Sooner or later, the Bucs will learn how to bury bad teams. They did so a couple weeks ago against Chicago but left the New York Giants off the hook and almost cost themselves big time. They survived, claiming a thrilling last-second victory against the winless G-men, 25-23.
Pieces of Eight
1) The Bucs have a pressure problem. Tampa Bay lived in the New York backfield on running plays, with Gerald McCoy living up to his game wrecker reputation with three tackles for loss. Unfortunately, it didn’t translate to getting Eli Manning on the turf. Too many times the Bucs would get penetration but be guided by the typically immobile quarterback and allow Manning to either get rid of the football or connect with his outlet. It got so bad Manning ran for a career-long 15-yard touchdown.
The Bucs have one sack in 12 quarters of football. They got away with it against Manning, but that won’t work against Brady, Brees, Newton, Ryan, Rodgers and the other top-notch quarterbacks they will face this season. Someone on this football team has to start getting to the quarterback on a consistent basis.
2) Look at the stat sheet and you’d say Jameis Winston had a heck of a football game on Sunday. 22 of 38 for 332 yds and 3 touchdowns without a single turnover will get Jameis a lot of accolades but if you really dig deeper, #3 really didn’t play all that well. Winston got away with some bad throws early in the game that could have been picked. He constantly threw behind his receivers, forcing them to adjust and break their stride. He struggled accuracy and decision making all day long. Think about that, folks. This was Jameis on a meh kinda day. At some point, he and Desean Jackson will get on the same page. Mike Evans, Cam Brate, and O.J. Howard will reap the benefits of that and the running game will feed off it, too.
Not only that – in the fourth quarter when his team needed him, he brought them back not once but twice. That says a lot about this young quarterback.
3) It still feels like the Bucs offense hasn’t reached its full potential yet, doesn’t it? Tampa Bay left as much as 10 points on the field Sunday thanks to missed kicks and a disappointing sequence from the Giants’ 1-yard line. Indeed, this game should have never come down to that last kick. The Bucs are 9th in total offense, 12th in scoring. That’s an improvement over last year. Yet, there’s room to grow and if the Bucs can get some more consistent play across the board, the offense may finally live up to the off-season hype.
4) The Bucs had a disappointing day on the ground, managing just 111 yds. A good chunk of it came on two plays, Jaquizz Rodgers’ season-high 36-yard run, and Charles Sims’ 14-yard scamper. Other than that, the Bucs struggled to pound the rock against the porous New York run defense. Reinforcements will arrive today as Doug Martin has been activated. If Martin is anything like the 2015 version that came in motivated and ready to play football, it will add crucially missing dimension to Dirk Kotter’s offense and make the Bucs all the more dangerous.
5) You got to give it up to the Bucs defense who held this team in the game despite being tremendously banged up and missing three crucial contributors in Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, and T.J. Ward. Rookie Kendall Beckwith did a solid job filling in for Alexander, nabbing a team-high 9 tackles while Aldarius Glanton added 6 himself. Justin Evans even had some playing time as the injuries mounted while most of the defensive linemen were playing with something ailing them. A gutty effort, defense.
6) Man, you don’t realize how crucial Brent Grimes is to this defense until you’re missing him. Grimes had a very solid day, mostly squaring off against Giants superstar Odell Beckham, Jr. OBJ got his, 7 catches for 90 yards but other than catching a 42-yard bomb from Manning, the wideout was pretty much held in check. Grimes would finish the day with 5 tackles and 3 passes defended while keeping Beckham, Jr. out of the end zone.
7) I really wanted to not have to write about kicking once Nick Folk beat out Roberto Aguayo for the Bucs’ kicking job. I really wanted to believe Folk, a veteran, would keep things in good hands (or feet) and we wouldn’t need to worry all that much. Instead, here we are, with Folk now 6 of 8 on his field goals (75%) and has now missed two extra points in three games after missing two his entire 11 year NFL career. I don’t know if the Gramatica brothers have a fu fu gato on the Bucs kicking game or what – but for the love of Jon Gruden, can Tampa Bay find a damn kicker that can consistently put it between the wickets?
8) I like Desean Jackson’s speed and the dimension it adds to the Bucs’ offense. What I don’t like about Desean Jackson is his mini-tantrums when the ball doesn’t go his way or it’s not perfectly placed or the fact he didn’t bother to block for Adam Humphries as he motored toward the goal line. Jackson reminds me an awful lot of Keyshawn Johnson. He is a hell of a player but seems to be a selfish one and at some point, the talent won’t outweigh the pain in the backside he is becoming for Winston. It’s not yet, so they’ll need to tolerate it.
DLT’s Tweet of the Week
— JC De La Torre (@jcdelatorre) October 1, 2017
The defending Super Bowl champions come to Ray Jay coming off their shocking second loss of the season. The Patriots still have Brady, but the Bucs should have some good shots at their defense on a short week and with the return of Doug Martin. Can Tampa Bay get to 3-1?