1. Rookie Doug Martin rewrote the franchise record books yesterday with his amazing performance against Oakland. The Muscle Hamster ripped off several highlight runs and scored touchdowns from 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards out. Martin, who is making a case for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, finished with a team-record 251 rushing yards on just 25 carries (10.0 YPC). But what was the key to Martin's success running behind a patchwork offensive line? Fullback Erik Lorig. In singleback sets without a lead blocker, Martin carried the ball six times for -17 yards. With a lead blocker, Martin had 268 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries. Lorig has been terrific this season and he is a major reason why Martin looks like a Pro Bowl running back right now.
2. While Martin was lighting it up on the offensive end, the Buccaneers had another rookie putting up big numbers on the other side of the ball. Weakside linebacker Lavonte David was all over the field on Sunday and racked up 16 – yes, 16 – tackles against the Raiders. Those 16 stops gave David the team rookie record for most tackles in a game. That number is even more amazing because the Raiders and quarterback Carson Palmer threw the ball 61 times. If the Raiders had been running the ball, it's not crazy to think that David could have approached 25 tackles or so. The second-round pick out of Nebraska has been excellent in his first eight games as a pro, and every week the Derrick Brooks comparisons grow louder and louder. David has 67 tackles so far this year, including 11 for a loss, which leads the team. He is only a rookie, but David has been Tampa Bay's best linebacker this season and he's probably the team's best tackler since Brooks wore the pewter and red.
3. After watching Palmer throw for 414 yards and four touchdowns against the Bucs, it's time to revamp the secondary. The Raiders were completely one-dimensional with running back Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson out of the game, yet they torched the Bucs all day long. Guys were repeatedly out of position and they allowed way to many big plays. Yes, they saved the game late with two interceptions, but it should have never come to that. Rookie Mark Barron's job is obviously safe, but everyone else needs to be replaced. Yes, even Eric Wright, who signed a five-year, $37 million deal in the offseason. Wright hasn't lived up to his contract so far and has just one interception this season. E.J. Biggers is not the answer as a starter. Myron Lewis continues to be a major bust. Ronde Barber may not be back next year, but even if he is he will be 38 years old. The Bucs need to bring in some talent at cornerback next season if they want to contend in this passing league.
4. The Bucs are putting points at an alarming rate and are one of the league's best offenses after their 42-point game in Oakland. The Bucs now rank fifth in the NFL in scoring offense with 28.2 points per game. They are also the ninth-ranked offense in terms of yardage, averaging 376.4 yards per game. Tampa Bay fans have never seen an offense this good and they are achieving it because of balance. Quarterback Josh Freeman is playing at a high level with 2,047 yards and 16 touchdowns to just five interceptions. That's a far cry from last season when Freeman tossed 22 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. Vincent Jackson is a big reason for the turnaround. He has been a big-time play-maker, opened things up for the running game, and took pressure off of Mike Williams. And with that explosive passing game, defenses can't key in on Doug Martin, who has nearly 500 total yards and six touchdowns in the past two weeks. At 4-4, the Bucs could be thinking playoffs and the offense is the reason why.
5. While the Bucs racked up plenty of points, they also had far too many penalties against the Raiders. The Bucs were flagged 16 times, but had just 14 of them accepted for 116 yards. That is simply unacceptable. Raiders fans are extremely loud and the O.co Coliseum is a very tough venue to play in, but there is no reason why Tampa Bay should have committed that many infractions. Many of them were silly and uncalled for and they nearly cost the Bucs their first ever victory in Oakland. We know head coach Greg Schiano has said that he doesn't mind some penalties, but 14 is way too many and the Bucs need to stay disciplined in the second half of the season.
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