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

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

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.

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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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Lawdy
26 days ago

11 sacks through the first three games last year, compared to only 3 sacks through the first three games this year. Let that sink in

fredster
26 days ago

Add o line to list. They couldn’t block for shit.

kingtrojan
Reply to  fredster
26 days ago

We definitely know for sure they haven’t been able open up running lanes for years

Benjamin
26 days ago

What is going on with the Bucs lack of a pass rush. There has been little to no rush in every game so far. They have given every Qb the bucs have faced way too much time to dissect the defense and have barely affected the games as a whole. It doesn’t matter what combination of linemen and edge rusher they use there’s been a major lack of pressure. I know it cannot be the qbs throwing the ball quickly because Stafford had allow day to throw and luckily he missed on a few in the game otherwise the score… Read more »

PewterHeart
26 days ago

Byron Leftwich…The offense was never aggressive down the field, and he never threw in disguises to throw off the defense.
BA, kicked that field goal instead of trying to score the td…
Was at the game, we were not ready…

Ron Potter
Reply to  PewterHeart
26 days ago

I think this Gio Bernard thing takes us away from the strengths of our offense. If Byron feels pressure to use Bernard with screens, it’s not a good thing. We’ve got plenty of pass-catching guys that can be schemed to run the checkdown routes, outlet routes and screen plays. No NFL defense respects Bernard as a big play-maker as much as they do RoJo and Fournette. These two RBs need to be on the field as much as possible.

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  Ron Potter
26 days ago

And what’s your big idea to have them actually succeed with their carries? Rojo and LF have been junk with the carries they’ve been given in 3 games. Gio actually had a good game yesterday, apart from getting beaten 1 time on a pass block rep. Rojo and LF have had ample opportunity to aucceed and both have shrunk from the challenge. The Bucs are better when they are a balanced football team, meaning they’re throwing 30 times and running the same. Hopefully they get it together.

Naplesfan
Reply to  NaplesFan2.0
25 days ago

We did not run the ball nearly often enough – we rely too heavily on TB-12 to pass our way out of a bind. He threw for 432 yards, yet we played from behind the entire game. We give up on the run too much too early. That takes a massive amount of pressure off the opposing defenders, and puts a massive amount of pressure on our pass defense blockers, with defenders knowing we won’t run the ball. We passed 41 times to only 13 rushes. We should be getting a minimum of 25 rushes per game, no matter who… Read more »

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  Naplesfan
25 days ago

One of the rare times you and I agree Naples. 60-40 is an ideal split, and the Bucs do give up on the run waaaay too early. When they answered the Rams first touchdown with one of their own, the drive was a long one. I dont remember the exact numbers, but it was something like a 12-14 play 75 yard drive, which chewed up the clock and gave the defense a breather. They scrapped the entire plan once they got down by 14, and to me, that was a mistake.

Ron Potter
26 days ago

Another most disappointing for me: Gio Bernard. I’m disappointed with the overall clamor for this guy to play more. He played a lot more today, and Gio is just simply not the big-play threat with the ball that Fournette and RoJo are. Increasing snaps for Gio takes away snaps from two very young, very talented and very promising RBs… whose games have not yet evolved fully into full pro. I personally hope this was the last I’ve seen of THAT MANY snaps for Gio. It’s best to think of Gio as insurance, NOT some kind of specialist. Otherwise, we become… Read more »

NaplesFan2.0
Reply to  Ron Potter
26 days ago

Neither Rojo or LF could be classified as VERY young. In rb years, they’re old men already. Rojo and LF have both been JUNK with their carries and receptions, and have been nothing close to these “big play threats” you claim. I will say that for the first time in 3 weeks, they weren’t responsible for 1 turnover, which is a step in the right direction. Gio had a better game than both of those idiots and when Tom Brady leads your team in rushing, you need new rbs.

Joseph
Reply to  Ron Potter
25 days ago

Disappointed in gio wtf? He outplayed both Lenny and rojo which wasnt hard to do. there is no big play threat coming from Lenny and rojo you are crazy. Lenny is dancing far to much for how big this guy is and rojo has lost his confidence again.

Horse
26 days ago

Good selections Scott, but i disagree with you on Gronk. He was getting hit a lot and he can’t make every catch that’s not not quite catchable.

Dman
Reply to  Horse
25 days ago

Agree. That pass was just out of reach.

