Gameday: Rams @ Bucs

My Sticks preview can be found here.

The Bucs have an advantage over the Rams, especially when we take a lot at the numbers for both teams. But this has trap game written all over for the Bucs, as the Bucs are coming off a big division against the Saints last week and the team may already be looking ahead to the trip to Carolina next week.

Questionable- CB Brian Kelly, WR Ike Hilliard, DE Patrick Chukwurah
Kelly and Hilliard will likely play while Chukwurah remains a question mark. As this is the best receiving corps the Bucs will have faced so far Kelly's return to the field will be crucial in shutting down Issac Bruce and/or Torry Holt.

Out- LT Orlando Pace, C Ritchie Incognito, CB Tye Hill

Ouch. Pace and Incognito are two of the better lineman in the game and the Bucs defensive line might actually get a pass rush going with these two guys out. Hill's absence should guarantee another good week for Joey Galloway.

RECAP: Bucs 24, Rams 3
Great job by the defense but it looks like we have the beginning of a running back controversy with a strong closing performance by Earnest Graham, formerly Mr. August for the Bucs. Cadillac Williams' rib injury took him out of the game Graham took full advantage. I will break down the game later but for now let's see what Gruden has to say about Caddy, who has typically been Gruden's guy.

+ Phillip Buchanon with a point saving interception and what should have been a fumble recovery for a TD
+ Barrett Ruud leading the team in tackles for the third strait game
+ Earnest Graham with 75 yards and 2 TDs on 8 carries
+ the defense holding the Greatest Show on Turf to 3 points

- Cadillac Williams was less than impressive, 12 carries for 46 yards a TD and a fumble
- @ what point can we label Michael Clayton a bust? Only one catch and he fumbled that.
- taunting call on Ronde Barber
- what was Phillips thinking when he tried to run the interception out of the endzone?


T.K. said...

Honestly, I don't think it mattered who carried the ball for us in the fourth quarter - whether it was Pittman or Earnest, the Rams D-line was tired out, our O-line was still fresh and both guys carved things up like a hot knife through butter. If Cadillac had been in there (I don't think it was that he was feeling hurt; I think Gruden was terrified about the flak jacket causing another fumble, especially when the score was still 10-3) he'd have ratcheted up his numbers as well. They might have Earnest spell Cadillac and Pittman a little more in the future but I didn't see anything this week that would change my perception that Cadillac's still Gruden's guy as long as he's healthy.

The game ball this week goes to the O-line. They were the reason for the success in the run game and they did a relatively good job in pass protection (though Garcia was scrambling a little more than I'd like). That unit seems to be finally coming together.

I feel really good about our chances next week in Carolina after this performance - and that's before factoring in Steve Smith's possible injury trouble.

Ski said...

I wrote this at the Sticks but I will repeat it here, Gruden should give more carries to Earnest Graham to see what he can do. If Cadillac's injuries are bothering him it makes sense to rest him and limit his carries (although it is a bit distressing that Gruden sold Cadillac as a closer at tail back but Caddy is getting banged up so frequently at the end of games).

Additionally, a little competition never hurt. Jermaine Phillips has played significantly better since being challenged for a starting spot, why not do the same with Caddy?

And the Carolina game looks very winnable right now. Atlanta found a good deal of success throwing the ball against the Panthers, something which plays into the Gruden's gameplanning.