Looking back on the Bucs’ win over the Rams

by Gary Shelton on October 1, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Godwin had 12 catches Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Thoughts

  1. At this point of last season, the Bucs were also 2-2, and they had also won a wild shootout (a 48-40 win over New Orleans) on the road. Still, this feels better. Jameis Winston is playing better. Shaq Barrett is a star. And no receivers are pouting.

2. Is it too early to put Shaq Barrett in the Ring of Honor? Or should we give it a week?

3. I'm one of the few who doesn't think ex-coach Dirk Koetter was a babbling idiot, but was he so distracted over DeSean Jackson and Brent Grimes' pouting that he couldn't find more than 44 yards in Ronald Jones?

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4. So if you're cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross, what do you say to your troops who gave up 45 completions and 517 yards? I'm guessing "good job" doesn't quite do it.

5. Food for thought: He has to make some playoffs, and the game has changed. But how many better quarterbacks than Winston have the Bucs had? Ever? (Granted, that says more about the franchise than the quarterback).

Are the Bucs' learning from Bruce Arians?/JEFFREY S. KING

5 Comments

(From Bruce Arians day-after press conference)

(On his team's performance): After watching the film, (I was) really pleased again – probably more so with the resiliency of our football team. We throw the interception, it’s 45-40 and nobody blinked. We went right back down the field, made it an eight-point game, (the) defense comes in and wins the game. I think those are huge strides for a young team. It could’ve easily gone the other way. They put last week behind them when they showed up for work last Wednesday and we’ll put this week behind us when we show up for work this Wednesday.”

(On quarterback Jameis Winston) " "It’s continued growth. I thought the red zone was the biggest difference in this one – third down and red zone. It was 62 percent – whatever it was – on third down – he played great on third down. The red zone – five out of six – that’s the difference in the ball game. He’s just growing in the offense. I think Byron (Leftwich) and Clyde (Christensen) are doing a great job with him, fundamentally and mentally. I don’t know if anybody’s played better the last three weeks than he has, and the numbers should bear it – we put a lot of points up. You jump out 21-0, you get the crowd out of it and then you just keep playing. The one thing I kept preaching was, ‘Keep scoring, keep going after it,’ because I knew the Rams were going to score some points."

(On the offensive line): "They played fantastic. Harold (Goodwin) and Joe Gilbert had a great plan to try and minimize (Aaron Donald) as much as possible. That’s hard to do, and I thought our guys – our guards, centers – all did a heck of a job with it."

(On Chris Godwin and the receivers who have played for him): "Yeah, I’ve been blessed. Hines Ward was one of the best ever. Reggie Wayne bought into it [and] was a physical receiver. Larry Fitzgerald was one of the best blocking receivers the last few years. Chris – that’s his role. That’s why I love when a guy has the breakout games of (12) catches or whatever for 170 yards, because he’s doing all that grimy work. You throw him screen passes in the red zone, not just because they’re good at it (but) because they deserve it. He blocked Clay Matthews better than our tight ends did a couple of times."

(On playing with conviction): "You have to play fearless and that’s one of my biggest messages to Jameis – throw it. Don’t worry about it, just throw it and know why you’re throwing it. We have to play that way. We still have some young DBs who are playing a little careful, and my message to them is it’s time to play fearless. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake, but don’t hold your breath – let it go.”

Except for a late interception, Winston was sharp./© Joe Mestas

5 of the Best Takes

"Chris Godwin and Jameis Winston starred in this one. Both Bucs players earned extremely high marks on multiple occasions, connecting 12 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s big win on the road."

-- Pro Football Focus

"Ronald Jones was outstanding against the Rams’ defensive front. He may have averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, but he forced multiple missed tackles and gained a ton of yards after contact."

-- Pro Football Focus

"Tampa Bay’s new edge defender Shaquil Barrett s special. He’s well on his way to a career year and very well could find himself in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation if he keeps at his current pace. He was unblockable coming off the edge and recorded a late strip-sack that sealed the game for Tampa Bay on Sunday."

-- Pro Football Focus

 "There was a big test for Winston in this game. Midway through the fourth quarter, he did what he’d done so often in his four-plus years as a Buc—he threw an ill-advised pass that was picked. The interception, by Marcus Peters, was returned for a touchdown. Bucs 45, Rams 40. Uh-oh.

“So I throw that pick-six,” Winston said, “and we get the ball back, and now we’ve got a third-and-long. We can’t give the ball back to them. I was going based on the coverage I saw, and I saw Mike Evans open first, and I hit him. First down. That sort of catapulted us to a scoring drive [field goal] and they didn’t score again.”

“Do you ever feel the pressure of your situation?” I asked. “Knowing the Bucs have to make a decision on you long-term by the end of this season?”

“No sir,” Winston said. “I wake up every morning thinking, ‘How can we win this game? How can I be the best player I can be.’ I’m just trying to play football at the highest level I can.”

If he has a few more games like Sunday’s, he’ll make the decision easy for the Bucs."

-- Peter King, NBCsports.com

"Nadamukong Suh almost hit 19 miles per hour on a game-sealing fumble return for a touchdown return against his former team. It was not enough to crack the fastest ballcarriers of the day list, but for perspective, he’s only about three miles per hour behind Browns running back Nick Chubb, whose 88-yard touchdown run on Sunday had him top out at almost 22 miles per hour. Suh hit Goff twice and also registered a tackle, in the exact kind of game that he is still uniquely useful for."

