The Buccaneers failed to take advantage of a beat up reeling Saints team on Sunday and with a win could have increased their odds of making the playoffs. Unfortunately the Saints were the better team on Sunday and left Tampa with a 24-17 win and the Bucs saw their playoff chances diminish significantly with the loss. Below are the unit game grades from Sunday’s loss to New Orleans.
Jameis Winston didn’t light up the stat sheet as many expected he would against the NFL’s worst ranked defense on Sunday, but offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said he played better than many expected. Winston’s final numbers were average at best, 18-of-32 for 182 yards and one touchdown, but like Koetter also mentioned, if the Bucs had caught of a few more passes, and the Bucs had run more than 52 total plays, things might have been different. It is clear Winston’s accuracy is still somewhat of an issue and is something he and the team will concentrate on improving on in the offseason. GRADE= C
Plenty has been made of Doug Martin only getting 11 carries on Sunday, but Koetter did make a good point on Tuesday when he said time and score dictated the ball distribution. He mentioned on one TD drive the Bucs ran nine plays and only one was a run, yet no one complained about how many touches Martin got on that series. And Koetter brings up a good point, when you have limited possessions there is no way to get everyone the ideal amount of touches. Martin played well despite the Saints defense geared up to stop him. Martin finished with 81 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown, which Charles Sims was largely ineffective as a runner with just 10 yards on five carries. Where Sims excelled was as a receiver, leading the team with six catches for 64 yards. GRADE= B
Mike Evans was only targeted four times the whole game and made three receptions for 39 yards. Like Koetter said on Tuesday, Evans targets were also a result of the Bucs having about 20 plays less than a normal game. Vincent Jackson was injured in the first half and only notched one catch for five yards, the one that he was hurt on. Jackson did have a 36-yard catch on the first play of the game that was negated by a hold.
Adam Humphries had one catch for six yards but it ended up being his first career touchdown. Donteea Dye had a 16-yard reception but had the blunder of the day when he dropped a third down pass late in the fourth quarter that he possibly could have scored on. Instead Tampa Bay punted and never got the ball back as the Saints ran the clock out to end the game. GRADE= C
The Bucs tight end situation has improved body wise, but since the return of Austin Seferian-Jenkins surprisingly the tight ends haven’t been more of a factor. Seferian-Jenkins did have three catches for 31 yards and Cameron Brate added two more for 16 yards. GRADE= C
Overall the offensive line played pretty well without too many major breakdowns. The Saints managed just one sack of Winston on Sunday, although they did cause him to rush a few throws that ended up as incompletions. On the ground the Bucs averaged 6.1 yards per carry, but that number is skewed a little with Martin breaking off two 20-plus yard runs. The Saints did a good job early of keeping Martin in check and Sims was never able to break anything on the afternoon. Individually Ali Marpet continued his excellent rookie season but his fellow rookie Donovan Smith hurt the team with a holding penalty on the games first play that negated a 36-yard pass completion from Winston to Jackson. GRADE= C
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, the beach and family time.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