Well, if you made it through that game, congratulations. You’ve had ten years shaved off your life from the stress that was induced. The Buccaneers were dominant in the first half, then fell apart in the fourth quarter leading to overtime where Chandler Catanzaro went from goat to hero after hitting a 59-yard field goal to give the Bucs a 26-23 win over the Cleveland Browns.
It wasn’t pretty. There were some positives, some negatives, and a lot of frustrations. Let’s dive right in to the first victory Pick Six since week two.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Jameis Winston Was Pedestrian - Although he had plenty of splashy plays - especially with his legs - Winston was very average against Cleveland. He started off on fire then couldn’t find his groove again after throwing that first interception. He had no touchdown passes, but did run one in early on. And yes, he drove the Bucs down the field at the end of regulation when Catanzaro missed a 40 yard field goal that would’ve won it. However, he turned the ball over three times and it has to stop. I think Winston is the future of this team, but seven turnovers in ten quarters is inexcusable. The only turnover you can point to that really wasn’t his fault was the fumble where Donovan Smith was flat out beat. Cincinnati and Carolina are next up on the schedule and if Winston doesn’t take care of the ball, it’ll be a couple of long afternoons.
2.) Time To Catanzar-GO - Yeah, I get it. He hit a 59-yard field goal to win the game. That doesn’t take away the fact that he missed an extra point and a 40-yard attempt in regulation, either of which would’ve won the game without the stress of overtime. There’s no excuse anymore. Two weeks in a row an early missed extra point had a dire effect on the game later on. Catanzaro has missed three extra points and two field goals on the season, yet is making $3.75-million guaranteed in the first year of his three year deal and the Bucs need to eat the dead money and get him out of the building. Yes, the kicking woes won’t end any time soon - Catanzaro or not - but just like Mike Smith, if you know it’s not working there’s no need to stick with it.
3.) Tough Day For Kwon Alexander - Kwon was playing his best game of the season by far, but when he blitzed and had a shot at Mayfield on 4th-and-2, Kwon planted his leg and crumbled. He didn’t return to the game and the fear is a torn ACL. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday, but it doesn’t look good. Once Kwon left the game, the Browns’ offense really opened up and started to click. Despite some disappointing games thus far, you can’t deny the talent Kwon brings to the defense. Losing him could prove catastrophic moving forward.
4.) Hats Off To The Defense - Even though they gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the Browns to tie the game, the defense was noticeably better this week than they’ve been over the previous three games. They were making third down stops, sacked Baker Mayfield five times, and kept Jarvis Landry in check all day. They were put in some tough situations thanks to the offense turning the ball over, but stepped up and made plays. Carlton Davis looked good coming back off the injury, Vita Vea was getting into the backfield, JPP and Carl Nassib were consistently getting pressure. If they can continue to play this way - and trend up - then they might just have something with Mark Duffner calling the shots.
5.) DeSean Disconnect - It’s mind-boggling, really. DeSean Jackson continues to be a non-factor with Winston at quarterback. The deep ball just isn’t there and Adam Humphries seems to be the guy Winston looks to in the “under six foot tall” category. Winston completed passes to ten different receivers and DJax didn’t see a catch until the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to see a weapon like DeSean go under utilized and I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for Winston and DJax that they just can’t seem to click. If they don’t figure it out soon, it’s hard to fathom the Bucs bringing Jackson back next season.
6.) Is Howard Officially Usurping Brate? - Brate has been Winston’s guy for a while. However, is appears as though O.J. Howard has really taken over as the top tight end target for the Bucs, regardless of the guy under center. And forget the fumble. That wouldn’t cause Winston to stop looking Brate’s way. I think we’re officially witnessing the changing of the guard, so to speak, and Howard - as well as the Bucs’ offense - is going to reap the rewards.
Six Numbers To Consider
-3 - Bucs’ turnover differential vs Cleveland, giving them -9 on the season
1 - Rushing touchdowns by the Bucs’ running backs this season after Ronald Jones got his first career touchdown Sunday
10 - Bucs players who caught a pass
2 - Sacks by former Brown and “Hard Knocks” star Carl Nassib against his former team
52 - Pass attempts by Winston, tied for second most in a game in his career
21.4 - Browns’ 3rd down percentage, by far the lowest for a Bucs opponent this season
Six Top Performers
6.) Chris Godwin - Five receptions for 59 yards. He just seems to get better by the week. Emerging star in the NFL
5.) Jameis Winston - Not his most stellar day, but despite the turnovers he still put the Bucs in position to win at the end of the game, led the team in rushing, and finished with 420 total yards. Gotta clean up those mistakes, though.
4.) Carlton Davis - Had a terrible pass interference call, but other than that performed well - especially coming off an injury. Had a few key pass break ups and played Jarvis Landry tough.
3.) Lavonte David - A key forced fumble and swarming to the ball from all over the field. Showed exactly why he has that “C” on his chest.
2.) Jason Pierre-Paul - Constant pressure, another sack (that gives him six on the season), and still the most consistent as well as the most dangerous player on the defensive line.
1.) Carl Nassib - Two sacks against the team that cut him right before the season. Have yourself a day, big fella.
Six Players To Keep An Eye On
1.) Ronald Jones - The rookie got some solid work, finishing with 28 total yards and a touchdown. Barber appeared banged up in the second half and Monken may be getting more comfortable with an increased work load for RoJo.
2.) Adarius Taylor - With Kwon Alexander potentially headed for IR with a knee injury, it’ll fall on Taylor to fill the void at middle linebacker. The Bucs also played Jack Cichy in Alexander’s absence, but Cichy also left with an injury. No word yet on the severity.
3.) Carl Nassib - Depending on the severity of Vinny Curry’s injury and with his standout play on Sunday, Nassib is setting himself up for an increased snap count moving forward. He’s certainly becoming a force along the front four
4.) M.J. Stewart - Stewart appears to be getting more comfortable in his role and had some great coverage throughout the game Sunday. In fact, all the corners played much better and were in press coverage much more than we’ve seen all season. Something to keep an eye on...
5.) Vita Vea - Another guy seeming to get more comfortable in his role, especially after missing so much time with the strained calf. And much like Nassib, he may see a bump in playing time due to Gerald McCoy’s injury. It’s easy to see the flashes of why he was a first round pick, but there’s still some development and growing pains evident as he tries to put it all together.
6.) Alex Cappa - A guy that has been a healthy scratch the past few weeks may see his chance sooner than later. Evan Smith and Caleb Benenoch are turnstiles on the right side and the rookie may be getting his shot to take over if things don’t drastically improve in a hurry - especially with the formidable Bengals defensive line on the horizon.
Six Super Bowl Bets
(As always, this is compiled before the Sunday night game has been completed)
1.) Los Angeles Rams - The best team in the NFL, the best team in the city (sorry, Dodgers). The just seem unstoppable.
2.) New England Patriots - It’s October and they’re getting hot
3.) New Orleans Saints - Stumbled week one, have hit their stride and aren’t looking back
4.) Kansas City Chiefs - They’re fun now, still waiting for them to get “Reid-ed”
5.) Los Angeles Chargers - The “other” LA team has rattled off four in a row...
17.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Man, how dangerous would this team be if they played a complete game on both sides of the ball?