By Max Luckan
If you needed any more confirmation that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t a very good football team, you got it on Sunday. Against a New England Patriots team that had been struggling on offense, the Bucs defense, which had been stout through the first two weeks, essentially collapsed, the offense was a no-show once again and the coaching staff looked like that of a high school football team.
In all facets of the game, the Bucs were outmatched by the Patriots, who actually had their own problems coming into this game. After a decent start, the Bucs were shut out the rest of the way and the Patriots easily cruised to a 23-3 victory, while the Bucs dropped to 0-3 on the season.
Coaching Grade: C-
In what has been a recurring theme this season, the Bucs didn’t look prepared again against the Patriots on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan needs to change something up because teams have caught on to his plans. Yes, the Bucs started the game off well, but that lasted for two, maybe three, drives. And then for the rest of the game the offense was stagnant.
Moreover, the Bucs went for it on fourth down at unnecessary points throughout the game, which further strengthened the view that head coach Greg Schiano’s college mindset is still alive and well. Thus, the Bucs easily allowed for a momentum shift because they did not convert on those fourth down plays. The coaching staff just doesn’t seem to have a sound idea of what they want to do, which is something that should have been established in the preseason.
Offense Grade: F
There’s no light way to put it: the offense is dreadful. Even the Cleveland Browns scored 31 points this past Sunday, and more, they even won a game. As always, it starts with the quarterback on the offensive side of the ball and Josh Freeman is not cutting it. After the game, Schiano said Freeman still gives the team the best chance to win and that he did not consider pulling Freeman at any point in the game.
It’s hard to believe Schiano when Freeman finished the game, only completing 19-41 passes for 236 yards and one interception. Actually, it’s quite simple: Freeman isn’t getting any better. The Bucs even had left guard Carl Nicks back, but running back Doug Martin was again the only bright spot on offense, and no matter what Schiano says, don’t be surprised if Freeman doesn’t make it past the bye week in Week 5.
Defense Grade: C
The defense wasn’t great against the Patriots, but going up against Tom Brady is never an easy task. So far, the Bucs defense has been the only bright spot this season, however, the defense was just average against the Patriots.
LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley and Brady were able to rack up 156 yards rushing against the Bucs on Sunday, which is simply too much. Brady threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns, which is average for Brady’s standards.
However, there are still positives on defense. Safety Mark Barron and linebacker Lavonte David are emerging as real stars and their play has improved exponentially this season. The Bucs have a strong foundation to build upon on defense, and they should grow stronger as a unit as the season goes on.
Special Teams Grade: D
For the second week in a row, kicker Rian Lindell missed a field goal that would have given the Bucs a spark. Schiano said after the game that he has to evaluate the position, but he still thinks Lindell will be the team’s kicker going forward.
Lindell’s inconsistency forced the Bucs to go for it on fourth down on a couple of occasions instead of just kicking the field goal. Lindell is struggling along with the rest of the team, but his inconsistency has clearly affected the offense and defense as well. And with the offense especially struggling, the Bucs expect to at least get points out of Lindell, but he has failed to deliver.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. Max is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.