A week after falling short in a comeback bid against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay was absolutely blasted by the Chicago Bears on Sunday. You can’t really put it into words. It was UGLY. It was downright embarrassing for the Buccaneers.
After starting 2-0, this team has quickly reverted back to its old form and there are a lot of questions to answer during the bye week. Tampa Bay has the second worst defensive in the league and is allowing 358 yards through the air per game.
Something has to change. Whether it’s the coaching staff, some of the coverages, blitz packages. It’s all a mess right now.
1. DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson has rebounded from a rough first season with Tampa Bay and he’s recorded 100 receiving yards or more in three of the teams first four games. He was at it again on Sunday against the Bears.
Jackson caught a 48-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Buccaneers third possession that helped them cut the deficit to 14-3. Later in the first half, Fitzpatrick and Jackson hooked up again for a 42-yard gain.
The former Philadelphia Eagle and Washington Redskin has already recorded 424 recieving yards and three touchdowns this season for the Bucs. He had a total of 668 yards and three scores a season ago. The most insane part of Jackson’s play has been his knack to come away with huge gains.
He’s averaging a career-high 24.9 yards per catch right now. If he stays within that range as Jameis Winston returns to the starting spot, look for Jackson to finish the year with a big season.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul
On a day where Tampa Bay’s defense got torched, Jason Pierre-Paul was one of the lone bright spots. He finished with a team-high seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a sack.
Pierre-Paul was consistent all afternoon in putting pressure on Mitchell Trubisky. He brought the second-year quarterback down in the first-quarter to net his fourth sack in four games.
If Pierre-Paul continues to produce at this rate, he’ll be the first Buccaneer to record double-digit sacks in a season since Simeon Rice did it back in 2005.
3. Bryan Anger/Chandler Catanzaro
Despite Tampa Bay’s defense falling apart and the offense stalling, the specialists still performed well in the loss to Chicago.
Anger was forced to punt five times and he averaged 42.8 yards per kick, which is right on par with his season average. He also dropped one punt inside the 20-yard line, obviously that didn’t help the Buccaneers defense very much.
As for Catanzaro, the fifth-year kicker continued to add to his solid season. He knocked in 30-yard field and an extra point in the blowout loss. However, Catanzaro is 5/6 on field goals and 13/14 on extra points. Solid kicking is something the Bucs have missed in recent seasons.
1. Mike Smith/Defense
It was an ugly Sunday for Mike Smith and his defense against Chicago. Seriously, it’s hard to remember a Tampa Bay game where they were worse on defense and that’s saying something.
The Bears scored five touchdowns and field goal in the first half on only seven total possessions. They made Trubisky and his wide receivers look like the greatest show on turf.
Trubisky threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns while not turning the ball over. He threw the most touchdowns in a first half by a Bears quarterback in over 50 years.
Chicago had 483 yards of offense and 28 first downs while converting 50% of its third downs.
Lost in the midst of a 2-0 start, Tampa Bay’s defense wasn’t seen as a big enough issue as it is due to the offensive explosion. However, this Mike Smith led defense has allowed at least 30 points in three of its four games.
Like I said above, something has to change here and quickly. It doesn’t matter how good the Buccaneers offense is if the defense falls apart like sand on a rock.
3. Offensive line
Tampa Bay’s offensive line did a great job of protecting the quarterback during the first two weeks of the season but they’ve taken a step backward in losses to Pittsburgh and Chicago.
After allowing just two sacks in the first two games, the Buccaneers have surrendered a whopping seven sacks in two weeks, culminating with a season-high four against the Bears.
It wasn’t pretty up front. This team has struggled to run the ball consistently all season and when they can’t protect the quarterback, it all falls apart on offense.
The Bucs averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and allowed Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick to each be sacked twice. This unit has to get back on the same page over the bye week.
3. Mike Smith/Defense
Yep, you’re reading this correctly. They were that bad.
1. Mike Smith/Defense
Just in case I haven’t hammered the point home by now.