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.

Quarterback

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

Running Backs
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

Wide Receiver
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

Tight Ends
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

Offensive Line
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

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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seat26
seat26
5 years ago

Not a great game on offense, but we are starting three rookies this year. And all of them are performing at a high level. They need time to develop.

jongruden
jongruden
5 years ago

I agree with the grades, I do think Winston has a better game if the wr’s can catch the ball, but he missed a wide open Sims streaking down the sideline and he has been inconsistent on his deep ball all yr. Marpet continues to prove me wrong that a kid from division 3 can step in yr one and be successful and do I care that I’m wrong and these guys are better than I thought? nope, very happy to say I am wrong I am not so egocentric to admit I’m wrong like my fellow poster “Pink” ha.… Read more »

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

I’d agree with your assessment of this offense. Marpet has been a revelation out of division three and I just like the mean streak he plays with. SMith gets a little slow footed at times but is a beast of a man that some think would be bette rmoving inside. He’s holding his own this year as a rookie though and that’ s impressive in itself. Dougie will get resigned and I think both sides want to continue in this offense. Koetter was big on keeping Dogie and I’m grateful for that. Also agree with your TE assessment, only problem… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  jongruden
5 years ago

Refreshing for you to admit you were wrong in your assessment of Marpet. The old BF47 would never have offered such a concession. I didn’t think Winston’s game was too bad. It was just our expectations of an easy victory going against a bad defense. I really think that holding call on the first play that in reality cost 45 yards and the resulting good field position and score for the Saints killed the fragile psyche of this young team.

76Buc
76Buc
5 years ago

QB-D+; WR-D+; RB-B+; OL-B+.

Ronald
Ronald
5 years ago

I think the OL should have a lower grade. They gave Winston no time to do anything on so many downs. Plus, sometimes I wonder what Koetter is trying to do. At times play calling is very inconsistent.

jme0151
jme0151
5 years ago

What Koetter is doing is being the best offensive coordinator the Buc’s have ever had. His development of Winston is right on schedule and the offensive line, considered the weak point of this team, has been one of the strengths.

fredster
fredster
5 years ago

O line grade should be D. Only one sack is misleading. They were not clutch and Winston was rushed and inconsistent in large due to it. Also I love Koetter, but the Colts game and this one were not good games. 11 runs for Martin against a saints team that can’t stop the run in 80 degree weather. Hmm lets see HOF QB and you have no pass rush and injured D line. Maybe running ball would kept Brees off the field a bit? Also not going for it with 4 minutes left and couldn’t the stop anything on D… Read more »

russmillerwy
russmillerwy
5 years ago

Not exactly sure what’s going on with Cherilus and Dotson at right tackle. Continuity isn’t the reason for bringing Cherilus back, as Dotson played the entire game last week. As it has been all season, a combination of drops by our receivers and loose coverage by our defensive backs kept the other team rolling. Vincent Jackson’s departure was, in my opinion, the moment when the Bucs became the inferior team. He has the team’s most reliable pair of hands. Perhaps Sims is second. Perhaps it’s time to rotate Dye back to the practice squad and give Rannell Hall or Evan… Read more »

jiggyjoe
jiggyjoe
5 years ago

I like what I see in