Eddie
26 days ago

Add the Bucs Coaching staff to this disappointing list. The penalties Arian complained about was still here. No adjustment at half time, or whatever adjustment did not work.

scubog
Reply to  Eddie
25 days ago

What are you adjusting other than hoping the 4th string CB can get through the game?

compewterpirate
26 days ago

Todd Bowles should be on top of that list, just for embodying that apocryphal old definition of insanity of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result!”. This game was reminiscent of the worst of Bowles’s play calling in the early part of last season. Too much ‘soft coverage’, no pressure from the front four and no blitz packages called to remedy the lack of a pass rush. Bowles gets an ‘F’ in my book. To wit: If your ‘prescription’ of rushing just four down lineman, who don’t get any pressure on the QB, is… Read more »

Last edited 26 days ago by compewterpirate
Naplesfan
Reply to  compewterpirate
25 days ago

Bowles didn’t have control over the pass rush – that is not something you game plan for, i.e., whether or not your rush is effective. That is almost entirely on the backs of the pass rushers themselves. Bowles controls whether we blitz or not, but not how effective the rush is. JPP was out. Suh and Vea were not as dominant against the Rams O-line as they were against the Falcs. Tryon-Shoyinka is but a rookie – and rookie edge rushers rarely excel. And Barrett has not really shown up as a rusher so far this season. In game coaching… Read more »

Last edited 25 days ago by Naplesfan
compewterpirate
Reply to  Naplesfan
25 days ago

My criticism of Bowles was not due to the absence of an effective pass rush, but rather the lack of a viable remedy to that scenario, as clearly expressed in my second paragraph … “If your ‘prescription’ of rushing just four down lineman, who don’t get any pressure on the QB, is not working, then you don’t just repeat the same futile dose for four TD scoring drives, you get creative and try something different!” … Clearly the latter option was entirely within his remit and hence my criticism of his persistence with a rote formula for rushing the passer… Read more »

scubog
25 days ago

Sometimes it’s just mind boggling reading folk’s perceptions of the game…….especially a loss. We’re playing an undrafted F/A at CB because of injuries causing a ripple effect in the secondary, against one of the best offensive teams in the league and you actually think any coach could “make an adjustment” to solve the problem. Perhaps Raheem should have “made some adjustments” too since his secondary got lit up for over 400 yards. The running game is a disappointment, but certainly understandable since the team is so effective passing and got behind on the scoreboard. Hard to muster much of a… Read more »

Horse
Reply to  scubog
25 days ago

Exactly. Two good team played each other, and this time we lost. You are 100% correct about all the DB’s injuries.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
25 days ago

Compare this result to our two regular season games against the Saints, and coming up short yesterday looks pretty decent, if not inspiring. All teams have off days. But I am very concerned about the trends of not effectively rushing the passer and running the ball too little, putting everything on the shoulders of the GOAT and his pass rush blockers.

gg720
Reply to  Horse
25 days ago

It is a blessing in disguise that Bunting is hurt and Dean got hurt yesterday. Not that I want players to get hurt, but this may finally make our coaches look for players who know how to cover a NFL receiver and be able to stay within a couple of yards of their man unlike Dean and Bunting are able to do. Our DB’s are going to kill us this year unless we can pressure the opposing QB’s every time they drop back to pass. Our defensive backfield is atrocious!

Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
25 days ago

It’s the arrogance of the Couch Sitter who deems himself the World’s Greatest Coach and GM because his fantasy football team won last week.

Dman
25 days ago

Need to add BA, Bowles and Leftwich to the list. We came in flat and didn’t adjust during the game. Or the Rams just spanked us. We got beat soundly in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Long plane ride home.

BucFan circa76
25 days ago

Nothing like the first loss since the SB, one that ended a franchise-record 10 consecutive wins, to get everyone’s panties in a wad. I think Scott picked this game as a loss in this preseason predictions – I know I sure as hell did. We probably should have lost the Dallas game but thankfully didn’t. That’s not to say I wish it had been more competitive on our part. The Defense has been ill-prepared for all three games thus far. We made Matt Ryan look a lot better than he is last week, and hell, made Matt Stafford look like… Read more »

cobraboy
25 days ago

Pretenders, still hungover from the boat parade.
Belichick is licking his lips for some evil payback.

Naplesfan
25 days ago

Interesting that Barrett doesn’t make this list. He got paid this year, he led the league in sacks two years ago, yet through 3 games he’s got a grand total of 1 sack this season. At that rate he’ll finish the season with only mid-single digits in sacks. That’s disappointing, is it not? Yes, Scott called out the entire pass rush, but Shaq Barrett used to terrorize quarterbacks, and now he no longer does. That really needs to change, especially now that other key members of our front seven are aging out (JPP, Suh) and their performance already appears to… Read more »

Joseph
25 days ago

I don’t think gronk should be on here plenty of other failures out here directly related to this loss gronk not being one of them

Ted in Tampa
25 days ago

Like we all knew, #76 Donovan Smith would be well at the Top of the “Bucs Who Must Play Better,” list, but he won’t, he can’t. The first Bucs Offense Play of the game was foretelling as Donovan Smith tried to block, but the Rams DT stood Smith straight up and our run just stacked up behind him. The Bucs even brought in Oline left tackle Wells to bolster the left side of our line, but such a patchwork formula never worked well. The Rams wiped the floor all day against Smith and once the Rams were sure we couldn’t… Read more »

Ted in Tampa
25 days ago

I can’t say enough about the extra effort that Jensen gave through all four quarters. Blocking far downfield for Buc’s runners and pass catchers through the entire game should have inspired Bu’s like #76, but it didn’t.