Posted by Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson
Yes, the Buccaneers held a 10-point lead Sunday and lost by only three points on the road, but this team still has a lot of issues.
Early on, quarterback Josh Johnson showed the efficiency and valuing of the football that his counterpart, Jason Campbell, severely lacked. He did have some first-game moments, however, and the overall speed of the game was a lot for the youngster. Also, Johnson simply has to take more chances downfield. It will be a process for him, but there is a lot to work with in this second-year quarterback.
Wide receiver Antonio Bryant scored the Bucs' touchdown and appears to be healthier than he has been to date this season -- but that isn't saying much. If Bryant can be nearly the force he was in 2008, Tampa Bay would have a respectable group of pass-catchers, including Kellen Winslow, who can consistently pose matchup problems, and rookie Sammie Stroughter. Stroughter has excellent slot receiver skills. But there is a lot of work to be done to improve this passing attack.
The defense held Campbell to only 60 passing yards in the first half. It would be great to give the Bucs' defense the majority of credit for those paltry results, but the fact is that Campbell played horribly and forced the ball into coverage. He did make a few big throws, but for the most part, his play was inexcusable.
The Bucs’ cornerbacks deserve quite a bit of credit for their efforts, especially in the first half, but tight end Chris Cooley presented problems with his craftiness and after-the-catch abilities. Washington's wide receivers managed only two catches, but the 59-yard touchdown by Santana Moss was just him running past Aqib Talib, who otherwise made a ton of plays, including three interceptions. Also, often underachieving defensive end Gaines Adams really came to play. He looked quick and explosive.
Despite Clinton Portis' 50 yards rushing in the first half and 98 yards total, the Buccaneers did not have to consistently dedicate an extra defender to the box to stop the run.
Tampa Bay does have a real issue at the place-kicker position. Mike Nugent missed two field goals Sunday and had missed his first four attempts of the season before finally connecting to close out the first half. But that problem is only one of many.
Sadly, this might be as good as it gets for the Buccaneers this season.