September 25, 2023

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly : Week 5 – Bucs vs Falcons

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to make enough plays in the first half on Sunday to hold off the Atlanta Falcons second half comeback for a much needed 21-15 win and first place in the NFC South. It was a tale of two halves for sure, with the Bucs leading 13-0 at halftime and the Falcons scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter to make it a close game in the end. Luckily, Atlanta ran out of time and the Bucs walked away with the victory.

This game definitely didn’t go as I expected. With Atlanta missing two of their biggest offensive weapons in Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, I thought the Buccaneers defense would manhandle the Falcons and keep them out of the endzone. With Tampa Bay finally getting their offensive weapons back, I thought the Buccaneers offense would march up and down the field all day. Neither of those things happened, yet the Bucs were able to hang on and pull off the division win in front of their home crowd. By no means was it pretty, but it was a win nonetheless. So let’s take a look at my “Good, Bad and Ugly” from the first Bucs/Falcons first meeting of the season.


The First Half

Even though the Bucs only scored 13 points, Tom Brady and the offense had 17 first downs and 297 total yards in the first half. Meanwhile, the Bucs defense held Atlanta to just 89 yards of total offense and shut them out of the endzone. Brady was 24 of 33 for 256 yards and led scoring drives in three of their five first half possessions (13 plays/88 yards, 13 plays/84 yards, 4 plays/32 yards). They also had another drive that was 11 plays/62 yards, but it ended in a turnover on downs by the Bucs.

Defensively, the Bucs were much better than they were last week against the Chiefs allowing just 89 total yards on the Falcons four possessions. They only gave up 7 first downs total in those four drives that went for 6 plays/5 yards, 8 plays/36 yards, 8 plays/24 yards and 6 plays/34 yards. Atlanta only made it past the 50-yard line once, which was to the Buccaneers 34-yard line, where they missed the field goal.

Leonard Fournette…Kinda

Once again the Bucs didn’t have much success running the football, but Fournette still had a solid game finishing with 14 carries for 56 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per carry and a touchdown on the ground. He also had a career-high and team-high 10 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

The Pass Protection…Kinda

Tom Brady dropped back 52 times in this game and the Bucs didn’t give up a sack. Well technically they did, but statistically they didn’t. We’ll get into that later. Rookie running back Rachaad White also had a fantastic game in pass pro picking up blitzes and helping out with chip blocks.


The Second Half

The second half, and especially the fourth quarter, was the exact opposite of the first half. After their first scoring drive in the third quarter, they had three straight three-&-outs with drives of 3 plays/6 yards, 3 plays/6 yards and 3 plays/3 yards. Brady was just 3 of 7 for 14 yards and Fournette had 2 carries for 1 yard on those three drives combined.

In the meantime, the Bucs special teams and defense slacked off as well. They gave up a 28-yard punt return to the Bucs 43-yard line, then allowed a 6 play/43 yard scoring drive. Then, with just under 10 minutes left in the game, they allowed a 12 play/70 yard scoring drive AND a two-point conversion to make it a one score game.

The Run D…Again

After going back and looking at this, it wasn’t quite as bad as I originally thought watching it live. Even though the Bucs allowed Atlanta to rush for 151 yards in this game, Marcus Mariota had 61 of those yards on 7 carries. Their top two running backs, Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley, combined for just 21 carries for 79 yards. However, they did both average more than 3.5 yards per carry. The run defense was a little better than it was against the Chiefs last week, but it’s going to have to get better. Especially with the Baltimore Ravens coming to town in a couple weeks.

The Injuries…Again

The Bucs secondary is once again getting bitten hard by the injury bug. With Logan Ryan already out, Carlton Davis (hip), Sean Murphy-Bunting (quad) and Mike Edwards (elbow) all left with injuries in this game. None of them appear to be serious, but it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.

The Execution…Again

Long time Buccaneers fans are familiar with “execution“. When Tampa Bay’s first head coach John McKay was asked “What do you think of your team’s execution, Coach?”, his reply was “I’m in favor of it“. “Execution” has been the Bucs biggest issue so far this season. It’s been inconsistent at best and it’s definitely NOT what we were expecting from this Buccaneers team. Especially with Tom Brady leading the way. Yet here we are. They keep saying it after every game, but it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing it. They’ve got to get better.

