It’s the return of Pick Six!! Though, not as exciting or fun as we all hoped it would be. Things started off great, with the Buccaneers defense getting two straight stops of New Orleans’ offense and seeing Tom Brady’s first career touchdown with the Buccaneers be...a quarterback keeper?
Well, then the wheels fell off. The Saints score 17 unanswered and go on to win by eleven.
But enough chit-chat. For the first time in the 2020 season, let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) No need to overreact. Look, I picked this team to go 13-3 and had by far the most wins out of any of the Bucs Nation predictions - but even I had them losing this game. There was no OTAs, no rookie mini-camp, an abbreviated training camp, no preseason, and a ton of roster turnover. Most importantly, bringing in a 43-year old quarterback who had run the same system for the last two decades. Everyone got super excited for this one - and rightfully so - but this was never going to be a well oiled machine from the word go. It was going to take a little time. That first interception by Brady was a perfect example. Brady expected Mike Evans to continue going on his route and threw it accordingly. Evans broke the route off and turned in. The ball sailed over his head and right to a defender. This is not something that will last all year, but this is a team that has to get the kinks worked out.
2.) Good grief, Donovan. Donovan Smith looked absolutely atrocious. I mean really, really bad. I have constantly stood up for Smith and said that he gets more grief than he deserves but I got nothin’ for him after that. He allowed pressure and hits on Brady all day long. This whole “Tristan Wirfs might move to left tackle after the season” thing could very well get expedited if Smith doesn’t get his act together. And fast.
3.) Special Teams nightmare. Speaking of Wirfs, he got absolutely manhandled on Ryan Succop’s first field goal attempt which was subsequently blocked. Of course, people want to point fingers at the Buccaneers’ continuous kicker woes, but that one was squarely on the shoulders of the rookie. Then, there was the kick return debacle. Following a penalty that was assessed on the kickoff, the Saints pooch-kicked it towards the sidelines. Mike Edwards decided it would be a good idea to run backwards and try to catch it over his shoulder. Instead, he collided with Jaydon Mickens and the ball popped loose - and was then recovered by New Orleans. This swung the game 10 points in favor of the Saints after the Bucs had just cut it to 24-17.
4.) Jamel Dean. But how did we get to the kickoff that was muffed? Ah, Jamel Dean blowing coverage on third down with a chance to get off the field and give the offense the ball back when they were on an absolute roll. There is no excuse or explanation for it - Dean just quit on his coverage and left Jared Cook wide open for a 46-yard reception down to the Buccaneers’ 15-yard line. Four plays later, the Saints were in the end zone. I pumped Dean’s tires quite a bit heading into the season on this site, on the Locked On Bucs podcast, and on 1420 ESPN radio down in Lafayette. Those are the kind of mental breakdowns that got him benched after the Seahawks game in 2019. They have to be fixed - immediately - or we’ll have a long season of questions regarding Dean’s actual abilities.
5.) CAN Guard Mike. No, this isn’t about Mike Evans only having one reception, albeit a touchdown, in the game. The guy missed practice all week and was a game time decision - personally, I wasn’t expecting much from him on Sunday. He did draw a huge pass interference call early in the game and he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Marshon Lattimore which was fun. No, this is about that other Mike. Michael Thomas. Y’know, that really obnoxious and snarky guy on Twitter who has a Twitter handle literally talking about how great he is? Yeah, that guy was held to three receptions for seventeen yards on five targets. That’s an average of 5.7 yards per catch. Guess what - all slant routes, too. Carlton Davis did an outstanding job shadowing Thomas throughout the game and essentially shut him down. Just hope the trend continues in week nine when they meet again.
6.) Best Linebacker duo in the NFL. Is it any surprise that the two inside linebackers, the two captains Lavonte David and Devin White were tied for most tackles in the game? Not just on the Bucs, but out of all defensive players. They both finished with eleven while David had two tackles for loss and White had one. This duo, man...
Six Numbers To Consider
118 - Lavonte’s career tackles for loss, second most of any player since 2012 (J.J. Watt)
49 - Touchdowns by Mike Evans, third most in the NFL since 2014
79 - Different receivers Tom Brady has thrown a touchdown to - most in NFL history
22 - Jason Pierre-Paul’s sacks as a Buccaneer - 15th most in franchise history
7 - Times a Tom Brady led offense scored on its opening drive of the season
1 - Number of times those season opening drives ended with a Brady rushing touchdown
Six Reasons Not To Overreact
1.) A season is not won or lost in week one, This team has plenty of improvements to make but, again - and I can’t stress this enough - this is a team with a new quarterback, a new right tackle, a new starter in the secondary, two new running backs all trying to get on the same page with virtually no ramp up. Things will be fixed. It will be okay.
2.) They showed glimpses of their ability. They held the Saints’ best receiver to 17 yards on three catches. Drew Brees didn’t have over 100 yards passing until the fourth quarter. The left plays out there and it proved to be the difference. This New Orleans team has been together - and been contenders - for quite a while. An abbreviated off-season isn’t going to hurt them the way it hurt Tampa Bay.
3.) They still have Tom Brady. No, it wasn’t the best performance we’ve ever seen out of Brady but he’s faced adversity time and time again. This is just another hurdle to get over. And he will get this team over it.
4.) This defense is fast. They swarm and fly to the ball in ways we haven’t seen in quite a while. Big things are on the horizon for these guys - most notably, Devin White and Lavonte David.
5.) Mike Evans wasn’t 100%. And at some point, he will be. His performance on Sunday is not indicative of how his season will be or the kind of chemistry he and Brady will have. Evans is still going to be big time this year.
6.) The schedule is in favor of the Bucs. The next four games are the Panthers, Broncos, Chargers, and Bears. All very winnable games against less than impressive opponents. This can be quite a run over the next month.
Six Best Tweets
Little did we know, Donovan Smith actually did opt-out— Mark Cook (@MarkCook1970) September 13, 2020
Not the first time a Buckeye DB has gotten away with DPI on a Penn State receiver, or against a Michigan QB.— David Harrison (@DHarrison82) September 13, 2020
For everyone asking who was gonna score the first Bucs touchdown from Tom Brady... The answer is Tom Brady.— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) September 13, 2020
What in the world is Cameron Jordan doing? how did the refs missed that?pic.twitter.com/X4RiyPPQDs— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 13, 2020
Takeaways from Bucs game— @TonySmokes (@A_K_NARIS) September 13, 2020
1. Devin White is a monster
2. Ronald Jones is the truth
3. Scotty Miller is a stud
4. Penalties are very bad
Most heated WR-CB rivalry in the NFL between Evans and Lattimore gets more logs on the fire every time they play. pic.twitter.com/rbwBTYXbPw— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 13, 2020
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - They are, just, so good
2.) Baltimore Ravens - Biggest threat to Kansas City’s quest to repeat
3.) Seattle Seahawks - Jamal Adams brought some nastiness back to that defense
4.) New Orleans Saints - They got the job done, but there are some warning signs in NOLA
5.) Green Bay Packers - Absolutely dominant win over the Vikes.
9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They’ll get it together. Do. Not. Worry.