Any football fan will tell you— Whether it’s at school, in the workplace, or your favorite sports talk show pundits debating in the A-block— Monday mornings are for bragging rights, armchair quarterbacks, and “Did you see when?!” This Monday morning, Bucs fans—
Will be excited to bring up— Mike Evans’ return to the endzone.
The Buccaneers’ offense failed to find the endzone last week against the Detroit Lions. Tampa Bay wasted no time getting the ball to their offense’s most explosive playmaker and back across the goal line. Mike Evans scored on Tampa’s second drive of the game and finished the first quarter with three receptions and two penalties drawn. Evans grabbed four passes for 49 yards, a week ago. This week, in addition to Evans’ first quarter score, he caught six balls for 82 yards.
Are going to be worried about— Tampa Bay backup running backs.
Rachaad White is Tampa Bay’s starting running back and the Buccaneers’ run game has had its fair share of struggles with its starter on the field. With backups Sean Tucker and Ke’Shawn Vaughn the difficulties have been magnified. Sean Tucker hasn’t seen action in recent weeks nearly as frequently as he did earlier in the season. The last several weeks Dave Canales has featured Ke’shawn Vaughn as the primary backup to Rachaad White. Buccaneers fans cannot be encouraged by the production they are receiving out of the running back position in 2023, but must feel discouraged when number 21 subs into the game. Vaughn, over the last three weeks, has carried the ball 19 times. Those carries have resulted in just over 30 yards gained. Sprinkle in the fact that he had an egregious drop and Vaughn on the field has spelled bad news for Tampa Bay fans.
The running backs and offensive line work in unison. While Tampa Bay running backs have not had a banner year Tampa’s interior three linemen have been an atrocity. In today’s game, the Bucs’ line was a penalty-laden mess. Run blocking was poor, but it’s been poor. Today’s penalties were a nice fresh salt in the wound. Tampa Bay may have the elite Tristan Wirfs and an improved Luke Goedeke, but an offensive line is made up of five parts and for that reason they are as bad a position group as the team has to offer. The pressure on Mayfield hurt the team, but it was the group’s holding penalties and false starts that were drive crippling mistakes.
Won’t be able to let it go— Todd Bowles has no identity as a head coach.
Todd Bowles is low hanging fruit for Bucs fans and media members. His track record is indicative of a losing coach. Bowles has always proven to be the classic ‘good coordinator, bad head coach.’ Many factors go into being the head coach of a football and even more go into being a good one. One of the easiest criticisms to hurl at Tampa Bay’s head coach is that he is too conservative. Bowles is a defensive coach and those types tend to lean more into a conservative philosophy. Any football team will always take on the mentality of their leader and the Bowles’ biggest issue as the head man may be the fact that he seems to lack any identity at all. If the Buccaneers were always a conservative team— An offense that knew it only had three plays to get every first down, a defense that refused to pull the trigger on blitzes, the team might not be exciting but they would have an identity. Todd Bowles does not coach the Buccaneers that way, every week.
Last week a major criticism of Bowles was his late-game decision to punt the ball away, down two scores in the fourth quarter. This week that same coach took a chance on the opening drive of the game, going for a fourth down and six. Fourth down, needing six yards is not ideal. Six yards to go is not a favorable distance and the decision seemed both out of character and highly aggressive. Later, at the end of the half, that same head coach decided it would be best to take all three of his timeouts into the intermission, rather than try and get the ball back for his offense to attempt a last-minute drive. Todd Bowles doesn’t need to be aggressive, he doesn’t need to be conservative. He needs to be himself, whoever that may be.
Not all loses are created equal. Tampa Bay losses today to the Atlanta Falcons, a division rival. With the loss, they fall from first place in the NFC South and have a tough opponent coming on a short week. The Buccaneers have put themselves in quite a pickle.