After racing out to a 21-7 lead, the Buccaneers let the Falcons hang around in Sunday’s 48-25 victory. Atlanta tightened the score to 28-25 in the third quarter before Tampa Bay stormed back with 21 points in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t close to being a perfect game despite the fact that the Bucs improved to 2-0.

Here is a look at this week’s most disappointing Buccaneers.

CB Ross Cockrell

Cockrell was called upon to start at nickel cornerback for the injured Sean Murphy-Bunting, but struggled in coverage, especially when matched up against Atlanta’s top receiver Calvin Ridley, who operated a good deal from the slot. Cockrell gave up several catches and finished with three tackles and no pass breakups. He also gave up a touchdown to Ridley in the third quarter that cut into Tampa Bay’s 28-10 lead.

Safety Mike Edwards was called upon to play in the slot a good deal in the second half and made a game-changing play in the fourth quarter when he stepped in front of slot receiver Russell Gage for a pick-six. Edwards did a better job handling the slot duties than Cockrell did on Sunday.

RB Ronald Jones II

Jones was the starter on Sunday and ripped off an 8-yard run on his first carry. He also had a 10-yard carry, but finished with just 27 yards on six carries, while Leonard Fournette had twice the opportunities that Jones did against Atlanta. Fournette had 52 yards on 11 carries, in addition to catching all four of his passes for 24 yards with a long of 16. Perhaps part of the reason why the coaches trust Fournette more is because of what happened in the third quarter.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: USA Today

Jones stepped out of bounds after catching a pass for nine yards when it looked like he could have tried harder to pick up the first down. On the next play, Jones missed an easy-to-see hole on second-and-1, bounced the play outside and was tackled for no gain. Jones did redeem himself with a 5-yard run on fourth-and-1, though, which was encouraging to see.

Jones also whiffed in pass protection in the fourth quarter, allowing a blitzing Deion Jones to sack Tom Brady to set up third-and-27 for the Bucs. It was not a good showing for Jones, who hasn’t shown he deserves to be the starter.

RB Leonard Fournette

As stated above, Fournette outperformed Jones as a runner, a receiver and a pass protector. But he wasn’t without a few major flaws of his own on Sunday. Fournette’s biggest gaffe came in the third quarter when he caught a pass and gained just two yards while running laterally. Falcons linebacker Foye Oloukun punched the ball out and it could have been disastrous if not for a key hustle play by wide receiver Chris Godwin to knock the ball out of bounds at the Bucs’ 21 while trying to recover the fumble.

Fournette also failed to pick up a first down on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter at the Falcons’ 34-yard line. Fournette had a clear hole to the left, but didn’t see it, as Tyeler Davidson and Grady Jarrett teamed up to make the tackle for no gain.

ILB Devin White

White missed several tackles and only wound up with six on the day, including three solo tackles. It looked like White lost rookie tight end Kyle Pitts in coverage down the left sidelines for a 24-yard gain. That play led to Cordarrelle Patterson’s touchdown two plays later to get Atlanta on the scoreboard and cut into the Bucs’ early 14-0 lead. White also missed quarterback Matt Ryan point blank on an A-gap blitz. Ryan evaded the over-aggressive linebacker and threw for a huge third down conversion.

White finished with six tackles and it wasn’t necessarily a bad game for the third-year pro. But because White has raised the bar with his play from last year, today’s game was underwhelming by his standards.

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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 Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for 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:
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1 month ago

I don’t know what’s going on with our RBs. Maybe they are getting bored blocking or should i say trying to block. That blown block by RoJo was just horribe to see. He even blitzed from the side he was on. Then he has that mental lapse of running out of bounds a yard short. Gee whiz guy you don’t get the ball that often. make the most of it. For the most part the both of them seemed to run with a purpose when they get they got the ball.

Ron Potter
1 month ago

Good list and commentary, Scott. I was disappointed coming away with just one sack. Our DL vs their OL seemed to be a premiere opportunity for sacks. There was pressure and one very bad call on Shaq, but I’d think it’s safe to say everyone expected more sacks than just the one by Suh.

