WELL, THAT WAS HUMBLING!
The Buccaneers offense FINALLY had all it’s pieces back together and played well enough to win, but the defense didn’t show up and Tampa Bay lost it’s second straight home game 41-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs. The loss puts them at 2-2 now, which most people would say is “acceptable” considering their first four opponents of the season. However, it’s still hard to stomach.
I think I’m officially OFF the “Super Bowl or Bust” bandwagon after this one. I don’t think this team has it, not after this performance. They may have scored a late touchdown to make the scoreboard look more respectable, but this game was laughable from start to finish. It was literally over from kickoff. With that being said, let’s take a look at my Good, Bad and Ugly from this game so that we can move on to Atlanta.
No, I mean it. Brady and Evans played good, but everything else was dog shit. Nothing went right against the Chiefs. All three phases were terrible Sunday night. They couldn’t block. They couldn’t catch. They couldn’t run the ball. They couldn’t stop the run. They couldn’t tackle. They couldn’t cover kicks. They couldn’t kickoff. They couldn’t cover punts. And they couldn’t punt. Did I miss anything? This was one of those games where nothing went right for the Bucs and everything went right for the Chiefs. Literally, Patrick Mahomes could do no wrong.
When he did have time to throw, he was able to complete passes. He finished 39 of 52 for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was by far his most productive game of the season so far, but the Bucs won’t be able to win many games if they can’t run the football and he has to throw it 50+ times a game.
The Bucs finally had their top four receivers on the field at the same time, but it was Evans who stepped up and shined as usual. He finished with 8 catches for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also set a new franchise record for scrimmage yards with 9,450 taking that spot away from James Wilder (9,449).
I already touched on most of this, but it seems appropriate to hit it twice. The Bucs could do nothing right on Sunday night. Nothing. Everything went bad for the Bucs in this game. All three phases sucked. With the exception of the Brady/Evans connection, it was all garbage. Especially on defense.
The defense has been carrying this team over the first three games with the offense struggling. This time, the offense played good enough to win but the defense didn’t show up. The same defense that allowed just 9 points per game to the Cowboys, Saints and Packers gave up 14 points in the first quarter, 28 points in the first half and 38 points through the first three quarters. They gave up 40+ points for the first time since Todd Bowles took over in 2019. The 28 points was the second most given up in a half by a Bowles Bucs defense. The turnovers and special teams mishaps didn’t help, but this Bucs defense forced just one punt and it wasn’t until there was :52 seconds left in the game. They allowed the Chiefs to score on seven of their first eight possessions. It was definitely NOT the same defense that we saw in the first three games.
The Special Teams
This unit had been lights out for the Bucs in the first three games, but they were horrible today. They fumbled the opening kickoff for the first time since 2000. Rookie punter Jake Camarda not only shanked a punt 30 yards giving Kansas City the ball at midfield, but he also sent a kickoff out of bounds giving them the ball at the 40-yard line. And the coverage unit allowed a 42-yard kickoff return just before the half.
Maybe I was just so pissed about the game early on that it made everything terrible, but in my opinion the atmosphere in RayJay was really bad. Apparently, the sound system went out just after the game started. No music. No “THIIIRD DOWWWN” chant. No “FIRST DOWN TAMPA…” chant. That opening kickoff fumble really took the crowd out of it right away and with no PA announcer to hype us back up, we just never recovered. Not to mention the absolutely nauseating sound of the tomahawk chomp chant from Chiefs fans echoing through the tunnels on the way out of the stadium.
Tampa Bay’s offensive and defensive lines were absolutely dominated in this game. They were manhandled on both sides of the ball from start to finish. Was it because Shaq Barrett gave them bulletin board material earlier in the week by saying “I think we have a lot of favorable matchups and we have an opportunity to dominate this game. We’ve got an opportunity to really impose our will as pass rushers in this game.” during a locker room interview? Probably. I’m sure the Chiefs o-line saw that and thought that was pretty disrespectful and took offense to it. They sure played like it. The Buccaneers were outgained 189 to 3 on the ground. It was a massacre up front.
BIG BUCS OF THE DAY
RB Rachaad White
He played 24 snaps in this game and only had 3 carries for 6 yards (that led the Bucs), but one of those carries was a touchdown and he added 5 catches for 50 yards on top of that. He is starting to become that third down back the Bucs have been looking for over the last few years. It’s just too bad that his opening kickoff fumble tainted his performance.
