The Tampa Bay Buccaneers absolutely dominated the Chicago Bears today in their season opener, which means we saw a lot of outstanding performances. Not everything was perfect, though, and we can always nit-pick a little—so let’s go through the winners and losers for today’s game.
The Bucs are 1-0 and finally dominated an opponent from start to finish. How’s that for living up to the hype?
The Bucs defense
Three takeaways (the fourth came on special teams), 20 rushing yards allowed and 0 points given up until the final drive of the game. It doesn’t get much better than this, and everyone seemed to contribute. T.J. Ward got only a handful of snaps but made a bunch of splash plays, Kendell Beckwith had to take over at middle linebacker and performed admirably, Lavonte David was all over the field, the defensive line destroyed the Bears’ running game and got some pressure on Mike Glennon—it was a real group effort.
The offensive line
Jameis Winston wasn’t entirely kept clean and there weren’t massive holes in the running game, but this was a solid all-around game against a defensive line that gave the Atlanta Falcons some fits last week. Interestingly, the Bucs rotated in Evan Smith instead of Kevin Pamphile in the second half—it’s not clear why they did that, though.
That performance is especially promising given the concerns over the Bucs’ offensive line, especially from third-party analysts. At least in the team’s first game, those analysts’ concerns looked a little silly.
Wide receiver Mike Evans
Seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown: Evans continued right where he left off, despite the Chicago Bears constantly rolling coverage to his side. That led to DeSean Jackson being open deep more than a few times, but he and Winston just barely missed on three occasions and couldn’t really connect.
Receivers other than Evans disappeared to the background: no one else caught more than three passes, and only DeSean Jackson had more than 25 yards receiving yards. But Evans could not be stopped and continues to look like one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander
The Bucs linebacker was off to a great start to his season, setting off the Bucs’ takeaway spree by intercepting Mike Glennon on his first drive. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep that up: a hamstring injury took him out of the game midway through the first half. It’s unclear how serious that injury is, though he was at least seen walking around and smiling on the sidelines and after the game.
Bears quarterback Mike Glennon
Well, at least he still has that $14 million salary.
Bucs pass rush
One sack against Mike Glennon isn’t good enough. That’s not to say that the pass-rush was terrible, they certainly came close a couple of times, but there was no consistent pressure on Glennon—and that was with Kyle Long out, and Long’s backup having to leave the game, too.
Hopefully, Jacquies Smith will be able to add a little extra punch in the coming weeks. And, of course, Noah Spence once again flashed his considerable talents.