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PFF Review @Bucs


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They say the mark of a good team is winning football games in which you don’t play well.

If that’s the case, then this Atlanta Falcons team is very good.

For long parts they couldn’t get on top of the Bucs’ defense and struggled to bring Josh Freeman down, but eventually they turned the tide on the back of one superb kick return and one clutch drive.

It was a heartbreaking fourth quarter for a Bucs team that has come a long way and is getting better as the season develops (even if the wins dry up). 2010 is too soon for them, but with the young talent on their roster the future looks … creamsicle?

Falcons: Three performances of note

With the Bucs charging down the field looking for victory, the Falcons needed someone to step up and make a play. Brent Grimes (+4.2) was that guy. After having an earlier interception overturned, he broke on a Freeman pass before making an athletic play that cameras couldn’t disprove was caught fairly. It was symbolic of the kind of career day Grimes had in allowing just two of the 11 balls thrown his way to be complete. Considering he broke up three (and had the aforementioned interception), that has to go down as a good day.

The same can’t be said for his teammate in the defensive backfield William Moore (-5.7). Moore has done a decent job since coming in for Eric Coleman at the start of the season and has a habit of getting his hands on balls, but in this one his habit was missing tackles. Four of them he missed, and he allowed four receptions as well. This is by far the worst game we’ve seen from him in this regard, so until a trend starts developing, we’re seeing this as a LeGarrette Blount-inspired blip.

Nobody has endorsed Matt Ryan as the MVP of the league as much as me. But if he plays like this again I’ll have to take that back. While he saved his day with a memorable third-and-20 completion that was as good a throw as you’ll see any QB make, it didn’t make you forget the three quarters of sub-standard play that preceded it. Ryan struggled all over the field, but he especially struggled throwing farther than 10 yards. He was just 6 out of 16 in this area. Ryan has had periods in each of his seasons where he’s looked a top-tier quarterback, but hasn’t followed it through. He’ll hope a game against the Panthers gets him back on track.

Bucs: Three performances of note

It was a shame to see Aqib Talib (+1.3) go out with a hip injury that will end his 2010 season. He had already broken up one pass and we were looking forward to watching him and Roddy White go at it. Instead, we were left with the Falcons picking on E.J. Biggers (-2.1) and while he started promisingly by breaking up a third-down pass, he soon became the guy that Falcons picked on. He allowed 68 yards of offense, including a couple of crucial plays. It’s a tough ask expecting him to fill Talib’s shoes.

He didn’t have any sacks in this game, and he gave away a stupid penalty that cost his team points, but this was a more consistent performance from Gerald McCoy (+2.6). He didn’t disgrace himself in the run game (with the Falcons running outside of the tackles a number of times, he didn’t have a lot of opportunities to make plays) but had a big day rushing the passer. He picked up a couple of hits and three further pressures as he continues to impress at this level. He’s not getting the hype of a Ndamukong Suh, nor has he been as impactful, but his all-around game is just as good right now.

On the evidence of this game, Cadillac Williams (-2.9) looks done. No longer trusted to run the ball (just two carries), his work as a receiver wasn’t great (two receptions for 6 yards) and he gave up a quarterback hit and quarterback pressure on the 11 occasions he stayed in. With his dwindling play, there’s a greater emphasis on LeGarrette Blount (+1.5) becoming more of an every-down back (he still looks lost when he’s required to pick up the blitz). Such is Blount’s talent that the Bucs are keeping him on the field for more passing snaps (14 this week) because his presence alone is bound to scare the opposition. Any time you can pick up 90 of 103 yards after contact and break seven missed tackles, the impact on the defense goes beyond the numbers.

Rookie report

Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (+1.0) played exclusively in nickel sets, and while his two missed tackles will disappoint, his blitzing (including running over Williams) resulted in three QB pressures. … Corey Peters (0.0) started and picked up a couple of QB pressures and two defensive stops.

Despite his touchdown, Mike Williams (-1.0) didn’t have the greatest day in the world, dropping three of the 13 balls thrown his way and only catching five. … Arrelious Benn (+1.9) graded out better, in part due to his work with his perimeter blocking. … Ted Larsen (-2.2) gave up a sack but that was his only fault in pass blocking. Instead, it was his run blocking where he looked overmatched. … The same can be said of Derek Hardman (-1.2), who didn’t give up a single pressure but couldn’t get any push when he came in for the final 19 snaps of the game. … Defensive tackle Al Woods (+0.8) made a nice defensive stop in limited action. … Myron Lewis (-1.6) got more action in nickel sets and gave up the game-winning touchdown.

Random notes

Freeman failed to connect with his receivers on any of his five passes beyond 19 yards, and completed only three of 15 past 9 yards. … The Falcons used single-receiver sets on 27 of 68 plays.

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