The Buccaneers fell to 1-8 on the season after dropping their second game of the year to NFC South division rival Atlanta. While the Bucs once again had a fourth-quarter lead, the defense was unable to hold it and the offense fell apart late as Josh McCown tossed two late fourth-quarter interceptions. PewterReport.com offers up game grades for each unit is this weekly day-after-game feature.
While it wasn’t a perfect game – or a winning one – Bucs QB Josh McCown did provide a bit of a spark and some excitement to the Bucs offense with his solid play and his ability to escape pressure at times. He actually ended up leading the team in rushing with 39 yards. McCown finished the game 27-of-42 for 301 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. You could tell McCown was a bit rusty after sitting out the last six games and sailed a few throws, but outperformed what Mike Glennon was able to do since the New Orleans game a month ago. Tampa Bay actually had a late fourth quarter lead after McCown’s two-yard TD pass to rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins but as we have seen now five times this year, the Bucs were unable to hold a fourth quarter lead, and ended up losing to the Falcons 27-17.
The Bucs running game was bad all day long on Sunday, and even the addition of third-round pick Charles Sims, who played in his first regular season game after sitting out the first half of the season recovering from preseason ankle surgery was unable to provide a spark. Not only did Sims not provide a spark, he may have kept fellow running back Bobby Rainey from establishing any type of rhythm, as the two split carries. Sims had 23 yards on eight carries (2.9 avg.) and Rainey was held to 14 yards on six carries. Mike James averaged 4.0 yards on four carries on the afternoon for the Buccaneers.
Rookie Mike Evans continues to impress and looks to be a star in the making. Already he is the Bucs most consistent performer at the position, showing great hands and the ability to use his large frame to box out defenders. It is even more impressive to think prior to this season, he had only played a total of three years of football (one in high school, two at Texas A&M). Evans finished the day with 125 yards on seven carries and a touchdown. Vincent Jackson was McCown’s favorite receiver on the afternoon, targeted 13 times and coming down with eight receptions for 75 yards. Louis Murphy was the only other receiver to record a catch with a 12-yard reception.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins had a decent day as a pass catcher, recording five receptions for 30 yards and a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, but some of the luster of the catch was rubbed off after getting called for unsportsmanlike penalty after using the ball as a prop in his post touchdown celebration. The penalty backed the Bucs up 15 yards on he kickoff and the Falcons scored the decisive touchdown on their next drive. Jenkins was also called for a false start and added a holding penalty.
Easily the most disappointing unit on the offensive side of the ball, the Bucs offensive line failed to open holes in the running game and was also spotty in pass protection as McCown was sacked four times on the afternoon. And without McCown’s mobility he may have been sacked at least that many more times. McCown does hold the ball as long as possible, creating issues for the offensive line, but the fact is, the Falcons defense was technically ranked even worse than the Buccaneers coming into Sunday’s contest. Demar Dotson was once again the most consistent performer on the line until being knocked out of the game with an injury in the second half. Oniel Cousins, who had a solid game at Cleveland last week, struggled somewhat this week against Atlanta. The former Browns guard gave up a sack in the first half and had a careless 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on the Bucs’ second-to-last offensive drive in the fourth quarter. Then on the next play, Cousins gave up his second sack of the game. Overall the offensive line did a poor job in both pass protection (four sacks) and run blocking (53 yards on 18 carries – 2.9 avg.) and didn’t help Tampa Bay sustain drives and put points on the board.
With the Falcons offensive line considered by most to be the only weakness on that unit on that side of the ball, most assumed the Bucs defensive line could have a breakout game. Unfortunately Atlanta’s line dominated Tampa Bay’s defensive line for the most part, keeping Matt Ryan jersey relatively clean for most of the afternoon. Tampa Bay recorded just one sack and just three official pressures. The Bucs defensive line combined for just nine total tackles in the game, led by Clinton McDonald who had the lone sack on the afternoon. Gerald McCoy was most definitely the focal point of the Falcons blocking scheme, and it worked well, as the All-Pro was held to just one tackle on the afternoon. But with that said, when McCoy is drawing the attention of opposing teams, someone else must step up. Unfortunately the Bucs were unable to create very much pressure on the Falcons and was a big part of the 27-17 loss.
