It went from a blowout to a nail-biter in Philadelphia. The Buccaneers built up a 28-7 lead just to see Jalen Hurt slice and dice the Eagles back to within six points and just under six minutes to play.
Fortunately the Buccaneers were able to run out the clock, getting the 28-22 win, but it was far from easy. Once again, the Bucs found themselves struggling in prime time and shooting themselves in the foot over. And over. And over.
Let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Full time Lenny. Leonard Fournette has finished yet another game where he proved that he’s the 1A, the 1B, and the fortified lead back in Tampa. Ronald Jones got his opportunities and did relatively well - five carries for 20 yards - but Fournette ended the night with over 120 total yards - 86 rushing, 41 receiving - and two touchdowns. He was running hard, making plays, moving the chains, and proving that he is the guy at running back that helps make this offense move. If there were any holdouts to that opinion, they will likely change their tune moving forward.
2.) Welcome back, Howard! O.J. Howard had himself a night. The Bucs’ leading tight end through the first quarter of 2020 has continued to battle his way back from a ruptured achilles injury and made his predence heavily felt in this one. Howard finished as the team’s number two receiver on the night with six catches, 49 yards, and a score. It was nice to see him making catches and being part of the game plan, taking advantage of his seven targets. If he continues doing this moving forward, the Bucs’ offense becomes even more dangerous once Gronk returns.
3.) Another one bites the dust. The Buccaneers managed to keep possibly the worst streak in recent memory alive on Thursday night. Through six games, the Bucs have lost at least one starter in every game. This week’s victim? Richard Sherman, who left during the Eagles’ opening drive with a hamstring injury. Because, why wouldn’t the Bucs lose another player in the secondary?! Sherman was brought in to help alleviate the secondary issues. Now, he joins the rest of the broken bodies. Credit to Ross Cockrell, Jamel Dean, and Dee Delaney for stepping up - but this is beyond ridiculous now. Thank goodness they now have a mini bye week and might be able to get a little healthier, but come on. This team can’t catch a break.
4.) Penalties. The Eagles’ best offense for most of the night was the Bucs’ defense. 105 yards worth of defensive pass interference calls set up two Eagles touchdowns. The Bucs’ 120 penalty yards were their most of the season and there’s no end in sight. Where’s the accountability moment they had last year? Where’s the line in the sand that has to be drawn to get these guys to play a cleaner game? I’m not going to say the Buccaneers’ penalties weren’t warranted, but the calls seemed a little lopsided. Jason Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea were blatantly held multiple times and there were no calls. In fact, the Eagles finished with just four penalties for 41 yards. Clean. It. Up.
5.) Antonio Brown emerging as WR1? Mike Evans finished the night with just two receptions and 27 yards on four targets. Chris Godwin - who is starting to feel like the forgotten man - had five catches on five targets for 43 yards. Antonio Brown had nearly double the targets (13) as the next closest person (Howard, 7) and ended the night with nine receptions for 93 yards and a score. Maybe it was the game plan against this Eagles defense, but it’s starting to look like AB is the go to guy. Evans is still going to get his, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that AB leads this team in targets or receptions far more often than not moving forward. He and Tom Brady have themselves quite a connection and it’s playing out more and more as each week passes.
6.) Have a night, Shaq. Shaquil Barrett was an absolute beast. He kept pressure on Jalen Hurts all night long, forcing rushed throws, incompletions, and taking Hurts down on scrambles for minimal gains. He was inches away from multiple sacks and was an absolute wrecking ball for the Bucs defense. Need much, much more of that moving forward.
Six Numbers To Consider
6 - Chris Godwin passed Joey Galloway for sixth on the Bucs’ all-time leading receiver list
3 - Consecutive games Fournette has had over 100 all purpose yards
227 - Consecutive passes by Tom Brady without an interception - a streak snapped Thursday night
83 - Career touchdowns by Antonio Brown, tying him with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall for 23rd all-time in NFL history
4 - Times in Buccaneers history they have started 5-1, having won at least ten games the previous three times
80.9 - Brady’s completion percentage - his second best as a Buc
Six Best Tweets
Strahan just called Lavonte David the "Robin" to Devin White's "Batman"— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) October 15, 2021
We HAVE to collectively come together, as a society, to learn how to properly talk about David and White as a duo, because this ain't it.
Me when I hear taunting but it goes the Bucs' way... pic.twitter.com/VjcKJT853Z— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) October 15, 2021
Eagles had more yards of total offense in fourth quarter (113) than they did in the first three combined (99). Bucs grinded out the final 5:54 off the clock without scoring, never letting them get the ball back.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) October 15, 2021
Six Best Things About The Mini Bye
With the Bucs playing Thursday night, they now get the next four days off. What’s so great about this? Well, plenty;
1.) Get healthy. This gives guys like Richard Sherman, Tom Brady, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield Jr., Jason Pierre-Paul, and Rob Gronkowski some time to continue nursing those wounds and getting healthy before facing the Bears
2.) Well needed break. The NFL season is a grind and the Bucs have had their fair share of hurdles through the first six weeks. Now, they get a chance to re-energize, refocus, and get a mental break. The Bucs’ actual bye week is in three weeks, so the team faces Chicago before taking on division rival New Orleans on Halloween. Then they get the true break. For now, the extra few days are going to help everyone.
