What a difference four days makes, huh?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went in to Panthers territory and came out with the win. The victory is the first of Bruce Arians Tampa Bay coaching career and the team snapped a rough streak of road losses with Jameis Winston at the helm.
The players have to feel good about this one after taking it to Cam Newton and rendering former Buccaneer Gerald McCoy relatively silent other than an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The staff has some things that clearly still need some ironing out but still, a win is a win. It’s been nearly 12 hours since the game ended and after sleeping on it... here are some instant reactions.
Demar Dotson is clearly on his last leg as he struggled most of this football game to hold off defenders. Dotston has had a very good run here in Tampa but sadly it feels like we are watching the end for the giant right tackle. On the other side of the line, Donovan Smith had somewhat of a bounce back game. Sure there were a few of the usual “Is he even trying?” plays where he just gets beat while trying to get both hands on a defender. But that aside, Smith did come up with a key block on a big touchdown run from Peyton Barber and overall he was far from the issue up front in this one. Ali Marpet appeared to do a good job inside and Jensen was reliable. The biggest killer early in this game were offensive line false start penalties with Dotson and Smith both culprits of the feat.
The running backs got the job done, albeit the splits were a bit unexpected given the success of Ronald Jones II Week 1 and the apparent ghosting of him in this ballgame. Nonetheless, Barber did enough to keep Jones off the field as he tallied 23 carries for a total of 83 yards. Barber had a very good touchdown run in the mix of things that was accompanied by some very good blocking up front. Jones had a good 12-yard run and basically was unheard of after that, finishing the game with four carries for nine yards.
Barber had a miss block on a defender as he whiffed and got Winston hit but was otherwise his usual self as a relatively reliable pass protector. Dare Ogunbowale saw some action in the pass game and did receive one pass for 9 yards.
The receiving corps was all about the big two in this one. Godwin and Evans were both reliable and made key receptions. Godwin in particular looked very good in this game having a career high in receiving yards with 121 and adding a touchdown. Evans looked unstoppable on a couple of quick slants and one has to wonder with the offensive line struggling at times, why this isn’t something this staff and prior staffs didn’t exploit more. Breshad Perriman did have an ugly no catch in the end zone as a ball zipped by his hands. It’s worth questioning how much more of that he can get away with before someone else gets an opportunity.
Quarterback Jameis Winston had himself a solid game against Carolina. There was nothing inherently special happening aside from the fact that he managed this one incredibly well. Winston didn’t try to force passes, he regularly put the ball where it needed to be and thanks to some awful hands by Luke Kuechly, stayed turnover free. Jameis did miss a couple of open check downs but in all likelihood, film review will show that with the way the progressions work, coupled with his offensive line, those check downs simply didn’t have a chance to happen. Winston did connect with Godwin in this one to take an early lead in the ball game and this game overall is a step in the right direction for Jameis.
Todd Bowles and this defense... man oh man where to start.
When was the last time a Tampa Bay defense allowed one offensive touchdown through two weeks of an NFL season? This feels like the Bucs of old but with a completely different look.
Defense is back in Tampa Bay.
Up front, the group dominated both the ground game and passing game. Christian McCaffrey was a no show thanks to the defensive effort. A week after McCaffrey tallied 200 all purpose yards, the Buccaneer Defense held the young running back to 53 total yards on 18 touches. The game was controlled by what felt like a single man and that man is Shaq Barrett. Barrett had three sacks in this game and if not for a holding call late in this game on the Panther offense, most likely would’ve had a fourth. “Sack” Barrett is here to make a name for himself. Suh managed to pick up a fumble caused by rookie Anthony Nelson on a strip of Cam Newton.
The linebackers were down a man in Devin White but fear not, Kevin Minter stepped up in a big way as did Lavonte David. Minter finished with eight tackles and David seven. The front seven overall had themselves a very good showing in Carolina.
Jordan Whitehead and Carlton Davis had themselves a busy night on the stat sheet, combining for 12 tackles. Davis had a bad facemask penalty in this one and got beat a few times around the field. It hasn’t been a great start for the corner to 2019. Whitehead on the other hand has played his butt off.
However, the star in this game was Vernon Hargreaves III. VH3 led the team with 12 tackles, including the biggest stop of the game in a one-on-one situation near the goal line against Christian McCaffrey. Hargreaves III gave up some catches but one thing remained consistent, he got his man to the ground instantly with the catch. The stop at the end to seal the game may honestly be his career highlight to this point.
Coaching and Referees
A few small complaints in this one when it comes to the coaching staff. It’s early, things will continue to grow and develop and get ironed out but man does it seem that predictability on offense is just a Tampa Bay staple regardless of who is coaching. 2nd-and-long seems to lead to a quick pass for nothing. Following up a big play with a momentum killer, why not? These things will happen and eventually I’m confident they go away.
The thing that was worrisome from a veteran staff is the back to back timeouts that led to a defensive delay of game in a crucial moment late in this game. How does this even happen from a staff of this magnitude? It was a baffling moment, one that probably never happens again in Arians time here.
The most baffling moment of this entire football game however happened on this same drive. And the men in question are the referees. How does a ball spot change so much when one referee spots the ball and the other picks it up, walked it to the hash mark and decides to place it on the other side for a first? Just.... wow.
Good morning to everyone except these referees from last night pic.twitter.com/kNebJHO4UM— JC Cornell (@TheJCCornell) September 13, 2019
Defense is back in Tampa Bay, credibility is slowly creeping it’s way back to this town when it comes to football and boy does it feel good.
Here’s to a victory against a division rival.
Here’s to something to be proud of.
Here’s to football.