Re-Focused: Buccaneers @ Jaguars, Week 14

| December 14, 2011

At a glance, its hard to believe the Buccaneers and Jaguars combined for 41 points, let alone one of them hitting 41 by themselves. Tampa Bay turned the ball over a whopping seven times and Jacksonville converted those takeaways into 21 points. Compounding their lack of ball security here was the fact the Bucs were flagged 12 times for 97 yards and their return units contributed minus 2 yards on punts and zero yards via kick returns. While the Jaguars only had a pair of turnovers, one was inside the Bucs’ 10; inexcusable in any game.

In this meeting of two underwhelming and injury-depleted franchises, each toting a struggling quarterback, it was the Jaguars who made fewer mistakes. They also hit a couple of big plays to really put the game out of sight and left with the first win for interim Head Coach Mel Tucker while having scored more points than in their previous three games combined. 

Tampa Bay dropped their seventh game in a row and there are enough problems across the board here that Raheem Morris has gone from being a darling coach of the media spotlight to being firmly on the hot seat.  Let’s take a look at some interesting performances from the game.

 

Tampa Bay – Three Performances of Note

Quarterback Struggles

Tampa Bay’s young signal-caller, Josh Freeman, has been dealing with an injury to his throwing shoulder in addition to one on the thumb of his throwing hand. While it’s tough to tell just how much the injuries affected him in this game, he was just flat-out poor most of the way. He was unable to connect on routine passes, invited pressure at times, and was often under or overthrowing his targets after actually avoiding pressure. Freeman’s -6.2 grade was very close to his worst mark of 2011 with only Week 7’s outing against Chicago being worse. This was one occasion where the NFL’s quarterback rating of 44.7 actually does do justice to his performance. If this is as a result of injury, the Bucs need to do the right thing and sit him until he is fully healthy. They are clearly out of contention and just exposing him to further injury which could set his offseason program back significantly. If it’s something else, then they need to find the problem, and do so quickly.

 

Trueblood Doesn’t Allow a Sack, but …

This is another example of how the box score and the sack statistics can often tell lies. In this case they’ll tell great big lies with bells hanging off them, as while Trueblood did not give up a sack–or a hit, for that matter–he did surrender five pressures and earned a -3.3 PFF grade for his outing. You only need to look at his attempt at a block on 1st-and-10 with 12:50 to go in the first quarter to realize that sometimes the worst of beatings don’t always result in a sack. On that play, he surrendered near instant pressure inside but it won’t show up in any stats outside of our pressure and grades. Trueblood struggled all day with Leger Douzable at defensive end and is surely glad to not have face him again anytime soon.

 

Look! An Albert Haynesworth Sighting!

It’s fair to say that Albert Haynesworth (+1.3) hasn’t been the dominant force he once was. In fact, watching him at times you just see a big mass of player the rest of the players on the field have to play their way around, a bit like Grady Jackson at the end of his career. In this game though, we saw flashes of the dominance that he still possesses. While Haynesworth didn’t record a sack, he did notch a hit and a pair of pressures on his 21 rushes from the interior. He didn’t do badly against the run either which hasn’t been his favorite pastime. Tampa needs get this level of production out of him going forward as–even if it is only a fraction of his ability–it’s a significant upgrade over what they have in the middle otherwise.

 

Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note

 Gabbert Doesn’t Exactly Break Out

The Jaguars scored 41 points so Blaine Gabbert must have been pretty good, right? It’s an easy assumption to make but I found myself asking near the end of the fourth quarter how on earth the Jags even got near that figure. Gabbert was just as inept as he’d been all season despite facing one of the worst defenses in 2011. In the first quarter alone he missed a couple of receivers with overthrown passes and then threw a truly horrific interception to Ronde Barber on a ball even Brett Favre would have ridiculed as ill-advised. True to form, though, Gabbert flashed the occasional throw that makes you suddenly see what teams saw in him prior to draft day. The ball he fit down the seam to Jarett Dillard was a particularly nice pass but it wasn’t enough to overcome a day of generally inaccurate throws. Even with the Jags clearly adjusting their offense to go heavy on short, high-percentage passes, Gabbert still managed to miss on slants and bubble screens. His numbers may suggest otherwise, but Gabbert more than earned his -4.9  grade.

 

Douzable Steps Into the Void and Performs

I like talking about Leger Douzable for a couple of reasons. First, his name is simply awesome and, second, I knew who he was before most, simply because I happened to pay attention to him bouncing around the Minnesota Vikings’ roster in 2008. He got the start in this game due to the Jaguars now having 27 players on injured reserve. Douzable played 48 snaps (his most of the season), and responded with four pressures and a +2.7 grade. His grade would have been even better had it not been for a pair of penalties in the game. One came on a facemask call and one was rather comically called on him for diving back into a scrum for a loose fumble after he had already been hauled out of it. It’s probably a fair call, but you have to love that kind of commitment.

 

Boxing Gloves for Nwaneri in Practice This Week

After surrendering three holding penalties, I’m sure words will be had with the Jaguars’ right guard. Those three penalties accounted for almost half of  Uche Nwaneri’s -5.5 negative grade for the game. It wasn’t as if he was fine without them though. Nwaneri was beaten for three pressures and also found himself on the wrong side of several encounters in the run game which, at times, single-handedly derailed Jaguar drives. For an offense that isn’t exactly blessed with the ability to move the ball at will, that is the kind of additional millstone they can’t afford to carry.

 

Game Notes

- Montel Owens played a single snap on offense for the Jaguars.

- Against the blitz, Gabbert had a QB rating of 109.7, but when pressured, his PFF quarterback rating was just 18.8.

-  Freeman’s PFF quarterback rating against the blitz was just 14.2.

 

PFF Game Ball

Maurice Jones-Drew was what made this offense go and he deserves special credit for being willing to stick his head in and block Haynesworth one-on-one at one point in the game. Leger Douzable was a real force on the other side of the ball and deserves the recognition for his efforts. They’ll share the award for this game.

 

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