As time has ticked down on the first quarter of the NFL season, the staff at Buccaneers101.com has compiled a report card of sorts for the Tampa Bay Bucs up to this point in the season. By averaging the game-by-game, offensive assessments compiled each week, it appears the Bucs still have some work to do despite a 3-1 record (prior to the season, our staff predicted a 2-2 start). Here’s a look at the offense over the first four games:
To say that big things were expected of quarterback Josh Freeman this season would be an understatement. After leading the Bucs to a 10-6 mark, while throwing 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions a season ago, Freeman was poised to take Tampa Bay into the NFL’s elite. Four games in, the jury on that remains out.
The story with Freeman this year has been the tale of two halves. Starting slow has become commonplace for the young signal caller. The Bucs have gone into the half behind in all but one game and been forced into comeback mode. Freeman, who has engineered eight fourth quarter comeback wins (including one this season), has played his best with the ball game on the line. Still, Freeman has more interceptions than touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 81.1. Freeman has gone the extra mile on the ground, picking up huge first downs at crucial times. He has racked up 103 yards and two touchdowns with his legs.
Freeman must find a way to come out of the gates quicker. A return to the decision-making passer that he was in 2010 (and is often in the fourth quarter) would almost certify this team as playoff contenders. With Freeman’s strong arm and the talented receivers of the Buccaneers, a more aggressive downfield game would also open more avenues for the LeGarrette Blount-led running attack.
(Season: 6.75/10, best game: 8.5/Indianapolis, worst game: 5/Atlanta)
As he did a season ago, LeGarrette Blount has improved every week. The season did not start off in fine fashion for the bruising sophomore back and questions about the team’s belief in the young runner quickly surfaced. The trend continued against Minnesota in the second game of the year, but at halftime of that contest everything changed. Blount came alive after the intermission against the Vikings, running for 67 second half yards and two touchdowns. The dividends have continued to multiply since. Blount followed that performance up with 81 yards against Atlanta and then had his first 100-yard effort, a 127-yard showing against Indy this past Monday night. With renewed confidence and an offensive line that excels at blocking downhill, Blount is on the edge of having a monster season.
At fullback, Erik Lorig has gained steam each week despite limited action. The responsibility of third down back has rested firmly in the lap of veteran Earnest Graham. Graham has excelled in the role, snagging a team-high 23 receptions for 143 yards. Kregg Lumpkin, the third running back, has yet to have a rushing attempt but has caught five passes.
More throws down the field could open up things even more for Blount. Watch for big things from the big back as the schedule gets more and more difficult.
(Season: 7/10, best game: 9/Indianapolis, worst game: 4.5/Detroit)
The combination of Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn figures to be catching passes for the significant future in Tampa Bay. But for the Buccaneers to win now, the two second-year receivers need to catch balls now. Williams led all rookie wideouts with 11 scoring catches in 2010. Benn showed flash as a speed guy before having his season end prematurely with an injury. Through four games of the 2011 season, the two have combined for just 24 catches for 269 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Much of Benn’s work has come on short passes designed for him to get yards on his own. Williams has been the main target of opposing defensive backfields and disappeared against cornerback Antoine Winfield in Minnesota. As the 2011 campaign has moved along, offensive coordinator Greg Olsen has devised more ways to get the ball to the talented two-some. Their roles must continue to expand as the season progresses.
Preston Parker, another second-year player, has been the group’s saving grace. Parker has been involved in one big play after another this season, catching 16 passes for 223 yards and a score. Parker has also been a vital member of the special teams unit, returning both kickoffs and punts.
(Season: 7/10, best game: 8/Indianapolis and Detroit, worst game: 6/Minnesota and Atlanta)
Since Josh Freeman’s promotion to starting quarterback, no player has been targeted more than tight end Kellen Winslow. Little has changed this season. Winslow has 17 catches and 163 yards through four games, a 9.6 yards per catch average. Winslow has acted as a security blanket for Freeman despite little run after catch yardage. Winslow has done a solid job holding onto the passes thrown in his direction but has provided little more on the offensive front.
Rookie Luke Stocker has shown no fear of taking (or delivering) the big hit when led into traffic. The youngster for Tennessee, who missed most of training camp, is learning on the fly with solid playing time. Stocker has five catches on the season.
(Season: 5.63/10, best game: 6/Atlanta and Detroit, worst game: 5/Indianapolis)
After looking out of sync for the entire preseason, the Buccaneers offensive line continued the trend in the season opener against Detroit. The line has appeared to mesh as time has passed. The unit produced the first 100-yard rusher of the season against Indianapolis Monday night and appeared to overwhelm the weary Colts D-Line down the stretch. Penalties have been a recurring issue with the offensive line, and in order for the group to reach the next level, those issues must be remedied. The right side of the line, with Davin Joseph at guard and Jeremy Trueblood at tackle, has been especially good the past two weeks.
(Season: 6.88/10, best game: 9/Atlanta, worst game: 3/Detroit)
Related VideosReturning Soon!!!!
No related posts.
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/460