Previously on Bucs Blog!
Okay, new year, new attitude? Let’s hope so. After the un-lubricated cluster-fuck that was the Bucs’ 2011 season, the Tampa Bay front office cleaned some serious house. They brought in an almost completely-new coaching staff and made some draft picks, trades, and free agent acquisitions which hopefully will address several of the team’s deficiencies on both sides of the ball.
So, with Game 1 now behind them, how are things? Well, the Bucs won, so we seem to be off on the right foot.
A solid if not spectacular offensive outing coupled with a defensive showing that made me remember the good old days, the Bucs kept Carolina on a pretty tight leash throughout the day. Ranked dead last in yards allowed last season, Tampa’s D allowed just 10 rushing yards on the day, including holding Carolina to negative rushing yardage in the first half. Panther quarterback Cam Newton out-threw the Bucs’ Josh Freeman, both in completions and yards, but he also threw two picks, compared to Freeman’s none. He also was sacked three times (to be fair, Carolina also got to Freeman twice). The interceptions were timely, coming as they did at points when it looked like the Panthers might climb back into the race. One particular bright spot for the Bucs offense was time of possession, holding onto the ball for nearly 2/3 of the game. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball, right?
The new corps of receivers gives Josh Freeman multiple weapons he lacked last year, and the upgrades on defense definitely paid off in this initial outing.
With the Falcons smacking the Chiefs around earlier in the day, they and the Bucs sit atop the NFC South on Day 1 at 1-0, with New Orleans also losing to leave them sitting with the Panthers. Next up? Tampa travels to take on the New York Giants, who will give the Bucs no easy time of it. Still, if the defense comes to play and Freeman can continue what he started today, it could make for a pretty good game.