Home > Game Tape, NFL > Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 7 — Rams at Buccaneers

Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 7 — Rams at Buccaneers

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A LiveBall Sports Game Tape Review of two of the younger, more promising quarterbacks in professional football.  You can — and should — read Brian’s evaluation of Josh Freeman here.

  • The Bucs had a disaster drive that began after a Sam Bradford fumble was recovered at the six yard line.  Kellen Winslow was called for offensive pass interference in the end zone, then Jeremy Zuttah was called for holding.  After that, Josh Freeman took a really bad sack that was the result of multiple protection breakdowns, but ultimately that Freeman simply can’t take.
  • I think rookie WR Mike Williams has a lot of natural ability, but he’s fumbling way too much for a receiver even this early in a career.  It’s okay to come out of college with a knowledge of how to secure the football.
  • Rookie DT Gerald McCoy isn’t having an impact for Tampa the way Ndamukong Suh is for Detroit, but he’s quick through the line, and Adam Goldberg and Jacob Bell had difficulty blocking the three technique in this game.  McCoy is an excellent fit for the scheme Tampa plays.
  • Roy Miller is starting at the nose tackle instead of 2nd round rookie Brian Price.
  • Sam Bradford is a good fit in the west coast offensive scheme preferred by St. Louis.
  • A big problem with the offense is that the OL can’t really open up the passing lanes that a timing offense needs to throw.  This offensive line can man block and get Steven Jackson on the edge where he is most dangerous, and they are mobile and block for screens well, but the offensive line is largely not a west coast group.
  • Tampa is not a good tackling team.  Both corners, Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber, are above average tacklers for their positions.  The safeties and outside linebackers are weaker tacklers.  Because they are an undersized unit and can’t tackle well, teams can run all over them.
  • It’s a pass-first defensive philosophy in Tampa.  Their safeties are just not good enough to execute the scheme.
  • A very multiple look for Tampa.  Not much action or trickery on the DL, they’re going to line up and try to run by you.  The Bucs do a lot of things with their back seven to try to hide weaknesses.  Not a lot of Tampa 2 coverage because even though the LBs do it well, the safeties are big plays waiting to happen.  A lot is asked of their corners in coverage.
  • I continue to enjoy the play of Tampa’s linebackers, who are all small, but are intelligent.  If they could improve the tackling of this unit, these three (Geno Hayes, Quincy Black, Barrett Ruud) could be the best linebacking corps in the division.
  • Bucs C Jeff Faine is out for a while.  Their shotgun snaps from C Jeremy Zuttah, who lost the LG job to UDFA Ted Larsen, are inadequate and throw off the timing of their shotgun plays.  The Bucs do not do “the small things” well.
  • Danny Amendola is the one consistent in the Rams offensive litany of injuries.  He’s the most trusted target forBradford, who throws passes to a bunch of guys who weren’t on the Week 1 roster, such as rookie Danario Alexander.
  • It’s depressing when you have to comment about a team finding creative ways to use Danny Amendola, but he’s the center of the Rams’ offensive game plan.
  • The Rams pull lineman a lot — probably on a majority of their rushing plays.
  • All of the Bucs corners defend the sideline verticals really well.
  • This needs to happen because run defense for the Bucs is about having more guys in the box than the opponent can block.  This numbers game results in a lot of man-free looks and one on one looks on the outside.  They were comfortable in this game playing man to man against the Rams’ endless depth chart  of non-receivers, but the Bucs aren’t the Bucs when they aren’t playing zone coverage.  This was a gameplan out of necessity rather than a team with an identity.
  • Sam Bradford is getting a lot of passes knocked down by the tall Bucs defensive line.  I think it’s primarily the fault of the OL, but it’s hard to be sure.  It could be a competency of the Bucs more than anything.
  • Overall, the run blocking for Steven Jackson is really, really good, and the gap defense by the Bucs is really, really bad.
  • I do not think Bucs LB Barrett Ruud is all the way back from his injury last season.  He did not show up on film in this game.
  • The Rams pay far more attention to detail than the Bucs do.
  • The Rams’ inability to attack the safety level of the Bucs defense with the pass is a major issue.  The Bucs protected their safeties with man coverage underneath, which is backwards logic for most NFL teams.  It worked because the Bucs corners won the matchups with the Rams receivers.
  • It’s incredibly hard to evaluate the Bucs OL with the way Zuttah is snapping.  It’s a total domination by the Rams DL, but I’m not sure the Bucs even have a chance.  The Bucs should go under center more.
  • Rams OC Pat Shurmur is using simple motion against man fronts by the Bucs to change the Bucs’ gap responsibility before the snap.  The Bucs can’t seem to make the necessary adjustments.  This just in: Steven Jackson is good.
  • The Rams have a rookie back named Keith Toston who doesn’t run well at all.  Looks like a one cut zone runner in a man blocking scheme.
  • Quincy Black absolutely blew up rookie TE Mike Hoomanawanui on his TD reception at the end of the first half, then got pressure in the face of Bradford.  I mean, Hoomanawanui had zero forward progress after that jam.  It was rookie FS Cody Grimm who never saw Hoomanawanui come out of the backfield and just didn’t bother to cover him.
  • Cadilliac Williams is the preferred receiver out of the backfield for the Bucs.  That appears to be his only role in the offense.  Williams was wide open a lot because the preferred coverage of the Rams in this game was a soft cover two.
  • Once again, O.J. Atogwe was a non-factor on the TV feed.  I know sometimes the coaches’ tape shows the contributions of a safety that is masked on the TV feed.  Perhaps this is what is the case with Atogwe, but this isn’t a new revelation from this game.  Atogwe is a receiver neutralizer more than a playmaker.
  • LeGarrette Blount is the best runner on the Bucs, but it’s a give away run call when he’s in the game, as he can’t pass protect for Tampa.  If he’s running like this, Tampa will live with it.  Blount’s contributions allowed the Bucs offense to go under center in the second half where Zuttah’s snaps weren’t an issue.  He also made play action a viable call for the Bucs.
  • I have to say something about MLB James Laurinitis, who really looks good on film for the Rams.  With him, it’s not about spectacular plays, but that he always finds the ball.
  • At the end of the day, the Rams are a better team than the Bucs, and are the most legitimate competitor with the Seahawks for the NFC West title.
  • No big plays for the Rams offense is why they lost.  Even one gain of 35 yards probably wins the game.

