The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with their past couple of wins, have shown what they can eventually become. Of course they are still a work in progress, but as I said back in May in my off-season evaluation, the Buccaneers are starting to put together their defense and offense with their key rookie acquisitions in running back 22 Doug Martin, linebacker 54 Lavonte David, and strong safety 24 Mark Barron. These three have made plays these past few games, along with vets on both sides in Ronde Barber, Dallas Clark, Vincent Jackson, and the better play by Josh Freeman. Starting on offense, running back Doug Martin has been getting great runs and scoring touchdowns. He is using his size to his advantage when he is in the hole and using/following his blocks from his full back 41 Erik Lorig and the offensive line. His size makes him tough to see amidst all the chaos of the defense which makes linebackers and defensive line players miss on tackles, or Martin himself makes moves in the hole and slips to the second level and breaks long runs. Once he breaks out of the middle he uses his speed to make defenders miss, or he just outruns them. All of this is why the Buccaneers like to do all their run plays straight up the middle and do a lot of draw plays in the same zone. The run game has been a nice thing to have if you are quarterback Josh Freeman.
Freeman has been playing well when throwing the ball. His throws have been slants and over the middle with 44 Dallas Clark and 11 Tiquan Underwood. He has also been throwing the deep ball down the sidelines so well. His location on these throws, putting the football where only Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams can make the catch, is great. These throws are essentially just jump balls where Freeman is letting his wide outs make the play and get yards after the catch. Freeman’s offensive line has given him time in the pocket on occasion, but since the injury to guard Carl Nicks, the line sometimes gives up sacks up the middle where Nicks use to be. This is due to the team plugging in rookie players up front and moving players over to new positions on the line.
On the defensive side, the Buccaneers defense has been aggressive up front and in the secondary. On the defensive line, defensive ends 71 Michael Bennett and 91 Da’Quan Bowers have been getting pressure off the edge and sacks on quarterbacks. The pressure has also come from blitzes with corners and linebackers. One of those linebackers is rookie 54 Lavonte David. David is always around the football and hits hard when making a tackle on ball carriers. The secondary of the Bucs has been playing well, also in the past couple weeks. The mix of very good veteran player 20 Ronde Barber constantly making plays and hard hitting tackles, and the solid tackles and hard hits by rookie strong safety Mark Barron and corner back 27 Leonard Johnson, have made the secondary tough to throw against. They have had plenty of interceptions and caused fumbles. That doesn’t mean they haven’t given up some passes with cornerback Eric Wright and 31 E.J. Biggers. Biggers has had some big throws come his way and has given up some yards by opposing wide receivers.
Their defense is aggressive as a whole, but undisciplined with unneeded penalties like roughing the passer/roughing the punter to keep drives alive for the other team. That can also be said for the team as a whole with taunting penalties on offense by wide receiver Vincent Jackson or delay of game penalties by Josh Freeman and the offense.
The Buccaneers is a team on the rise, but still have some things to work on as a team. That will come with the more games they play this season. With a new head coach and very good crop of rookie players, they also have some great veteran players. These veterans can share their knowledge with those young players and help them get better each week on their chosen crafts.