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Buccaneers vs. Cardinals: Winners and losers for Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell to 1-1 after losing to the Arizona Cardinals, 40-7. That is not a good look for a team that got a lot of hype after week one, and the Bucs have plenty of things to be ashamed about and work on after that week two performance.

Improvement starts with identifying failure, though, and that’s what we’re here for: to point out a whole lot of people who lost yesterday’s game, and the few who can walk away feeling like winners after their individual performances, if not the team performance.

Losers

The Buccaneers

The Bucs lost 40-7, turned the ball over five times, did not take the ball away once, struggled in all phases of the game, and looked nothing like the week one powerhouse we’d hoped to see.

Defensive coordinator Mike Smith

This defensive performance didn’t start out horribly, and the four turnovers that mattered certainly didn’t help Smith’s defense, but this defense looked terrible. It couldn’t tackle — Kwon Alexander’s tackling issues resurfaced — it couldn’t cover, it couldn’t rush the passer. Most of all, it couldn’t keep the Cardinals out of the end zone. This is not the kind of performance the Bucs had in mind when they replaced Lovie Smith.

QB Jameis Winston

Five turnovers, one touchdown, a whole bunch of accuracy issues and really very few positives to point to. This was a Bad Jameis day, and it showed. Each of those turnovers has a mitigating factor — miscommunication, a running back knocking the ball out — but then, he could have been picked off on a few other plays as well. He finished the game completing 27 of 52 passes for just 243 yards. That’s not remotely good enough.

WR Vincent Jackson

Maybe it’s just age catching up with him, but Vincent Jackson looks like a shell of himself. For the second week in a row miscommunication between him and Jameis Winston led to an interception. There were several plays where what seemed to be miscommunication led to incompletions. He finished the game with four catches for 44 yards on nine targets, almost all of that production coming with the game already out of reach. Jackson looks slow, he’s not consistently catching the ball, his route running looks sloppy — and he’s in a contract year.

S Chris Conte

If one player had a bad day on defense, it must have been Chris Conte. He was beaten for two touchdowns, including a really ugly 51-yarder with just seconds remaining in the first half. Pro tip: you cannot give up a deep ball as a deep safety, especially not if there are just seconds remaining in the first half.

LBs Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David

Off the top of my head, Alexander missed at least two tackles in the open field. And according to the box score, Lavonte David had exactly zero tackles. Now the box score tracking of tackles is often a bit wonky, but David did not show up much in this game (he did have two quarterback hits) and Alexander looked very messy. This is not the kind of performance you want out of a pair that was supposed to be one of the best linebacking groups in the league, or at least that’s what we heard last week.

CB Brent Grimes

Beaten all day by Larry Fitzgerald, and dropped an interception in the end zone. Grimes made a few tackles, but he’s not quite the player he used to be.

Injuries

Doug Martin, Robert Ayers and Luke Stocker all had to leave the game with injuries and could not return. That’s three starters missing for most of the game. We don’t know how serious these injuries are yet, and none of them appear to be season-ending, but this is not good.

Winners

WR Mike Evans

Six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown while going against Patrick Peterson. Evans had a strong game for the second week in a row, and appears to be on the same page as Jameis Winston, which wasn’t necessarily the case last season. He also seems to have fixed the drop issues he had last year.

WR Adam Humphries

With Vincent Jackson floundering, Adam Humphries has had to step up. For some reason the Bucs keep wanting to target a slow, small receiver with deep throws, but other than those plays, Humphries has looked pretty good. He had six catches for 67 yards and seems to be at his best on screen passes and other short throws where he can make some moves after the catch.

CB Alterraun Verner

Verner may have lost his starting spot to Vernon Hargreaves, he came to play against the Arizona Cardinals. Verner was on the field for 65% of the defensive plays,had two official passes defensed, and made a few more plays on the ball that I recall. The defense didn’t have a very good day, but Verner can certainly still play.