The Tampa Bay Bucs lost their first game of the 2021 season at Los Angeles against a strong Rams team, 34-24. The loss snaps Tampa Bay’s 10-game winning streak, and also the nine-game streak of scoring 30 points or more.
Here are the most disappointing Bucs players from Sunday’s game in L.A.
CB Jamel Dean
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Dean dropped a sure-fire interception on Stafford’s fifth pass attempt when a pass deflected off Cooper Kupp’s hands in the first quarter. The third-year cornerback didn’t play long enough to make up for his early mistake. Dean suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and did not return. His injury, combined with Sean Murphy-Bunting’s elbow injury, could prompt Bucs general manager Jason Licht to sign another cornerback or two – perhaps veteran Richard Sherman – this week.
TE Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski dropped a big potential reception on third-and-5 at the Rams 20-yard line. Gronkowski also drew an illegal formation penalty in the second quarter, setting up a first-and-15 situation. The big tight end made up for it with a first down catch, his first of the game, later in the drive.
Right before halftime, Gronkowski got flagged for an offensive pass interference penalty that negated a 20-yard catch-and-run by Chris Godwin near midfield. It was a questionable call for sure, but it still counted and stymied a potential scoring drive for Tampa Bay. Gronkowski’s rough first half continued as he gave up a sack-fumble to Aaron Donald with 16 seconds left before halftime. In the second half, the veteran misplayed two throws that could have been huge plays. Gronkowski got hurt in the third quarter and finished with four catches for 55 yards.
FS Mike Edwards
Edwards was the star in last week’s 48-25 win against the Falcons with two pick-sixes, but gave up a touchdown in L.A. Playing free safety in Cover 2, Edwards slipped on DeSean Jackson’s 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter. After the game, Arians said there was a coverage miscommunication on the play. In the third quarter, Edwards was slow to converge on Robert Woods’ 20-yard catch on third-and-12. Edwards saw some snaps in the slot at nickel, but mostly played safety in Tampa Bay’s two-deep coverage.
Bucs’ Ground Game
Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: USA Today
Tampa Bay’s offensive line got dominated in the trenches and could not establish the running game. That put the Bucs in several second-and-long and third-and-long situations when rushes on first and second down picked up little yardage. Tampa Bay ran for just 35 yards on 13 carries. Because the Bucs trailed in the second half, the team could not afford to attempt too many running plays. Ronald Jones II ran for just 11 yards on five carries. Starter Leonard Fournette only had eight yards on four carries. Tom Brady, who led the team with 14 yards on three carries, and Chris Godwin had rushing touchdowns, but those came from one yard and two yards out.
Bucs’ Defensive Front
For the third time this season, Tampa Bay recorded just one sack. That came from defensive end Will Gholston, who may be the least talented pass rusher up front. But neither Ndamukong Suh nor Vita Vea got to the quarterback inside, and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett was manhandled by right tackle Rob Havenstein. The Bucs only have three sacks in three games and are completely underwhelming when it comes to their pass rush. This is a stark contrast from a year ago when Tampa Bay had 11 sacks through the first three games.
P Bradley Pinion
Pinion averaged 36.3 yards per punt on Sunday, which was his worst day this season. His 15-yard shank to the Tampa Bay 37-yard line led to a 47-yard field goal by Matt Gay to give the Rams a 31-14 lead late in the third quarter.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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