WR Mike Evans
Mike did what Mike does, which is catch touchdowns. He finished with 8 catches for 103 yards, averaging 12.3 yards per catch, and had two tuddies. He also set a new franchise record for yards from scrimmage, overtaking the great Buccaneers running back James Wilder in the process.
S Keanu Neal
Logan Ryan went out with a foot injury early on in this game and Neal had to step in and step up. He did just that by finishing with 6 tackles, including a couple of big stops on third down.
S Mike Edwards
For the second straight week, he led the team with 13 tackles and he added a sack this time as well. He has really taken advantage of his new starting role this season.
BAD BUCS OF THE DAY
WR Julio Jones
I was skeptical about signing him due to his battle with injuries over the last few seasons and so far my skepticism was warranted. He’s missed two of the first four games and only has 4 catches for 76 yards total. He played just 18 of 64 snaps on offense against the Chiefs and only had 1 catch for 7 yards before going out of the game with another injury. I hope he can eventually get healthy and prove me wrong, but as of right now this looks like a bad signing by the Bucs.
The Entire O-line
Tampa Bay rushed the ball 6 times for 3 yards with their longest run being just 4 yards. Although the Chiefs have allowed the fewest rushing yards through the first four games, this is just unacceptable. It’s also the lowest total for a game since the 1989 season making it the second worst rushing performance in team history. As far as the pass blocking goes, it wasn’t as bad, but it could’ve been much better. Brady dropped back 52 times on Sunday and was only sacked one time, but he was pressured a ton ending with the lowest time to throw average in the league for Week 4.
Everyone NOT Covering Kelce
I don’t really know who to put here because I don’t think anyone was covering Kelce, who finished with 9 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Maybe Lavonte David. Maybe Antoine Winfield Jr. Maybe Mike Edwards. I don’t know. But whoever it was should get a failing grade for this game along with the rest of the defense.
The Entire D-line
Not only did they NOT “dominate and impose their will” like Shaq said they would in the pass rush, but they got demolished in the run game. This Bucs d-line, who is SUPPOSED to be one of the best run defending units in the league, allowed 189 yards on the ground (the most in almost four years) to a team averaging 93 rushing yards per game. I don’t know what the issue was, whether it was miscommunication, missed assignments, missed tackles or a combination of all three, but whatever it was needs to get corrected before the Falcons come to town next week. They have the 4th ranked rushing offense in football.
THE WRAP UP
Now that I’ve had a couple days to cool off and think logically, I’ve decided not to hit the panic button just yet. Afterall, the Bucs are 2-2 through the toughest first four games of any team’s schedule. Three of those four teams have winning records and top ten offenses, so even though 2-2 may seem discouraging, considering the team’s high expectations coming into this year, it’s not the end of the world. This team has been battling injuries on offense, even though that had nothing to do with this loss.
Watching this decisive and dominating Chiefs win over the Bucs was disheartening. I mean, I was ready to give up the Super Bowl aspirations and start looking at the draft already. But then I calmed down and came to my senses. I looked back at the 2020 Super Bowl season and realized that their first game against Kansas City was eerily similar to this one. The Bucs were down in that game 20-7 in the first half and 27-10 in the third quarter before scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns to make it a more respectable 27-24 loss. And if you’ll remember, they also got blown out by the Saints at home 38-3 that season as part of a stretch where they lost three of four games to the Saints, Rams and Chiefs before winning their last four games and finishing 11-5 for the season. They did it in 2020 and they can do it again this year. They just need to get healthy and get focused.
THE LOOK AHEAD
As I said, the Bucs have the NFC South foe Atlanta Falcons coming to town on Sunday, so this is a big game. Both teams enter Week 5 at 2-2, so this is for 1st place in the division and a leg up on tie-breakers. I mentioned the Bucs tough schedule opening the season, but the good news is that not one of their remaining opponents have a winning record right now. That’s not to say they don’t play any good teams. They still have the Rams, Ravens, Niners and Bengals to play, so there are some tough games left. But each of those teams are 2-2 just like the Bucs right now. Tampa Bay did catch a break for this upcoming matchup though. Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson was just put on IR, meaning they will be without their leading rusher and a huge part of their offense. So Sunday is the day. That’s the day they right the ship. That’s the day they take sole possession of first place in the NFC South. And that’s the day the 2022 Buccaneers will get their first win in front of 69,000 of their biggest fans. I can’t wait!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!