What we thought before the game:
The Bucs could not produce the kind of running game that the Giants defense would usually give up, but the passing game soared. The Bucs offense was able to barely score over what New York was willing to allow on the season, and that was enough to secure a win for the good guys, Bucs 25 – Giants 23.
Pass Plays: 38 (62.3%)
Run Plays: 23 (37.7%)
There were six long drives and the Red Zone efficiency was 2 for 3, I am not including the last drive for a FG as it was designed to run out the clock while in the Red Zone. Of the six long drives, the Bucs scored on five of those events.
In this game, there were four 3-and-outs in this game. Last year, the Bucs had a sum of 34 of such drives, according to Sporting Charts. Two years previous, the Bucs totaled 26 of such drives. Where are we today?
At this rate of 3.67 three-and-outs per game, the Bucs are projected to have an accumulation of 58.7 three-and-out plays. A different way to view this is that the Bucs are projected to fail about 60 times in 3rd down conversions at a minimum for the season due to three-and-out plays. That is a disastrous hit in third down efficiency.
Special teams unit is the easiest to identify as being ugly from the charts. Kicker Nick Folk missed two field goal attempts and an extra point.
The offense not being able to score from a yard out was abysmal. First, let us begin with Evans catching the ball in the air on a Winston scramble, but oddly curling up in the air rather than trying to plant either foot on the ground. One step forward and that catch is a touchdown catch. Instead, it is down at the one yard line.
1st and goal: The pitch to the right. Alan Cross got the outside block. Sweezy pulled right, but did not attack forward. Yet there was a lane for RB Rodgers to run into, but he was waiting for something to open up. Play should have just gone straight ahead on a one yard rush. It was kind of pointless to remove power by being fancy to sweep to the right side. Add insult to injury, it was a loss of a couple of yards as well.
2nd and goal: Quick fade to Evans one-on-one to the right side. Ball was lofted a bit high for Evans. Good idea, bad throw.
3rd and goal: Winston took two seconds to throw the ball into triple coverage for Cameron Brate. You will see a DB simply pass off Adam Humpries and focus in on Brate. Humphries was open. Wait one more second and DeSean Jackson was flying across the back of the end zone. Jackson was upset, and he should be. Winston pre-determined where he would go.
I re-watched the game and started to count how long Eli Manning held onto the ball before throwing it because the Bucs lacked a pass rush. He was on a three-second rhythm for most of Eli’s throws. Then I wondered how long Winston usually held onto the ball. It was about two seconds. That is why Winston has his pre-determined plays and does not let plays develop, with the exception of play-action. This is why DeSean Jackson is getting upset because Winston has determined where to throw the ball, using only two seconds to assess the field, if possible.
The two-second rule is probably why there is no chemistry between DeSean Jackson and Winston. Djax presents a totally different type of talent from tall wide receivers like Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. That speed of DeSean is not being harnessed well by Winston.
If opposing teams notice this two second trend, then it becomes easier to knock receivers off their pathways. Then factor in Winston’s lack of care for the underneath receivers, then opposing defenses can manipulate Winston.
Deep Tunnel Vision
Drive 5: 3rd and 10 on NYG 28 yard line. Winston went big and deep right to Jackson and double coverage. It was a bad throw. Yet, if you look at that play again, then you will see TE Brate leak out with one defender 12 yards down field to beat.
Although Brate may not have gained a first down, he would have shortened the field for the attempted FG. Instead of playing the small game to increase chances of a shorter field goal or possible first down, Winston is throwing down field.
Drive 10: 1st and 10 on TB 46 yard line. Winston scrambled to the right for eight yards. This is a problem for me. Why is Winston taking a chance running the ball when RB Rodgers is 8 yards in front of him with no one covering Rodgers? Also, on the sideline is Humpries running back towards Winston and at the 10 yard marker. Winston is not caring to dump the ball at all, but will run the ball himself? The stupidity of running the ball as a QB when you have two easy options for you in front of your face is disheartening because Winston does not realize if he gets injured, then all of Bucs fandom will literally fall off the face of the planet!
1st and 10 on NYG 43. Deep pass to Evans, but he drops an easy pass.
2nd and 10 on NYG 43. Incomplete intermediate pass to Evans. TV commentator noted that there was miscommunication with Evans. Meanwhile, on the other side of the field is an open Humpries on a short gain. Again, this was a two-second pass play, but here was pressure up the middle. This is Winston going back-to-back to Evans. Why?
3rd and 10. Winston hits Humpries short and Humpries tries to jut forward for 8 yards. But this is the two-second rhythm here.
4th and 2. Winston’s pass to Brate was broken up. Remember the goal line play where Winston targeted Brate and missed? Welp, same verse same as the first. Off to the right side where there was trips (three WRs tightly close together), Humphries was wide open. Hump was in the slot. Evans was next to him. Jackson was the outside threat. On the snap, the NYG DB held onto Evans, Jackson flew up field, and Hump ran underneath both wide open. After the play, you can see Jackson looking at Winston and pointing towards Humphries. It was an easy play that had no flair and precision needed, but Winston neglects it and cost the Bucs the possession.
All of these little things add up. No one has dared to be frustrated with Winston except in Lovie’s first year where he demanded Winston to share the ball around, especially with Vincent Jackson. In this season, another Jackson is showing frustration. He should be. Winston is not playing the team game to do what it takes to move the chains and score points. He is too fixated on specific players and too fixated on the deep ball.
The Comeback Drive
On the final kick-off drive, Winston was able to slow his passing game to three seconds for three plays. The 3rd and 1 pass play to Brate, one-on-one, was an amazing play where Brate did bobble the ball. Then the Bucs knelt the ball to ensure the Giants would not have any time to mount any type of comeback. It was a chess move. Although Nick Folk had missed two field goals and an extra attempt, Folk has a 91% career success rate between 30 – 39 yards field goal attempts. The two missed field goals were from 46 yards and 49 yards out. It was a scary proposition since Folk did miss three kicks in this game, but career average remains true and the Bucs sealed the victory with a kick.
The Bucs offense moved the ball and did not move the ball. They had some wonderful plays that led to touchdowns and some woeful plays that hurt the offense. Bad field conditions might have been the reason why kickers on both teams missed at least one field goal attempt. Points were left on the field and plays were left on the field. Something just did not click right doing this write-up.
With a rushing average of 4.8 yards per carry, the Bucs’ running backs only ran the ball 37% of the time. It feels like a disservice to the run game when the Giants defense would give up more yards on the ground.
Today, the offense earned the win for the team. If Winston can learn to use the short routes, and not be so pre-determined in whom to pass to, then this offense can probably take off. There are so many receiving weapons, but all those weapons are rendered useless if the person throwing the ball does not know how to be effective with said ball. If Winston is to be a franchise QB, then we fans should hold him up to that standard.