Immediate Game Reaction followed by overview and unit reactions.
Ryan Fitzpatrick did everything he could to start a real controversy in Tampa at the quarterback position. In order to make whether or not Jameis returning in week four a tough decision as to who to start, Fitzpatrick would need to really lead a dynamite offense these first three weeks. One week in and he has certainly accomplished a great start. The offense was firing on all cylinders in the pass game despite a mediocre ground game accompanying it. Should Fitzpatrick follow up this performance with a couple more similar games the coaches may face quite the dilemma in week four.
Quick Overview shows a historic type performance on offense.
- The Buccaneers came out and had a franchise record tying offensive performance. The 48-40 score was the most the Buccaneers have scored in a game since they were crowned Super Bowl champions. The Buccaneers entered the half with 31 points setting a new team record for points scored by the team in the first half. The last point of emphasis as a whole for the offense was Todd Monken continuing to call plays in what looks to be an incredible step in the right direction for this unit. For a bit more on Monken and how he helped lead this offense, check out our own Jon Marchant’s piece on just that.
Offensively the team was a well oiled machine.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick made smooth sailing of things with his own personal record setting day through the air. Fitzpatrick finished with a 156.3 quarterback rating in which he completed 75% of his passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Fitzpatrick’s scrambling was a perfect compliment to his own air attack while also lending the team a late 3rd down conversion to enter the victory formation.
- Peyton Barber got the start while rookie 2nd round pick Ronald Jones was a healthy inactive for the week one match-up. Barber averaged 3.63 yards a carry in the game; aided by a 23 yard scamper. Without the run, Barber was running at an abysmal clip 2.55 yards a touch.
- The receiving core was as advertised and some in this ballgame with two electric performances from Mike Evans and Desean Jackson who both eclipsed 140 yards receiving. O.J. Howard hauled in two passes for 54 yards while second year receiver Chris Godwin also came down with a few passes for 41 yards and a touchdown of his own.
- The offensive line got the job done, keeping Fitzpatrick upright for the better part of the game and allowing zero sacks. The holes for the running game weren’t quite enough to spark a consistent attack on the ground but the resilience and consistency to which they played as a unit was encouraging. Marpet and Jensen both showed some gumption in the ball game when standing up for their quarterback who received a couple late hits.
The defense has much work to do.
- The front four landed the first sack of 2018 for the team via new addition Vinny Curry. The sack was the lone time they made it home on Drew Brees despite a few other opportunities, none better than Jason Pierre-Paul’s near sack that wasn’t. With Brees consistently taking three step drops and dishing the ball out quickly there was little opportunity for the front four to work their way into the pocket.
- The linebackers did what they do when it comes to the duo of Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. The two combined for 18 total tackles, splitting the total at 9 combined tackles a piece. Adarius Taylor starting in the absence of Kendell Beckwith and tallied a lone solo tackle but with the defense in sub-packages most of the day, there was little opportunity for Taylor to make an impact. Alexander also had a forced fumble recovered by the Buccaneers in this game.
- The corners were short handed going in and pending new information, may continue to be shorthanded as Vernon Hargreaves III made an early impact in the game forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Buccaneers but ultimately had to leave the game with a shoulder injury. Ryan Smith found himself in good position and was able to pick up a fumble forced by Kwon Alexander. Smith otherwise had a choppy day on the field including a blunder that appeared to involve himself and Chris Conte as Brees connected with a wide open receiver in the end zone. Carlton Davis got introduced to the NFL in a rough manner as Brees attacked him early and often. With Grimes out it was a building day for the rookie as he now has some regular season game film of himself to digest.
- The safety play and how one views it depends largely on which safety you’re talking about. Justin Evans made a few plays in the passing game and had a huge early fumble recovery for a touchdown on defense. Conte led the defensive backs in tackles with 7 but had an up and down game defending the pass as one could expect facing the likes of Drew Brees. Evans finished with 5 total tackles.
- Two things that have been issues in seasons before reared their ugly heads in week one. 1) This defense struggles to defend big receivers and 2) this team struggles to defend shifty backs, in particular backs that catch the ball well out of the backfield. Kamar and Thomas dominated this game against he Buccaneers defense, combining for 27 catches and 292 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Special teams did their job.
- Shaun Wilson had one opportunity to take a kick out of the end-zone and he managed 29 yards on that very return. There was little wiggle room for punt/kick returns outside of that lone attempt via Wilson but the team didn’t make any mistakes and in turn, the offense was set up nicely on a regular basis throughout the ball game.
- Catanzaro missed a kick late but otherwise made an early 36 yard field goal while also nailing on all 6 extra point attempts.
- Anger had a single punt that went for 42 yards that got the job done despite not pinning the Saints too deep.