Chicago vs. Tampa Bay: 3 Things We Learned About the Buccaneers in a 24-18 Loss
It's becoming more difficult to defend the play-calling and it's equally as difficult to support quarterback Josh Freeman, who threw four interceptions in the Bucs' 24-18 loss to the Chicago Bears at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
The team's composure is being called into question with cornerback Aqib Talib drawing a personal foul penalty late in the fourth quarter and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. continuing to flail his arms when being touched by a defender.
Eight devastating penalties for 69 yards, three of them by right tackle Jeremy Trueblood alone, didn't make matters any better.
The injuries are piling up with running back Earnest Graham going down, as well as starting guard/backup center Jeremy Zuttah also being hobbled.
Will the injury excuse be what we hear during the next couple of weeks going into the bye?
What did we learn in the Buccaneers' loss?
When Will Freeman Have a Complete Game?
There's no way to sugarcoat it: Freeman was off and has yet to perform well for an entire game.
Two touchdowns, four interceptions—three of which were completely his fault—and the snail-like decision-making continues to plague this inept offense.
Freeman never seemed comfortable in the pocket, even when he did have time, and he's struggling to step up and make an accurate throw, opting to pass off of his back foot.
This offense goes only as far as its leader takes them and Freeman isn't doing his job well. Granted, the running game was nonexistent due to more injuries and the receivers were dropping more balls, but what's the excuse for throwing directly to linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher?
The Freeman apologists can't back this one up. Not today. And hearing of his eight comeback wins is starting to get real old.
Is Greg Olson on the Hot Seat?
Offensive coordinator Greg Olson has been called into question the entire season. His unimaginative and defunct offensive scheme is worthless without a good running back, and after Graham went down today, fans who have kept up with this team exhaled a collective, "Crap..."
Why wasn't there another backup prepared for this kind of situation? Where's Allen Bradford?
The Bucs quickly became one-sided and it made the Bears' job so much easier to defend an already ailing offense.
It shouldn't matter if running back Kregg Lumpkin is getting one yard per carry. In order to keep defenses honest, offenses have to continue to run the football no matter what, and Olson got scared after the team fell behind 21-5.
A three-possession game is nothing in the NFL with an entire half to play. By not featuring a running game, Olson was essentially saying, "You're just not that good and there's no way you'll help us win this football game."
All Chicago's defense had to do was sit back and play the pass for the entire second half. Easy money, and Olson should take the blame.
Bucs' Secondary Needs Help...Fast
The defense as a whole was awful, but Bears running back Matt Forte has made everyone look silly this season, and the Bucs were just another one of his many victims.
Safety Tanard Jackson has really sparked this secondary for the past two weeks, but he also went down today with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
Once he went out, the secondary fell apart.
The Buccaneers are now ranked 26th in the NFL, allowing 276 passing yards per game, and are ranked 22nd in touchdown passes allowed with 10.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler receives a ton of criticism for his lack of toughness—which I believe is unwarranted, but he carved the Bucs' secondary for 226 passing yards and a touchdown. He also threw two picks, one of which was off of a deflection.
Nothing about these stats seems overly impressive until you notice what Cutler did on third-down situations.
In the second quarter on 3rd-and-7, Cutler hit Roy Williams for a touchdown.
In the third quarter on 3rd-and-11, Cutler once again hits Williams for a 12-yard gain, which led to a Marion Barber touchdown.
In the third quarter on 3rd-and-5, Cutler hit Dane Sanzenbacher for a first down, which led to a missed field goal.
Cutler made the plays he had to in order to keep his team competitive. The Bucs' secondary couldn't stop the Bears' passing game in crucial situations.
Up Next: Much-Needed Bye Week
So much for the argument that the Bucs were going to perform better because they arrived in London sooner to get acclimated to the time change.
Don't fret, Bucs fans; the bye week will certainly help get the offense corrected and key players healthy.