If the rest of the season continues like this, diagnoses of bipolar disorder are going to skyrocket across Tampa Bay.
One week it’s depression and anger, the next it’s optimism and joy.
Considering the Bucs’ youthful roster and rookie quarterback, the mood swings are going to probably continue all year long.
But what Sunday did show is that all the preseason hype wasn’t just baseless noise. There’s some substance there and chances are the Bucs are closer to the team that showed up in New Orleans and not the version that scuffled through the opener.
MAXIMIZE SCORING OPS
For the second straight year Tampa Bay decided to ditch its kicker from the past season and go with a fresh-faced rookie with no NFL experience.
Kyle Brindza didn’t get much work last week against Tennessee but got his number called plenty yesterday in New Orleans. While it was nice to see the strong-legged kicker from Notre Dame pound four of his five attempts through the uprights, the Bucs will find themselves on the right side of the scoreboard more often this season if they can turn a few of those into extra-point tries instead.
Even the most high-powered offenses are going to have drives stall out and three points are better than none. But the Bucs had multiple short-field opportunities to pad their lead with six-point scores only to run Brindza back out for field goals.
Winston said as much during his postgame press conference, bringing up a third-quarter series when he overthrew consecutive potential touchdown passes to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and wideout Vincent Jackson.
“Doug was toting the ball and our offense played outstanding,” Winston said. “I’m the only one that messed up when I could’ve had two easy touchdowns and I overthrew them. In this league touchdowns really matter and you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Tampa Bay enjoyed good field position all day in the Superdome and had three drives start in enemy territory. All three of those chances ended with field goals, though.
As long as running back Doug Martin continues running hard and stays healthy, fellow back Charles Sims will remain in his backup/third-down back role.
The Bucs have been high on Sims since bringing him aboard last year with a third-round draft selection, even as an injury delayed his debut until November.
Sims possesses good size (6-foot, 211-pounds) and good open-field speed but tends to make things easier for defenders in traffic by stutter-stepping and not hitting holes hard.
After a relatively quiet day against Tennessee, Sims played well against the Saints by picking up 38 yards rushing on eight carries and catching three passes for 14 yards. His 4.8-yard rushing average per touch was the second-best of his career, behind just a 4.9-yard average on seven carries last December in Carolina.
The Bucs are out of the red when it comes to turnover margin, and that’s always a good thing.
It might not stay that way, though, unless the offense begins taking better care of the football.
The Bucs have turned the ball over four times (two Winston interceptions and two fumbles yesterday) and managed to recover two other fumbles last week before Tennessee defenders could scoop them up.
The good news is that Tampa Bay is on pace to turn the ball over less than last season. The bad news is the Bucs’ 33 giveaways in 2014 were more than anyone except Philadelphia and they’re set to commit 32 this year.