overall completion-rate of under 40% in the Seattle game was
pretty sad. Our lack of a competent QB is dragging us down.
One possible solution to the problem - design more roll-outs for
the diminuative Hall (who sometimes appears to be throwing out of
a man-hole) in order to make it easier for him to locate passing
34 Hightower, 31 Wright, 36 Stephens-Howling (KR/PR),
We were able to run against Seattle, but
Hightower was carrying the ball like a bag of groceries when he
was tackled and coughed it up. Another contributor to our loss in
FB - 45 Mau'ia
Kind of invisible Sunday, but that's OK
so long as he makes his blocks.
Doucet, 15 Breaston
WR -11 Fitzgerald,
14 S Williams,
It was Fitz plus 3 other guys who
were either inexperienced or rusty. This put additional pressure
on Fitz (who then received extra attention from Seattle). Doucet
was especially disappointing, but all in all, it was a "group
TE - 89 Patrick,
Other than one key Spach grab, we didn't
hear much from our TE's. Our running game looked less shaky -
perhaps greater blocking emphasis on our TE's (at the expense of
sending them out as receivers) was a key factor.
LT- 75 L Brown,
Faneca, 70 Hadnot
The sacks-surrendered stats
don't show it, but both Hall and Anderson were running for their
lives back there.
DE - 93
Campbell, 79 Iwebema
NT - 97 B Robinson,
92 D Williams, 98 Watson,
DT - 90 Dockett, 78 Branch
They Other than a few unecessary penalties, the D-line performed
gallantly. Branch (2 sacks) had arguably his best game as a pro.
Campbell looked like an octopus sacking Hasslebeck. The problem
stopping the run wasn't caused by the D-line (who plugged the
right gaps and caused Lynch to repeatedly spin out of his assigned
holes). The root cause sits with the Cardinal LB's
OLB1 - 55 Porter
Lenon, 54 Hayes
58 D Washington,
W Davis, 50 Schofield
Why is it that guys weighting 235 - 250 lbs
repeatedly got dragged down the field by 194 - 215 lb running
backs? It didn't look like it was due to lack of effort or being
caught out of position. More like poor tackling
techinique/leverage and lack of lower body strength. It's a
problem. I didn't like the way Porter got sucked in and lost
contain on Hasselbeck's bootleg at a key point late in the game.
The one bright spot remains Washington (who was second on the team
with 11 tackles and whose sack up the middle was a thing of
SS- 24 Wilson,
FS- 25 Rhodes,
Although our secondary has emerged as a force to be reckoned with,
a weakness was exposed last week in Seattle - Card corners have
problems when matched one-on-one in man-coverage with big dominant
receivers. They will continue to be picked on in similar
situations unless they're given additional help back there. Other
than that, I really like our secondary and its continued
development. Toler continues to improve from game to game -
leading the defense with 12 tackles vs. Seattle.
P- 05 B
H - 05 B Graham
12 Roberts, 18
Komar, 15 Breaston,
Feely is reliable. Graham
has become legendary for dropping punts inside the 10 - 15., but
he'll occasionally drop a clam (like the 7-yarder vs. Seattle last
pretty much accepted fact now that LSH is the real deal when it
comes to long KR returns. Maybe it was the damp, clammy weather in
Seattle, but the muffs by Roberts and Wright contributed
significantly to our loss. Ball security issues must be cleaned
up. Weather is no excuse - extra care must be taken to protect the
ball in inclement circumstances.
Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Matchups
Tampa Bay Passing Attack
vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
To date, the Bucs have tended to keep things conservative,with
65 of 149 completions going to their RB's or TE's. Kellen Winslow
and Cadillac Williams will once again present a challenge to
Cardinal safeties and LB's. Tampa Bay pass blockers have given up
12 sacks in 6 games this season so we should expect the Cards to
tee off on Freeman - however his ability to escape the pressure
and take off with his feet will place additional stress on the
safeties and LB's. Cards will have to contend with their second
straight receiver named Mike Williams (this one a rookie from
Syracuse) who is second on the team in catches. Stroughter, Graham
and Spurlock round out the Bucco receiving corps. None are
spectacular but all are reliable.
Tampa Bay Running Attack vs.
Cardinal Run Defense
Tampa Bay is not known for its
scintillating rushing attack, but that doesn't mean that Cadillac
Williams can't gash you. Scarier is the emergence of 247 lb rookie
RB LeGarrette Blount, who is a load to bring down (If you think
Marshawn Lynch was hard to stop - Add 32 pounds of power and
you've got Blount). If TB watches (and heeds) the Atlanta and San
Diego tapes, they will give us heavy doses of Blount smashmouth.
While the Cards had trouble stopping Lynch last week, they did
prevent Seattle from running amok via the ground. We're going to
need an equal if not stronger effort by our run defenders (Alan
Branch, I'm talking to you!) this week if we're to have any chance
of winning this game.
Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Tampa Bay
Through six games, the Cardinals
have not demonstrated that they can mount anything in the way of a
steady, competent (let alone spectacular) passing attack. We
unfortunately have no other choice than to sit back and hope one
or more light bulbs eventually go off for Max Hall or Derek
Anderson, but so far, they haven't).
Tampa Bay's weakness in pass defense is its lack
of a pass rush (5 all season). It's strength is its ballhawking
(13 picks). If everything sticks to form, both Hall and/or
Anderson should have a little more time to read defenses and pick
out receivers, but both will have to be very careful about where
they aim (& whom they eyeball) if they are to avoid being picked
off repeatedly by Buccaneer DB's.
Cardinal Running Attack vs. Tampa Bay
I read somewhere that TB ranks
somewhere around 30 in stopping the run. Given the desultry play
of our QB's, maybe this will be the week we unleash Beanie and
Hightower, but with one cautionary note - If we turn over the ball
(a TB strength), we'll be more likely to desert the run and throw
more often to dig our way out of an early hole. Our passers cannot
afford to throw picks. Our RB's and QB's cannot afford to fumble.
Last week - despite a lack of scoring punch - TB, off the boot
of Barth, inflicted "death by a thousand cuts." He kicked 5 FG's
last week (to keep TB close enough to win). He could do it again.
Malone seems to have stablized a problematic punting situation for
TB. Although we still feel he's Pro Bowl material, Graham is good
for one really ugly shank every other games. Feely has been solid.
Although Spurlock is solid and gives the Bucs home run potential,
so far - based on actual results on the field - LSH gives us an
advantage in the kick return game. Roberts and our other punt
returners are making each outing an adventure.
Huge. For how long can the Cardinal defense sustain play at so
a high intensity without winning? Sooner or later, things are
likely to crumble. This represents a major gut-check where the HC
asks his defensive players to "carry the team on its back" until
we can get our offensive act together. Some teams like Baltimore
and Pittsburgh rise to the occasion. Others do not. My greatest
fear: Raheem Morris decides to play "smashmouth" and we can't stop
Blount. Tampa Bay has gotten to where it is by staying in games
long enough to cash in on late opportunities & win. Arizona hasn't
gotten to where it wants to be by falling behind early, losing its
discipline and poise and not being able to dig its way back.
With Hall and Anderson unlikely to light any
fires, it might be wise for the Cardinals to play more like Tampa
Bay this Sunday.
Note: One possible TB Achilles Heel: Penalties.
They were flagged 12 times for 92 yards last Sunday.
We're lucky to even be at .500 and things do not look promising.
We are at the point of this season where this team has to pull
itself up by its bootstraps and win one or more games on sheer
will, if necessary. Gut check time.