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Yarcho’s Pick Six: Bucs Back On Track In Carolina

After a rough first half, the Buccaneers returned to the dominant team they are, beating Carolina 46-23

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a return to form. Though the Buccaneers struggled defensively for much of the first half, the offense began to return to form en route to a dominating 46-23 win over the division rival Carolina Panthers.

Tom Brady didn’t have his best game, missing some deep passes to Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, but he certainly did enough to ensure the Buccaneers wouldn’t drop their second consecutive game or suffer their third divisional loss of the season.

Let’s go ahead and dive into this victory Monday with a more uplifting Pick Six.

Six Topics Suitable For Conversation

1.) Offensive Line. Wow, what a difference. It wasn’t perfect, but a far sight better than what they did against New Orleans. There were serious concerns about the pass protection once we knew Ali Marpet would miss another game but the Bucs’ solution this time was much better than last week. Instead of starting Joe Haeg in place of Marpet, the Bucs opted to shift Ryan Jensen to guard and start A.Q. Shipley at center. The protection was better, the run blocking was better, and all in all it confirmed that the decision was a good one. Now, don’t get me wrong - the Panthers still got pressure on Brady and sacked him once, but I think you’d be hard pressed to complain too much about the offensive line’s play given the circumstances.

2.) Ronald Jones. Good grief, feed this guy! After setting an NFL record for fewest rushing attempts in a game with five (including a kneel down) last week, the Bucs were dedicated to running the ball and it paid off big time. Obviously, the big play was on 1st-and-10 from their own two yard line when Jensen laid out a huge block to spring RoJo for a 98-yard touchdown run. RoJo would finish with 192 yards on the day and yet again prove that he should be the feature back over Leonard Fournette. Just imagine, all this came after the Bucs’ first possession where Brady hit Jones with a pass that gained eight yards but Jones fumbled, ultimately leading to a Panthers touchdown. Arians and Leftwich didn’t panic, they didn’t relegate RoJo to the bench. They stuck with him on the very next drive. This game could have been very different had they not trusted their guy.

3.) Business is almost boomin’. Antonio Brown made his presence known in this one. AB was targeted eight times and had a team high seven receptions. It appears he is getting more comfortable in the offense and becoming a bigger part. His usage and productivity opened things up for Mike Evans - who had six catches with a team high in targets (eleven), and finished with 77 yards and a touchdown - as well as Chris Godwin - six catches on six targets for a team high 92 yards. The more AB gets used, the more defenses are going to have to respect the fact that he’s out there. This continues to create one-on-one opportunities for Godwin, Evans, and Rob Gronkowski. It’s just a matter of time before we’re in full “boomin” season and AB has a huge game.

4.) Defensive adjustment. The Bucs’ defense did not look great in the first half. They weren’t getting pressure on Teddy Bridgewater, the corners gave 7-10 yard cushions on a 4th-and-3 play, and the Panthers moved the ball with ease up and down the field. That’s why they were up 17-10 at one point. It’s the adjustments that get them in here. After rattling off 167 yards of offense in the first two quarters, the Panthers mustered only 35 yards of offense in the second half. Todd Bowles brought pressure from everywhere, the secondary was playing tough man defense, and the Bucs shut Carolina down completely. This is the kind of defense we need to see moving forward if the Buccaneers are going to be contenders come January.

5.) Prime Time Grim Reaper. Another prime time game is just around the corner as the Bucs take on the Rams on Monday Night. We’ve seen the struggles in three prime time games thus far, with two of those games accounting for losses. The Bucs now have to play the first place Los Angeles Rams in their house. You all remember the shoot-out in LA last year. The Bucs’ offense needs a repeat performance of that game while the defense does to the Rams what they did to Carolina. These ugly national games need to stop because the schedule won’t get any easier facing the Kansas City Chiefs the following week. National stages are when the stars are supposed to shine brightest - the Bucs need to learn that in a hurry.

6.) Ryan Succop. He’s good at the kicking. We should keep him around for a while.

Six Numbers To Consider

1 - Player in Buccaneers history with 500+ career receptions - Mike Evans

100 - Games it took Mike Evans to reach 500 career receptions

5,143.72 - Total fantasy points scored by Tom Brady in his career, passing Jerry Rice for the most fantasy points ever by one player

9 - Consecutive Buccaneers’ drives that ended in scores

192 - Rushing yards by Ronald Jones, the fifth most by a player in Buccaneers history in a single game (tied with Errict Rhett)

29 - Career touchdown receptions by Cameron Brate, fourth most in team history

Six Best Tweets

Six Reasons The Bucs Will Win On Monday Night

6.) Can you really trust Jared Goff in any situation?

5.) Ndamukong Suh will be out to make a statement like he did last time - and now there’s no one to criticize his scoop and score as being “stupid” because of analytics

4.) RoJo facing his hometown means another big time game

3.) All those stars in LA and the biggest fans they can muster up are the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Nah - Buccaneers super-fan Hulk Hogan would run wild on those guys

2.) The Rams deserve to lose on national television with those abominations they call uniforms

1.) Well, because they’re way too good to keep being that bad in prime time, dang it!

Six Super Bowl Bets

1.) Pittsburgh Steelers - They gotta lose sometime, right?

2.) Kansas City Chiefs - No game, no reason to drop them in the rankings

3.) New Orleans Saints - Ugh. Next.

4.) Green Bay Packers - It wasn’t pretty, but they keep getting the job done.

5.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Hard to beat when they’re clicking. Just need it to be more consistent.

6.) Baltimore Ravens - Just wait until Lamar Jackson turns it on...

Six Final Words

Back on track, now stack wins