Looking back on Bucs’ loss to New Orleans

by Gary Shelton on September 15, 2020

in general

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

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

5 Disappointments

  1. The entire afternoon. Look, most people would have picked the Saints to win at home on Opening Day. The disappointing thing is that the big threats didn't play like big threats. Brady, Fournette, Gronkowski, Evans ... all laid eggs. You would have hoped for some glimpses that next week might be different, wouldn't you?

2. Donovan Smith. Please tell me why Smith has been an unchallenged starter for this team. Every week, he's the weak link.

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3. Bruce Arians. Yeah, the disappointments go all the way up. Who on a team is in charge of cohesion? Isn't it the head coach?

4. Former Bucs everywhere. If you're like me, you had to giggle over the thought of what Jameis Winston, Matt Gay, DeMar Dotson and M.J. Stewart thought of the day.

6. Bill Belichick 1, Tom Brady 0.

5 Comments from Arians

(From Monday's press conference)

(On Tom Brady): "He looked like Tom Brady in practice all the time, so it’s kind of unusual to see that in the ballgame because they didn’t do the things that we didn’t get ready for. Everything they did, we thought we were ready for. Some wide receivers have to do a better job of winning one-on-one when he decides to go their way. He put us in the right run checks a couple of times, so it was a learning experience that way. Can’t say that we were out of sync because we started out as good as you could start out going right down the field. Then, we don’t get any more chunk plays other than pass interference penalties. I think it’s a great learning experience. It’s just Round 1 of a 16-round fight and we’ll learn from it.”

(On Donovan Smith): “I was very disappointed in his play. I think every now and then he reverts back to some techniques that are not very good (and) he got beat. He had, probably, the easiest guy to block up there and he did a poor job. It was one of his poorer games and (I) expect for him to bounce back this week, yes.”

(On the play of special teams): “It was very disappointing to get that field goal blocked. Our operation time was a little slow. Again, we let penetration over the right guard and that’s very disappointing because you never expect that to happen. The muffed kickoff – that’s just ridiculous. You never back up in that situation. Guys are out there for the first time, [but] you still don’t anticipate that happening when they’ve been coached not to. We have to get it corrected, that’s for sure.”

(On the running game): “I thought RoJo (Ronald Jones II) was very positive, and Leonard [Fournette]. They both ran the ball well. Negative, our tight ends did not block the edge very well. That was a big part of our game plan and we got beat at it. We were out-physicaled. I thought our defense was more physical than their offense, but their defense was more physical than our offense. We can’t allow that to be happening.”

(On the play of tackle Tristan Wirfs): “I thought he played really well for a rookie against an All-Pro. You knew he was going to get beat once, maybe. The [false start] penalty – I didn’t like that, but he battled hard and his run blocking was really good.”

Game Balls

Offense: Chris Godwin was the Bucs' best player, catching seven balls for 79 yards. Honorable mention to Wirfs.

Defense: You couldn't take your eyes off Devin White, the inside linebacker.

Special teams: Bradley Pinion averaged 47.2 yards on five punts.


Quarterback: Brady might now know what he's up against, and how hard it is to count on help. Still, he wasn't the greatest of all time, was he? Grade: C-.

Running back: If Arians is pleased with the running game, he needs to raise his standards. Grade: C.

Offensive line: No. Grade: D-.

Defensive line: Only one sack, but the Saints were held to 2.4 yards per carry. Grade: B.

Linebackers: White and Lavonte David each had 11 tackles. They weren't the problem. Grade: A.

Secondary: The Bucs we're feisty, and Brees threw more incompletions than normal. Grade: B.

Kicking game: A blocked field goal? A botched kickoff? Who is coaching these guys? Grade: F-.

Quarterback Debuts

(Brady isn't the first Bucs quarterback to struggle in his first start for the team. A reminder:).

Brady 2020 L Saints 23-36 239 2 2 78.4

Winston 2015 L Titans 16-33 210 2. 2 64.0

Freeman. 2009 W Packers 14-31 205 3 1 86.1

Garcia. 2007 L Seattle 19-27 201 0 0 91.7

Simms 2004 W Saints 5-8 68 0 0 89.6

Dilfer 1995 L. 49ers. 7-12 45 0 1 21.8

Testaverde 1987 L Saints. 22-47 369 2 2. 70.3

Williams 1978 L. Giants. 1-5 9 0 1 0.0

Spurrier 1976 L Houston 8-21 90 0 2. 12.1

Young 1985 W Lions 16-27 167 0 0. 77.2

5 More Thoughts

The Bucs will play better this week, because the Panthers aren't as good as New Orleans. That means the receivers will have more space and the line (except for Smith) will block better. But, no, don't buy post-season tickets yet.

So, did Gronkowski decide to unretire or not?

In 2003, Brady opened the season with four interceptions in a 31-0 loss. That year, he went 14-2 and his team won the Super Bowl. Yeah, he's had bad times and recovered.

Do you think that Matt Gay called Jameis Winston to see what he thought of the game?

In high school, I was stood up for a date that I was really, really looking forward to. Yeah, that's kind of how it feels.

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