"Look guys, you gotta get to Eli or we won't win."
First, this age-old thought for your consumption:
You're never as good as your last win or as bad as your last loss.
Surely you haven't forgotten already how the Buccaneer defense thrilled you with victory over the dangerous Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers in the season opener. Ten yards rushing. Phenomenal.
So don't be so harsh, don't pull a Tom Coughlin, don't get red-in-the-head over this 41-34 loss to the G-Men. Sure the Bucs could have won, but had it not been for the first half defense that limited the Giants to three field goals after three trips into the red zone, this one could have been out of reach at halftime.
Keep in mind what you're watching is a work in progress. It is far from the finished product. Told you before the season started that there are still pieces missing and that this team needs one more good draft and one more offseason teaching symposium.
With that in mind, a quick look back at the heart breaker that left most of you thinking about what might have been.
Where was the defensive line?
This is the first question you should be asking. Instead of jumping all over Aqib Talib, this is something you should contemplate. The defensive line was missing in action yesterday afternoon. They didn't do much. Eli Manning got too comfortable back there. Sure, he threw those three first-half interceptions. But that blitz package wasn't going to work all afternoon. You live by the blitz; you die by the blitz.
No sacks, no knockdowns, except for that sneak attack on the game's last play that made Manning take his only tumble of the day. Left Coughlin fuming and cussing at Schiano after the game. Get over it Tom; it's football. Play hard until the game's over.
The stat sheet tells the sad tale of front-four tackles: Gerald McCoy had two, Roy Miller had one, Adrian Clayborn and Michael Bennett combined for, drum roll please, ZERO. Let's repeat that—ZERO tackles for Clayborn, none for Bennett.
That simply won't work, will it?
Don't leave Aqib Talib on an island.
Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan turned the afternoon into a game of "Survivor" for poor Aqib Talib and Hakeem Nicks promptly voted him off the island. Seriously, can we expect any corner in the NFL to go one-on-one with Nicks all afternoon, especially with the likes of Manning throwing to him? Talib got away with a bunch of holds that weren't called either.
This wasn't a great idea, especially in the fourth quarter.
You can only blitz Eli Manning so often.
This is a summer repeat: you live by the blitz; you die by the blitz. They lived for one half, died when it counted at the hands of Manning. He's an elite quarterback and proved it. How many times do you think you can sneak Ronde Barber to the line of scrimmage? They left Mark Barron back there by himself and he didn't have a chance.
Were you shocked that Manning brought his team back?
Why won't Josh Freeman scramble?
We've seen two games and plenty of chances for Josh Freeman to pick up easy yardage with his legs. He used to be a very effective runner. There were plenty of opportunities Sunday but Freeman never ran for a yard. What's up with that?
Does the staff not trust LeGarrette Blount?
If the team was concerned about Blount's neck injury, he shouldn't have dressed. He was cleared to play so where was he? He was planted firmly on the sidelines. Does the staff not trust him; does he not have full grasp of the playbook? Has he not performed in practice? This one is an ongoing mystery. Doug Martin continues to carry the load. What is Blount's role?
Linebackers played quite well.
Mason Foster had a career afternoon with a DOZEN solo tackles. Lavonte David had seven and Quincy Black three. David injured his wrist early in the game but played hurt; this guy's a gamer. Still the downside was that none of them were able to sack Manning and the tackling got sloppy late.
Where was Arrelious Benn?
Do the Buccaneers have a third wide receiver? Evidently not. The only wide receivers who caught balls were Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Where was Preston Parker? They better find someone to step up of this will hurt them down the road.
Do the Bucs have a third wide receiver?
Dallas Clark was too little too late.
Dallas Clark needs to be a bigger part of the offense. He caught three balls late from Freeman. He had four catches all day. Where was he the other three quarters? Why not target him more often?
Demar Dotson was capable.
Dotson did a nice job filling in for Jeremy Trueblood. Give the offensive line credit; they did a remarkable job against the New York front four.
Will Eric Wright be okay?
Eric Wright's interception return was a thing of beauty. Call it a million-dollar play. Can't remember a run like that. Wright later re-injured his lower back, which is a cause for concern. They need him healthy to win.
Connor Barth is the team's best player.
Truth be known, the best and most reliable player right now is Connor Barth. SOLID point producer and clutch performer.
Get the real officials back on the field.
So many missed calls on both sides. Most memorable was the hit on Vincent Jackson. That could have been a game changer. Get rid of these replacement officials. They pretty much suck.
That should just about cover it.
Yes, this was an incredible opportunity for the Buccaneers. Yes, it got away from them.
Strike that. It didn't "get away," it was taken away.
Taken away by some guy named Eli.