The Bucs fell to the Saints in embarrassing fashion on Sunday night, losing to New Orleans by a final score of 38-3 and moving to 6-3 on the season. The loss also leaves Tampa Bay in second place in the division as they head into a Week 10 match-up with the Carolina Panthers.
This list could be twice as long if we chose to nit-pick every individual player, but here are our selections for this week’s Most Disappointing.
We can pick apart the players individually and will, but ultimately it is hard for the players to perform well when they are not put in the best position to succeed. Coaching hasn’t been a glaring weakness in the first eight games, but it was really poor on Sunday night.
Offensively, the play calls by Byron Leftwich were puzzling at times, particularly designing plays where the running backs are primary targets. On a team loaded with wide receiver talent, it is inexcusable that Ronald Jones had four targets in the first half and Mike Evans had none.
Defensively, Todd Bowles was taken to the wood shed by Saints head coach Sean Payton. Continually playing a soft zone and hoping your front four could get to quarterback Drew Brees is football suicide. Is there a quarterback in NFL history that has proven to be better against zone coverage than Drew Brees? And maybe even more egregious was the lack of adjustments at any point in the first half, during which the Saints went up 31-0.
Lastly, head coach Bruce Arians didn’t have his team ready to play on Sunday. Whether it was the players enjoying their accolades a little too much, or just not being mentally sharp enough to perform well, at the end of the day it falls on the head coach.
QB Tom Brady
The Bucs offensive line wasn’t good on Sunday night and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was overmatched by Saints DC Dennis Allen, but even with that said, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t close to the same player we’ve seen over the last few weeks.
Brady seemed to bail early at times when the footsteps were getting close, and when he did have time he missed a couple throws he would love to have back. And lastly, his decision-making on where he went with the football wasn’t as good as it’s been in recent weeks.
On the night Brady was just 22-of-38 for 209 yards and three interceptions and finished with a paltry QB rating of 40.4.
LT Donovan Smith
Smith had one of his worst games of the season and an ugly second half spurt of giving up a sack or pressure on three straight plays. His night started with a holding penalty on an 8-yard run by Ronald Jones that led to second-and-20, a down-and-distance which the Bucs were unable to convert. Smith’s two worst games this year have come against the Saints.
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean
Unfortunately this is becoming a habit. Sean Murphy-Bunting wasn’t just beaten on the Saints first quarter opening score, he completely blew the coverage. Or did he? You could actually see Murphy-Bunting looking a little confused just before the snap and he and Jamel Dean clearly weren’t on the same page. In the second quarter Dean was beaten by Emmanuel Sanders for a touchdown that pushed the Saints lead to 21-0.
With Carlton Davis playing as well as he has this season, the Bucs need more consistency at the other cornerback spots if the team hopes to make a deep playoff run. Dean and Murphy-Bunting have been struggling mightily for weeks now. It needs to change or the Bucs pass defense will be in big trouble down the stretch this season.
Bucs Pass Rush
Three pressures and just one sack will rarely beat Drew Brees. The Bucs came into the game with a plan of playing more zone and getting to Brees with four rushers. That didn’t work out well, and you have to scratch your head wondering why the Bucs didn’t in fact do the exact opposite. If Brees has all day to sit in the pocket, he will pick you apart like buzzards on an opossum keeled over in the middle of the road. Brees was the buzzard on Sunday night, and the Bucs aptly played the role of a dead opossum.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com