Bucs Game Grades

August 18 – Tampa Bay remains winless in preseason after losing to Cleveland on the road, 7-6, on Saturday night. The Bucs' second loss of the preseason shows there is plenty of kinks left for the Pewter Pirates to work out with only two preseason games remaining. How did Tampa Bay fare? Buccaneer Magazine distributes game grades for each position based on their performance on Saturday night.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: 7-of-13 for 43 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Johnson played well against Cleveland. His offensive line gave him much more time to throw against the Browns than they did against Miami. Johnson's most impressive pass of the night was a 21-yard strike down the sideline to WR Reidel Anthony. This completion eventually led to K Martin Gramatica's 43-yard field goal in the first quarter.

QB SHAUN KING: 3-of-8 for 23 yards 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. King did not play particularly well. He failed to move the ball through the air and was off target on a handful of his passes. King overthrew WR Karl Williams, who was heading toward the sideline in the end zone for what would have been a touchdown, by about five yards. King was intercepted in the end zone by rookie FS Anthony Henry, who is a product of the University of South Florida. King was nearly intercepted on two other occasions.

QB RYAN LEAF: 3-of-9 for 28 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Leaf was given an opportunity at the end of the game against Cleveland to prove his potential, but instead, he might have hurt his chances of making the team. Instead of keeping QB Joe Hamilton in when trailing on the last drive of the game, Tampa Bay decided to give Leaf a chance to lead the team back from behind to win. Unfortunately, Leaf did not even come close. One bright spot for Leaf was when MLB Wali Rainer blitzed up the middle and rushed him untouched, but Leaf made a nice move to avoid being sacked and dumped off a pass to RB Pepe Pearson for an eight-yard gain.

QB Joe Hamilton: 0-1 for 0 yards 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions: Hamilton's statistics speak for themselves. It would have been interesting to see if Hamilton could have led the Bucs' back from behind to win again, but giving Leaf the opportunity was the right move.

Tampa Bay's first string offense has yet to score a touchdown in the preseason. The Bucs' quarterbacks were just 13-of-31 for 73 net yards passing. They averaged just 2.1 yards per pass completion.

GRADE: C+

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN: 7 rushes for 24 yards. Dunn averaged 3.4 yards per carry against Cleveland. Dunn also had a limited role in the passing game, catching two balls for six yards.

RB AARON STECKER: 5 rushes for 28 yards. Stecker averaged an impressive 5.6 yards per carry against Cleveland. Stecker showed great elusiveness and quickness on Saturday night, especially on a 13-yard run from their own 20. Stecker also contributed in the passing game by catching one pass for 10 yards.

RB Pepe Pearson: 6 rushes for 15 yards. Pearson played a bigger role in the Bucs' passing game, catching three passes for 22 yards.

RB/FB Rabih Abdullah: 3 rushes for 8 yards.

FB Jameel Cook: 0 rushes for 0 yards. Although Cook did not carry the ball against Cleveland, he did haul in two receptions for 7 yards. Cook's most important grab was on fourth down and 1, where he caught a pass and ran up field five yards for the first down. Cook also continued to impress with his blocking skills.

Tampa Bay's backs rushed 21 times for 75 yards against Cleveland.

GRADE: B

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR Reidel Anthony: 2 receptions for 35 yards. Anthony came up big on the sideline for the second game in a row, this time grabbing a perfect 21-yard strike from QB Brad Johnson to help setup Gramatica's first field goal.

WR Jacquez Green: 2 receptions for 11 yards. Green might have had two catches, but his two dropped passes had a bigger affect on offensive drives.

Tampa Bay's wide receivers caught four passes for a total of 46 yards against Cleveland. The Bucs have yet to complete a pass to WR Keyshawn Johnson in the preseason.

GRADE: C+

TIGHT ENDS:

TE Dave Moore: 1 reception for 3 yards. Moore was penalized for illegal formation for the second game in a row. Moore and the rest of the Bucs' tight ends have not had much of a role in the passing offense thus far, but don't be surprised if the offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is holding back some of his weapons, including Moore, for the regular season. This unit has been asked to block a lot in the Bucs' first two preseason games and they have done a commendable job.

GRADE: B

OFFENSIVE LINE:

LT Kenyatta Walker: Walker continues to live up to all of the hype that he came out of college with. Walker was tested by power rushing DE Courtney Brown and passes with flying colors.

C Jeff Christy: Christy had to leave the game against Cleveland with a left knee sprain. His injury prognosis is not certain as of yet, but head coach Tony Dungy stated Christy had an MCL injury and would probably miss the rest of the preseason.

G Cosey Coleman: Coleman made a nice block on Stecker's 13-yard run against Cleveland on Saturday night.

T DeMarcus Curry: Curry had another false start penalty called on him. It was Curry's third false start penalty in two games.

