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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Penn: Bucs Are Close to Breaking Out

Despite Tampa Bay's 1-3 start, left tackle Donald Penn is energized by what he's seen and believes the offense is very close to getting on a roll


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-3 after one month of play, and now they're headed into a week of mostly downtime, so you might expect to see that reflected in their locker room body language.  If not hanging heads, then at least some slow rolls.  A general lack of urgency with no game on the horizon, perhaps.

That's not the case.  Not only are these Bucs not a bit subdued, but they're as confident as ever.  At least veteran leader Donald Penn is, thanks to what he considers some very encouraging signs.

"I have some excitement knowing how well we've played and knowing that we're just that far away," said the team's starting left tackle.  "There's a lot to build on.  They've got me coming to work with a little bit more bounce, knowing that, hey, we've got to get this little bit more and then we're going to get rolling."

The Buccaneers' offense put up a season-high 373 yards on Sunday in a narrow loss to the Washington Redskins and rediscovered a downfield element in the passing game in the second half.  The Bucs had their best yards per play number of the year (6.4), their best rushing average (4.4) their fewest sacks allowed (one) and their most net passing yards (293).  It may have taken too long to get started, which led to an 18-point deficit the Bucs spent most of the second half climbing out of, but the end result was evidence to Penn that the offense is on the verge of breaking out in a big way.

"We're going to keep working, man," he said.  "You look at us on tape and you say, 'Wow, a play here and a play there…"  It's going to come, where you're going to be looking at it and say, 'Dang! Okay.' That's what we're working on and that's what we've got to get to.  Because it's right there.  It's right there.

"We have little glimpses here, and we have little lapses there.  We've got to get it all one page.  I thought we improved this past Sunday and it's something we're going to get better on.  Josh [Freeman] is feeling more comfortable with the offense, calling out stuff and seeing stuff better.  It's just coming."

The Bucs were less than two minutes away from winning Sunday's game, and they would have been in even better position after Connor Barth's late field goal had they converted on a two-point conversion try a few minutes earlier that would have tied the game.  The offense made it harder for itself with a false start before the attempt, and then miscommunication between Freeman and wide receiver kept the eventual pass from succeeding.

The Bucs were left with that "play here, play there" feeling, just as they were a week ago when a potential touchdown return of a fumble by Eric Wright was whistled dead.  Perhaps if a deflected pass had not been just out of the reach of a diving Mason Foster in the third quarter, or had a review of a Washington trick play on the next snap gone the Bucs way, it would have been enough to turn the tide.  Penn thinks better attention to detail on every play will lead to the ball, and the calls, eventually bouncing the Bucs' way.

"We've got to fix those little mistakes that we can control, and hopefully Lady Luck is going to help us with some stuff we can't control," he said.  {"It's a long season.  That's why I said I'm just so happy it's early now.  Once we get it rolling, hoo!  Once this train gets rolling, that trains going to be rolling.  Then the questions are going to be, 'How do we keep this train rolling?'"

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