Things got ugly in a hurry in Arizona and there were plenty of culprits factoring into the Bucs’ miserable 40-7 beat down.
Check out who PewterReport.com stuck on this week’s Most Disappointing list as Tampa Bay shifts its focus to the Los Angeles Rams.
QB JAMEIS WINSTON
Franchise quarterbacks get all the glory when things are going good. When games play out like Sunday’s groaner in the desert, they’ll be catching some flak.
Winston appeared to shrug off his deep, first-quarter interception intended for receiver Mike Evans. He took a shot to the end zone to try and hang six points on Arizona with his first drive and got nabbed by Patrick Peterson. Winston completed his first two passes beforehand and his next two of three after, but that’s when the unravelling began.
Off-target passes throughout the game resulted in Winston completing just 27 of 52 attempts and posting a career-low quarterback rating of 39.2. The second-year signal caller finished with a career-high five turnovers that included four interceptions and a lost fumble.
Outside help from teammates was not always reliable Sunday and contributed to the high turnover number and low, 51.9 completion percentage. Winston’s already shown his bounce-back ability during his brief NFL career, but salvaging that game proved too difficult.
RB CHARLES SIMS III
The Tampa Bay offense found itself behind the eight ball early when running back Doug Martin left with a hamstring injury.
Martin had picked up 23 yards on seven carries before exiting during the Bucs’ first drive of the second quarter. Backup back Charles Sims saw his role expand and he was unable to deliver. Not much came on the ground (nine carries for 24 yards) or through the air (three catches on five targets for four yards).
In addition to not picking up much with the ball, Sims played a role in two of the team’s five turnovers. His left shoulder knocked the ball out of Winston’s grasp in the third when the quarterback was not expecting him to be sliding across. On the third-quarter interception that turned into a pick-6 by Arizona’s Marcus Cooper, Winston’s pass was tipped at the line by Josh Mauro before sailing high to Sims. The back had to leap and it would have been a nice grab, but it tip-drilled right to Cooper.
CB BRENT GRIMES
Veteran cornerback versus veteran wide receiver turned into an ugly mismatch for the defense.
Brent Grimes could not match up with Larry Fitzgerald. Even when the 10th-year defensive back tried mugging the 13th-year wideout it didn’t work out well.
Grimes tied with safety Chris Conte and linebacker Kwon Alexander for the team-lead with seven tackles, but didn’t get credit for a single pass defense. A split second is all it takes to be late breaking up passes and Grimes watched that happen a few times Sunday.
Fitzgerald finished his day catching six of 11 targets for 81 yards and a touchdown. Grimes was called for pass interference on the 4-yard touchdown catch that opened Arizona’s scoring in the second quarter. He was beaten for a long touchdown later in the quarter, but replay ruled Fitzgerald was down at the 1.
BUCS PASS RUSH
It’s hard to pick out an individual here when Tampa Bay’s entire pass rush was nonexistent.
Bucs defenders were credited with hitting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer four times and sacking him once. That takedown came early in the third and counts as not only rookie Noah Spence’s first career sack, but his first and only NFL stat of any kind.
Mike Smith’s defense has been picking up compliments since training camp for its attacking style. It was hard to tell Sunday and the inability to get to Palmer or at least get him off his spots resulted in a shredded secondary and 416 yards of total Arizona offense.
Compounding the defensive front’s issues was seeing Robert Ayers hobbling off the field before halftime. The defensive end entered the game with an ankle issue and it came back to leave the line shorthanded.
WR VINCENT JACKSON
This makes two straight games for Vincent Jackson failing to make much of a difference with an inefficient performance. After catching just two of seven targets for 18 yards last week in Atlanta, Jackson grabbed four of nine for 44 yards.
The veteran receiver is playing in his 12th season at age 33. Losing a half-step or so can be natural, but seeing Jackson appear to not be on the same page with Winston again is unexpected and discouraging. Winston’s interception last week was intended for Jackson, as was his second-quarter pick nabbed by Marcus Cooper.
Jackson capped a lackluster performance late in the third quarter by dropping a deep ball in front of the end zone. It’s the type of third-down catch teams need receivers to make – especially ones who are supposed to be top-end playmakers. Making the catch would have put Tampa Bay inside the 5 and set up a touchdown opportunity. Dropping the ball led to kicker Roberto Aguayo running out and missing a 45-yard field goal attempt wide right.
S CHRIS CONTE
It was a bad day for just about the entire secondary and safety Chris Conte’s rougher moments resulted in Arizona touchdowns.
They both came in the game-changing second quarter, too.
First came getting pulled forward in the end zone by Palmer in order to give receiver Michael Floyd enough space along the back line to catch a 1-yard touchdown. That expanded Arizona’s lead to 17-0 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the half.
As if a 17-point hole at the break isn’t rough enough, it got worse when Winston and the offense went three and out in 10 seconds. Four Arizona plays later, receiver Jaron Brown was racing behind Conte and the entire Bucs secondary and hauling in a 51-yard touchdown catch. Conte could’ve used a little help in this situation, but he did not react quick enough to avoid being beaten by the speedy Cardinals wideout.