1 month ago

Three plays that demonstrate why Ronald Jones should not be starting for this team. Jones is so clueless he never even makes a move at the pass-rusher who was running straight at him. Jones finally catches a pass and steps out of bounds a yard short of the first down despite no contact with the defense. Third and one with an easy off-tackle hole for the first down and Jones instead decides to go for the HR outside and doesn’t get the first down. Jones has a zero football IQ and his bonehead plays will come back to haunt this… Read more »

1 month ago

I understood the logic, but didn’t agree with giving up kick-off yardage out of fear for Cordarrelle Patterson. I was also a bit disappointed in the D-line’s inability to finish off Matt Ryan, who really stood in there and delivered pass after pass, albeit dinks and dunks, to keep the chains moving.

Reply to  scubog
1 month ago

In the two games so far this season, our pass rush started out weak, but then finished strong in the fourth quarter, when it matters most. They are the epitomy of the “bend but don’t break” defense. It’s hard to watch for us fans through the first three quarters, but then it’s thrilling to see during “money time”. We may have gotten only one sack during the game, but the pass rush pressure put on Ryan at the end was key in enabling the pick sixes and stops they put up in the fourth quarter. It would be nice to… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
1 month ago

I was disappointed in the D line with just one sack. Two weeks in a row teams have figured out this group. I think the RB performance is by design and a reflection of the coaching staff. These guys need reps to get into a rhythm, but not gonna happen. And the running game is an afterthought in this offense. Other than the playoff run, Fournette hasn’t shown much. He’s been the primary back for two game. And even though Jones got “the start” Fournette got the majority of reps anyway so the whole thing was token. The staff doesn’t… Read more »

Ted in Tampa
1 month ago

#76 Donovan Smith led the Bucs in Sacks allowed last year and he had a bad one yesterday as he let n Atlanta Edge Rusher run around him and chop down on Tompa Bay’s throwing arm causing a fumble and bruising #12’s bicep. Smith is slow and the only reason he starts is because his backup Well’s isn’t any better. There are a number of great offense left tackles graduating from college this year, so we have to correct this problem we’ve had for the past six years, and draft one.

Reply to  Ted in Tampa
1 month ago

Brady could have avoided that strip sack by stepping up in the pocket, which he usually does climb the pocket. He had plenty of room on that play.

Reply to  Ted in Tampa
1 month ago

We could definitely use a better left tackle but I think our priority is getting some defensive backs thru the draft or via trade or getting a steal from someone’s practice squad. We are hurting for people who can cover ordinary receivers

1 month ago

No way you put Fournette on the most disappointing player list, that’s utter bullshit, published on a website that is well known as “Fournette hater central” – both writers and commenters. Fournette led the entire freaking team – including Mike Evans – in all purpose offensive yards. He caught four of four targets from TB-12. And not only that, he was a great blocker. His yards per carry were good too – at 4.73. He consistently moved the chains. The play where he cut a defender otherwise heading to sack Brady was declared “the play of the game” by the… Read more »

1 month ago

Bucs offsense looks scary good but still need clean up few mistakes. RB’s have all been lackluster. RoJo going out short of first down was a pussy move. Assume he didn’t know where chains are but that’s not good either. Defense clamped down at end but man they have not impressed first two games at all. I was hoping Cockrell would be good since they said he was all pre season. CB is an issue. Thank god Safety Mike Edwards stepped up. They can’t seem get to QB either not sure if it’s our D line or Dallas and Falcons… Read more »

BucFan circa76
1 month ago

Good list Scott. Almost every play that RJ2 is an active participant, I ask myself if ANY team could even be considered a playoff team if he is their starting RB…..much less a Super Bowl contender. The staff seems to like his passion & work ethic, but his consistency & execution in key moments are not making the grade for his roster spot. He’s not a rookie, this is year 4 of the Jones Experience. I was hoping/expecting more from RJ2 this season, but it’s not starting off well (yet again)…

1 month ago

Definitely not impressed by our rbs good thing we have a great passing game and Tom Brady. Fournette is playing better than rojo but the bar is so low scheme isnt inspiring but lenny misses too many running lanes and seems to keep running into his own blockers which is so bizarre would love to see gio in more often gotta be better than what we are putting out there currently