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Bucs vs Eagles: Winners and Losers

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Tampa Bay’s offense exploded for the second time in two games as the Buccaneers reach 2-0 for the first time in eight years.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, who would’ve thought a month ago that Tampa Bay would be 2-0 through its first two games without the suspended Jameis Winston? Not me, I can tell you that.

Regardless, the Buccaneers are headed into a Monday night tilt with the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers after knocking off the defending champs, 27-21.

Ryan Fitzpatrick had a historic showing behind another solid performance from the offensive line. Defensively, the Bucs did enough to limit Philadelphia despite Nick Foles throwing for 334 yards and a touchdown.

Winners

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

What more can you say about Fitzmagic? He has been nothing short of spectacular through two games and history is backing that up. Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback in NFL history to have back-to-back games with 400+ yards and four touchdown passes. He’s totaled 819 yards and eight touchdowns with just one interception while completing 78.7% of his passes. And I’m not even mentioning the biggest stat, two wins.

Obviously, Fitzpatrick will have to come down to earth again eventually, but he didn’t against the Eagles. He tossed two 75-yard touchdown passes while leading Tampa Bay to 436 yards of total offenses against one of the top defenses in the league.

2. Receiving Corps

Yes, this winners and losers is starting to mirror the one from a week ago, but the Bucs receiving corps was money again on Sunday. DeSean Jackson is leading the NFL in receiving yards after hauling in four passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. He scored on Tampa Bay’s first offensive play and was a big-play threat throughout the game. The chemistry between Fitzpatrick and Jackson has been on full display throughout the first two weeks.

Outside of a fumble and drop, Mike Evans turned in another good performance, hauling in 10 of his 12 targets for 83 yards and a score. OJ Howard had a 75-yard catch and run where Chris Godwin fought hard downfield to seal off an Eagles defender from making a tackle. And then Godwin caught a touchdown later in the same half.

Fitzpatrick has played great but his receivers are making things even easier on him.

3. Kwon Alexander

The heart and soul of the Buccaneers defense turned in another consistent outing against Philadelphia on Sunday. Kwon Alexander tied for third on the team with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, and one of the teams three sacks on the afternoon.

The sack was his most impressive play of the day as Alexander blitzed on a passing down and hit Foles as he tried to throw. The ball fell out of Foles hands and bounced downfield before rookie Carlton Davis recovered it.

Alexander has staked his claim as one of the top linebackers in the league through the first two weeks of 2018.

Losers

1. Rushing offense

Tampa Bay was excellent through the air on Sunday but the offense has to become more consistent running the ball to keep defenses honest moving forward.

The Buccaneers totaled just 43 yards on 23 rushing attempts in the win against the Eagles. And when it came down to it, they weren’t successful running the ball in the clutch.

After Philadelphia scored to cut its deficit to six, the Bucs needed to run off as much clock as possible. With three timeouts, Tampa Bay needed to pound the rock and force the Eagles to use them.

Peyton Barber would run six times on the eight-play drive, netting a loss of one yard. That can’t continue to happen throughout the season.

2. Second half defense

As a whole, the Buccaneers defense was solid in the opening half of the game. They limited Philadelphia’s big plays and came up with stops at the right times. However, they left much to be desired over the final 30 minutes.

Foles and the Eagles offense exploited some of Tampa Bay’s aggressiveness with screens and short passes which led to some of their success. However, that’s an area that the Bucs obviously need to work on after Alvin Kamara’s performance in week one.

Going forward, the most important thing is the development of the young defensive backfield and the health of starting cornerback Brent Grimes. It’d also be a boost for this team to get Vita Vea back on the inside.

3. Jameis Winston

I’m reaching for threads here, I know. But could Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers hot start force Dirk Koetter to reevaluate the teams plans at quarterback?

This offense has exploded behind the arm and decision making of the 35-year-old journeyman. I mean, he’s been historically great according to the numbers thus far.

Obviously, Jameis Winston is the future of this franchise going forward. But if Fitzpatrick continues to play well and Tampa Bay continues to win, can you really pull him out?

DeSean Jackson doesn’t think so, “Honestly man, he’s playing on fire right now, and the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights out football you have to kind of honor it. You can’t take the hot man out.”