Week 2 wrapup
We here at the Times know you can't get enough of the Bucs, and apparently the same is true for us. Our lunchtime conversation today was dominated by Bucs talk which clearly means each of us needs to get a life. But one benefit of that conversation was that it produced some thoughts that may have slipped through the cracks Sunday. Here are a few.
- Where's Gaines?: I must say, though the defense was spectacular Sunday, Gaines Adams has to show up at some point. The Bucs were getting pretty much one-on-one matchups on the defensive line throughout the second half as the Saints consistently threw the ball down the field. Still, while guys like Greg White and others made appearances in the backfield, I can't say I recall Adams showing up there. Plus, if he was worthy of substantial playing time, wouldn't we have seen more of him yesterday with the Bucs playing with that big a lead? I'm starting to wonder about the coaches' level of confidence in him. Also, the pass rush in general should have been a little more noticable. Drew Brees had a lot of time to throw in most cases. He just couldn't hit the side of a barn.
- NFC South contenders?: I feel ridiculous even typing this at this point in the season, but the Bucs could benefit from what appears to be a pretty weak division this season. The Falcons have a myriad of problems, the Saints might have even more and the Panthers have no business losing to Houston by two touchdowns. No one is predicting the Bucs are going to be some sort of juggernaut all season long, but it dawned us over lunch that all you have to do to win your division is have a better record than three other teams. That doesn't feel so unfathomable today after watching yesterday's demolition of New Orleans. Who's to say 8-8 can't win the South? At this rate, anything seems possible. We'll probably realize in a week or two that we were way to premature here, but, hey, we're just talking. Nothing too official going on here.
- Barrett the beast: I'll be the first to admit that I have had doubts about Barrett Ruud, but his performance yesterday answered all the questions I may have had. He played like he was shot out of a cannon. It's rare for a middle linebacker to play sideline to sideline the way he did Sunday. As for Jeremiah Trotter and those of you who keep asking when he'll be activated, um, not anytime soon, it seems.
- Keep running it: The Bucs' running game wasn't all that impressive yesterday. Heck, they only averaged 2.7 yards per carry on 32 carries. That won't turn any heads, but the 32 carries are important. Jon Gruden stuck to the run, to a certain extent, even though the passing game was on fire and the Saints were determined not to let Tampa Bay establish a ground game. If nothing else, it gives the defense reason to pause before the snap and also wears down a tired unit. But it's easy to do this when you have the lead. Let's see what Gruden does when the score is closer.
- Jon, meet Michael: There are many out there who are ready to bury Michael Clayton's career, but let's just hope Gruden isn't one of them. Gruden has made no effort to get Clayton the ball despite the fact his strengths (catching balls across the middle, running slants, etc) are a perfect for Jeff Garcia's game. On Sunday, Galloway was the beneficiary of some favorable one-on-one matchups, and the Bucs gladly took advantage. But those aren't always going to be there. There are teams that will make a concerted effort to shut down Galloway. It's not that hard, frankly, if you slide a second defender over the top. On those days, the Bucs will need Clayton, and Gruden had better figure out ways to make him effective. If the drops return, then that's on Clayton. But right now, Gruden needs to at least find out what the guy can do with a formidable quarterback and when in good health.
Okay, that's all for now. There's work to be done. Chew on this and share your thoughts among yourselves. I'll check in later to see what you think.