The QB Blast: Huge Gaffes By Penn, PlaycallerNovember 10th, 2010
By JEFF CARLSON
Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at JoeBucsFan.com. Joe is ecstatic to have him firing away. Carlson is often seen as a color analyst on Bright House Sports Network, and he trains quarterbacks of all ages locally via his company, America’s Best Quarterback.
Last week I wrote about the importance of performance in all three facets — offense, defense, specials teams — for the early season success of this Buccaneers team. There was no better example of this concept than this past Sunday against the division leading Atlanta Falcons.
Without the outstanding performance of the kickoff return team, they would not have been very competitive in the Georgia Dome.
After falling just inches short of winning on the road against a quality opponent, the youngest players on the team were mentioned as “the problem.” Well, the youth of this team can’t be blamed for the lack of success when it is just that youth that is responsible for their unexpected success.
There is a problem, however, with some of their veterans. Second year quarterback Josh Freeman threw an interception when he was hit while throwing by an unblocked defensive end. This was a simple “brainfart” (brainfart: (noun) a mental mistake made on a routine play) by veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn.
On that particular play, the Falcons had four down defensive linemen and a middle linebacker over center, while the Bucs had an empty backfield. There was no way to be confused in this set, but inexplicably Penn turned right to the inside and blocked nobody, because everybody was being blocked already. This left Josh Freeman, the second year QB, without a clue that his veteran left tackle just left him vulnerable to a potentially season-ending blindside hit and the team vulnerable to both losing their star quarterback and also to the resulting turnover. Pass protection assignments and proper reactions by QB and receivers is one area that needs continued attention for this offense.
On the right side of the line, Jeremy Trueblood missed his second straight game and the Buccaneers enjoyed their second straight game without a personal foul or illegal block in the back or illegal procedure call by their big, veteran right offensive tackle. Trueblood’s replacement James Lee was serviceable, but is probably not the long-term answer to securing the right side, as his lack of strength is reminiscent of Kenyatta Walker.
Now to the key play of the game which could have won the game and left the Bucs tied for the best overall record in the entire NFL and alone atop the NFC South.
The offensive line had been struggling regularly throughout the game as the Falcons’ defensive linemen were getting through the gaps before the offensive line could get there. The noise factor with the loud crowd should have been the deciding factor for the quarterback sneak, a play that Josh Freeman is currently sitting at 100% success rate.
And since Raheem Morris likes Rays’ Manager Joe Maddon’s style, which depends heavily on percentages, it would seem Freeman’s perfect past would have led to giving the “savior” the opportunity to save yet another game.
This is not “Monday Morning Quarterbacking”, Dave Moore, former player and radio analyst, was saying this before the play was called. I agree with him whether the Blount play worked or not. The defense is used to reacting to the ball movement and with the crowd noise they are far less likely to jump offsides with the quarterback’s snap count drowned out by the crowd. So, getting the QB, and in this case a QB bigger than the big RB, to move forward immediately is the best call.
Dropping games, especially road games, that are within your grasp are hard to swallow, but fortunately the Bucs are only a game out of first place at the halfway point and will get another shot at the Falcons at home. If you asked Raheem Morris or his coaches or players in August if they would take 5-3 and one game out for their first half of the season, I doubt any would have a problem with that call.