Jackson's roster spot for next year is in doubt. Not because he's not a good player anymore, but because he's set to make nearly $10 million in 2016 and the Bucs could figure to spend that money better elsewhere. But with every game like this, Jackson improves his chances of staying on the roster. He had a solid four catches for 76 yards, including a beautiful toe-tapping catch and a big catch-and-run on a scramble drill.
With Austin Seferian-Jenkins still not cleared for contact, Brate is getting more and more opportunities as a receiving tight end. The former Harvard player caught five passes for 53 yards and his third career touchdown, after putting up three catches for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles last week. He's not as explosive as Seferian-Jenkins and is mostly just a receiving tight end, but he's turning into a nice, reliable option for Winston -- especially on seam routes.
The Dougernaut had 12 carries for 90 yards in the first half, despite the Colts wreaking havoc with the Bucs' blocking schemes. Game scripts largely caused him to disappear in the second half, as he had just two carries for seven more yards and saw a touchdown called back for an iffy holding call. But overall, this was another steady game for a back who's quickly turning into a must-re-sign for the Bucs.
The Bucs have been compensating for personnel deficiencies along the offensive line all season long, and it finally caught up with them this time. Jameis Winston was sacked five times as the Colts sent blitz after blitz after blitz, and several linemen repeatedly failed to win their one-on-one matchups. Donovan Smith looked particularly vulnerable at left tackle, and the Bucs for some reason did not give him a lot of help, despite consistently doing so the rest of the year. Joe Hawley and Evan Smith struggled as well, and the Bucs will be much-improved in this area when Ali Marpet returns from injury.
Usually I'm not one for complaining about referees. Bad calls are going to happen, and they're going to go both ways. But this time, the Bucs were genuinely victimized by some horrendous calls. The refs turned what was clearly a false start on the Colts into a neutral zone infraction on the Bucs, and then turned what was clearly defensive pass interference on Mike Evans into offensive pass interference on his part. They seemed to make a third terrible ruling on a Mike Evans catch, but quickly corrected themselves.
Instead of keeping it to those two bad calls, they then called phantom holding on Vincent Jackson to stifle the Bucs' first drive of the second half, and a phantom defensive holding penalty to negate a forced and recovered fumble for the Bucs on the Colts' second touchdown drive. They also made a terrible leaping call on Chris Conte on a fourth-quarter field goal, though he could have been flagged for roughing the holder, giving the Colts a second chance at scoring a touchdown. They then could have given the Bucs the ball on a close maybe-fumble at the goal-line, but instead ruled that Ahmad Bradshaw was down.
A few bad calls are normal, but this was a cascade of absolutely terrible calls.
The Bucs' secondary had played some good football the past three games, but they came back down to earth against the Indianapolis Colts. Matt Hasselbeck sliced them up for 315 yards on 42 attempts, getting two touchdowns and looking especially unstoppable in the second half. Donte Moncrief ate up undrafted rooie Jude Adjei-Barimah in the fourth quarter, ending the game with eight catches for 114 yards, and a pair of T.Y. Hilton catches in the third quarter looked to be on Sterling Moore and Bradley McDougald as they left some gaping holes in coverage. It didn't help that this was the first game the Bucs had not produced a takeaway since week 10 of last season.
This just underscores what we already knew: the Bucs don't have enough talent in the defensive secondary. That's something they're going to have to fix this offseason.
A missed field goal and the first missed extra point of his career. He also failed to produce a single touchback on four kickoffs, though they were deep and long enough to prevent big returns. Not the best game of his career.
Five catches for 64 yards was a decent game, and he was open deep a couple of times but Jameis Winston couldn't connect, in part because of relentless pressure. But after catching every catchable ball last week, Evans had a massive drop on what would likely have been a touchdown in the third quarter. That wasn't characteristic of the rest of the game, but that one catch could have turned this loss into a win.
Mike Evans on deep throw he didn't catch: "I'm not going to make excuses. I've got to catch that."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) November 29, 2015