The Bucs started the year right where they left off last season, losing big to the Seattle Seahawks. The Bucs went into the game with a supposed improved offense and a younger revamped defense, but it looked like the same old Bucs we have seen since the Super Bowl season under Jon Gruden. The offense seemed to click at points, but miscues, turnovers, and penalties stopped drives and ultimately the Bucs only scored 6 points. The defense did look better than last year and had its moments, but they gave up a couple of big plays in the passing game that led to the Seahawk's points.
The Bucs lost this game because of the mistakes that they made in crucial parts of the game. The first drive the Bucs are looking good and Cadillac fumbles the ball. They shot themselves in the foot every time they go in close for a score and were forced to go for field goals instead of getting the touchdowns. The Bucs could have been up 14 to 0 in this game and would have had all the momentum and quieted the crowd. Instead, the Bucs got two field goals and gave the momentum back to the Seahawks and the fans.
Many people say that games are won and lost with the special teams and that was very evident in the Bucs game. Nate Burleson's punt return in the second quarter totally changed the momentum in the game and allowed the Seahawks to get a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the half and go up 10-6. The Bucs had 3 good punt returns that were nullified by penalties and gave the Bucs terrible field position. You could feel the momentum swinging every time the Bucs shot themselves in the foot on special teams.
The mistakes did not end with the special teams. The Bucs offensive line had holding and offside penalties that killed drives and changed momentum every time the Bucs got it back. After Jerramy Stevens fumbled the ball on his only catch of the day, which was nullified by a penalty, you could tell that Garcia did not feel comfortable throwing to anyone other than Galloway and Hilliard. He was forced to dump the ball off multiple times, which worked out until Earnest Graham fumbled the ball in the red Zone late in the game to basically end it. The Bucs offense will need someone else to step up in the passing game if they expect to score some points. Galloway looked great, but eventually defenses will learn to take him out of the game and when they do the Bucs don't have another go to guy.
The Bucs also suffered from a rash of injuries during the game. Cadillac Williams went down with what looked like bruised or broken ribs in the third quarter after having a pretty good game. Jeff Garcia got knocked around pretty good and came out of the game for a while with what seems to be a concussion. On defense, Brian Kelly suffered a groin pull late in the game and had to play through that. The Bucs cannot afford to lose these guys for any amount of time and expect to compete, so lets hope they get healthy.
The defense played pretty well in the game for the most part, but gave up a couple of big plays, which did them in. The Seahawks took advantage of Ruud and Brooks on two separate passing plays for big yardage. One of the passing plays was for a touchdown and the other set up the Hawks in good shape for Alexander's TD run. Other than the pass play, Ruud played very well in his debut at MLB this year. He led the team with 13 tackles and had a forced fumble and recovered one as well. Rookie Tanard Jackson, who got the start, looked good most of the game, but was pulled late for some reason in favor of Will Allen.
One problem the Bucs had on defense that needs to be addressed is the pressure from the front four. Outside of Spires sack there was really no pressure on Hasslebeck from the front four. Gaines Adams looked terrible once again and was man handled by Walter Jones as many thought he would. Kevin Carter did get the start and was playing well, so it begs the question on why Jon Gruden decided to have Adams come into the game and play so much. Jovan Haye did not get any pressure up the middle from the under tackle position and once again it looks like the Bucs are without that disrupting force in the middle that Warren Sapp used to be. The Tampa 2 is based on pressure from that front four and if they do not get it the quarterback will be able to pick the defense apart.
The Bucs will have another test next week as they have New Orleans coming into town for the home opener. As good as the Seahawk offense is, the Saints are better. The Bucs are going to need to get healthy fast and fix the offensive problems or the Saints will leave Tampa with a victory.