Tampa Bay had arguably its most disappointing loss of the season last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. The offense was anemic, the defense was picked apart, and the special teams wasn’t anything to write home about.
However, as slim as they may be, there were a few positives. Peyton Barber had one his best games of the entire year behind a strong effort from the offensive line against one of the top defenses in the NFL. And Vita Vea was one of the few defensive linemen with a pulse against the Ravens.
Lamar Jackson and Baltimore’s running game made Tampa Bay look a step too slow all game. Whether it was misdirection or the option, the Bucs defense basically had no answers on a dreary Sunday. Jameis Winston is also looking for answers following another sub-par performance from his offensive line.
1. Peyton Barber
Barber was one of the few Bucs to find success against the Ravens tough defense. He finished with 19 carries for 85 yards while scoring early in the second quarter to give Tampa Bay its only touchdown of the day.
It was the former Auburn’s star fifth touchdown of the season. He has five of the teams 10 scores on the ground in 2018 and five of the six touchdowns by a running back. The 85 rushing yards tied for his second best output of the season.
2. Vita Vea
All season, Tampa Bay has received backlash for selecting Vita Vea over Derwin James in the 2018 NFL Draft. While the criticism is deserved, James will likely win DROY while manning the Los Angeles defense. However, Vea showed flashes of what his future could hold against Baltimore.
The rookie defensive tackle recorded a career-high nine tackles and was dominant on the defensive front all day when the rest of his unit was getting manhandled. I also thought he did a great job in pursuing plays. If Vea can keep up this level of play, he makes Gerald McCoy expendable.
McCoy is owed $13 million next season and the veteran defensive tackle is signed through 2021. Getting his contract off the books would give the Bucs the luxury to upgrade somewhere else.
3. Mike Evans
Evans continued to have success during the best season of his career. He caught four passes for 121 yards but he was held out of the end zone for the fourth straight game.
The veteran wide receiver had a 64-yard catch and run in the second quarter to set up a Tampa Bay field goal. He’s been a steady option on offense all year.
1. Rushing defense
The Buccaneers got ripped to shreds by Baltimore’s running game. The Ravens rushed for 242 yards as a team and made timely plays all game.
They converted 9/16 third down attempts while accruing 12 plays of ten yards or more in what was a long day for this defense.
Whether it was Lamar Jackson or Gus Edwards, the Bucs couldn’t plug a hole all day. They were outmatched and out of position all game.
2. Pass protection
While Tampa Bay finally found some consistent success on the ground, the passing game was a mess all day. Despite Baltimore getting just one sack during the contest, on the first drive nevertheless, the pressure forced Jameis Winston out of a rhythm.
The former Florida State star didn’t complete a pass over seven yards until his tenth throw of the afternoon found Evans for a 23-yard gain. All in all, Winston was pressured on roughly 25% of his drop backs. The designed blitzes from Baltimore confused both the offensive line and Winston.
With little time to throw the ball and little confidence in his protection, Winston could never get in a flow.
3. Coaching staff
The greatest flaw of all on Sunday may of been the coaching staff. What is up with the offensive play calling?
On the first drive of the game, Barber reeled off a 15 yard run. After that, the Bucs passed three straight times and were forced to punt. Barber had 11 runs for 60 yards and a touchdown with 12:03 left in the second quarter. Tampa Bay was moving the ball on the ground. Then they went away from it.
The third-year running back had just seven carries after that for the remainder of the game when clearly they weren’t producing through the air.
Defensive coordinator Mark Duffner got taken to the woodshed on Sunday. He failed to adjust his defense at multiple points throughout the game and the end result was 242 yards on the ground for Baltimore.
It makes sense why the majority of this staff will be packing up their offices in a few weeks.