FAB 3. Rewind Week 8 – Fast Forward Week 9

Not having open locker room at One Buccaneer Place and restricted media access to players this year due to COVID-19 has forced me to do less feature segments on players and more analysis on the games. So I’m using the Fab 3 section – called Rewind – Fast Forward – to share some observations from the Bucs’ last game as well as my analysis in previewing the next one. Enjoy.

REWIND: Week 8 at New York Giants

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: USA Today

• Tampa Bay had three sacks in Monday night’s win against New York, and now has 28 on the year, which is tied with Philadelphia for second only to Pittsburgh, which has 30. The Bucs had 47 sacks last year, which was the second most in team history, and are on pace to record 56 in 2020, which would be the most in franchise history. Jason Pierre-Paul collected another sack against his former team to bring his total to 6.5 on the season, which ranks fourth in the NFL.

• The Giants sacked Bucs quarterback Tom Brady twice on Monday night, bringing his sack total to just 10 through the first game games of the season. Brady, who has only been sacked in four out of the eight games this year, was only sacked 27 times last season in New England, and he’s on pace to be sacked just 20 times in his first year in Tampa Bay. Last season, the Bucs allowed 47 sacks, but team officials tell PewterReport.com that Jameis Winston’s propensity to hold on to the football too long resulted in 15 of those sacks.

Bucs DT Steve McLendon

Bucs DT Steve McLendon – Photo by: USA Today

• After holding opposing teams to under 100 yards rushing for 13 consecutive games dating back to last year, Tampa Bay’s No. 1-ranked run defense surrendered 101 yards rushing against the Giants. This happened for two reasons. First, the Giants were able to take an early lead and allowed New York to stick to the run until the closing minutes of the game. And second, the Giants came out in two- and three-tight end sets and out-muscled the Bucs at the line of scrimmage. Look for opponents to use a similar tactic against Tampa Bay’s front seven, which relies on speed rather than size.

Despite allowing a season-high 101 yards on the ground, the Bucs defense still ranks first against the run, surrendering just 70.8 yards per game. Tampa Bay ranks third in total defense with 299.5 yards per game, and eighth in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 20.6 points per game.

FAST FORWARD: Week 9 vs. New Orleans Saints

• Entering the Saints game, the Bucs have recorded an NFL-high 11 interceptions at the halfway point of the season, led by cornerback Carlton Davis III’s career-high four, which is tied for the NFL lead. Tampa Bay only notched 12 INTs during the entire 2019 season, so the defensive backs, which have recorded 10 of the picks, have made serious strides in making plays on the ball this year.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis and S Mike Edwards

Bucs CB Carlton Davis and S Mike Edwards – Photo by: USA Today

“It’s been great,” Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “Coach [Kevin] Ross does a great job with them. We dropped quite a few last year – we should’ve had more than that – but they’re coming down with them this year. They’ve got more attention to detail [and] they’re a lot more comfortable back there. That’s really the main thing, and they’re attacking the ball. They come in bunches. Sometimes you practice them a lot and you don’t get any, sometimes you don’t practice them at all, and you get a bunch. We’re going to try and get some every week and keep it going.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has already thrown three interceptions this year after throwing a career-low four in 2019.

• Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas, who led the league in catches last year with a record 155, hasn’t played since suffering a high ankle sprain against Tampa Bay in Week 1. While rehabbing that injury, Thomas punched a teammate and missed a game due to his misconduct. Then Thomas suffered a hamstring injury in practice that delayed his return to the field.

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting and Saints WR Michael Thomas

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting and Saints WR Michael Thomas – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Thomas has just three catches for 17 yards this season after being shutdown by Davis in Week 1, but could return to action against Tampa Bay on Sunday Night Football this week. NFL reporter Adam Schefter discussed Thomas’ current situation on ESPN Countdown.

“I think he’s been dealing with the ankle injury since the beginning of the year. I think he’s been dealing with the hamstring injury,” Schefter said. “And I think both sides are not over the feelings that were hurt when Michael Thomas disrespected the coaching staff after he had the fight and didn’t want to apologize at that point in time.”

