The Buccaneers blew an 11 point lead at half-time and looked like a team struggling for answers in the second half. With the team picking up it’s 8th loss of the season the Buccaneers leave Sunday with even more questions than before. The defense did a solid job against a potent New Orleans offense and the offense fell flat on it’s face in the second half. Let’s take a look and react to what went down on the gridiron yesterday.
The offensive line was down right offensive.
Jameis Winston was left running for the hills most of the afternoon against the Saints defense. Not a soul on the Buccaneers offensive line can hold their head up high and feel good about what transpired for the entire second half of this ball game. Donovan Smith, Caleb Benenoch and Ryan Jensen all had downright awful games. Ali Marpet and Demar Dotson did little to help stop the bleeding and in turn, Jameis Winston had zero time to work any magic in this game. Winston was sacked 10 times and was hit in the double digits by the Saints defense. When Winston was given some time, the playcalling on offense was the usual steady diet of deep patterns and time reliant routes. On an afternoon where time was something this offensive line didn’t give, it made little sense to continue forcing the issue with time consuming play calls. Winston finished the afternoon 18 of 38 for 2 touchdowns and a final hail mary attempt went for an interception and Mike Evans fell down on what was a prayer of a pass to begin with.
The running game was abysmal. 18 carries for 58 yards was the final line for the combo of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber. Jameis Winston scrambled 5 times for 47 yards of his own. Ronald Jones again failed to record a touch on offense. The backs did combine for 5 receptions that went for 40 yards thanks to a wide array of dump offs as pass protection broke down.
The receiving core had some bright moments in the first half but struggled to separate early enough in the 2nd half where the offense completely sputtered out of sync. Mike Evans had a nice grab early in this ball game and finished with 4 catches for 86 yards. Cameron Brate caught 2 of his 4 passes, both for touchdowns. Winston and Godwin struggled to connect despite a team high 10 targets, resulting in just a single reception for 13 yards.
Now onto the worst performing unit on the football team Sunday... the offensive line. What happened against the Saints was an all out tragedy. Donovan Smith is in a contract year and appears to be on a path this season to leave him as the odd man out with no new contract based on his week to week play. Caleb Benenoch again looked like a man that should be backing someone up, not starting each week and Ryan Jensen came away with yet another idiotic penalty after a play was blown dead. The play resulted in a personal foul and a sideline spat with quarterback Jameis Winston. George Warhop got into the mix as well in what was an all around pathetic showing for the offensive line.
The defense battled all game long for Mark Duffner.
Jason Pierre-Paul and the boys up front gave it their all against one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack and intercept in the league. Drew Brees rarely had all day to throw and that was thanks to Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib repeatedly getting up field. Gerald McCoy was heavily involved in pressuring Brees’ pocket and the team was able to force Brees into an interception on a screen attempt by Adarius Taylor. Carl Nassib also forced a fumble that was recovered by Pierre-Paul. JPP, Vita Vea and Carl Nassib combined for 15 tackles and the teams lone sack.
Lavonte David was roaming the field and led the team in tackles with 10. Adarius Taylor added 6 total tackles to go along with his interception. Kevin Minter was injured in the ball game and replaced by Devonte Bond who had a tackle. Minter finished with 3 total tackles prior to exiting the game.
The defensive backs battled and did what little they could to slow down Drew Brees. There was little more they could do other than hope the defensive line continued to get pressure which is did throughout most of the ball game.
As a whole, the defense was something to be proud of in this game. Alvin Kamara was held to 87 total yards and Mark Ingram took 13 carries for 52 yards and his only score of the day. Brees only notched 201 yards passing and a touchdown Zach Line.
Special Teams failures highlighted a rough afternoon along with the offensive line.
The good vibes in the kicking game were bound to come to an end right? Well Sunday they came all the way back down to earth as Cairo Santos missed both of his field goal attempts. He did make both extra points but the kicking woes sure seemed to rear their ugly head in this one. It wasn’t just field goals though this time, as Bryan Anger had a punt blocked. The blocked punt was quickly turned into points as Drew Brees was handed a very short field to score on.
The final reaction.
Offensive line and special teams aside, this felt like a game where Dirk and his staff were visibly outmatched. What makes it that much worse is it didn’t feel like Duffner was outmatched by Brees and Sean Payton... it felt like Dirk Koetter and Todd Monken were bullied by Dennis Allen and the Saints the defense. Koetter and Monken had no answer to the Saints pass rush and continued to send receivers on long developing routes. There was zero attempt to counter the pass rush with screens or quick passes. There was no chess game. Instead it felt like the Buccaneers offense was playing a game of checkers while there opponent had nothing but kings roaming about the board. Just when fans were starting to feel good about the team following back to back wins... it’s back to square one all over again.