The Officiating…Again

It’s been a problem this season and not just for the Bucs. It sparked a real controversy in this game with a “questionable” roughing the passer call on Grady Jarrett that extended a Tampa Bay drive late in the game. But it wasn’t just that call. There were many others. A ticky tack roughing the passer on Vita Vea. The touchdown stolen from Mike Evans at the pile on. The spot placement of the third down catch by Cade Otton. The missed hold on Antoine Winfield Jr. The missed OBVIOUS defensive pass interference on Scotty Miller down the sideline. There were a number of bad or missed calls in this game for both sides.

Getting back to the Grady Jarrett play now. Let’s get a few things on record. First of all, the Falcons came into this game leading the league in net penalty yards AND they had drawn the third most penalty yards from their opponents. So getting flagged is nothing new for them. Second, since 2010, Tom Brady has received a roughing the passer call on just 2.1% of his sacks/hits. That ranks 61st out of 91 quarterbacks during that span. Last season, he dropped back 719 times and drew just one roughing the passer penalty. Since coming to Tampa in 2020, he ranks 16th in roughing the passer penalties with 6 total. To put that in perspective, Matt Ryan is 1st with 17 of them. Since 2012, Brady has drawn 27 such penalties in 235 games. Aaron Rodgers has 28 in 216 games in that span. Patrick Mahomes has 20 in just 79 games. Josh Allen has 24 in just 73 games. To put it simply, for anyone to imply that Brady gets ANY special treatment when it comes to “roughing the passer” penalties is just absurd. It’s just the direction of the league right now unfortunately.


The Redzone

The Bucs offense went just 2 for 5 in the redzone for this game. That’s not good. It’s been an ongoing issue with this team all season. In fact, they are now 3 for 9 in the redzone in the games they’ve won, but they’re 5 for 5 in the games they’ve lost. Go figure. In any case, they have to be better and stop settling for field goals instead of touchdowns when they get into scoring position.



TE Cade Otton

With Cam Brate still in concussion protocol, Otton had an opportunity to contribute a little more on offense in this game. He did just that by finishing with 6 catches for 43 yards. A couple of which helped move the chains on third downs. I think he proved himself to be a reliable target for Tom Brady and it will pay off as the season goes on. If Gronk really is retired, then maybe Otton will be able to ease the pain that Bucs fans are feeling with his absence this year.


DT Deadrin Senat

Todd Bowles seemed quite impressed with Senat in this game and he should’ve been. He finished with 4 tackles and a sack despite playing just 17 snaps on defense. The former USF Bull may have found himself a permanent home on this Tampa Bay defensive line if he keeps playing like that.



LG Luke Goedeke

The rookie guard hasn’t played bad considering the level of talent that he’s faced so far this season, but in this game he got worked over by Grady Jarrett. I mean, Jarrett has that effect on most offensive linemen that he lines up against so Goedeke shouldn’t be too hard on himself. But in this game, he was the weakest link on the Bucs o-line.


LB Devin White

I keep waiting for Devin White to take this league over by storm and it’s just not happening. In a game where he had plenty of opportunities to make plays, he finished with just 5 tackles despite playing all 66 snaps on defense. He’s got all the talent he needs, he’s just not making the plays that he should.


It was a win and that’s all that matters, right? Tom Brady is now 11-0 against Atlanta. The Bucs now have a 5-game win streak against Atlanta, their longest versus a divisional opponent since 2002. The story here is all about the defense. In Brady’s first two seasons in Tampa, the Bucs were 1-4 in games where they scored 21 points or less. That’s 5 out of 39 games where the offense has failed to score more than 21 points. In 2022, they’ve already had four such games and they are 3-1 in them. They only had three wins in games like that in the previous five seasons combined. This team is eerily similar to the 2002 Super Bowl team in that way. The defense is just going to have to keep carrying them until the offense can get their shit together.


Despite all the offensive injuries and what might be considered mediocre play, Tom Brady is still 4th in the league in passing yards. That’s scary. As he and the offense continue trying to find themselves, they’ll get a little help over the next couple of weeks. They go on the road to Pittsburgh next Sunday to face a Steelers defense that’s given up the 2nd most passing yards and the 2nd most touchdown passes in the league this year. Then they go to Carolina the next week, where they just fired their head coach AND defensive coordinator, to face a Panther defense that’s allowed the 6th most rushing yards in the league this year. On Sunday, those two teams gave up 38 and 37 points. It’s a good opportunity for this offense to get things rolling in the right direction before their primetime Thursday Night Football matchup with the Baltimore Ravens at home in a few weeks.

Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!