3.) Time for adjustments. I hate to keep pounding this drum, but the effect these injuries have had on the Bucs can’t be understated. Now defensive coordinator Todd Bowles gets a little more time to come up with some new strategies to try and overcome losing darn near half his starting defense. The defense has played admirably considering the circumstances, but they can’t collapse and give up three score leads. It won’t always end as well as last night’s did. Gotta keep adjusting and figuring things out.
4.) A brief escape. Devin White said after the game he was going home to Louisiana since they don’t have to be back until Tuesday. For players and coaches, this gives them a few days to escape the world of football and spend some time with family, friends, or to go to their homes. Believe it or not, not every player actually lives in the area. Getting to take a mini vacation and go back home is a great way for the players to get themselves back on track for the next stretch.
5.) The fans need a break, too. There have been some stressful, tight games this season. It’s going to be nice for the fans to take a Sunday where they can kick back and enjoy watching football just because it’s football. Or maybe they’re going to take a day to spend with the family. Weekends like that certainly help break up the season and allows the fans to re-energize as well
6.) Time for some self scouting. For those that continue to focus on football, even with the time off, there can be some major self scouting going on. This team is arguably the most talented in the league, so most of these games should not have been as close as they were. What’s going wrong? What are guys not doing well enough? What are they doing right, but can do even better? Some extra time reviewing the season thus far could go a long way for this middle stretch of the schedule.
Six Toughest Games Remaining
Normally I would do my Super Bowl Bets here, but since no one else has played since I did the last one, let’s change things up. Here are the six toughest remaining games - appearing in chronological order, not in order of the toughest to least toughest.
1.) at New Orleans Saints (10/31) - The Saints have this one circled, no doubt about it. The Bucs ended the Saints’ season last year, sending Drew Brees off into retirement. Now, former Bucs first round pick Jameis Winston leads the charge for New Orleans. This game is personal for a lot of guys and it’s going to be a hard fought game.
2.) vs. New York Giants (11/22 - MNF) - The Giants? Really? Yes - really. For whatever reason, the Buccaneers struggle against bad Giants teams. On top of that, Tom Brady struggles against the Giants. Fold in the fact that it’s another prime time game where the Buccaneers have not looked their best this season and it’s a recipe for another game that will be much closer than it should be. It helps that the Bucs are at home, but the last time the Giants came to town the Buccaneers imploded and lost on a missed field goal as time expired. Don’t sleep on this game taking years off your life...
3.) at Indianapolis Colts (11/28) - The Colts are an interesting case study, aren’t they? One drive, Carson Wentz looks electric. Next one he looks cooked. The Colts’ defense still has plenty of playmakers and they nearly knocked off Baltimore on Monday. Now, the reason this one is tough is not only is it Thanksgiving weekend, but the Bucs are coming off a short week and going on the road. On top of that, it’s going to be an emotional day for the fans as Robert Mathis is being inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor during halftime - someone Tom Brady is more than familiar with. Lucas Oil Stadium is not an easy place to play and this could be the perfect storm for a tight game.
4.) vs. Buffalo Bills (12/12) - Don’t lie - this game scares the heck out of you. The Bills are firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. If the injury issues are still lingering for Tampa Bay, they’ll have to try and stop Stefon Diggs, Emmanuel Sanders, Dawson Knox, and Josh Allen short handed. That’s not ideal. Josh Allen is the leader in the clubhouse for NFL MVP and he shows no signs of slowing down. This match-up could be a Super Bowl preview and it’s easily the toughest game on the Buccaneers’ schedule.
5.) vs. New Orleans Saints (12/19) - I didn’t want to put the same team on here twice, but why wouldn’t this be a tough game? Coming off a matchup with the Bills the Bucs then have to turn around and face the Saints the very next week? These teams have officially reached the point of hating each other. The fans have gone beyond that point and are at each other’s throats constantly on social media. The Buccaneers may be trying to avoid a second straight loss while the Saints could be in a spot where they’re playing for the postseason lives. Going to be a classic.
6.) at Carolina Panthers (12/26) - Three in a row that will prove to be a tough stretch for the Bucs. The Panther, as much as it pains me to say it, are legit. They have an outstanding defense, Christian McCaffrey is almost back, D.J. Moore has asserted himself as a number one receiver, and apparently Sam Darnold knows how to play football when he’s away from Adam Gase. If the Panthers keep rolling, this game could mean they could put themselves in position for the division crown with a win. If not, they’ll certainly be in the playoff mix in some capacity and won’t be rolling over for anyone. The Bucs are going to have to stand up to a few haymakers in this one.
Six Final Words
Despite The Problems, Bucs Keep Winning
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