• The Saints have gone 4-2 in Thomas’ absence, and have won four straight games. Yet New Orleans has seen its point totals dip in each of the last four contest. The Saints won at Detroit, 35-29, then beat the Chargers 30-27 in overtime. New Orleans edged Carolina, 27-24, then won at Chicago in overtime, 26-23. That trend bodes well for the Bucs, who have scored over 30 points in four games this season, and are averaging 30.9 points per game, while the Saints average 29.4 points per game.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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8 months ago

So you think the Bucs will lose 3 out of the next 4? Saints, Panthers, and Rams are CLEARLY beatable. The Bucs have every ability to win out the season – although difficult – just depends on how the team shows up.

8 months ago

Godwin has been hurt for big parts of 2 of his 3 seasons here and Shaq has 1 really good season in the midst of many other average ones. Both will come back on deals that’ll be deemed team friendly. Suh has to come back bc Vea is another thats been injured for 2 of his 3 seasons and we have drafted no quality depth to replace Suh. Succop returns and my guess is we extend LVD for another 2-3 seasons with some money created from Brady/D.Smith restructuring their contracts. 6-2 or 5-3 in the second half is fine but… Read more »

Reply to  stlbucsfan
8 months ago

Brady had been restructuring his contract for years while at New England to help out the team. And in the end was not resigned. I don;t think he would be willing to do that again. Even if the owner said they love him like a son.

8 months ago

Good read Scott. just a few comments. Barrett is playing in a more balanced defense. Sacks are spread more evenly. He is a top player but 19 1/2 sacks was a one year deal. The only thing disappointing about Godwin is his durability. When he is healthy he is Pro Bowl material. I never try to estimate future W/L. Like Brady you play them one game at a time. The Giants game is a perfect example. I don’t like the idea of trading Brate. Gronk might leave next year and Howard (though talented) is injury prone. Brate has delivered consistently.… Read more »

The Wall
8 months ago

Totally agree with choices. Barrett seems to have one move- speed around the outside. His offside penalties are also a concern. So glad we franchised him. Looks like a good player, just not a great player.

8 months ago

Scott, I really appreciated the mention of Alex kappa and his improvement. A few years ago Many people are clamoring for him to be cut as he never played and the Bucs said he wasn’t ready. I know players stories are tougher now, but I would love a story on his development over the years, what he has worked on physically and mentally to change him self from being on the verge of being cut or at the bottom of the roster to a quality starter. I bring this up simply because that goes through my mind whenever I see… Read more »

8 months ago

Scott, spot on with the awards.
I see us 12-4 for season. 2nd half 6-2; those losses coming from Saints & Rams. Of course if we beat the Saints, we might run it out.

Reply to  Horse
8 months ago

I think the Bucs have a way better chance of beating the Saints than the Chiefs but that doesn’t mean the Saints don’t match up really well and give a huge competition. I still don’t think the Bucs have hit their ceiling. If you consider the first 4 weeks preseason, Bucs are only on game 5 as the “on-field” product.

As I said there isn’t a team that outright crushes the Bucs. They have all the tools to contend with anyone – even the Steelers. Just depends on injuries and what Bucs team shows up.

Last edited 8 months ago by eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
8 months ago

If we did a week 9-12 power ranking, I’d say:

  1. Saints because it’s a grudge match and the fate of the NFC South depends on it.
  2. Chiefs. They’re the top dog as SB champs until the playoffs are over.
  3. Rams. The Bucs 7-9 team dropped 55 on them on the road and shocked the entire NFL. I picked the Bucs to win that game last year. Dolphins defeated them all on the defense and the Bucs have a much better defense than the Dolphins.
  4. Panthers.
Reply to  eaustinyoung
8 months ago

This is only a power ranking with respect to how they matchup with the Bucs. Not team quality.

8 months ago

teams pay for sacks – not pressures

Actually, no, teams pay for effective play. Shaq Barrett is delivering consistent effective play, and that is not just sacks, but the whole game – pressures, hits, sacks, TFLs. assists, etc.

Reply to  Naplesfan
8 months ago

Agreed. Aaron Donald has had sack issues this season. You think the Rams regret paying him? Disruption is a very powerful tool.

8 months ago

It still stands that we can beat any team we play. It all depends on if we show up and don’t beat ourselves (and the officials stop missing calls like calling us Offsides when our opponents should have been called for a False Start. It’s happened twice this season already and I can’t remember it happening to us in the past but maybe once in a while). With the talent we have, our success is completely up to us. We have to beat the Saints Sunday Night, let’s start with that.