Buccaneers-Eagles: Red Zone Means Stop For Bucs

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIIOctober 11, 2009

It was a game that surprised no one. The Philadelphia Eagles made big plays, blitzed young Josh Johnson unmercifully and went on to a dominating 33-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What will be frustrating for the Bucs on Monday when the coaches review the tape will be the missed opportunities. The Buccaneers travelled deep into Philadelphia territory six times but ended up with only two scores.

Two of the drives, Raheem Morris elected to not go for the makeable field goal with new kicker Shane Andrus, and went for it on fourth down. On the first one, the Bucs made like Georgia Tech and ran the option. Yes ... in the NFL, they ran the option. As you'd expect, it failed miserably.

The second time Josh Johnson bobbled the snap and just barely recovered it. The play would have to be reviewed as an Eagle player ripped the ball from Johnson and raced for a touchdown. Luckily for the Bucs, it would be called back. It wouldn't matter, as three plays later Donovan McNabb got the Eagles into the end zone.

The other two chances in the red zone, Johnson had passes deflected and intercepted by the Eagles, killing scoring chances.

Today, you can point the finger at young Josh Johnson if you want, but the truth is Johnson was victimized by his teammates.

Michael Clayton, who was whining earlier in the week about not getting enough opportunities, was simply horrible. He started the game by giving up on route on the first play of the game. Johnson went deep to him, but Clayton couldn't get back in gear to get to the ball.

Clayton followed that up by dropping four balls, and not doing much for his quarterback.

Antonio Bryant didn't help either, dropping two key third down catches, but he at least rebounded to haul in a total of 62 yards on five catches.

The one guy that did come to play on offense was Kellen Winslow, finally showing why the Buccaneers paid him handsomely in the off-season. Winslow pulled down nine catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns, giving his young quarterback a big, physical target.

For the Bucs defense, it was another game of mostly good plays, but a few were excruciatingly bad.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb made his triumphant return to the lineup, tossing 264 yards and three touchdowns. Statistically, it was one of the Bucs defense's better performances. They held the Eagles to just 324 yards of total offense.

Still, the big plays were all over the field for the Eagles.

McNabb to Maclin for a 51-yard score. McNabb to Leonard Weaver for 20 yards. Another McNabb to Maclin score from 40 yards.

Three plays, 21 points, and really the difference in the game.

When the Bucs reach the end of the 2009 season, they're really going to have to reevaluate this new defensive style.

For over a decade, the Bucs were one of the best defenses in the league running the Tampa 2 based defense. When making so many changes, you'd think they would at least keep the Tampa 2. That would have made it an easier transition for the young players tutored by Derrick Brooks and others in the nuances of the defense.

Instead of continuing the tradition, they completely switch the defensive style and the results continue to be catastrophic.

Couple that with the uneven play calling of Greg Olsen on offense, the questionable decision by Raheem Morris to forgo field goal chances in the first half, and a terrible decision by special teams coach Rich Bisaccia to squib kick late in the first half; you can hold the coaching staff as responsible as the players for this one.

Bottom line, the Eagles made plays, the Buccaneers didn't. That's your ball game.