The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in a surprisingly high-scoring affair. Here are the winners and losers for the Bucs coming out of that game.
Doug Martin's a beast
Doug Martin had his best game since his rookie season, rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and adding three catches for 35 yards and another touchdown. He was explosive, managed to make people miss and again looked like his rookie self putting up his second consecutive 100+-yard game. This is the Muscle Hamster the Bucs can design an offense around.
Charles Sims had a pretty good game, too. He's finally looking like he may be worth that 2014 third-round pick, putting up 85 yards on four catches and 51 rushing yards on 12 carries. Martin and Sims are still in a timeshare, and when both of them have big games they're tough to stop.
It should be noted that the Bucs did all of that missing three starters on their offensive line in Logan Mankins, Evan Smith and Demar Dotson, against one of the best run defenses in the NFL. Just a very impressive performance all around.
Three field goals, three hits. Three extra points, three hits. Kickoffs were a bit of an issue, as he allowed three returns for an average of 31 yards per return. But it wasn't disastrous, and the Bucs can at least confidently settle for field goals now.
Jameis Winston was a controlled game manager
The Bucs didn't ask Jameis Winston to do a ton, but what they asked him to do he did very well. He dropped back only 23 times, completing 13 of 19 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown, two sacks and no turnovers. He had one ugly play where he almost fumbled away the ball -- but his knee was ruled down. Other than that he completed a few key third downs, found his running backs both on checkdowns and designed plays when necessary, and gave Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans some opportunities to make big plays -- though neither could come down with those. He still left the pocket a little too quickly at times and wasn't perfect, but it was a solid overall performance.
Rainey for punt returner
Three punt returns for 85 yards, including a nice 58-yarder to set the Bucs up in the red zone. Rainey's done well on punt returns this year, aside from two muffed (but recovered) punts early on. That makes using a pick on the now cut Kaelin Clay look even worse, of course.
Howard Jones, what?
Two sacks in a debut is pretty good, although it should be noted that neither was exactly the result of his beating linemen: they came on stunts where he came more or less unblocked. It's still good and speaks to his athleticism, though, and he certainly seemed to flash on a few other plays at the end of the game. A promising performance for a team that still needs more pass rushers.
A home win for the first time since 2013. Celebrate!
Lovie Smith needs to be more aggressive
Lovie Smith gave up multiple opportunities to go for it on fourth down, leading to two short punts that gave them fewer than 30 yards in field position and a short field goal on fourth-and-one. The worst offense, though, was running a give-up play with three timeouts and 40 seconds needing just 30 yards to get into field goal range right before the half. Those decisions could have come back to bite the Bucs, and they're a little confusing because Lovie Smith has historically been slightly more aggressive than the average NFL coach. Does he not trust Jameis Winston to take care of the ball at this point?
Big plays and big mistakes on defense
One interception, one fumble recovered for a touchdown, six sacks and seven tackles for loss. That's a pretty good collection of big plays on defense, and more than they've had in any game so far this year. But the defensive performance was only barely good enough, as the Bucs kept getting beat on big plays throughout the game. Tim Jennings and Mike Jenkins simply couldn't hold up in man coverage, and the Bucs were lucky that Blake Bortles missed a few deep throws and a wide open receiver on his one interception.
Someone was wide open in the middle of the field, though. Man coverage so a blitzer busted. pic.twitter.com/KHp68WQQXD— Sander Philipse (@Bucs_Nation) October 11, 2015
The worst offense came inside the two-minute warning, though: needing only to stop a fourth-and-18 to end the game after two sacks by Gerald McCoy, Bradley McDougald and Tim Jennings allowed Allen Hurns to go for 58-yards down to the goal-line. The Jaguars didn't get the subsequent onside kick, but that could have been one of those plays we talk about for years for all the wrong reasons.
The Bucs defense did enough to win, but only barely.