After a nice home-opening win in Tampa Bay, the Bucs’ first road trip didn’t go as well, falling to the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 34-17. The game really didn’t even feel as close as the final score suggests. It felt like Minnesota was in control from the opening drive.
These are a few of our culprits as to why that was the case.
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You can not turn the ball over at the rate Winston did an expect to win football games in the NFL – and the way he turned them over hurts, too.
Winston’s first interception came by just not having the right touch on a deep pass to DeSean Jackson. His second interception was a miss-read on an option route to Jackson over the middle (which he was bumped). His third interception was a forced throw into triple coverage to Mike Evans.
Winston had some nice throws, but guess what, every starting quarterback in the NFL does. What the top half of quarterbacks in the league do is not turn the ball over, or at least start making their mistakes less repetitive. All three (or at the very least two) of the interceptions Winston threw can be put on him, and not in the “my bad” way, in the, “you have to be better,” way.
The Bucs were embarrassed – as was Winston – in Week 2 last year against the Arizona Cardinals. Winston being high variance is a gift and curse. It allows for games like this to happen, but it also gives him way to bounce back, and bounce back fast.
He needs to. It’s his team.
What pass rush?
Leading up to the game, the main point of emphasis was the Bucs’ defensive line needing to get some kind of finishing plays outside of the pressure Gerald McCoy would create – McCoy is a constant. However, it didn’t come. Early in the game, McCoy was able to get some disruption, but it didn’t end in plays behind the line of scrimmage like it needed to.
Injuries to Kwon Alexander and Chris Baker didn’t help, but even then, William Gholston, Robert Ayers and Noah Spence couldn’t do much against a Vikings line that is suppose to be in the bottom half of the league.
Something has to change with the production of the defensive line.
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images
With no defensive line to pressure the ball, either in the running back’s hand or the quarterback’s, the Buccaneers secondary was left out to dry and was cooked early and often. Vernon Hargreaves and Ryan Smith looked lost in off coverage and gave up too many yards because of it. Though they were in position at times, the lack of pressure on the pocket led to too many good throws that they simply could not defend.
As the game went on, the confidence among the two was shot, and when a cornerback doesn’t have confidence, that’s bad news.
The Bucs are hoping to have Brent Grimes back in the lineup next week, but even beyond him, the front seven and the secondary have to step up together.
Marpet had a rough game.
There were at least three or four snaps that were on the ground or disrupted the timing of the play because Winston was adjusting to an off snap. The chemistry between the two is somewhat new, but has to be much better than it was today.
The Bucs losing the time of possession battle 22 to 37 had something to do with their inability to run the ball. Starting running back Jacquizz Rodgers led the Bucs in touches and yards with five carries and 15 rushing yards.
That won’t win you many games in the NFL.
Head coach Dirk Koetter said after the game that the things Minnesota was doing and the way they threw the offense off resulted in the lack of run success and even run attempts, but did note that it has to be different. A failure to run the ball means a one-dimensional offense and a tired defense.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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