The list of Most Disappointing Bucs could be twice as long but we stopped at five. The Bucs were blown out, came unraveled and dropped their fifth straight in a largely uncompetitive game to the Saints, knowing their season was on the line.
LB Devante Bond
Things started off on the wrong foot – literally for Tampa Bay on Sunday – when the Bucs who were already down 3-0 in the first quarter had a punt blocked by the Saints for a touchdown. Second-year LB and special teamer Devante Bond first negated a punt with a false start, and after being backed up five yards, Bond released his man too soon who was able to get through and block Bryan Anger’s punt. The Bucs fell behind 9-0 and the Saints were never threatened.
OT Donovan Smith
What many expected to be a breakthrough season for left tackle Donovan Smith has turned into his worst season so far in the NFL. On Sunday, Smith was beaten for a sack, and also gave up the hit on Winston that essentially knocked him from the game. Smith was also caught watching after being beaten around the edge on a passing down, and with Winston scrambling for his life, Smith stood flat footed, never attempting to help his quarterback out. Despite having the physically size, Smith is too inconsistent to protect the blind side of a franchise quarterback and the Bucs front office will have to add that to a pretty long list of offseason priorities most likely.
LB Kwon Alexander
Alexander hasn’t been himself this this year and on Sunday he failed to make an impact again. The Saints exploited the middle of the field running the ball and also passing at times, usually where Alexander should have been, including getting beat by tight end Colby Fleener for a 33-yard pass play. If the Bucs are ever going to turn things around defensively this season, they will need Alexander to be much better. As of now, rookie Kendell Beckwith was better in his time at middle linebacker early in the season than Alexander has been since returning from injury.
QB Jameis Winston
While Winston didn’t miss a tackle, or have a punt blocked, the Bucs had a chance to get some points on the board before he was injured but Winston’s inaccuracy hurt the Bucs offense. While he can’t shoulder all the blame, as the leader and quarterback, the team looks to Winston to make things happen. On Sunday, Winston left too many throws on the field, finishing 7-of-13 for just 62 yards. Add in his silliness of poking a Saints player in the helmet that triggered a brawl, Winston had a day to forget.
RB Doug Martin
Martin was benched in the first half after failing to get anything going against a bad Saints run defense. While the offensive line did him no favors, Martin still ran hesitant, dancing and trying to cut things back before even giving the line chance to create a crease.Expect Peyton Barber to continue to eat into Martin’s playing time if Martin can’t turn things around quickly. On the day, Martin gained just seven yards on eight carries.