We look at 10 things we think we learned about the Bucs following Thursday Night's pre-season debacle against the New England Patriots
One week after completing dominating the Kansas City Chiefs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were issued a little humble pie with a 31-14 can o' whupass by the New England Patriots. The score was hardly indicative of the pummeling delivered by Tom Brady's bunch.
With that in mind, we begin this week's 10 Things We Think We Learned...
1. The Buccaneers aren't as good as THEY thought they were
A week of back patting, kudos and national attention got Bucs ego a little inflated. The Patriots weren't impressed.
"You got a seasoned team that's won Super Bowls with this quarterback. Three of them. A Super Bowl-caliber team year in and year out. They had … the No. 1 player in the league at the most important position. We needed that, because we've got another guy up in Indianapolis who's going to come in here on a Monday (Colts QB Peyton Manning), and we're going to need that."
Whether they needed it or not, they got it and how.
"I don't know if it was a slap in the face, but it was a reality check," guard Davin Joseph told reporters, "When you don't convert on third down, you're not going to win many games. When you get a lot of penalties, you're not going to win many games. When you can't protect your quarterback and keep him standing up straight, you're not going to win many games. And that was the sum of our offense tonight."
Hopefully, the young Bucs got the message.
2. The Bucs run defense has been scary bad.
A week after doing a pretty decent job against one of the top rushing attacks in the league, the Bucs were completely ripped apart on the ground by the Patriots. The Bucs defensive line was physically man-handled by the powerful Pats o-line and gaping holes appeared in the center of the Buccaneers defense.
An even 200 yards didn't even truly tell the tale. When the Bucs starters slinked away midway through the second quarter, they had been outgained 117-1 on the ground.
3. If you're not ready to play against a Super Bowl-caliber team like the Patriots, this kind of performance is going to happen.
You'll get absolutely no argument from anyone on the Bucs coaching staff that the Bucs were not ready to play that football game. One of the challenges of playing a dynamic offensive team like the Patriots is if you've done very little gameplanning for their myriad of looks, you're going to get lost.
Countless times during Thursday night's game, the Bucs were scrambling personnel in or out, looking around confused, committing penalties and completely out of sync.
The Patriots did what they do, showed an abundance of different looks that confounded the Bucs young defense who'd obviously never seen any of them and weren't sure how to counter.
Defensively, Bill Belicheck is a master at getting the most out of his talent and everything was on display.
Add to that, the Bucs came into the game with an inflated ego and weren't putting in their best effort physically and you get 28-0 at halftime.
"We had a couple of mistakes out there, but Tom Brady, as we know, is an awesome quarterback and [New England] has an awesome offense," head coach Raheem Morris told the Pewter Report, "They came to play tonight. We came out kind of sluggish and kind of flat on both sides of the ball. We started to pick it up a little in the second quarter, but we have to get a better effort out of everybody out there."
4. The NFL might as well get it over with and place their offensive players in bubble wrap.
The personal foul call on Mason Foster's vicious hit on Chad Ochocinco was simply ridiculous. While Foster's helmet grazed off Ocho's, he did everything text book, leading with his shoulder and not with the crown of his helmet. It's not his fault Ocho ducked to brace for the hit.
Ocho himself was impressed, saying on his twitter account, "@Mason_Foster great hit last night. if u're fined I'll reimburse u boss.That's the way the game should b played.Stay healthy n have a good yr"
Raheem Morris wants the Bucs to emulate the Pittsburgh Steelers in physicality - but with it may come the league's scrutiny on hard hits.
5. The Bucs pass rush was non-existent until the second quarter.
In addition to their horrible run defense, the Buccaneers found it very difficult to sustain pressure against the Patriots first team o-line. Tampa Bay barely sniffed Brady until their final series of the 2nd quarter when they finally broke through with a sack and several pressures.
Gerald McCoy was invisible, making 1 tackle and being credited for a QB pressure. Adrian Clayborn had just an assist on a tackle. The only time you saw Da'Quan Bowers was when he was scrambling off the field to avoid a to many men on the field penalty.
If the Bucs are to compete in the NFC South, they need a better performance from these three men.
6. Donald Penn and the O-line got abused.
It was a rough night for the entire offensive line Thursday evening but it was especially rough for Bucs Pro Bowl LT Donald Penn, who struggled against the powerful rush. At one point, Penn was literally turned around like a spinning top with his back to the defense as he desperately flailed to protect Josh Freeman's back.
It was a stunning turnaround from the complete dominance the Bucs first team o-line showed against a decent Kansas City defense.
Consistency continues to be an issue for this group.
7. Michael Koenen can kick the bejeezus out of the ball.
One of the few bright spots of the game for Bucs fans is they got a good look at their multi-million dollar punter, Michael Koenen. Koenen absolutely obliterated the ball on 4 punts, kicking the Bucs out of bad field position with a 51.8 yd average.
8. LeGarrette Blount hasn't gotten it going yet.
I'm not concerned (yet), but 2nd year back LeGarrette Blount has yet to find his hurdlin'-legs this pre-season. Of course, the Bucs haven't given him an abundance of carries to get him into rhythm, but the more we don't see the Blount Forced Trauma we've gotten used to seeing, the more worried we'll all become.
It would be nice to see Blount crack off a nice double digit run to calm any fears of a sophomore slump.
9. Roy Miller's Injury Painful for the Bucs.
According to the Times' Stephen Holder, Roy Miller sustained a partial tear of his MCL ligament in his knee. Miller is one of the better and more vesatile defensive tackles on the team and with Brian Price nursing his surgically repaired hip, it was expected he would play an intergral role in the defensive line rotation.
We don't know how much time he'll miss, as MCL tears aren't quite as season-ending as ACL ligaments, but he will be missed.
10. Thank god this game was blacked out.
This was not a game that would intice your fans to gobble up tickets.