Game to game, week to week, teams will begin to paint a picture of their season. The goal for every team each week in the NFL is to stay consistent each game and show signs of improvement throughout each position. The Buccaneers went into New Orleans and showed they can battle any team punch for punch. They showed that they can improve in certain positions game to game.
But at the end of the day, teams are judge by wins and loses. There are no moral victories in football. The eye in the sky never lies and the film always shows the good and the bad. The outcome was not what the Buccaneers had planned for, losing a close overtime game to the Saints, 37-31, on Sunday, dropping their record to 1-4 on the season.
Many good things showed up on the film, but there's always a reason why one team wins, and one team loses. These are my thoughts on what I saw in yesterdays game:
Glennon again impressed me for the second straight week. His composure in the pocket was good and he delivered the football to his playmakers. It's all about making strides each week at the most important position on the field and after watching the coaches tape, you're seeing amazing growth from Glennon. The quarterback situation is what it is right now. Glennon has embraced the opportunity and he's taking advantage of the situation. I think we can all agree the offense has moved the ball effectively the last two games.
As far as pass protection, the offensive line took care of Mike Glennon throughtout the game. I thought the pocket was clean for the majority of the game and, collectively, they've taken huge strides in protecting the quarterback. Rob Ryan dialed up multiple blitzes throughout the game, trying to disrupt Glennon and confuse the lineman and backs of the Bucs. I thought the Saints failed in that aspect of their defensive plan.
The run game was effective, but can always improve. It's rarely about the total yards (although anyone would love a 100yd rusher each week). It's about the effectiveness it has over the course of the game. They still need to keep improving on their combo blocks and backside cutoffs but at the end of the day, overall, they gave a winning performance yesterday. There's one area that hurt this group and I'll get into that at the end.
Doug Martin ran hard yesterday. By far, he played his best game overall of the year. He brought more to the table then just running the football. He caught the ball well out of the backfield and made plays after the catch. Unfortunately, one of his long catches was brought back by a penalty and the Saints fell right into the Bucs hands on a potential huge screen play, but the pressure got to Glennon a bit too quick and the ball was over thrown. The most impressive part of Martin's game yesterday was his pass protection. I thought he bowed up and brought it all day vs the multiple blitz packages the Saints used. It was a side of Martin's game that many prognosticators had doubted, but the tape discredits any of that talk. Doug stepped up and came to play.
WIDE RECEIVERS AND TIGHT ENDS
jackson went off yesterday, having his best game of the season. Averaging 18 yards per catch vs the Saints, Jackson showed us why he's one of the top receivers in the league. Louis Murphy continues to show up and supply the offense with big play catches. Austin Seferian-Jenkins had what I like to call "teaching game" experience. The young man is going to be a very good tight end. There were a few opportunities for him to make some big plays in the passing game that he left on the field, but I love the way that Glennon continues to target him in the passing game. As far as blocking, the tape will be the biggest source for ASJ's growth. Various looks that each team gives him week to week will increase his knowledge of the game and help him understand what players will do against him each week. I remember my rookie year and how valuable those early bumps were that allowed me to understand the position and game better.
Always a challenge when you play the Saints. The biggest key when playing against Brees is make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Although the Bucs had no sacks, they applied enough pressure on Brees to create those mistakes that he can make. The defense got themselves three interceptions and scored on one of them. The Saints are going to make their share of plays, but as a defense you must be fundamentally sound and tackle well. The Saints made a few plays that I thought the defense had in their grasp but we just couldn't quite tackle them. I think that the players would agree they missed a few of those opportunities to stop them with missed tackles.
Buccaneers fans, if your reading this, you're probably thinking with all of these positives, how could the team have lost. Penalties reared its ugly head on Sunday. The Bucs had 15 penalties in the game vs the Saints. I've played in the league for 12 years and you can't go on the road vs a division rival and win a game doing that. Penalties took away from the performance and effort this team played with on offense and defense. I look at the third downs that were converted by the offense that were called back. I look at two key third down stops on the Saints first touchdown drive and again in overtime. These gave the Saints the life they needed that they couldn't earn on there own.
There are lessons learned and pictures painted every week. The effort, fight and improved execution on both sides was there yesterday, but the Buccaneers need to play smarter to get this ship back on track next week.
Behind the scenes photos from the Buccaneers vs. Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans