Bucs' Game Grades

August 31 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) were trounced in their preseason finale against Atlanta (3-1), 36-7. Although the first-team units ended the season on a good note, the backups fighting for positions on the final 53-man roster did not do much to help themselves. Buccaneer Magazine hands out game grades to the Pewter Pirates based on how their units performed on Friday night.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB BRAD JOHNSON: 5-of-8 for 52 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Johnson and the Bucs' offense came out on the first drive of the game in a no-huddle offense. The team successfully moved the ball down the field twice on Atlanta, but could only come away with one touchdown. On their first drive, Johnson showed a heads-up play when he scrambled straight ahead and as he was starting to be tackled, he lateraled the ball to RB Warrick Dunn who turned a five-yard gain into a 17-yard gain. WLB CHRIS Draft later intercepted Johnson in Atlanta's end zone from the 12-yard line. Johnson was saved by CB Donnie Abraham, who intercepted QB Chris Chandler on the very next play, which gave the ball back to the offense. Johnson did not waste any time taking advantage of the second opportunity, throwing an 18-yard touchdown strike to WR Keyshawn Johnson. With the exception of his bad decision to try and force something in Atlanta's end zone, which resulted in an interception, Johnson did well.

QB SHAUN KING: 5-of-7 for 2-of-4 for 13 yards and 1 interception. As soon as Johnson and the first-team offense exited the game, things started to quickly fall apart. King threw a rocket to WR Reidel Anthony, but the ball was a bit high and deflected off of Anthony's hands and into SS Marty Carter's hands for the interception.

QB JOE HAMILTON: 5-of-7 for 26 yards. Hamilton struggled immensely behind his tired offensive line. He took a sack, which resulted in a fumble and led to an Atlanta touchdown because he held on to the ball too long.

QB RYAN LEAF: 0-for-1 for 0 yards.

*Tampa Bay's quarterbacks were able to lead the team to just seven first downs against Atlanta.

GRADE: C+

RUNNING BACKS:

RB WARRICK DUNN:: He only carried the ball two times, but rushed for 30 yards. Dunn's most impressive play reminisced to last year's Monday Night game against St. Louis, where he appeared to be stopped for no gain, but lateral the ball to King , which ended up keeping the drive alive. Well, this time, Dunn was on the receiving end of the lateral. QB Brad Johnson was rushed out of the pocket and appeared to be going down a few yards ahead of the line of scrimmage. But Johnson showed great awareness by pitching the ball backward to Dunn and he turned the play into a 17-yard gain.

RB AARON STECKER: Six carries for 12 yards. He didn't have much room to run behind his offensive line and only averaged two yards per carry.

RB PEPE PEARSON: Pearson was on the outside looking in before Friday night's game against Atlanta, and after the game concluded, one has to believe he is still in that position. Pearson rushed five times for just 18 yards.

FB MIKE ALSTOTT: The A-Train returned to action against the Atlanta after missing the first three preseason games with a strained hamstring. But Alstott only had one carry for four yards.

RB/FB Rabih Abdullah: Only had three carries for six yards. Abdullah did not have a good night blocking against Atlanta. The team wants him to be a fullback, but looked like anything but one on Friday night.

*Tampa Bay rushed for 85 yards on 21 carries against Atlanta.

GRADE: B-

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR KEYSHAWN JOHNSON: He had a terrific game. Johnson hauled in three catches for 40 yards and had the only Bucs' score of the game when he caught an 18-yard pass in the end zone from QB Brad Johnson. Johnson also showed great power and effort on the first drive of the game when he caught a ball two-yards short of a first down, but bulled his way three-yards past CB Ray Buchanan for the first down.

WR REIDEL ANTHONY: He had two catches for 22 yards. Anthony had a King pass go off his hands, resulting in an interception.

WR JACQUEZ GREEN: He also caught two passes for 12 yards.

*Tampa Bay's offense was converted just 1-of-9 third downs into first downs and had just 43 plays on offense.

GRADE: C+

TIGHT ENDS:

TE DAVE MOORE: He was the intended receiver when Johnson threw the interception in the end zone, and did not catch a single pass against Atlanta.

*Both Moore and TE Todd Yoder did a good job of picking up their blocks, but the young tight ends did nothing to increase their chances of making the cut on Sunday.

GRADE: B

OFFENSIVE LINE:

LT KENYATTA WALKER: On Johnson's touchdown pass, Walker did a fantastic job of picking up one of the two blitzing Falcons' players.

G WILBERT BROWN: He had a good preseason until this game. Brown had a false start penalty and missed too many assignments in blocking schemes.

