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Buccaneers vs. Chargers day-after-game reactions

Poor defensive play leaves the offense playing for their life

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski muscles the ball in on his one and only reception for the day against the Chargers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another win. I think everyone can be happy with the results. However, there’s a lot to argue over how they won the game. Ultimately, I agree that it was a great offensive game. They were still able to get it down the field even with 2 of their key players out with injuries. The issue was not with the offense.

There’s still a lot of chatter about no pre-season. This is supposed to be pre-season week 4. Well, technically.....sure, but teams usually bench their starters on week 4! This season is different, no doubt, but the excuse is 2 weeks old now. You can’t sit on those excuses saying we’re still pulling things together.

Week 1 - I think there was quite a bit of forgiveness for week one’s loss, and credited the new build, and the fact that there was no pre-season. Totally credible excuse for both sides of the ball.

Week 2 - The Bucs did a lot better scoring more points, but still had issues with finishing strong. We gave them leniency and claimed it was still too early to judge based on not having a pre-season.

Week 3 - Technically the dress rehearsal for the season. The Bucs defense played lights out against the Broncos. Hate to poke holes here, but let’s think about that one for a minute. The Broncos offense didn’t have their star receiver, Courtland Sutton. They were down a man in the backfield with Phillip Lindsay out. They had their backup quarterback in to start, and they finished the game with their third string.

Week 4 - The Bucs defense allowed 324 total yards, of which 278 were in the air. The Chargers were able to rack up 24 unanswered points until :38 seconds left in the first half. This is simply unacceptable for this defense to allow, especially as good as they could be. Just as Bucs Nation writer David Harrison reported in this week’s best and worst article.

Seeing a guy who was on the practice squad last week torch what was looking like a top secondary in the NFL doesn’t exactly incite a whole lot of confidence. Especially when the hardest stretch of the schedule is still yet to come.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Not sure if the Bucs defense came into this game thinking they had it all figured out but they just didn’t look as prepared to take on a high-powered Chargers offense. Seemed to me that they were severely underestimated. Maybe they weren’t and the Chargers just had a hell of a game plan, but then the Bucs needed to have a better game plan.

The Bucs are ranked fourth in total defense, but they certainly didn’t play that way in the first half.

They did however turn things around heading into the second half. That’s what a good team needs to do. Go into the locker room, lick your wounds, and get back out there and play harder and smarter applying the adjustments the coaches made.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What I took away from Sunday contest was the defense got too cocky and the offense got extremely better, focusing more on finishing strong. Tom Brady and the offense were missing two key players, but managed to get others in the mix this week. Ke’Shawn Vaughn caught his first career touchdown, and Cameron Brate finally gets in the mix and catches his first touchdown of the season.

Brate and Vaughn’s involvement were probably the most exciting moments of the game for me. I also really liked to see how well Ronald Jones II ran the ball. James Yarcho and I wrote our bold predictions for the week, and both said Rojo will get over 100 yards. He finished with 111.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Many of us following this team realized quickly that this team will play truly situational, smart football with the right guys in place. Rojo will not get all the looks from week to week, but he’ll still carry a heavy load. Now Shady is a bit banged up, but then the rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn steps up to fill that role, as expected.

The Bucs staff preaches the ‘next man up’ mentality as the expectation. They legitimately have the continuity factor working in their favor, and have proven they can win with the next man up. Byron Leftwich mentioned in his Thursday press conference, prior to the game, that’s their expectation, so they play like the other teams do as well.

This is the National Football League. We preach all the time ‘Next man up’ here. We believe in it, so we assume everybody else believes in it, too. We’ll give everybody their due respect. This is the National Football League [and] this is players [who are] the best in the world.

This seems to be working well for the offense, but the defense didn’t have to be concerned with leaning on the ‘next man up’ and they still got beat early.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I would’ve loved to have seen Gronk get more involved in the end zone, because then my bold prediction would’ve been totally complete. All kidding aside though, Brady was able to hurdle the ball to 10 different receivers and I’m really happy to see how well the offense is coming together with so many players stepping up.

At the end of the day, just fix those dang penalties, drop the egos, and start playing a lot smarter football. Once they can do that and show consistency doing so, they can come close to saying they have it figured out. They have a real chance to do that on a humbling short week to face an underestimated Chicago Bears team in prime time on Thursday Night Football.