This section will be all about those two quarterbacks.

  • Something to keep in mind: the Rams like to move the pocket in order to get Sam Bradford some key throws.  Bradford is really not yet an NFL level passer throwing on the run.  He missed some really easy, key throws in this game to wide open tight ends because he threw off the wrong foot on the run.
  • Josh Freeman is a guy who needs a lot of help from his receivers.  His arm is stronger than it is accurate.  Bradford is the other way around.
  • Freeman’s negative plays stood out in this game, particularly in the first half.  He misdiagnosed a few defensive calls, and didn’t always feel the rush and step up, rather opting to try to get around contain, which the Rams did a great job of most of the day.
  • Coincidentally, the Rams didn’t have a front side contain call on the Freeman GW TD pass to Cadillac Williams.  Freeman got outside contain quickly, offered a run/pass threat, and the Rams had a poor call on trying to defend all the options in the end zone for the Bucs.
  • Bradford was not a big part of the gameplan for the Rams, who never tried to get the ball deep down the middle of the field.  Freeman was more or less the entire gameplan for the Bucs offense, who never really bothered to run early, and didn’t have a lot of offensive snaps before they found themselves down 2 TDs.
  • Freeman’s 16 yard scramble on 3rd and 16 was the turning point in the game.  It wasn’t a particularly great play by Freeman, but because he didn’t over-utilize his scrambling ability in the first half, the rushing option was there for him any time he stepped up in the pocket.  If Freeman learns to step up instead of escape above the contain, he’s going to be a dangerous dual-threat in this league.
  • The Bucs’ comeback happened because Freeman’s legs broke down the zone discipline of the Rams.  From the pocket, the Rams defense won decisively.
  • The Bucs decided at halftime that the best way to deal with the Rams on third down was to blitz Bradford.  Bradford can diagnose the blitz, but his receivers have to at the same time.  The young Rams receivers could not adjust to the quick pressure on their quarterback.  It’s just another way the Bucs put pressure on the Rams receivers to grow up and the Rams receivers failed.
  • I thought Bradford made more than enough big throws in this second half to win the game for his team, but the Rams never got points.  The problem: too many procedure penalties by the offensive line essentially ended promising drives.  Steven Jackson: 12 yards on 3 plays, and the Rams have to punt.
  • The Bucs need Freeman to play better from the pocket.
  • Freeman didn’t have any more big throws in this game than Bradford did, but he bunched most of them together on the last drive.  That’s bunching theory, leading to the Bucs only TD of the day.
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