It would not surprise me to lose this game and go on to win our next two. I think that if Tampa Bay had quality veteran leadership and a recent culture of winning they would be very scary. Even without that, they're plenty talented and probably happy to be back home. Really wish we had Luke back for this one. Can't afford another outing like we had against the Saints.
A lot of credit should go to our scouts, who have served both Hurney and Gettleman. Yes, he made stupid choices around contracts at the end, but for nearly his entire tenure Hurney was an above average drafter. And now Gettleman looks like a freaking genius--he never did this well in NY. A TON of credit for both of their successes should go to the anonymous guys that scour the college and pro landscapes for talent. I also think that JR has a good hand in the defense-first philosophy that makes us all crazy because of guys like Shula, but which also lends a lot of consistency to our franchise.
If I told you on Saturday that McCown was going to complete 31 out of 38 passes with 8.2 YPA, would you have predicted a loss? Most starting QBs don't do that well, let along backups. McCown's also way way way more mobile than Brees, and he really used that to his advantage Sunday. Bottom line is, we had no film on him, and he got in a zone quickly and stayed there. It won't happen again. Next week we face famous Jameis, and he's got some film to study. Hopefully we get Keuchly back too. I expect that yesterday will be used as a wake-up call by our defense, and they're going to bring the pain to the rookie on Sunday.
I'm worried about next week, TBH. Although I'm really hoping that yesterday was a wake-up call, the defense didn't pressure McCown and Tampa Bay has much better receivers than New Orleans. Hell, they're just a better team. And they will be playing at home. ASSUMING we get out of there with a win, we could split the next four and I would be plenty happy. If we do that, we're winning 12 again. If we don't, I could honestly see us tanking and ending up clawing our way out of a 3-5 hole to finish 8-8 or 9-7. We really need to take care of business down there before we start talking about the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, and Packers.
I have to say, I think Philly Shula didn't actually suck last Sunday. For the first time in a long time, he surprised me with his play calling. Mike Shula is a nice young man, but Philly Shula can get the ball in the end zone.
If we play well, the entire game is going to look like the third quarter against the Jags. Our defense will harass the hell out of Brees, and our offense will march slowly and methodically down the field. I expect us to shoot ourselves in the foot a few times with penalties, and there's no way we pitch a shut-out, but a 20-14 or a 27-14 score with 200+ yards rushing just feels about right against these guys.
Very happy with the protection. Despite a few miscues (which you will get every game), the offensive line played well and kept Cam clean when it mattered most. Philly Brown catches the ball. Corey Brown needs a snickers.
My favorite part of the game was in the second half where we just chewed the hell out of the clock, converting on third down when we needed to and slowly marching down the field. So what if we didn't get a touchdown out of it? We went up two scores, and that was what we needed. I'm sure that if we were down, we would have marched with a greater sense of urgency, and maybe had a couple more possessions as a result. The coaches aren't looking to score 30 a game, they're looking to win. I think we really missed Bersin at times, just because he has a good connection with Cam and can get the first down. Supposedly Norwood is a better version of him, and I suspect he will be ready by the Houston game. I wish we had done more with Funchess, and think we will as he gets more time and reps. Philly catches the ball. Corey is a nice young man. Ginn needs a gallon of stickum. I was really happy to see Philly play like he did, and I honestly don't blame Shula for calling Ginn's number way more often--wouldn't you given the drops in preseason? I don't remember too many games last year where teams stacked the box and brought pressure and Cam still had time to scan the field. People who are bitching about our line need to remember two things. First, every NFL line gets beat a few times a game. Second, remember how our line looked last year. I'm not even mad at Oher for that one time he got beat inside and gave up a sack. Overall he looked like a legit left tackle. All off-season, everyone made the correct point that the real key to our success this year was going to be on the offensive line. Yesterday our line looked good enough for us to be successful. I can't wait until next Sunday!
When you are picking between two teams that you don't respect, you take the home team almost by default. I don't think these guys hate the Panthers, they just don't think we're as good as we think we are.