THE QB BLAST: Another Call For Josh JohnsonDecember 15th, 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.
Every road win in the NFL is difficult. A road win in bad weather is even more so. The Bucs survived in D.C. against a struggling Redskins team and notched another fourth-quarter comeback win and got their eighth overall. Simply surviving to win against a subpar team like Washington was just fine by me, especially with their recent close battles against good teams like the Ravens and Falcons.
Those two losses showed that they are competing at a higher level than in those bad losses earlier in the season. They also won Sunday while losing a couple more of their major contributors, this time it was Quincy Black and Gerald McCoy.
I was happy to see the Sunday newspaper article that explained Raheem understands there is an entertainment aspect to the game and their offense, as they have implemented a few unique-looking plays over the weeks.
Greg Olson has rightly been given credit for coming up with some effective plays, but the people of Tampa Bay are scratching their heads over his short yardage play-calling (people that admit they know nothing about calling plays are stopping me on the street to ask what he is doing).
This week they went deep on their first third down of the game. Going into shotgun on 3rd-and-1 was curious enough in the bad weather (even though Freeman had a chance to throw a TD to Kellen Winslow after buying some extra time in the backfield and would have with a little better throw) and seems to make a statement that they don’t have much confidence in any of their running backs or offensive line in short yardage situations, as they went to shotgun again on their very next 3rd-and-1 situation.
The Bucs offense could become very entertaining and effective if they would implement Josh Johnson into the backfield as a receiver in motion behind the formation.
Even though he won a Super Bowl here in Tampa while quarterbacking the Baltimore Ravens, I was never a big fan of Trent Dilfer under center. But, as an analyst, I think he is really good, perhaps the best on the network. Recently he was talking about Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles offense and how impressive it is by stretching defenses to defend absolutely every inch of the field. This, of course, is because of Vick’s dynamism and diversity.
I know I have beaten this drum before, but because I know who reads this column, I am going to keep beating it so that the Buccaneers offense will be included in Dilfer’s conversation of dynamic offenses around the NFL, because the potential is there! Josh Johnson must do more than run a decoy route once a game. He needs touches.
Not by pulling Freeman out of the game, but by moving Johnson across the formation behind Freeman and taking a pitch at full speed, thus pulling linebackers out of position and creating bigger holes for Freeman to throw into and for Johnson’s passes or runs as well. It will also help the running game, even though Blount has helped it immensely.
I know Barrett Ruud is the current poster-boy for what is wrong with the defense, but I must come to his defense a bit. Against the Redskins, the Bucs defense was being gashed because of their alignment and the other team’s execution, not because Ruud wasn’t filling the holes well enough. On early downs, the Bucs were regularly lining up a cocked noseguard on the center and an end outside of the tackle, virtually giving away both the “A” and “B” gap, which Ruud cannot defend by himself. This is allowing a guard to get onto the linebackers down the field.
The television announcers called it “zone” blocking, but there was a lot more going on there than just zone blocking, as the Redskins pulled, trapped, kicked out different defenders to open huge running lanes for Torain. If the Bucs continue to line up like they did Sunday, there will be a few more running backs with big days on the ground, even if the Bucs were able to get Ray Lewis to step into the middle linebacker spot.
Still Competing Off The Field
Eight wins with three to play is really a fabulous situation for this team.
Unfortunately the stadium will not be filled again this Sunday as a win will guarantee them a winning season and triple last season’s win total, but the Tampa Bay market has legitimate, multi-factor reasons for spending its time watching other NFL teams on home TV screens.
Fortunately, the Bucs recognize the need to increase the entertainment value of their ticket. Because they are competing for entertainment dollars, and in this market’s economy, those dollars are scarce or nonexistent for many and must be used wisely.