Tampa Bay’s linebackers had an active day led by Lavonte David who led both teams with 14 tackles, although it may have been the quietest 14-tackle day in recent memory. David had zero tackles for loss and no pass breakups. Like David, Mason Foster had a productive stat day with nine tackles but no splash plays. Danny Lansanah added six stops against the Falcons. All in all, the linebacker play was good as the Falcons were limited to 3.9 yards per rushing attempt.
The Tampa Bay secondary played better than they did in the Week 3 56-14 blowout loss to the Falcons, keeping Matt Ryan under 300 yards, but still had difficulty getting off the field on third down, and committed too many penalties that extended drives that led to points. Cornerback Johnthan Banks played well at times, but was called for a questionable hands to the face penalty in the fourth quarter on a play that was reminiscent of the Saints game. In both cases they play ended up not even being on his side of the field, and in both cases came on third down incompletions that resulted in a first down and eventual scores. There were lapses in coverage and had Matt Ryan been a little more accurate – and less dropped passes by Falcons receivers – the final score could have been even worse.
Punter Michael Koenen continued his woeful and mysteriously bad season on Sunday, averaging just 30.3 yards on three punts. While some are calling for the Bucs to release the veteran kicker, Koenen is also the holder for extra points and field goals, and that position would need to be replaced as well. Punt returner Marcus Thigpen put the Bucs in terrific field position with a 53-yard punt return on Sunday, easily the longest of the year for the Bucs. Unfortunately, the Bucs coverage unit also gave up another big return, allowing Devin Hester a 48-yard kickoff return, giving the Falcons great field position, and eventually leading to a Falcons score.
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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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
I just don’t know what else to say about this team. Golf clap to the PR guys for having to cover this crap. Covering frogs farting would be more fun than covering this sorry excuse for a team.
This team has major problems, no quick fix to this mess brought on by poor drafts in the last 5+ years.
Talk about alternate universes, whatever is happening to the Bucs is also happening to the Chicago Bears. After coming off their Bye week, they suffered one of their worst losses ever at the hands of the Packers.
When asked if his team may be quitting on him, Marc Trestman said “I find none of that as we work through the week. I’m in all the meetings, I’m on the practice field and that’s what’s disturbing to me, is that the level of focus and work ethic is as good as any team I’ve been around in my years in the league. What’s translating to the field is not what we expect based on what we’re seeing during the course of the week. As I told our players, there’s a good team in there somewhere, (because) we’ve seen signs of it this year, but we’re not a good team right now’.
Sound familiar? Maybe we’ve got the Great Chicago Bear Curse! Lol. This is not rocket science and there is no curse – we too are simply not a good team right now either. The question is can the current coaching staff make us a better football team? Time will tell! Perhaps by the time we play them. C’mon Lovie, we gotta win that one!
I still believe it all starts on both sides of the line; not much there yet. If I’m the Glazers, I’m starting to think about all that guaranteed money I gave a green light too. Is it possible to remove the name Bucaneers off the jerseys and helmets? Only 7 more weeks to go and then we can look forward to soccer; it couldn’t be anymore dreadful than what we are seeing right now.
Came across this and thought you might enjoy.
Good take Horse. I don’t think it would be out of line to suggest that Lovie Lombardi has already cost the Glazer’s tens of millions of $’s in only 10 months. And for what? A team that is an unwatchable, non competitive, laughingstock. Lovie is to coaching as Matt Millen is to GMing.
I agree with these grades. The performance as a whole goes right along with the rest of the season.
macabee; thanks. I am going to stand with by passing Mariota or Winston and drafting a QB in the 2nd or third round. I would like to use that 1st pick to pick trade down in the first round in order to pick up another 2nd round pick. With those three picks we can fill three key spots, OL, DL, QB. We can use our 3rd round pick for a sleeper at any position; after that the 4th and 5th are for future picks that require time to learn and grow.
I hope we do exactly that Horse.
Not mentioned on the kickers was the fact that Hester’s kickoff was set up by a kickoff that was a line drive and a little short. Compare our kick-offs to theirs and you can see the difference between them
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