Tampa Bay produced a season-high 479 yards of total offense but it still didn’t translate into a win during the Bucs’ devastating 31-30 loss in Washington. PewterReport.com takes a look at each unit and offers up a grade for each. Read what we think and share your thoughts as well.
Despite the loss, this was quarterback Jameis Winston’s best performance of the season through six games.
The rookie posted season-best numbers in passer rating (128.1), passing yards (297) and completion percentage (72.4 percent, hitting on 21 of 29 attempts).
Winston also had a third touchdown taken away from his final numbers because of a questionable – and ultimately impactful – offensive pass interference call in the third quarter on receiver Mike Evans. On that play, Winston spun out of his five-step drop to elude pressure, stepped up and then ran into left tackle Donovan Smith before tossing up a catchable ball that Evans secured after battling with Washington safety Trenton Robinson. After taking a sack for an 8-yard loss the next play, Winston managed to hit tight end Luke Stocker for an 11-yard gain on third-and-25 that put the Bucs back in range for Connor Barth’s 45-yard field goal.
Winston’s first touchdown was a perfectly delivered 40-yard strike to Evans three plays into Tampa Bay’s first offensive series. His second went to receiver Donteea Dye from seven yards out – another well-thrown ball to the rookie’s outside shoulder after Winston was seen making checks at the line of scrimmage pre-snap.
There were a couple miscues along the way. Winston didn’t secure the football while scrambling in the third quarter and got stripped from behind by linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat, but did manage to jump back on the loose ball. Prior to that there was a third-and-2 situation from the Washington 4 in the opening period where Winston threw an ill-advised pass across his body into the end zone while scrambling to his right. The ball fell incomplete, but those are the types of decisions that can get any quarterback, young or old, into trouble.
Interspersed among all this were some other sparkling moments for the developing signal caller. Winston helped the offense convert a season-high 58.3 percent of its third-down situations (7 of 12) and a number of those were accomplished by him delivering some of his best throws of the afternoon. One was the score to Dye and two others went to Evans during the late-game drive that stalled out and led to Washington’s game-winning answer. The first of those aforementioned hookups came on a third-and-7 from the Bucs 9 on an out-route to the right sideline and the second was on third-and-3 with a blitzing Trenton Robinson in Winston’s face as he drilled a ball into Evans running a short post route. OVERALL GRADE: A
Led by lead back Doug Martin, Tampa Bay is starting to show it can run the ball with consistency like it wants to.
The Bucs rushed for a season-best 190 yards, eclipsing the mark set before the bye when Bucs ball carries battered the Jacksonville defense for 183. Martin set the pace with 136 yards on 19 attempts (7.2 per touch), his top statistical performance of the season. Charles Sims continued his development, as well, averaging 4.9 yards per carry while picking up a total of 49 on 10 touches.
The duo also stepped up a bit in the passing attack, especially after injuries to receivers Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy, by combining for five receptions and 52 yards. Martin and Sims secured five of the six balls thrown their way.
Individually, Martin deserves an A for his showing Sunday. The fourth-year back continues to his determination that he can stay healthy and return to his 1,454-yard, rookie-year form of 2012. Martin recorded three of Tampa Bay’s 10 longest plays from scrimmage, including his big 49-yard burst in the fourth quarter. In total, Martin provided six plays (three rushing and three receiving) of 10 yards or more.
Sims ran hard on fewer carries and is showing why the organization has thought so highly of him despite his early career injury bug issues. The second-year back’s rushing total would have almost doubled with the inclusion of a 43-yard third-quarter scamper, but that play was nullified by a pair of Tampa Bay penalties.
Sunday’s performance boosted the Bucs rushing attack to fourth in the NFL (133.7 yards per game), but dropping the backs’ grade down below an A was the inability to punch in a touchdown that would have iced the game. The offense was in a first-and-goal situation from the Redskins 5 and three straight runs (the first by Martin and second two by Sims) failed to produce six points and netted just two yards. Granted the third-and-goal call from the 1 for a toss-left to Sims was disastrous, the three-down sequence failed and proved costly. OVERALL GRADE: B+
This one’s difficult because there’s not much to work with outside of Mike Evans.
The second-year pass catcher displayed his playmaking abilities everyone wants to see Sunday. Evans caught eight of his 12 targets for 164 yards and notched his first touchdown of the season on the previously mentioned 40-yard connection in the first quarter. Also touched on early, Evans could have had a second score in the third quarter if not for a questionable offensive pass interference flag.
Limiting the unit’s ability to perform, however, were the knee injuries sustained by Louis Murphy and Vincent Jackson.
Murphy’s came in the opening quarter after catching his first and only target for 29 yards. The severity of the injury was officially revealed Monday when head coach Lovie Smith stated that it was season-ending.
Jackson left early in the third quarter after having a catch in the middle of the field reversed to an incompletion on the second half’s initial offensive play. The 11-year veteran was hit low by former Buccaneer safety Dashon Goldson and he remained on the sideline for the rest of the game.
Murphy and Jackson finished the day with one catch apiece for 42 combined yards. Their absence left Tampa Bay with just two available wide receivers – Evans and rookie Donteea Dye. The situation resulted in Dye being in for over three-quarters of the Bucs’ 63 offensive snaps and he did haul in the 7-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, but that was the only time Winston looked his way.
The Bucs have some serious decisions to make regarding this unit moving forward, especially if Jackson ends up having to miss time. OVERALL GRADE: B
Unless the initials are ASJ, the Bucs’ offensive staff doesn’t appear willing to mix its three other tight ends into the passing attack.
Through six games, Cameron Brate, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker have combined to receive 16 targets. Eleven of those have resulted in completions for a total of 95 yards and zero touchdowns.
The Bucs and Winston began Sunday averse to throw to any of the three, targeting Myers once on a first-half incompletion, and ended up going their way a little more in the final two quarters after the Murphy and Jackson injuries. Stocker received his first four targets of the season and caught three balls for 22 yards, Brate grabbed his lone pass for six yards and Myers didn’t see another throw come his way.
When in the game, these guys are there on run- and pass-blocking assignments and they contributed to Tampa Bay’s 190-yard rushing performance. An added plus is that none of the team’s season-high 16 penalties were charged to this group. OVERALL GRADE: B
The Good: Tampa Bay rushed for a season-high 190 yards. Winston got sacked just once.
The Bad: Of the Bucs’ 16 total penalties, almost half (7) were committed by offensive linemen for a total of 70 yards. The unit failed to create a gap on three straight runs near the goal line in the fourth quarter, resulting in a field goal when a touchdown could have secured victory.
In step with the collective performance, the rookies – left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet – seemed to have solid but slightly uneven types of day. Marpet got nailed with three of the offensive line’s seven penalties for 30 yards. Smith is holding up well as a first-year left tackle but at times can lose his block in pass protection on five- to seven-step drops or when Winston hangs onto the ball for a tick too long. Blocks can only be held (legally) for so long by any lineman, but expectations are always highest for left tackles.
Veteran left guard Logan Mankins got hit with a holding penalty in the third quarter that wiped out what would have been running back Charles Sims’ career-long, 43-yard run. That call – in addition to receiver Mike Evans’ illegal block above the waist infraction on the same play – was a little ticky-tacky and Redskins defensive end Jason Hatcher did his part selling it to the refs. Sims had to change direction on the toss-right run and the likelihood of Hatcher jumping back to stop or slow him was slim at that point. GRADE: B-