It doesn’t get much worse if you’re a Buccaneer fan than this for a season opener. Jameis Winston was everything we hoped he wouldn’t be. Bruce Arians and company were going to rub magic dust everywhere and Jameis Winston and those stupid decisions were going to be a thing of the past.... JUST KIDDING!!! Ugh.
I’ve given it the night and it just doesn’t seem possible that the Buccaneers have again managed to garner fans attention and hope just to stomp it out so early in the season. Not everything was bad, but at the same time very little of it was good. Let’s dive into both sides of the ball now with some instant reactions.
The offensive line early on killed this offense. It’s painstakingly impossible to have two touchdowns called back on one drive due to the same player being called for the same penalty right? Well how about we crank it up a notch and throw in the fact that both times it was Jameis Winston throwing to Cameron Brate for would be touchdowns had Demar Dotson not been called twice for holding. The rest of the game the play was about average and given the expectations for the group, one may argue they played fairly well. Truth is... it wasn’t good enough.
The running backs saw an early split before one back showed he was clearly a step above the other on this particular day. To many fans surprise, Ronald Jones came out and came to play on Sunday. Jones received a 13/8 split on rush attempts and if anything stood out, the backs needed the ball more and Jameis a bit less. Jones totaled 75 yards on only 13 carries Peyton Barber finished with 33 yards on 8 carries of his own.
Receiving wise it was a mixed bag of nuts as top wide out Mike Evans was clearly affected by his illness that saw him listed as questionable on the injury report. Chris Godwin led the way along with O.J. Howard. Godwin caught the lone Buccaneer touchdown.
The big story of the day was Jameis Winston. The quarterback often gets too much of the blame as well as too much of the glory in their teams respective losses and wins. On this day however, Jameis earned the blame. With two pick sixes, including an absolute embarrassment of a throw to ensure a defeat was upon the team, to go with his three overall interceptions... it’s just downright unacceptable from a supposed veteran quarterback. There’s no amount of quarterback whispering that is going to fix the long list of “w-t-f” throws and decisions Winston has made and continues to make. Jameis Winston cost this football team dearly against the 49ers. There’s not much else to say in this one. Jameis had a couple of very good drives but ultimately, when you score more touchdowns for the opponent than you do your own team, you deserve to lose and you deserve to shoulder the blame.
The new look Todd Bowles defense played above expectations in my eyes. As a whole, they were responsible for 17 points which should win you most NFL games. The defense held Jimmy Garoppolo 166 yards passing while giving up exactly 100 yards on the ground to 49er running backs.
Up front, Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh are the two in charge of controlling the line and did so sparingly in this one. Suh had a big 3rd down stop in the game but when the team needed a quick stop, the 49ers led by Matt Brieda on the drive simply ran it down their throats.
Pass rush wise, there wasn’t a whole lot of success but Shaq Barrett did make it home for the teams first sack of 2019. Barrett burst off the edge and destroyed the running back en route to the QB (shown below). Lavonte David finished with 6 tackles and rookie Devin White was good for another 5. White looked a bit stiff in this game and will certainly have to play a bigger role in stopping opponents as the season progresses.
Go get 'em, Shaq.#BudLightCelly | #SFvsTB pic.twitter.com/RWYh3kjuS8— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 8, 2019
The defensive backs were led by Jordan Whitehead who had a team high 7 tackles including a few key stops in this ball game. Vernon Hargreaves III came away with a heck of a pick six to give the Buccaneers an early lead after trailing 3-0. It was great to see Hargreaves III read the quarterback and jump the route. The aggressive play style is something that should really benefit this young group of defensive backs. You can see the Hargreaves pick six below.
Big-time players make big-time plays.#GoBucs | #SFvsTB pic.twitter.com/1idnYvdGJn— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 8, 2019
The defense truly gave fans something to smile about in this one. The unit scored as many touchdowns as the offense and if they can continue to find ways to make stops, the unit will be the more formidable of the two as the season continues.
The Bruce Arians era could not have gotten off to a worse start if you ask me. The man tasked with coming in as a massive believe in this young quarterback and playing to his strengths with an offensive attack that would help decision making and everything in between... didn’t work. It’s frustrating as a fan but it must be a million times more frustrating as a player on this team to see a game go down the toilet with the opportunity for victory right there.
The aggressiveness and willingness to go for it on 4th and goal from the 2 is something many fans, myself included, can appreciate. The recognition that Ronald Jones had the hot hand and was given some more work in the 2nd half was a good sign of things to come but ultimately if the quarterback can’t be trusted then this is simply a sinking ship already. Ronald Jones needs to see an uptick in touches next week and until Winston can prove he’s the man, this may need to be a run first team despite all of the weapons at Winston’s dispense in the passing game. Till next time, Go Bucs!