The QB Blast: Huge Gaffes By Penn, Playcaller

November 10th, 2010
Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Carlson

Ex-Bucs QB Jeff Carlson


Former Bucs quarterback Jeff Carlson (1990 & 1991) writes The QB Blast column here at 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.

11 Responses to “The QB Blast: Huge Gaffes By Penn, Playcaller”

  1. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Did that article end early?

  2. Pete Dutcher Says:

    Ahh, more has been added now, lol.

  3. oar Says:

    Yes, hats off to Spur! Without those returns, especially the TD return, we would not have been in this game to the end! Spur has really turned into a nice WR for us, too!

  4. BigMacAttack Says:

    One thing that has been a little bit overlooked in this loss is the fact that IF the Bucs scored that TD and went ahead 28-27, there would have been about 2 1/2 minutes left on the clock. That is a lot of time for Matty Ice to get into field goal range with timeouts left. I’m not saying the Bucs awesome defense wouldn’t have stopped them but there is no guarantee that they would have either. It was a good game and the Bucs played well overall, but just came up a little short. I don’t think it will happen that way again in Tampa.

  5. Pete Dutcher Says:

    By the same token, if the onside kick had worked, we would have had another chance as well.

    Apples and Oranges, my friend.

  6. BamBamBuc Says:


    Don’t bother telling anyone that Donald Penn is missing assignments. He’s the Super Franchise Left Tackle just resigned to a new contract. No one will believe you.

    He’s done ok in run blocking, but has missed badly enough times in pass protection this year to make me worry about Freeman’s health. Thank goodness Caddy is back there helping out a good number of pass snaps.

    I recall a few weeks ago, when Penn was beat by a blitzing DB. The resounding comment was “It was a DB… There’s no way Penn’s gonna be able to block a DB, they’re too quick”. That was his guy to pick up, and he missed badly. Now, I was watching our game against the Falcons again, and the Falcons LT had no problem picking up a blitzing DB coming wide off the edge. It was his assignment, and he got it done. We got no pressure on that play.

    Pro Football Focus has our two Tackles listed as the teams weakness.

    “Weaknesses: Their offensive line hasn’t helped anyone out. The impressive impact of LeGarrette Blount may have masked what is currently one of the worst lines in the league.”

    and Biggest Disappointment in the first half of the season.

    “Biggest Disappointment: Barrett Ruud or the offensive tackles. Take your pick.”

    Really? Everyone else can see this, but fans are blinded to it? Penn and Trueblood are liabilities at this point. Even James Lee has played as well or better than Trueblood.

  7. BamBamBuc Says:

    As for the QB Sneak on the 4th and short at the goal line….

    Did anyone really look at the 4th and inches earlier where they ran the sneak and Freeman barely made it. He was actually stopped and was just able to reach the ball out to get the first before the ref blew the whistle. And that was in the middle of the field where crowd noise shouldn’t be as bad as up against the goal line. If the Falcons are beating you off the snap, it might be best to hand it to your big RB and let him have a couple options. That way if the gaps are filled, he can bounce it and if they aren’t filled, he can go up the gut. That’s what happened, it just didn’t work.

    It was probaby bad judgement to bounce it on Blount’s side, if he had taken the dive instead, he’d have a head-on against a DB or LB and probably gets the first or maybe the TD. Instead, he went sideways and got hit without a full head of steam and from the side to put him down short of the line to gain.

    But, based on the result of the earlier QB Sneak they ran, I still think it was the right call (wrong read, right call).

  8. derf Says:


    I UNDERSTAND the call to Blount, I really do. In fact I can even accept it without too much problem.

    I, on the other hand, whould have spread the defense out, had Caddy in the backfield and run a QB draw.

    Freeman get’s it done when it counts.

    I’m sorry but I do not like asking these rookies to win games.

  9. BamBamBuc Says:


    Unfortunately, this year we’re gonna have to ask these rookies to win games. We’ve got two at WR that have to step up and win games, and they have been. We have a RB and FB that are rookies (at least until Graham gets healthy) and they’re gonna have to step up and win games. And, if not rookies, 2nd year guys like Freeman and Stroughter. We will lose some of these games, based mostly on youth, but we’ll win our fair share and the best part is they’ll all get better through the experience.

    Even if Freeman runs the draw, you’re still asking Larsen to block and James Lee. Again, my biggest beef was that they didn’t use Lorig at FB on that play. He’s got more speed to get to the hole than Miller. If Blount had seen Lorig put a good block on someone sooner than Miller, he may have hit the dive.

  10. oar Says:

    I sure miss Alsott!

  11. northernbucsfan Says:

    in draft and FA Bucs need LT, LG, C, RT, LE,RE NT, MLB, WLB, SLB, FS, SS and a punter and they could be very, very good