-- Sports Illustrated

Barrett came up big again against the Rams./Photo By:© Joe Mestas

Game Balls

Offense: How many balls can you give? Chris Godwin deserves one. Mike Evans deserves one. The entire offensive line deserves one. Ron Jones deserves one. But let's stay basic, and go with Jameis Winston. He'll always throw some picks, but a 120.5 rating and 55 points is good enough.

Defense: Shaq Barrett just keeps coming up gold. He had "only" one sack, but he forced a fumble that Ndamukong Suh returned for a touchdown to clinch the game. If I was a jersey-wearing guy, I'd buy No. 58.

Kicking: Matt Gay kicked two field goals, including a 58 yarder, and hit seven extra points. I don't believe in "making up for it" -- the loss to the Giants still stands -- but he still might work out.

Marpet was huge against Aaron Donald./CARMEN MANDATO

Grades

Quarterback: Yeah, Winston threw one to the other team. Again. But all quarterbacks throw interceptions. One a game when he's lighting it up is acceptable. Grade: A.

Running back: Jones had 70 yards, but he would have had 159 if not for penalties, including one silly illegal shift call. He was right. Dirk Koetter was wrong. Grade: A.

Wide receiver: Chris Godwin was a star. Mike Evans was terrific. What's above an A+? Grade: A+.

Offensive line: They got some push in the running game. They gave Winston time. They made Aaron Donald disappear. Grade: A.

Defensive line: You can quibble and suggest that when the other team throws 68 times, you should get the quarterback down more than twice. But the play by Barrett and Suh redeemed the line. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Kevin Minter had nine tackles. Lavonte David had seven. A decent day. Grade: C+.

Defensive backs: It was a long day of chasing Ram receivers. Grade: F.

Kevin Minter had a big day for Bucs./JOE MESTAS

Unsung Heroes

  1. Kevin Minter had nine tackles for the Bucs, including a great rush on Barrett's interception.

2. Dare Ogunbowale caught three passes.

3. Ali Marpet. Made Aaron Donald disappear, which isn't easy. Donald had one tackle and three assists.

4. Matt Gay. A seven-for-seven afternoon is a nice turnaround. More, please.

5. Cameron Brate: He's done enough not to be considered "unsung," but he had been quiet. Sunday, he caught three passes, one for a touchdown.

Howard has been solid for the Bucs at tight end./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Highest Scores

Buccaneers 55, Rams 40, at L.A. Coliseum, Sept. 29, 2019

Buccaneers 48, Saints 40, Sept. 9, 2018

Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21, Jan. 26, 2003 (Super Bowl)

Buccaneers 48, Saints 21, Dec. 23, 2001

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 10, Sept. 13, 1987

Gruden started fast with Tampa Bay../JEFFREY S. KING

First-Year Bucs Coaches

(After Four Games)

Jon Gruden 3-1

Sam Wyche 3-1

Bruce Arians 2-2

Ray Perkins 2-2

(Richard Williamson, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter were all 1-3; John McKay, Leeman Bennett, Tony Dungy and Raheem Morris were all 0-4)

Jameis Winston has been great for three weeks./STEVEN MUNCIE

Winston's Rankings

Category NFL rank Number

Passing Yards 5 1167

Rating 22 95.8

Tds 4 9

Ints. 5 5

Sacks 4 12

Evans is sixth in the NFL in yardage, but second on his team./JOE MESTAS

Random Stats

Category Player NFL Rank Number

Rushing Jones 17 234

Receiving Godwin 3 386

Evans 6 368

Sacks Barrrett 1 9

Tackles David 25 30

Scoring Gay 1 39

Suh scored the clinching touchdown./STEVEN MUNCIE

NFL Power Ratings

NBCsports.com 19

Sporting News 20

Fansided 20

Massey Rankings 18

OddsSharks.com 23

Leftwich had a great day calling plays./TIM WIRT

5 Closing Thoughts

  1. Don't look now, but the Bucs are in decent shape in the NFC South. New Orleans has lost Drew Brees. Atlanta is off to a tough start. And the Bucs have beaten Carolina. It's early, but the cellar doesn't seem guaranteed.

2. Should the Bucs' secondary be this bad? They've spent six picks on the secondary in the last three drafts in the top three rounds.

3. In the last three games, Jameis Winston has hit 67 of 103 passes for 973 yards and eight touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 113.5. Yeah, he's hearing Bruce Arians' whispers.

4. A stat worth stealing. Since the 1970 merger, teams that have scored 40 points in a game with at least one defensive touchdown were 400-5 before Sunday. With the Rams' loss to the Bucs, they're now 400-6.

5. I wonder how many points the Rams' offense would have scored against the Rams' defense Sunday. Or the Bucs offense against the Bucs defense.

The Bucs won't have to contend with Brees./JEFFREY S. KING

Looking Ahead

5 Best Saints

1. Drew Brees

2. Rickey Jackson

3. Willie Roaf

4. Archie Manning

5. Chuck Muncie

Gay bounced back well for Bucs./TIM WIRT

Favorite Saints

1. Archie Manning

2. Bobby Hebert

3. Doug Atkins

4. Danny Abramowicz

5. Tom Dempsey

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