My Two Cents: Two Risky Calls and a Two Faced O-Line

As you know if you are a regular reader I am a displaced Bucs fan. Roughly a year ago I moved to Northern Virginia for my job, which means I am surrounded by Redskins fans. Almost all of the fans up here have been whining about the last offensive play for the Bucs.

As controversial as Alstott's two point play may or may not have been, the 'Skins have no right to complain since they put the Bucs in position to go for two. Looking at the offsides play, it appears that the 'Skins coaches sent their players after the kicker under the understanding that it did not matter if they were offside. The two 'Skins players rushing from the outside, who were both offsides, looked like they were in synch.

And if the kick was not blocked then maybe Gruden doesn't take the penalty and go for two.

The reason I mention this is because, I believe that the 'Skins coaches risked an off sides penalty under the belief that Gruden would still kick the extra point from the one yard line. Gruden proved them wrong by going for the risky play and rushing for two points to win the game. And Gruden deserves a great deal of praise for making a move which could have backfired horribly on him as the coach.

Many times announcers will describe a game as a chess match, when it is everything but. But the last offensive series was like a chess match. The 'Skins coaches took a risk to try and block the extra point. Their gambit backfired when Gruden made his own risky move by going for two from the one. And yes, I've used "risky" multiple times to describe that last series, but that's because both sides made unusual moves to try and prevent the game from going into overtime.

The Bucs stole this game from the 'Skins. Coming into the game everyone was picking the 'Skins to beat a Bucs team that looked like it was on the decline. With Griese out Simms had been unable to put togther a complete offensive performance. And up until the last minute it looked like the 'Skins had won the game. With the way their defense has been playing this year, the 'Skins should have won after they scored that last touchdown.

But Simms proved his doubters wrong by driving down the field to win the game for HIS team. Because make no mistake, the Bucs are now Simms team after this win.

The key to this game was the play of the offensive line. As dreadful as the o-line looked run blocking, they looked brilliant against the pass rush. Which is really odd.

For most offensive lineman it is far easier to run block than it is to pass block. Run blocking requires a lineman to attack a defender, which based on my own high school experience playing tackle, is much easier than pass blocking. Pass blocking is typically more difficult because all the defender has to do is get around his blocker. You ask any lineman and they will tell you they would rather run block than pass block.

But the Bucs o-line could not run block yesterday. For example, let's look at the Cadillac fumble. On that play 'Skins defensive tackle Joe Salave'a pushed by center John Wade (who was one of the better plays on the o-line last season) to force Cadillac to fumble. I don't blame Cadillac for the fumble. Cadillac had only a split second to secure the ball before he got hit in the backfield.

If the line deserves praise for the 100 yard rushing games by runningbacks, then it also deserves the blame when its runners get stuffed in the backfield which was what happened yesterday.

But the Bucs defense looked really good against a complicated 'Skins pass rush. The o-line allowed ZERO sacks and Simms threw NO interceptions. The line gave Simms time to make throws, and when he has that time he can make accurate passes. This was not the case in the game against the Panthers when Simms had little time to throw the ball, which led to costly turnovers.

Next week the Bucs go up against a team with a horrible rush defense, the Falcons. To win that game the Bucs need to get their run game going, and return to the blocking schemes that made them so successful at the beginning of the season.


The Armchair Quarterback said...

Great game by Simms yesterday. And I agree that something is going on with the Buc's O-line. I can't believe that Williams is getting bottled up this much. He's too fast and has too many moves for this to happen. Why was he successful in the beginning of the year though? Can the line suddenly forget how to block? I'm trying to figure this one out.

gnorb said...

Caddy's still not 100%, so he's not yet back to his "Barry Sanders Clone" form. He did better this week than last, and I expect that next week's game will see more of him. Likewise, we can expect our run-defense to be attacked mercylessly (sp?) with a Vick/Dunn attack. I expect to see much more from Alstott, if what Gruden's been saying is any indication.

In short, next week looks to be a run-happy game. If Simms can keep his composure, we may see a strong air-attack, exploiting the same holes Favre did, but I'm not one to make flippant predictions, so I'll stop here.

Cutthroat Pirates said...

Cadillac must still be hurt, I also think he is a little scared now. He will get it going. Gruden said tonight on his talk show that Caddy is still getting the ball as much as possible, but they will work Alstott into the game more. He also said it is unknown if Clayton will return. I think Clayton needs to stay out a while, we were much better with Ike Hillard and Edle Sheppard as our receivers. Most 2nd year receivers get in a slump and return to form their 3rd year.

erik love said...

Hey Ski, are you up for a interview with me bro?

Get an E Mail address man....

Holla at me if you want to do it...