Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs San Francisco 49ers: 7 Things We Learned About the Bucs
Both teams had something to prove.
For the 49ers, today was all about proving that this is a team that is capable of rising above the chuff that is the NFC West. This year, all signs indicate that the 49ers will represent the division in the playoffs, and that they will likely do so with a winning record.
For the Buccaneers, this game was supposed to be about demonstrating that they are the real threat that they claim to be. Unfortunately, all they were actually able to show was that there are huge weaknesses on both sides of the ball that can be exploited by the other team.
Over the following seven slides, we will explore some things that we learned about the Buccaneers during the Week 5 blowout loss to the 49ers.
Abandoning the Run Game Didn’t Work
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
For each time the Buccaneers ran the ball, Josh Freeman attempted to throw twice.
On the one hand, it is understandable that a team that is playing from as far behind as Tampa was for the majority of the game would need to pass the ball.
On the other hand, the passing game was ineffective for the entire game, never quite seeming to pick up.
On the other hand, LeGarrette Blount wasn’t able to make anything happen on 10 carries either, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry.
There is no guarantee that Blount would have been able to break a big play if they had continued to hand off to him, but by sticking with a passing game that was clearly not working the Buccaneers robbed themselves of even the possibility of making something happen on the ground.
The Offense Was Simply out of Sync
Marc Serota/Getty Images
From bobbled snaps to incomplete passes, the Buccaneers could never quite get their offense on the same page.
Blount had a hard time getting anything going in the running game, while Freeman struggled all day under center. Deflections and interceptions were the name of the game,
Even the receivers seemed rusty, dropping catchable balls and blowing timing routes. Their bobbled passes also contributed to the interception count.
Red Zone Performance Was Lacking
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images
On the rare occasion when the Buccaneers were able to even make an offensive forray into the 49ers’ Red Zone, they were not able to finish the job.
They failed to put points on the board at every opportunity, either by turning the ball over or by taking chances on fourth down.
The Red Zone is one of the most crucial places where a team must perform. By failing
Ball Security Is Crucial
Marc Serota/Getty Images
At the end of the day, this game was largely decided by turnovers. The 49ers generated three, and the Buccaneers only came up with one.
More importantly, the Buccaneers were not able to capitalize on their turnovers with points on the board. The 49ers were.
Turnovers don’t just represent cracks in a team’s armor; they can give the opposition a huge swing in momentum. The Buccaneers were unable to find a way to keep the momentum on their side this week.
Stupid Penalties Must Be Avoided
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
An unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Tampa Bay head coach?
Really? His team was down by 28 points and he couldn’t stop himself from running his mouth to the referee?
In that moment it became clear that the problems the Buccaneers faced against the 49ers started right at the top of the coaching staff and trickled down through the players.
Nine penalty flags were generated over the course of the game, and almost always at inopportune times. Defensively, the penalties breathed life back into the 49ers when their drives had stalled. Offensively, penalties robbed the team of first downs and took earned points off the board.
The Defense Is Porous on Both Run and Pass
J. Meric/Getty Images
Defensively, the Buccaneers should have been concerned after Curtis Painter and the Indianapolis Colts were able to hang in the game last week.
It was more of the same this week, where the defense was seemingly unable to come up with stops on any level.
It’s hard to point fingers at any one part of the defense, because each piece was equally culpable. The front line gave up over 225 yards on the ground.
Even though they were able to prevent any long bombs down the field, the secondary allowed an average of over 15 yards per pass.
Successful Third Down Conversions Are a Good Sign for Future Games
Doug Benc/Getty Images
If there was anything positive to take away from the game, it is that the Buccaneers were somewhat able to sustain drives by making successful third-down conversions on numerous occasions.
Although they were often unable to capitalize on those drives, they did do a good job of controlling the clock and keeping their defense off the field.
That is a key that will repay them well over the long run, especially if the offense can pull themselves out of their funk.