It started off with the makings of a blowout then all of a sudden it seemed as though the Buccaneers’ fans were going to collectively chew their nails completely off. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to defeat the Carolina Panthers 31-17 but not without a little drama, the makings of a big comeback, and a timely run by one of the new guys.
The Bucs went up 21-0 in the blink of an eye, but the Panthers had other plans, mounting a second half comeback that got them within a touchdown twice in the fourth quarter. However, it was the Buccaneers that would come up with the biggest plays in the biggest moments to get their first win of 2020 - and Tom Brady gets his first as a player for not the Patriots.
Let’s Pick Six, shall we?
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Good, not great. This team looked better but not where they need to be. There were still some costly drops by receivers (or running backs), bad penalties, and defensive breakdowns. On the flip side, the Bucs had a 100+ yard rusher, Tom Brady was hit just once and not sacked at all, and Mike Evans finished with over 100 yards and a touchdown despite the absence of Chris Godwin. This is what we want to see - taking strides in the right direction while still winning games. This offense won’t be a well-oiled machine for at least a few more weeks but as long as they’re still doing enough to win each week then they don’t need to be the high-powered weapon we all thought they’d be this past off-season. Still more work to do, but they looked better.
2.) Is it officially Fournette’s job? Leonard Fournette had himself a day. Yes, his 103 rushing yards are a bit skewed thanks to a 46-yard run for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter - so let’s go ahead and remove that. Without that run, Fournette had 11 carries for 57 yards - still 5.18 yards per carry. For comparison, Ronald Jones rushed seven times for 23 yards and a score - a 3.3 yard per carry average. Fournette also had four receptions for 13 yards while RoJo had two receptions for 4 yards. Ultimately, Fournette was the better back on Sunday and the question is going to be brought up whether or not it will be Fournette who will start to take over that lead back/starting role.
3.) Best tight end corps in the league? What happened to that? The tight ends as a collective had four targets on Sunday with one of those targets ending up in the arms of a Carolina Panther. Rob Gronkowski had zero catches while O.J. Howard finished with one catch for eleven yards. And that was without Chris Godwin on the field. It seems as though the problems of 2019 are creeping into 2020 where the tight ends just aren’t part of the game plan. In fact, Brady has gotten himself in a little trouble when trying to force the ball to Gronk in these first two games. Last week against the Saints the ball fell incomplete, but against Carolina it was intercepted. The tight ends either need to step up or they need to be a bigger part of the game plan. There’s too much talent being wasted among this group. Hopefully this is still just growing pains of the new offense.
4.) Devin White is the real deal. We already knew that, but he’s continuing to shine in this defense. For the second week in a row, White was the team’s leading tackler and he set a career high with fifteen tackles on Sunday against the Panthers. It was White that was responsible for leading the charge against Christian McCaffrey - who finished with just 88 total yards but did get both Panthers touchdowns - and he stepped up an took care of business. He’s just going to keep getting better and better.
5.) Offensive line stepped up. They weren’t great, they weren’t amazing, but they were light years better than in week one - including Donovan Smith. Brady was kept upright all game long and had a decent amount of time to get rid of the football. There are still improvements to be made. Brady was under pressure on a few occasions and this run blocking needs to take it up a half-dozen notches, but there was vast improvement between the two games. That’s an encouraging sign moving forward.
6.) Antoine Winfield Jr. is the truth. This kid is already playing like a multi-time Pro Bowler, All-Pro, and NFL Top 100 guy. Another impressive performance in week two where Winfield Jr. had eleven tackles - second most behind Devin White - but also had a sack and forced fumble early in the game. He’s already making a case for defensive rookie of the year...
Six Numbers To Consider
22 - Career forced fumbles by Lavonte David - two shy of Derrick Brooks’ franchise record
60.5 - Career sacks by Ndamukong Suh, third most by a DT since 2010
25 - 100+ yard games by Mike Evans, fifth most since 2014
4 - Straight games with a sack for Jason Pierre-Paul, tied for a franchise record
2 - Career interceptions for both Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead
0 - Times Tom Brady has been on a team that lost their first two games of a season
Six Best Tweets
So what was your favorite part of the Ronald Jones Era? pic.twitter.com/2cT18WosLs— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) September 20, 2020
Is Quinn even gonna get to take the team flight home? Or they leaving him at the airport?— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) September 20, 2020
Six Best Quotes
“I love Brett, I’ve know him for a long time. Gotten closer and closer with him over the years. I’m a huge fan of who he is and the player he was. But, the father he is; the husband he is. He’s just a wonderful man.” - Tom Brady on Brett Favre’s appearance
“I don’t know if not having fans had anything to do with us giving them points and not closing them out in the second half. It is definitely way different playing without the fans, I think it is different for the officials, as well. It is awkward, but when we get a flow in the game, it is all right. It feels like a scrimmage out there, kind of actually – it feels like a scrimmage.” - Mike Evans on no fans in attendance
“I am getting there. It is like my ninth or tenth day still and I am still fresh, still learning the play book as it goes. As I said, a lot of us guys are still brand new to each other. It is basically a new team and we are still getting comfortable with each other.” - Leonard Fournette on still getting acclimated to the offense
“Defense played great the first two games and we’ve got to match them. We’ve got a lot of improvement to make in a short period of time. We’ll go home tonight, get our rest, and be back at it tomorrow.” - Tom Brady on the offense needing to improve to the level of the defense
“They take a lot of pride. Last week wasn’t some of their best. I thought Donovan [Smith] hurt his knee and went back in there and looked like he played pretty, pretty well against a good pass rusher. All those guys – the way we ran the ball in the fourth quarter is what we’re looking for. They take a lot of pride in that and I thought the tight ends and the offensive line blocked well today.” - Bruce Arians on the play of the offensive line
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Kansas City Chiefs - Even when they’re bad, they’re good
2.) Baltimore Ravens - So dominant
3.) Green Bay Packers - If Davante Adams is out for any amount of time, they could be in trouble
4.) Pittsburgh Steelers - Big Ben is back
5.) New Orleans Saints - See Green Bay; replace Adams with Michael Thomas
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Trending up on both sides of the ball