C Leon Hires: Hires continued to struggle in the preseason. Hires forced a bad snap to QB Joe Hamilton. The ball hit Hamilton in the facemask and hit the ground, but Tampa Bay was able to recover the fumble.

Tampa Bay's offensive line allowed three quarterback sacks against Cleveland.

GRADE: B

DEFENSIVE LINE:

DT Anthony "Booger" McFarland: Recorded a sack on third down on QB Tim Couch. McFarland was also strong against the run for the second week in a row.

DE Steve White: White started on the left side in place of injured DE Marcus Jones. White sacked QB Tim Couch.

DE Chartric Darby: Last season, Darby was on the Bucs' practice squad, but in this year's preseason, he is probably going to earn himself a roster spot. Darby recorded a sack, which resulted in a 6-yard loss and fumble, but Cleveland recovered the fumble.

DE Simeon Rice: He hasn't recorded his first sack as a Buccaneer yet, but he sure came close when he broke around Couch's blindside and crushed him as he released the ball. Rice definitely fared better against Cleveland than he did Miami.

DT Warren Sapp: Despite being listed as probable after spraining his ankle earlier this week, Sapp recorded one tackle and did not appear to be slowed by his injury.

Tampa Bay's defense held Cleveland to 44 yards on 26 rushes (1.7 avg.) and sacked the Browns' quarterbacks four times.

GRADE: A

LINEBACKERS:

MLB Jamie Duncan: He picked up where he left off last week against Miami. Duncan made his presence felt in Cleveland's running lanes, stuffing Browns' running backs at the line of scrimmage or behind it. Duncan also recorded a sack.

OLB Marq Cerqua: He had a solid outing last Monday night against Miami, but suffered a tremendous blow when he suffered a dislocated his shoulder against Cleveland.

LB Jeff Gooch: He was Buccaneer Magazine's MVP of last week's game against Miami, but Gooch struggled on Saturday night at Cleveland. Gooch allowed Browns' TE OJ Santiago to hook up with QB Kelly Holcomb four different times in the last two minutes of the first half. Santiago hauled in 4 receptions for 47 yards en route to the only score of the game for the Browns. Gooch did, however, record six tackles.

LB Al Singleton: He recorded four tackles and a sack against Cleveland on Saturday night.

After Couch completed just 2-of-6 (33.3 percent) pass attempts, the Bucs' defense allowed the three other Browns' quarterbacks to complete 22-of-28 (78.5 percent) of their passes.

GRADE: B-

SECONDARY:

FS Dexter Jackson: Jackson recorded two tackles and two interceptions. Unfortunately, the second of his interceptions, which he returned 50-yards to the Browns 20-yard line, was called back because of a penalty on the play.

S Eric Vance: He might have been the goat of last week's loss to Miami after deflecting a Hail Mary pass from QB Mike Quinn into the hands of WR Robert Baker for the game-winning touchdown. But Vance showed some explosiveness when he came in on a blitz and dove three-yards into Holcomb, crushing the Browns' quarterback for a sack. Vance also recorded two tackles.

S David Gibson: He has had an excellent preseason, but Gibson did not do the Bucs any favors when he made illegal contact down the field on a receiver, which resulted in Jackson's interception being nullified. Gibson recorded three tackles.

CB Brian Kelly: He has a secure spot on the roster, but Kelly missed too many tackles against Cleveland on Saturday night. He made nice contract on the plays, but he has to be able to finish them off. Kelly was also penalized for an illegal chuck downfield.

Tampa Bay's defense did not allow QB Tim Couch to complete a single pass in the entire first quarter and two minutes into the second. The Bucs' defense held Cleveland to 165 net yards passing.

GRADE: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS:

K Martin Gramatica: This was by far the brightest spot from the Bucs' loss to the Browns. Gramatica kicked a pair of field goals in the first half, which ended up being the only points Tampa Bay would score in the game. Gramatica's first field goal was from 43-yards out in the first quarter to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead. But his best was yet to come. Gramatica booted a 58-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Bucs a 6-0 lead. Although he made these impressive field goals, Gramatica is still having trouble getting his kickoffs into the end zone.

CB Dwight Smith: He made a touchdown saving tackle on a kickoff after a Gramatica field goal.

S Than Merrill: He was penalized for being offsides on a kickoff.

RB Aaron Stecker: He was penalized for a five-yard facemask penalty on a kickoff.

Punters Andrew Bayes and Jason Malecki: Both of these punters had horrible games against Cleveland. Bayes was the worse of the two. Neither punter was able to get good hang time on their punts and their coverage units were not helping them out either. On a Malecki punt, the Bucs missed four tackles before they could bring down the Cleveland returner. Despite having a very bad night, Bayes and Malecki averaged 37 yards per punt on six punts

GRADE: C-.


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