Jon Gruden is an offensive guru. I feel the need to remind you of this in case you watched Sunday's 20-6 loss to Seattle. He really is. It's right there in the media guide. Well, not words to that effect. But it's implied in the four pages of his biography.
I feel the need to mention this because the Buccaneers managed just two field goals on Sunday. I feel the need to mention this because quarterback Jeff Garcia was supposed to be "The Guy," the hand-picked chosen one that would lift the Bucs out of the offensive doldrums.
So why did I feel like, after the game, that I could have popped in any of last year's games into my DVD player and felt like I was watching the same game as Sunday's? Heck, I still have last year's finale against Seattle. The performances were eerily similar.
The Bucs had 287 total yards against Seattle last December. Sunday they had 284. Last year they committed two turnovers. On Sunday they committed two turnovers. The Bucs had 177 passing yards with Tim Rattay last year. The Bucs had 194 passing yards on Sunday with Garcia. The Bucs defense gave up 344 yards last December, and gave up 343 yards on Sunday.
Yep, the only thing that changed? The Bucs had a lead, so there was at least hope for a little while.
My viewpoint is noticeably pessimistic, you say? Well, it's not just that the Bucs lost on Sunday. It's how they lost. It was a carbon copy of the same problems they had a year ago. Most of these problems were supposed to be fixed, one would think, after nine months of intense scrutiny, free agent moves and a bushel of draft picks. They even picked up Jeremiah Trotter last week, for crying out loud.
The offense failed to cash in on its red zone chances, and then sputtered the rest of the game.
The defense started fast, but tired, after the offense couldn't hang onto the ball. The offense went three-and-out on their five drives in the second half.
The special teams were middling, as the punt coverage unit gave up a big return and P Josh Bidwell inexplicably stopped a play when there was no whistle (he received a huge break from the officiating crew).
When the problems are that easy to deduce, the expectations are simple — fix them.
The Bucs did none of that on Sunday, and that's why they enter this week's game with New Orleans in a real bind. They have seven days to fix the issues they've known about for nine months.
If you have that second New Orleans game handy from last year, pop that into the DVD player sometime this week. That may be an indication of what you'll see at Raymond James Stadium.
Saints won that one, 31-14.
LB Barrett Ruud: He had 13 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Not a bad debut for the heir to Shelton Quarles.
RB Carnell Williams: Before his injury, he was averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Did you see that one run where he carried six Seahawks on his back at the end of the first half? He was determined on Sunday. Too bad it ended the way it did.
PK Matt Bryant: Hey, he did all the scoring on Sunday.
WR Joey Galloway: Five catches for 72 yards. He did all he could to set the Bucs up in the red zone early in the game.
RB Earnest Graham: I like the guy, I really do. But his fumble late in the game would be enough to get him released in the eyes of some coaches. He was solid, but not spectacular, on kickoff returns.
RG Davin Joseph: Called for four penalties on Sunday, though two were declined. This was a horrible outing for the leader of the offensive line.
WR Maurice Stovall: No catches on Sunday. I guess this guy really is a magician.
The Red Zone: The Bucs were 0-for-2 in the red zone and never had a single goal-to-go play against the Seahawks. Terrible.
No fun out west: The Bucs are now 3-21 on the West Coast (Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego), and visiting teams are now 6-19 in their first visit to Qwest Field in Seattle.
Hot enough for you, Jon?
Before the game the ESPN Gameday crew listed Gruden as the No. 2 hot seat coach in the NFL this season (Carolina's John Fox was No. 5). The loss to Seattle certainly didn't help matters. The offense sputtered after the first quarter, the defense got tired and the special teams were middling (what exactly was Josh Bidwell doing stopping on that punt?).
But more than that, Gruden was outcoached by his mentor, Mike Holmgren, and his staff. Did you see the way the Seahawks defense adjusted to what the Bucs did on offense in the first quarter? Seattle got more pressure on Garcia and penned him in by using its linebackers more effectively on passing downs. Gruden and company never adjusted, and once Williams went down the offense became totally one-dimensional.
After one week, Gruden is already feeling the heat.
Hot-o-meter: 7 (out of 10). The heat was already at medium. After Sunday Gruden will feel like someone's trying to turn him into pasta.
If you read my game preview, I said some things. Predictions, if you will. How did I do? A quick scorecard (because I'm all about accountability):
Jeff Garcia will throw 40 passes on Sunday. Wrong. Garcia threw only 27. Gruden was more balanced than I expected.
The Bucs will start the game in a hole. Wrong. The Bucs had a 6-0 lead at one point.
Carnell Williams will see fewer than 20 touches, and no more than 15 carries. Right. Williams had 12 carries for 60 yards and 2 catches for 14 yards. 14 touches, though I think he would have passed 20 had he remained healthy. It's a shame, too. He was about to enter that part of the game where starts hammering away at teams. He was averaging 5.0 yards per carry before the injury. He might have made a real difference.
I expect David Boston and Ike Hilliard to see the most time opposite Joey Galloway. Half-credit. Boston didn't play due to a pre-game foot injury. Hilliard started opposite Galloway. And Maurice Stovall did his disappearing act. No catches.
I expect Gaines Adams to start on Sunday. Wrong. Kevin Carter started at right end. Adams finished with one assist.
I would be surprised if Adams had a sack. Right. Adams didn't get a whiff of Matt Hasselbeck all day.
I think the defensive line's performance will be average. Right. Unless you consider two sacks and four quarterback pressures in 60-plus plays above-average.
I think Tanard Jackson will start on Sunday. Right. He played free safety and had three tackles and a pass defensed.
Recently-signed Jeremiah Trotter will be a non-factor. Right. He was inactive. Tune in next week to see Trotter in a Bucs uniform for the first time.
Cato June will be fine on the strong side. Unclear. He had just three tackles. I think more was expected, frankly.
My prediction: Seahawks 26, Bucs 13. Right on the result, wrong on the score. But I wasn't too far off. The final was 20-6 Seahawks.
Final, random thoughts
The Bucs are 2-4 in openers under Jon Gruden. In the Super Bowl season the Bucs actually lost the opener. So it's difficult to say a loss in the opener means a losing season.
Dating back to Game 5 last season, when the Bucs managed 300 yards in net offense against Cincinnati, the Bucs have failed to reach 300 net yards in a game 10 times in their last 12 games.
In case you missed it, a few Bucs changed their numbers for the regular season. S Tanard Jackson is 28, Sabby Piscitelli is 21, Luke Petitgout is 77, Greg Peterson is 96 and Greg White is 91. Also, new cornerback Anthony Madison is 37 and Jeremiah Trotter — once he starts playing — will wear 50.
Jeff Garcia was the eighth starting quarterback in the Gruden era in Tampa Bay. Oddly, he is the fourth straight different starter on opening day — Brad Johnson (2004), Brian Griese (2005), Chris Simms (2006) and now Garcia.
Watch for Film Session on Tuesday. Plus, I'll be breaking down New Orleans' loss to Indy and post my "First Look" story soon, as well.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.