Whether the Bucs want to admit it or not, it's clear that Carolina is far superior team in every aspect. The Bucs have found the end zone just once in two games against the Panthers, while being outscored by a combined 39 points. They managed to convert on just one third down in 11 attempts.
The Bucs reverted back to their old conservative gameplan Sunday and the results were similar to the first meeting with the Panthers -- a three-score win by Carolina.
"There were a lot of key points in that first half," said coach Greg Schiano. "Key, key plays in that first half, where, you know what, this is a fourth quarter football game. That's the only way we are going to beat that team right now. The team that we had on Sunday. We're going to beat them in a fourth-quarter game. We didn't get it there."
After starting 0-8, Greg Schiano opened up the playbook, took chances by sprinkling in some trickery. But the razzle-dazzle has vanished the last two games and it's not a coincidence that the Bucs offense has dried up.
Against Carolina and Detroit, the Bucs tallied their lowest offensive yards of the season, but Schiano says they were prepared with creative calls.
"I wish, in retrospect, I wished I had stepped in and said, 'Let's do it now,' but I didn't," said Schiano. "There was a couple of opportunities where I was close to doing it and didn't. It wasn't apprehension or lack of confidence, 'cause I had all the confidence in the world in our guys. I just didn't think the timing was right."
The defense wasn't any better. There was poor tackling and questionable play-calling. A perfect example of both occurred in the first quarter. The Bucs blitz on second down and 11, adding a twist, stunting Adrian Clayborn and Gerald McCoy. It left a huge hole for Cam Newton to run through, breaking containment and tackles for 56 yards.
Defensive stunts have cost the Bucs plenty this season. Stunting lineman is a gamble play.
"Sometimes it's hit and miss," said Akeem Spence. "I mean, if we hit it, you know we hit it right in the mouth. If we miss it, it can be a big gain and next thing you know it's on the secondary real fast. So we have to get him on the ground."
The Bucs feel they need to get back to basics, but they've shown this season they're going to need more than basic plays to win.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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