In what should have been deemed the Politics Bowl, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers. Tampa, as well as Charlotte have hosted political conventions in recent weeks. Sunday marked the debut of rookie head coach Greg Schiano, and while one game does not make the season, it appears that the youthful Buccaneers have bought into Schiano’s coaching philosophy.
The Buccaneers pulled off a 16-10 home opener win, but the final score does not reflect just how dominant Tampa was on Sunday. The Carolina Panthers put 86 points on the Buccaneers last season in two contests while running the ball at will. On Sunday, the Buccaneers held the Panthers to 10 rushing yards. You read that correctly, 10 yards. There were some impressive performances on Sunday, but this has to be considered one of the very best.
The Buccaneers held the lead for the entire game and controlled the ball for over 37 minutes of the game so the Panthers likely did not try to establish the run as they would have in other circumstances, but two glaring statistics stand out. DeAngelo Williams, a running back which has owned the Buccaneers in past seasons, was held to -1 yards. Cam Newton has held to his lowest rushing total of his career, just five yards.
The much maligned Tampa Bay defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all afternoon. DT Gerald McCoy, who has struggled with injuries throughout his young career was a disruptive force all game and looked like the player the Buccaneers envisioned when they drafted him third overall.Tampa Bay, which had the lowest sack total in the NFL last year, managed three sacks on the slippery Newton.
Rookie LB Lavonte David led the Buccaneers in tackles. Rookie S Mark Barron was a beast in the secondary and laid a hit on WR Steve Smith that would have knocked most mortal receivers out of the game.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Buccaneers executed nearly flawlessly and adhered to Schiano’s run centric belief. Rookie Doug Martin carried the ball 24 times and accounted for 118 yards of total offense. If the first game was any indication, Martin looks to have a full workload this season and should see at least 340 touches this season.
QB Josh Freeman led a controlled passing attack and managed to finish the game without a turnover, something which plagued him last season. The Buccaneers finished the game without a turnover and only managed four penalties, another issue which the Buccaneers had to deal with last season.
This looked like Buccaneers football of years gone by. Swarming defense which forced turnovers and a ball control offense. It’s just week one, don’t start printing playoff tickets just yet with three games against NFC East opponents looming, but head coach Greg Schiano went a long way to disprove any detractors out there that questioned his hiring. Holding the Panthers to just 10 rushing yards was an impressive way to open the season and make a statement.