Bucs clobbered as the stars don’t come out

by Gary Shelton on November 9, 2020

in general

Arians was surprised by Bucs' play./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

Maybe what the Tampa Bay Bucs need are a few more playmakers.

You know, guys you've heard of. Guys who have made plays in the NFL for years. Guys who still have a little fuel left in the tank.

Oh, wait.

Never mind.

The New Orleans Saints made the Bucs look like an over-hyped collection of has-beens Sunday night, taking over the NFC South leadin a loud, lopsided fashion, 38-3. It was one of the most disappointing, one of the most miserable games in Bucs' history.

Also: Ouch.

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“It was shocking," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "To watch us practice the way we practiced all week and the confidence we had coming in — we have to go back and look in the mirror as coaches, players, everybody, from yesterday to today. Another (game) where we go three-and-out and give up a touchdown (to begin the game). Second half, I thought we got the turnover and we don’t score a touchdown. I thought that kind of was the end of it right then and there. Give New Orleans credit — they kicked our a---- in every phase.

Remember when the Bucs were improving by the week, when they were climbing up the NFL Power Rankings, when they were the trendy team among analysts. None of that was apparent Sunday night. The Saints owned almost every play and clearly established that they were the better team.

And those stars?

-- Tom Brady threw three interceptions, took three sacks and had a rating of just 40.4. He did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 14 games. In two games against the Saints, he has five interceptions.

"The pressure helps," Arians said."But when you’re down 28 (points) you’re not running the ball [and] the pressure’s coming. It’s still no excuse for interceptions, but he was getting hit and it’s definitely not on him.”

-- Mike Evans caught just four passes for 64 yards in his head-to-head matchup with Marshon Lattimore.

“Part of it’s scheme, part of it’s reading out some things that Mike was open on and just finding him," Ariams said. "(Tom Brady) is still learning the offense in some spots, but we’ve got to do a better job

-- Chris Godwin, playing with a surgically-repaired finger, caught just three passes.

-- Rob Gronkowski caught just one pass for two yards.

-- Newly acquired Antonio Brown caught three passes for 31 yards.

-- Leonard Fournette caught six passes, but he ran only once for three yards.

-- Ronald Jones II ran for nine yards. The Bucs ran a running back only four times.

“Not (when you’re down) 28," Arians said when asked if the team should have run the ball more. "We were in two-minute offense pretty quickly in this one because we were only going to get so many possessions. We had to throw the football and obviously you’ve got to protect better when you have to throw the football like that.”

And so it went. The Bucs didn't score until late in the game, wen Ryan Succop kicked a 48-yard field goal. Whoopie.

The Saints were sharper, stronger, faster, more creative. Drew Brees threw for four touchdowns, and Tayson Hill was a weapon, and 11 different receivers caught passes for New Orleans.

The Bucs? They couldn't even score with a first-and-goal from the one. They lacked more cohesion, more creativity, than they have all year.

How bad was it? It was a 28-0 game with 8:45 left in the second quarter. At the time, New Orleans had 15 first downs to the Bucs' one. They had 241 yards to the Bucs' 36. It was ugly early.

When you consider the narrow escape in New York last week, the Bucs seem to be on a slide. With upcoming games against the improving Panthers, the Rams and the Chiefs, the NFL may be ready to make a new assessment about the Bucs.

So where do the Bucs need to improve before next week.

“Everything – offense, defense, special teams," Arians said. "They ran the ball on us and we’re not used to seeing that versus anybody. Same thing offensively – falling behind, turning the ball over [and] the field position game was terrible again in the first half.”

Brady was asked about his interceptions.

“Speaking for tonight, one was tipped on a screen pass," Brady said. "You hate to have those happen, but the guy made a good play. Then, on fourth down, I kind of threw it up in the air. The other one, I definitely saw something and kind of predetermined what I thought was going to happen and made a bad play. So, I certainly have to play a lot better. Turning the ball over against good teams never helps. We just didn’t play the way we were capable of playing. Everyone’s got to do a lot better, and it starts with me. Get back to work tomorrow morning and try to make it a better week.”

Brady said that some very good teams have horrible games.

"When things don’t go your way, sometimes, rhey keep going that way," Brady said. "You’ve got to figure out how to stop it and then turn it around. We had our opportunities and we just didn’t do it. We’ve got to learn from it. Hopefully we can learn from it and be better next week. It’s not about predicting the future. I’m not here to say, ‘This is what we’re going to do based on losing a game.’ We’re going to get back to work and try and do a lot better next week. We’ve got to win one game. We’re 6-3. I wish we we’re a lot better than that, but that’s where we’re at. So, we’ve got to go on the road and beat a good football team.”

The Bucs have struggled in their prime-time games this season.

“It’s pretty embarrassing," said Shaq Barrett. "Since the start of the game, I think we stopped them less than a handful of times this whole game. We couldn’t stop them on defense, and it was nothing new, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to make. Our offense, they couldn’t get it going and it was just a total team collapse, and that’s not what we’re about. We’re going to look at the film, get better [and] take all of the coaching, so we won’t make the same mistakes.”'

The Bucs play at Carolina next week. The game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.

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