The Buccaneers got back on the winning track on Sunday, dominating the Washington Redskins 27-7, and securing their second win of the season. With an efficient offense, led by QB Josh McCown and star rookie receiver Mike Evans, plus an inspired defensive effort that posted six sacks, it was easily the best performance of 2014 by the Bucs. Below is a breakdown of each unit with a grade assigned based on their overall play.
On Sunday the Buccaneers saw the Josh McCown they all were expecting when the team signed the former Bear in the offseason and named him a starter. McCown’s pocket awareness and leadership were evident all afternoon as the 12-year vet was 15-of-23 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. McCown was poised and clearly in control, and was able to step up in the pocket and wait until the last second at times, to deliver, for the most part, accurate passes. McCown also displayed his versatility and mobility by avoiding a number of sacks from the Redskins who threw a number of different looks and blitzes his way.
For two weeks straight the Buccaneers offensive brain trust has employed a rotating back system between rookie Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey. Neither has been able to do much, and it may be time to choose one and allow them to get into a rhythm. Sims started the day off well, but only managed to gain 36 yards on 13 attempts to go along with three receptions for eight yards. Rainey fared even worse, rushing for just four yards on five carries. If the Buccaneers intend of stringing some win together to close out the season they will need to get the running game going and it starts with the offensive line up front.
Rookie Mike Evans continues to wow, and make a strong case for NFL Rookie of the Year honors after putting up an amazing 209 yards on seven reception and two touchdowns. While not much has gone the Bucs way in 2014, Evans is a bright spot and gives hope for the future. With Evans now clearly in the spotlight, Vincent Jackson has taken somewhat of a backseat role, and it appears to be just fine with Jackson. The veteran did post three catches for 43 yards. The only concerning thing about the Bucs passing game is the lack of production from the third receiver position. Louis Murphy has gone a number of games without having any impact and Sunday was no different. The former Gator was targeted three times but was unable to record a reception. To Murphy’s credit, McCown missed him in the first half on a deep ball that may have went for a score if not a touch underthrown.
Tampa Bay’s tight ends were quiet for the most part with Austin Seferian-Jenkins notching one catch for seven yards and Brandon Myers coming up with just reception for 21 yards. The Buccaneers will be happy to get Luke Stocker back from injury as he is clearly the best blocking tight end on the roster.
The offensive line was hot and cold for the most part on Sunday afternoon, playing well in pass protection but never establishing any type of running game for the Bucs backs. Early reports from the team said Logan Mankins, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Anthony Collins graded out well for the most part, but Patrick Omameh and Demar Dotson wasn’t at their best on Sunday. Dotson struggled with penalties on Sunday at Washington, getting flagged for holding and a false start in the first half. Dotson also got beat inside by rookie linebacker Trent Murphy when he and Patrick Omameh got confused, creating a McCown fumble on a sack. Omameh had a hands-to-the-face penalty in the first half.
When you being to explain the Bucs domination of the Redskins on Sunday, you have to start with the play of the defensive line, a unit that recorded six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. The only thing to be critical of was the Redskins ability to run the football. Too many gaping holes and poor tackling efforts were displayed by the defense overall and will need to be corrected, but to the Bucs credit, the defensive line was able to keep Griffin III uncomfortable all afternoon. Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald created push up the middle and combined for nine tackles and 2.5 sacks. The play from the interior also allowed the defensive ends to get in on the action, as Jacquies Smith (two sacks) and Michael Johnson (one sack) were both very effective pressuring Griffin III.
Lavonte David continues his march to his first Pro Bowl with another outstanding game against Washington on Sunday, notching 12 tackles. Mason Foster totaled five tackles, and had a pass deflection that turned into a Johnthan Banks interception that was returned for a touchdown. Danny Lansanah continues to be one of the best stories in the NFL, as he recorded his third interception of the season leading to the first points of the day for the Bucs. Lansanah added two tackles and a pass breakup. The linebackers, like the defensive line was guilty of some shoddy tackling on Sunday, but nonetheless combined to only allow seven points.
The Bucs safety play was as good as it has been all season, with Major Wright and Dashon Goldson combining for 14 tackles and not allowing any deep completions. Griffin III did miss a couple of deep balls to DeSean Jackson in the game but for the most part the Bucs safeties were solid. Tampa Bay’s collection of unheralded and often picked on cornerbacks came up big for the Bucs. Banks, Crezdon Butler, Brandon Dixon, Leonard Johnson and Isaiah Frey matched up well with Redskins receivers and certainly benefited from a strong pass rush by the Bucs front four.
Punter Michael Koenen had one of his better days of the season averaging 41.3 yards on four punts including dropping two inside the 20-yard line. Patrick Murray had another excellent day, nailing both of his field goal attempts. The only glaring error from special teams came in the first half when punt returner Marcus Thigpen muffed a punt return that resulted in a turnover.
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 [email protected]
According to my kids school grades they are identified as followed: A = outstanding, B = excellent, C = average, D= passing and F = failure. What is yours? QB was not superior or excellent, he was average. RB getting a C? They played below average at best D. We are all entitled to our own beliefs but really an A? You’re talking Tom Brady Peyton Manning skills, not that they perform that way every week but McCown is extremely fortunate to have Evans for 200 yards. To me that’s more Evans than McCown.
I think you make a good point. Possibly the grader is a little giddy from experiencing the high of a win. LOL.
Good Grades PR; now we have to carry that forward in order to beat the Bears. If we get this win, then we’ll discuss where we are heading. Go Bucs!
An “A” for the QB? How about “C” for Credibility?
Again, no respect for Orie Lemmon on special teams!
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