What a joy it was not to watch the game live. The Bucs were putrid in every facet. The offense led the way with five turnovers, all by Jameis Winston. The defense stopped putting up a fight halfway through the second quarter, and special teams did nothing to stem the tide.
The Bucs started the game in fine fashion, forcing a punt on Arizona’s first drive. Even the beginning of the first offensive drive looked good with some nice completions and Doug Martin runs.
Obviously the wheels started to come off with Winston’s first interception. While he had Evans in a one-on-one matchup with no safety over the top, Winston was throwing at Patrick Peterson, a cornerback who makes passers pay for inaccurate throws.
Winston was already taking a risk with the throw, opting for the big play over a wide open Doug Martin in the flat. Mike Evans did him no favors by opening his hips too early allowing Peterson to take position over top at less than top speed. Winston’s tendency to slightly overthrow his deep balls left Peterson in perfect position to pick him off.
The defense picked up the slack and forced another punt, but the shine was off the offense. Blocking was lethargic. Doug Martin’s two-yard loss was doomed by Donovan Smith’s slow get-off and Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ complete lack thereof. Vincent Jackson became a shadow of himself.
Injuries certainly didn’t help. Doug Martin’s hamstring injury again proved he is the grease the keeps the gears of the offense turning. Robert Ayers’ loss further depleted the Bucs thinning defensive end ranks. While not a playmaker, Luke Stocker is an instrumental role player particularly to the run game.
The offense’s ineptitude crept over to the defense. Jaron Brown’s 51-yard touchdown exposed every weakness in the Bucs pass defense. The pass rush didn’t sniff Carson Palmer. The zone coverage fell to pieces when Chris Conte came too far down and let Brown run right by him.
If there was one thing the Bucs did consistently, it was bottle up the run game. The Cards gained only 101 yards in 29 attempts on the ground. Even the coverage was tighter than its been in the past. Alterraun Verner even looked like a $6 million cornerback. The defense looked much worse thanks to the offense’s constant mistakes.
Still, it was Winston’s turnovers that clipped the Bucs’ wings, even if they weren’t all his own. His second interception falls more on Vincent Jackson than Winston, but his fumble was downright shameful, reminiscent of his meme-enshrined Rose Bowl fumble. Winston’s third interception was tipped by DT Josh Mauro. Though not entirely his fault, the pass was still too low with a defender in his face. The fourth was a game-ending hail mary.
The Bucs live and die on Winston’s play. Last week he looked like the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be. In Arizona, he gave an encore of Week 1… 2015. His greatest weakness remains consistency. He can’t be so hot and cold and expect the Bucs to sustain success.
If Week 1 was a taste of what the Bucs could be, Week 2 was a reminder how low they can go. There’s a Bucs team somewhere in between, a team that needs to trend towards it’s Week 1 incarnation. 1-1 isn’t bad, and one loss isn’t the end of the world, no matter the score.
Oh, and Robert Aguayo missed another sub-50 yard kick. Two picks for a kicker…