Run May Have Been Right CallSeptember 17th, 2013
Joe knows Bucs fans have had little sleep after the Bucs let the Saints and Drew Brees off the hook Sunday, falling to 0-2, which recent history shows is a death knell to a season (but a good omen for a decent draft pick the following spring).
All the tranactions made in the offseason, all the drama concerning quarterbacks, tight ends, defensive linemen. All the anticipation and hope built up through the too long offseason and within the first eight days of the season — poof! — it is all gone.
Many Bucs fans have eaten countless Tums in the past two nights angry with Bucs commander Greg Schiano for not letting Bucs franchise quarterback Josh Freeman try to beat the Saints when a first down would have sealed a win late in the fourth quarter.
Instead, Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan called a run play with Doug Martin that got three yards when it needed six.
Bucs fans are still somewhat livid with the call, but X’s and O’s guru Greg Bedard of theMMQB.com explains in great detail that Sullivan called the correct play, and if not for a fantastic play by Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette, the Bucs would have won.
What happened: The Saints had just taken their final timeout, so if the Buccaneers had converted this third down, the game would have been over and Saints quarterback Drew Brees never would have gotten a shot to drive the field for a game-winning field goal. Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan had to strike a balance between making sure the clock would run after the play with staying aggressive enough to get a game-ending first down. The play Sullivan called—a counter toss—was a very good call, and it would have done the job had left outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) followed the flow of the play like a majority of NFL players normally would.
The design was very good, and so was the execution by Tampa Bay. The initial movement of the play was away from Galette: Martin took a step to his left, and the fullback blocked that way and even the right guard pulled to that side. The entire front seven of the Saints flowed to that side, except Galette. He must have read quarterback Josh Freeman coming out from center to the right, or quickly saw Martin come back to the right. Whatever Galette’s key was, he was spot on. He took two steps up the field in perfect position with his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage. When Freeman pitched the ball to Martin, Galette sprinted outside of Martin to force him back to the inside. The slight adjustment allowed the Saints’ pursuit players to make a tackle three yards short of the first down.
The play is predicated on Galette being fooled by the run action and being sucked up inside. If that happened, the play would have gone for a first down because the Bucs had the rest of the play blocked reasonably well. But because Galette stayed home, he blew the play up and gave Brees a chance to put the Saints in scoring position. Even more amazing is that Galette, despite getting a piece of Martin’s leg and being the key to the play, wasn’t even credited with a tackle.
Yeah, Joe knows. If his grandmother had a pair, she’d be a grandfather.
But Joe posts this from Bedard, an objective source who has no vested interest in either the Bucs nor the Saints, to explain that on film, the play was a good call. It just took a fantastic play by one player to blow it up.
Yes, Joe is perturbed at the loss as well. The defense, despite shooting itself in the foot with penalties, played absolutely lights out for 59 minutes. That may have been the best performance Joe has seen a Bucs defense play since the 1999 NFC title game. Just like that fateful day, on Sunday the Bucs faced a lethal offense with one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game and had the Saints in a choke-hold.
It was, and is, criminal such a performance was wasted, and if history is a barometer, so too a season.