The QB Blasts: Camaraderie Doesn’t Win GamesSeptember 14th, 2011
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. Plus, he’s a really cool dude.
By JEFF CARLSON
Even after Sunday’s loss, the Bucs are the best team in the NFC South. Well, at least they are tied for the best record — and the worst — in a division that went winless this weekend.
As one of the teams that got together for self-directed practice more than most during the lockout, all the Bucs’ offseason practice sessions didn’t add up to a win in Week 1 of the real season.
Extra offseason practice didn’t work out for the New Orleans Saints either, up against a Green Bay Packers team that didn’t get together at all during the lockout. So much for the importance of building team camaraderie in the offseason.
The Saints fought to the last play on opening night against the defending Super Bowl champs and after going down the field in seconds, courtesy of Drew Brees’ arm, they chose to go up the middle to their rookie running back on an all-or-nothing play and ended up with nothing. That was a bad coaching decision, not just after the fact; you just don’t go “all-in” where one missed block discounts all the efforts of the previous three hours. Give it to Brees on the move where he will have two or three receiver options as well as a chance to run it in if need be. It’s good to know former Super Bowl winning coaches can make bad decisions too.
All coaching staffs spent the entire offseason with Sept. 11 circled on their calendars for the season opener, and without the daily interruptions of working with their players. The Bucs threw their gameplan in the trash at halftime to play a style of football for which they are not built.
And so, on their final play of the day, they played’ “hot potato” with Donald Penn and friends to finish up a rough day on both sides of the ball.
The Bucs looked average to poor throughout the preseason, but I was sure they were just holding on to their good stuff for the games that count. I guess I was wrong or they are holding on to their good stuff for more important games than the first one of the season, where championships are not won or lost (all 16 teams that lose in week 1 always have the same opinion).
The Detroit Lions are a team on the rise and looked like it throughout their preseason. Matt Stafford, the former No. 1 pick in 2009, looked like an All-Pro this summer. His improvement thus far, following the first two injury-plagued seasons, is anticipating his throws and getting rid of the ball before taking the massive hits that ended both prematurely.
Raheem Morris agreed saying, “We just weren’t able to get there when he had the ball in his hands.” That is the challenge for every team isn’t it?
The Bucs racked up a total of zero defensive stat lines for sacks, hurries or hits on the QB. The change in Stafford’s game is all he needs to be a great one, and with a target like the massive Calvin Johnson, they become competitive in the NFC North immediately.
Alternatively, Josh Freeman needs an effective running game to make this offense effective enough to compete week in and week out. Defensively, they won’t compete in their own division without knocking Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and the record-setting rookie Cam Newton around quite a bit. They also need to find a weapon out of the backfield on third down, not just a good blocker.
The preseason offense lacked movement and imagination and I simply chalked it up to saving the good stuff for September. But without motion to create favorable match-ups and change of pace plays to keep the rush honest, it will create too much pressure on Freeman to make plays down the field too often.
All the important figures for Tampa Bay were right to say that one loss does not a season make, but another poor performance in Minnesota next week should strike serious concern for this team and for all of us hoping to see December home games that have significance, which also might help us see a home game on TV sometime this year.