Where This Meets That
Short recap this week because I knew the score and watched in fast-forward.
This week really underscores the storyline so far this season, a tale of two number twos.
The offensive line is the first number two . . . the smelly kind.
The only good thing that can be said about it is that at least against the Bears and Eagles, it was smelly and runny, with Turner putting up over 100 yards each game running the ball. That’s a little easier to diagnose. The Bucs, however, had given up an average of over 150 yards per game on the ground before stonewalling the Falcons ground game at a pathetic 30 yards.
The Bucs front seven had also struggled to sack opposing QB’s before Sunday’s game. They sacked Ryan 4 times. Full body, crushing hits that caused him to fumble twice. Not to mention the number of times they hit Ryan just after the throw.
What makes the offensive line’s collapse worse is that Ryan is throwing the ball better than he ever has. I came into this season with lingering doubts about both his accuracy and his arm strength. No more.
Sure, he’s rushing some throws (missed a wide open Tony G. for a TD), but see the first “number two” above to understand. Lost in yesterday’s game are the numbers he put up with Roddy and Julio. Absolutely stunning to have two receivers going over 100 yards, and Roddy could have hit 200 yards were it not for a couple key drops where Ryan put the ball right on the money.
Even Ryan’s interception came off a rebound from Roddy’s hands (Roddy was, incidentally, held on the play but didn’t get the call).
Finally, major props to Ryan for his toughness. Looking for bright spots, I can see that the lack of time in the pocket is forcing Ryan to make quicker reads – and he’s making them most of the time. For him to put together fourth quarters as he has the last two weeks, after being brutalized for the three preceding quarters, deserves recognition. And a better performance from his offensive line.
The defense performed well and seems to be coming together a little better each week. The line is doing a much better job of pressuring the quarterback, which frees up the linebackers and defensive backs to do what they should be doing. Still room to improve the mental mistakes (being drawn offsides, unnecessary roughness, etc.), but great improvement thus far.
Punting game stinks. I still wonder why they let Koenen go, but whatever. I also don’t understand why the Falcons forewent the field goal on 4th and long inside the Bucs’ 10-yard line early in the 4th quarter. You gotta take points in that situation and save the more desperate measures for more desperate times.
Next week versus the Seahawks should be win . . . um, number 2, even against a lot of miles and a loud crowd.