*Tampa Bay's offensive line only allowed two sacks against Atlanta, but after the first unit left the game, the backups allowed Atlanta to pressure their quarterbacks too much.

GRADE B-

DEFENSIVE LINE:

DE SIMEON RICE: He picked up where he left off against New England-in the opposing offense's backfield. Rice did not record a tackle or sack, but he certainly pressure the Falcons' quarterbacks. Rice was held a couple of times, which prevented potential sacks.

DT WARREN SAPP: Did not play because of a sprained shoulder

DT ANTHONY MCFARLAND: He had a sensational preseason and capped it off by sacking QB Chris Chandler. Chandler had a great play fake, but "Booger" did not bite on it. McFarland sacked Chandler for a 9-yard loss and pushed Atlanta's offense back from the Bucs' goal line to 10. McFarland had two tackles against the Falcons.

DE STEVE WHITE: He had crushed Chandler just after he released the ball to one of his receivers. White knocked Chandler out of the game they played against each other last season and came pretty close to doing it again.

DE RON WARNER: He didn't have much chance of making the team before Friday night, but Warner increased his chances with a pretty impressive outing against Atlanta. Warner recorded three tackles and displayed some impressive strength.

DT JAMES CANNIDA: Was carted off of the field with a right knee sprain in the fourth quarter. The severity of his injury is not yet known.

DT CHARLES DARBY: He had a costly offsides penalty in the first half. It was third and 5 for Atlanta at their own 10 and the Bucs appeared to have stopped the Falcons, but Darby was offsides and gave Atlanta a new set of downs.

*Tampa Bay's defensive line was exhausted due to the lack of depth they had playing against Atlanta. The Bucs' defense allowed Atlanta to rush for 154 yards on 38 carries (5.0 avg.).

GRADE: C-

LINEBACKERS:

LB DERRICK BROOKS: He had one of the most impressive plays of the game. Brooks dropped into pass coverage and Chandler threw a nice pass to his receiver, but Brooks was able to keep up and put his hand up to deflect the ball away.

LB NATE WEBSTER: He recorded four tackles and sacked former Bucs' QB Eric Zeier on a blitz.

LB MARQ CERQUA: Recorded three tackles and played fairly well.

*Tampa Bay's defense allowed Atlanta to have 70 plays on Friday night.

GRADE: B-

SECONDARY:

CB DONNIE ABRAHAM: He had been quiet in the Bucs' first three preseason games, but he decided to kick it in gear against Atlanta. Abraham set the Bucs' offense up in great position when he intercepted QB Chris Chandler in the first quarter. Abraham's pick led to Tampa Bay's only touchdown of the game. Abraham also had a nice pass breakup later in the game on the sidelines.

S JOHN HOWELL: He recorded whopping nine tackles, but probably should have had double that amount against Atlanta. Howell showed improvement from the first three games, but missed several tackles and assignments. He was also flagged for unnecessary roughness for hitting QB Michael Vick out of bounds. In Howell's defense, it Vick didn't appear to step out and was running at full speed when he hit him.

CB COREY IVY: He has had quiet, but impressive preseason. Against Atlanta, Ivy significantly helped his chances of sneaking on the Bucs' final roster by recording seven tackles, a few of which were very eye opening.

FS DEXTER JACKSON: He has seen better days. Jackson recorded five tackles against Atlanta, but was behind in coverage on a couple of different occasions and missed a few tackles as well.

CB BRIAN KELLY: He had a terrible game as far as tackling is concerned. He was also a step behind in pass coverage on a few of the Falcons' big plays. Kelly's most notable missed tackle was on the goal line, where he met RB Jamal Anderson head on, but didn't appear to know how to go about tackling Anderson. Needless to say, Anderson brushed Kelly off on his way to the end zone for a touchdown.

S ERIC VANCE: Was flagged for a phantom facemask penalty, but it only cost them five-yards. Vance appeared to only tug on the player's jersey, not the facemask.

SS JOHN LYNCH: Did not play due to a pinched nerve in his neck.

*Tampa Bay allowed Atlanta to achieve 25 first downs on Friday night.

GRADE: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS:

P MARK ROYALS: He struggled in his preseason debut. Royals punted in game for the first time this preseason after suffering a sprained MCL on the second day of training camp. On his first three punts, Royals had a very difficult time putting hang time on the ball. He inability to do that gave the Falcons great field position throughout the game. With the field position the Falcons had, it is to the defense's credit that they held Atlanta to five field goals. Royals last two punts were much better. He averaged 39.5 yards punting on the night.

WR FRANK MURPHY: He had a great 30-yard kick return against the Falcons and also made a nice open field tackle on a punt.

GRADE: C-


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