The defense continued its grueling decline and Todd Bowles demonstrated his repeated issues with both getting guys ready to play and managing the game inadequately. The offense battled through an early Baker Mayfield ankle injury that he gradually shook off as the contest went on. However, a bad turnover and too many stalled drives put the team in a hole that it couldn’t scale out of.
At 4-7, Tampa Bay’s identity seems set in stone. The mental mistakes are overwhelming, the defense is just not good, the injuries are forcing bad depth onto the field, and the offense isn’t explosive enough to compensate for the latter three.
If they incur a loss against the lowly Carolina Panthers next week, you can bet your entire life’s savings on another huge offseason of change in the Bay.
Let’s do shoutouts and get out of here.
Offensive Top Performer: WR Mike Evans
Hall of Fame wideout Mike Evans destroying overwhelmed defensive backs...we’ve written about it many weeks each season for the last 7 or 8 years. The greatest offensive player in Tampa history further tightened his grip on that mantle with two more receiving touchdowns (along with 6 catches for 70 yards) to bring his career total to 90 scores. He’s only the 15th player in NFL history to achieve that accomplishment and finds himself tied for 13th all-time with Davante Adams and Isaac Bruce.
It will be a wild offseason, but Jason Licht and Co. must do right by their iconic stalwart and give him the last big payday he deserves before his career enters its twilight.
Rachaad White’s late-week injury scary didn’t last long as he produced his most efficient outing of the season. With 15 carries for 100 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and two more catches for 10 yards, he did his job well. His growth as the season has gone is encouraging.
Defensive Top Performer: DT Calijah Kancey
At this point, I’m looking for upside plays going forward. Yea Carlton Davis finally got a pick and yes Antoine Winfield was again a tackling machine (good for him but awful for the defense collectively).
We’ll instead spotlight Kancey here, who was disruptive multiple times. He got a key sack on Indy’s penultimate drive to give Tampa’s offense one more chance (which they blew), and he also batted a pass earlier in the game to go along with 3 total tackles (2 for loss). He’s got plenty of growth opportunity in front of him, but the early returns are very promising for the the 2023 first-rounder — already more exciting than either Logan Hall (a total nonfactor) and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (who is fine but seemingly nothing special).
Not really much else to say here for a mediocre unit. I applaud SirVocea Dennis for stepping into Lavonte David’s GOAT-sized shoes and trying his best, he showed some good things but there will be a long road for him as an eventual heir-apparent.
Special Teams Top Performer: K Chase McLaughlin
We don’t need to get cute. McLaughlin recorded another perfect day and is now 19-of-21 on the year for field goals with a perfect 19-for-19 on extra points.
As I’ve said before, the team’s most reliable points scorer all year has earned a long-term stay here.