When you tie a franchise record for most points in a single game there’s a lot of positives to take away from it. However there are a few areas where the Bucs can improve moving forward. Let’s take a look at the good and the not so good before moving on the the Eagles game.
Biggest Winners: Buccaneers’ Offense
There were a ton of questions surrounding the Buccaneers’ offense. For one Jameis Winston was serving the first of his three game suspension which put journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick into the starting spot.
Lucky for fans, Fitzpatrick had probably his best career game in week one. Not only did he set career highs in passing yards (417), passer rating (156.2) and rushing attempts (12), he also added a rushing touchdowns to give him five total on the day. Fitzpatrick was just fantastic in every aspect of the game. Those who expected him to go out there and be simply a game-manager were surly caught by surprise by this performance.
Thanks to Fizpatrick, the receiving core had an incredible day. One of the biggest disappointments from last season was the lack of chemistry between Winston and DeSean Jackson. There aren’t any questions about Fitzpatrick and Jackson’s connection after Sunday. Jackson finished the game with 146 yards on five receptions including touchdown catches of 58 and 36 yards. Top target Mike Evans had a great game as well with 147 yards on seven receptions including a 50 yard touchdown grab. Throw in up-and-comer Chris Godwin (3 receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown) and the Bucs may have the best receiving core in the NFL.
A lot of credit should go to offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the performance today. After making a name for himself as OC with Oklahoma State and head coach at Southern Miss, the third year OC finally got his shot at play calling. The Bucs experimented in the preseason with Monken calling plays and they liked what they saw. While Koetter ultimately has final say at what the offense does, Monken called a fantastic game and should have the team’s faith moving forward.
Mike Evans told me he wasn’t even sure who was calling the plays and acted surprised when I told him Todd Monken called them. Same with Ryan Fitzpatrick. O.J. Howard said he figured it out though. Those two spend so much time together and Monken… https://t.co/kAtlCaqUbl
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) September 9, 2018
Needs Improvement: Buccaneers’ Secondary
This feels like a bit of nitpicking considering just how dominant the offense was but hidden in the win is a defense that struggled. Yes it’s against Drew Brees and the Saints but the Bucs can’t afford to let their defense to perform like this. In my game preview I mentioned how the Bucs front seven needed to perform well for the Bucs to win. Well they didn’t quite have a great game but secondary was worse.
Brees completed 37 of his 45 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns. He had his way with the Bucs and his top receivers made big plays. Michael Thomas caught 16 passes, a Saints record, on 17 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown.
Alvin Kamara also carved the Buccaneers up. While he only managed 29 yards on the ground, he picked up 112 yards receiving and a touchdown as well. Kamara routinely made impressive plays in the open field making defenders miss.
Yes the defense managed to force two fumbles but allowing 40 points is inexcusable. If the Bucs didn’t rack up 48 points the storyline would have been how the Bucs’ defense hasn’t made improvements. Injuries played a major part but everyone needs to be more prepared to step up.
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