Woof. That was hard to watch. For a team looking to go 3-1 and have a big bounce back following the loss to the Packer, the Buccaneers looked far from a contender on Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
No further adieu, let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) What In The World Was That? For a defense that was allowing 9.0 points per game, was at the top of the NFL in takeaways, and had given up just three touchdowns all season, that was one of the most pathetic performances you will ever see. For a while we were left questioning whether this was the Todd Bowles defense we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years or if Mike Smith snuck back into the building to take over. Missed tackles, blown coverages, and an almost willingness to not get off the field on third down at any point - the Bucs defense has little-to-nothing to hang their hat on after that one.
2.) At Least The Offense Looked Close To Competent. Finally we saw the Bucs’ pass game get going - but at the cost of completely abandoning the run. Tom Brady finished with a season high 385 yards and Mike Evans was the first Bucs receiver this season to rack up over 100 yards - while also hauling in two touchdowns - but the Bucs also had their second lowest rushing total in franchise history. Three yards. That’s it. And yes, there is a vocal contingency that is probably happy about that since they live to complain about the Bucs running the ball - especially on first down - but this is not a sustainable pace nor is it a recipe for success in the long term. Brady threw the ball 52 times, half of those coming in 26 consecutive plays at one point, while Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White combined for six carries. Six. Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all time and is staring Father Time down into submission, but he’s still a 45-year old that suffered what appeared to be some level of shoulder injury following a sack to the point that Blaine Gabbert was warming up. There has to be a balance somewhere and Sunday night definitely wasn’t it.
3.) Rachaad White’s Bounce Back. A lot of rookies in a marquee, prime time game that fumbled the opening kickoff would have curled up and quit. There can’t be enough said about the mental toughness of White to bounce back after such a brutal error that set the tone for the game. While White only had three carries for six yards, he became a weapon in the pass game hauling in five receptions for 50 yards. He even saw his first career touchdown cap off a 75-yard drive where he account for nearly one-third of the yards. The Bucs talked about lightening Lenny’s load and I don’t think last night is exactly what they meant, but White showed he can take on a larger role in the offense to help preserve Fournette for the long haul.
4.) Deep Breath. There’s no other way to put it - that game stunk. However, the Bucs are just four games into the season and many believed they would likely be 2-2 after the first four games, however many likely assumed one of the two losses would be in New Orleans. The Bucs are still 2-2, tied for the division lead with a chance to take first place against the Falcons this week, and will see their schedule open up a little over the coming months. Add to that the injury issues along the offensive line and in the receiver room and 2-2 isn’t as bad as it may feel right now. It’s easy to forget the Bucs losing three out of four and falling to 7-5 ahead of the bye week in the Super Bowl season. They’ll get things straightened out and have plenty of time to do so. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It may be an old cliche, but it’s the truth. The Bucs are far from out of the running for the NFC.
5.) Byron Leftwich. Leftwich, for as much good as he’s done over the last few years, isn’t immune to criticism and through the first month of the season we have yet to see him truly put together a decent game plan. He goes away from things that work, he digs his heels in to do things that don’t work, and at some point you begin to wonder if there’s a reasoning behind it. Up until the 52 pass performance by Brady, it seemed as if Leftwich was sticking to the run not just in an attempt to keep the defense honest, but to try and mask deficiencies in the offensive line and receiving corps. You also have to wonder how big of a hand Bruce Arians had in the offense now that it’s solely Leftwich in charge. Say what you will about the “no risk it, no biscuit” style of Arians - the offense doesn’t look anywhere close to what it did when BA was roaming the sideline.
6.) Vita Vea Underperforming? There’s no debate that Vea is one of the best and most athletic nose tackles in the league. That said, he doesn’t seem to have the same effect on games that he has over the last few years, which begs the question - how much do the Bucs miss Ndamukong Suh? When Suh was on the line, opposing offensive lines had a dual threat to deal with. Without Suh, neither Akiem Hicks or rookie Logan Hall have done much to prove they are a viable threat alongside Vea. This has allowed offenses to key in on stopping Vea by any means necessary while forcing other players to step up and make plays - which really hasn’t happened. It’s one of the reasons the Chiefs gashed the Bucs for 189 rushing yards or why the run defense isn’t anywhere close to as stout as its been over the last few seasons. With Hicks injured and Hall still getting accustomed to the NFL game, the Bucs’ defensive line is at a severe disadvantage in that category.
Six Numbers To Consider
41 - Points given up by the Bucs, most in the Todd Bowles era
17 - Multi-touchdown games by Mike Evans, tied for the most in the NFL (Antonio Brown) since 2014
9,546 - Scrimmage yards for Mike Evans in his career, now the most in Buccaneers franchise history
109 - Games Tom Brady has thrown for over 300 yards, second most in NFL history (Drew Brees - 123)
7 - Field Goals of 40+ yards made by Ryan Succop this season, most in the NFL
6.7 - Average yards-to-go on third down for the Bucs this season
Six Best Tweets
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Philadelphia Eagles - Only undefeated team left. They deserve this spot.
2.) Buffalo Bills - Huge bounce back win and a lot of adversity overcome on the road.
3.) Kansas City Chiefs - How did the Colts beat them? Just...how?
4.) Baltimore Ravens - If they could just win at home, they’d be even more dangerous
5.) Miami Dolphins - They need Tua, but Tua needs to be actually healthy first
8.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - They’ll get it together. They’re better than their current record.