In what many considered an ugly win, but a positive sign the Bucs as a team in the second half played with a physical presence. After allowing the Browns to rush for 87 yards in the first half. A suspect run defense held the Browns to just 17 yards on the ground in the second half. Two take-aways in the second half, the first being, a forced fumble by Barrett Ruud in the middle of the third quarter as the Browns were driving to score inside the redzone. The second, an interception by E.J. Biggers in the fourth quarter help propel the Bucs to victory.
Josh Freeman – In his first live action since breaking the tip of his thumb on his throwing hand against the Chiefs, in the second pre-season game Freeman looked good. He finished the game 17-of-28 for 182 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. He also rushed for 34 yards on 2 carries. He completed 61% of his passes while compiling a QB rating of 88.7.
Although, he looked good against the Browns his stats at first glance don’t tell the whole story. Buried in the stats is the fact he completed 9-of-11 passes (81.8 percent) for 107 yards on third down, including a 33-yard touchdown to Micheal Spurlock. While Freeman showed leadership by rallying his team and an improved accuracy there was still a few negatives. He missed some wide open targets, toke 2 of the Browns three sacks on third down and was throwing well short of the sticks.
Carnell Williams – Many fans are going to look at the numbers and surmise that I’m off my rocker. But Williams had 24 touches for 98 yards officially. 22 carries for 75 yards and 2 catches for 23 yards. Unofficially he had 26 touches for 134 yards. Williams who was not done any favors by his offensive line, on two separate occasions ripped off 18 yard runs only to see them called back due to offensive holding. His longest run of the game was a 20 yarder. While the official numbers are the ones that count a team that struggled to run the football last year can’t afford to commit costly penalties that negate big runs and stymies’ offensive drives.
Micheal Spurlock – Spurlock finished the game with 2 catches for 49 yards and 1 touchdown. More importantly, he rewarded the team for keeping him over the likes of Michael Calyton and Reggie Brown as he hauled in the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Sean Jones – Jones won the starting strong safety job over incumbent Sabby Piscitelli largely due to his tackling ability. Well after just one game it might look like the team is still looking for a strong safety after Jones looked eerily rely reminiscent of the player he replaced in the line-up by missing numerous open field tackles.
Hard to nitpick in a win, especially considering how young the team is. They showed poise and rallied late. There’s definitely room for improvement in all phases. But savoring a hard fought win is much more fulfilling then nitpicking and ranting.