Just when you think you have seen the Bucs lose in every fashionable was over the last 41 seasons, the team says, “Hold up, here is another.” After throughly dominating a Packers team on both sides of the ball – statistically, Tampa Bay just continued to shoot themselves in the foot over and over and and after allowing the Packers to force overtime, the Bucs defense allowed a mediocre backup quarterback lead his team down the field virtually without much of a fight and win in the extra quarter.
Below are the most disappointing players and units. Take a look and see if you agree.
C Evan Smith
Smith was the worst of a bad bunch. Time after time the Bucs offensive linemen took turns with penalties and missed assignments. But Smith, a former Packer who was making a homecoming, was dreadful, especially with bad penalties at the worst possible times – none more egregious than his block in the back on the Bucs first play of their last drive right at the two-minute warning. Equipped with all three timeouts, and a hot offense, the Bucs caught the Packers with a screen pass on first down that netted them 20 yards after a great catch and run by Charles Sims. Instead of first down and being within 30 yards of Pat Murray game-winning field goal range, the Bucs went back to their 10 yard line and went three-and-out. The Bucs never saw the ball again and now sit at 4-8 on the season.
LB Kwon Alexander
Alexander once again played the guessing game too much on Sunday, trying to make every play a splash play instead of letting it come to him. He did manage six tackles (four solo, 2 assists) but made little impact in stopping the Packers ground game from amassing 199 yards on the afternoon. Even perhaps more costly was Alexander’s block in the back after Justin Evans interception and return into Packers’ territory in the first half. With the Bucs up 7-3 and starting at the 34 yard line, Alexander’s gaffe pushed the ball back to their own 42. Four plays later the Packers blocked Bryan Anger’s punt, then score a touchdown to take the lead.
Bucs Punt Protection
As mentioned above, the Bucs allowing the Packers to block a second quarter punt, giving them a short field that led to a touchdown, was very costly. A lot of teams go a whole season without giving up a punt block, the Bucs have managed to do it twice already this season, and both times lost the game. Besides giving up short fields, punt blocks are huge momentum swings in games. And Sunday it was again. Another example of the Bucs finding ways to be bad.
Bucs Pass Blocking
Also mentioned earlier, the linemen for Tampa Bay all seemed to take turns with mental errors and penalties throughout the game. The good was the Bucs ability to run the ball. Peyton Barber had over 100 yards and Tampa Bay averaged 4.7 yards per carry. While the run game was improved, pass blocking was terrible and Koetter even acknowledged that fact following the game, noting it was their worst performance as a unit all year. In defense of the line, it was a patchwork unit with Demar Dotson and Ali Marpet being placed on injured reserve this week. But just as costly was center Joe Hawley being a game-time scratch with the flu. Hawley’s absence forced Evan Smith to center instead of guard which forced Caleb Benenoch to right tackle instead of Pamphile. The miscommunication was evident all game in the pass blocking as the unit gave up seven sacks. Koetter said quarterback Jameis Winston played well, but was under a ton of pressure all game.
WR Mike Evans
Without seeing the All-22 coaches film on Tuesday, it is hard to know how open Evans was on the afternoon, but the stat book tells us he only had two catches for 22 yards on six targets. bottom line is, you need more from your No. 1 star Pro Bowl receiver. Evans has had a decent year this season, but not what most expected thus far.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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