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Best and Worst from Week 8: Takeaways (literally) and tempering expectations

Star players returned to star form, but drives didn’t get into the end zone very often, for the Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

A lot of people are a little upset about the way the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their sixth win of the season. Coming out of Monday Night Football having beaten the New York Giants just hasn’t been enough as the play on the field has dominated the storylines over the results.

No matter for this column as we come in looking for the good and bad from every week. Some weeks are easier than others to identify the nominees for the best and worst, and this was one of those weeks.

THE BEST

Super Bowl XXXVII - Oakland Raiders v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A NEW GENERATION OF SUCCESSFUL BUCS FANS

I wrote about this prior to the game on Monday, and now we get to welcome an entirely new generation of Buccaneers fans to the 6-2 club. Three times now in franchise history the team has gotten off to a six win start in the first half of their season, with the last one coming in 2002-2003.

So, if you aren’t old enough - or been a fan of the team long enough - to remember the last time this franchise met this mark, then you’ve literally never seen a better version of the Bucs. Congrats.

THE ‘RETURN’ OF MIKE EVANS

Evans never went anywhere, and if you dropped him from your fantasy football roster then you got what you deserved. No, it wasn’t WR1 of the week numbers - I’m assuming - but his five catches for 55-yards and a touchdown would have gotten you fourteen points in one of my leagues, and that’s a respectable amount.

The Bucs have asserted Evans never left, but we know Bucs Nation was happy to see him landing on the highlight reels again.

TAKING THE BALL, AND THE WIN

What happens if Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting don’t come up with two big interceptions in this game? Truthfully, we’ll never know. In this version of reality though, they got one pick each, and the Bucs come away with a narrow win.

When you’re watching a team whose defense can pick-up their offense, and vice versa, it’s a sight to see and makes even ugly wins something worth appreciating.

You’re never truly out of it when the defense can put the offense back on the field at any moment.

THE WORST

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

NEW WEEK, NEW ADVERSITY

Each week in the NFL presents a new set of challenges. While the Bucs have been one of the best teams in the league when it comes to scoring, this week they just fell kind of flat. Truth be told, Tampa Bay put up points six times on Monday Night scoring on 60% of their possessions. Meanwhile, the Giants scored on just 33% of theirs.

So, why the close score? Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. If even one of Tampa Bay’s four field goals turns into a touchdown, then the Bucs put up 30 (because they don’t go for two if the touchdown replaces an early field goal), the Giants get one dimensional much faster, and this game has a different feel.

EXPECTATIONS MEASURING RESULTS

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were supposed to blow out the New York Giants. But, according to who? The media, fans and sports books certainly thought so, but did the team?

They did seem to come out a little low on the energy side of things, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it was because the roster expected an easy week of work. It was cold, I mean COLD, in MetLife Stadium. No fans in the stands make it a little harder to get the adrenaline going, and that means the frigid temperatures were probably harder to cope with than usual.

Not making excuses per se, but pointing out the fact that the only ones who really expected a blow out, were people (like me, since I predicted a 42-10 Bucs win) not on the field on a cold New York evening in November.

RUNNING GAME

The Buccaneers got out-rushed by the Saquon Barkley-less New York Giants in the yards department, 101-81. Leonard Fournette led the way for Tampa Bay with 52-yards rushing on 15 carries while Ronald Jones II carried the rock just seven times for 23-yards.

Yeah, the Giants defense had something to do with the low-end rushing attack in Week 8, but so did the running game itself. Now, I’m not going to crucify the unit, but going back to Dirk Koetter days I’ve never been a fan for guys rotating series.

Jones and Fournette provide the Buccaneers with a fairly unique power, speed, and receiving combination which I believe the team has yet to maximize.

Perhaps it’s by design, but I know for a fact Bruce Arians led offenses have used dual backs with success. I have to believe Byron Leftwich has used them as well or at least played with two backs on the field, and we all know Tom Brady’s reputation for getting running backs - any running backs - involved early and often.

We see some good creativity from the Bucs’ coaching staff for the most part. Let’s see a little more creativity in finding ways to maximize these two talented running backs.

You know the drill. Cast your vote for the best of the best and worst of the worst, then hit the comments to tell us more about your thoughts coming out of Week 8!

Poll

Which of these was the BEST part of Week 8?

This poll is closed

  • 80%
    Getting to 6-2
    (236 votes)
  • 7%
    Mike Evans’ ‘Return’
    (23 votes)
  • 12%
    Defensive Takeaways
    (36 votes)
295 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of these was the WORST part of Week 8?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Not Finishing w/ Touchdowns
    (146 votes)
  • 17%
    Expecting vs Reality
    (44 votes)
  • 26%
    Running Game Execution
    (68 votes)
258 votes total Vote Now