The Eagles’ rushing attack was too much for the Bucs as they fall to 2-1 on the season
That was, well, not good. The Bucs had a chance to start 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and instead were outmatched in every facet of the game by the Philadelphia Eagles, losing in prime time 25-11. While there are plenty of things from this game to throw away, there is some good to take away as the Bucs head into a divisional showdown with the New Orleans Saints for first place in the NFC South on the line.
Let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Run Game For Both Sides. The Bucs came into the game as the league’s second best run defense, allowing under 60 rush yards per game – then promptly allowed over 200 rush yards to the Eagles. To say that performance was disappointing would be an understatement. However, when you factor in the injuries to Vita Vea, Calijah Kancey, and Devin White then throw in the dominance of the Eagles’ offensive line you can safely assume that this game will be viewed as an outlier rather than a constant. I’m not making excuses, simply saying that this is not going to be the norm moving forward. On the flip side, the commitment to the run on offense wasn’t as bad as some wanted to make it out to be. While I vehemently disagreed with trying to run it up the middle from their own one yard line (resulting in a safety) we saw what abandoning a non-effective run game by Byron Leftwich last year did. Teams would tee off on Tom Brady because there was no threat of the run. The commitment will work out for the betterment of the team long term, even when results aren’t there in the moment. Be patient.
2.) Can Chris Godwin Get The Ball? Everyone loves what Mike Evans has been doing this year – minus a few brutal drops on Monday night – but the Bucs have a really good receiver in Chris Godwin, too. Yet, he’s just not getting the ball. Through three games he has just 19 targets on Baker Mayfield’s 93 pass attempts. That’s nowhere close to being enough. Just 13 receptions for 143 yards on the season yet nine of his catches have resulted in first downs. Meanwhile, Deven Thompkins had just one fewer target than Godwin did Monday night. To truly maximize the abilities of the offense, Godwin has to be a bigger part of the gameplan moving forward. Especially coming up against the Saints when we know Marshon Lattimore is going to be on Mike Evans all day long.
3.) Just Stop It. Ok, this won’t be for all of you but I saw way too many people calling for Todd Bowles and Dave Canales to be fired during the game last night. Relax. The Eagles are in another tier compared to where the Bucs are right now and they’re arguably the best team in the conference. Dave Canales had to come up with a plan against the best pass rush in the NFC, the best defensive front in the NFL, and he did it in his third game as an offensive coordinator and play caller. This game was a learning experience that he can grow from. The comparisons between him and Byron Leftwich throughout the night were laughable and flat out wrong. Yes, it was a frustrating game – but it’s not the end of the world. The Bucs had beer vendors stepping onto the field to play cornerback because of all the injuries and were facing one of the best receiving duos in the league. Honestly, given the contextual circumstances they were in, they did okay. If someone told you the corners were going to be Zyon McCollum, Dee Delaney, and Derrek Pitts Jr against the Eagles and that A.J. Brown would be kept out of the end zone while DeVonta Smith was kept below 30 yards receiving, you probably would have signed up for that immediately. No, the coaches don’t need to be fire. They need to learn and move forward – hopefully with healthy players.
4.) Baker Continues To Impress. It wasn’t his best night as a Buccaneer and his first interception of the season might be his worst pass of the year, but Mayfield has been solid for the Bucs through three games. And, against a pass rush that just absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage, he hung in there and tried to battle his team back. The drops by Evans and Cade Otton didn’t do him any favors, but I think even the most staunch Mayfield doubters are starting to come around that this guy can lead the Bucs’ offense and actually keep them in contention for the NFC South. He’s playing smart football, performing miraculous escape tricks when it looks like he’s dead in the water, and he has no quit in him – which can be a blessing or a curse. Let’s just say that this healthy version of Mayfield is much better than people wanted to give him credit for coming off the last two seasons.
5.) Speak It Into Existence. Devin White had a huge play in the first half, getting the interception of Jalen Hurts late in the first half – but he ran out of bounds rather than over Hurts during the return. Many were left taking their shots at him or questioning his decision, but aggravating that groin injury ended up being the reason and he missed the next defensive shift because of it. Then he came back and had a solid second half – but he certainly wasn’t pleased with the outcome. After the game, White boldly stated that the Bucs “will see them (Philadelphia) again” in the playoffs. For a guy that many believed would be traded or that his heart wouldn’t be in it, White has been really good this season both on the field and in the locker room. Before the game, he led the team huddle at midfield and asked “How are we going to get our respect?! We TAKE it!” Now, that didn’t end up happening in terms of winning the game, but White is on a mission to lead this defense and team to the postseason – and this week in New Orleans it will become personal.
6.) Sorry, I Gotta Say It. The officiating was an abomination. The Eagles were getting away with false starts and holds with regularity throughout the first half. No, this isn’t the reason the Bucs lost the game but, again, it didn’t help matters. A good friend of mine that couldn’t care less about the Bucs texted me at halftime and simply said, “who is officiating this Bucs game? They’re awful.” He wasn’t wrong. On top of that, here’s my official grievance to the NFL about the “tush push” – I don’t want it banned from the game. In fact, more teams should do it. However, the problem lies in the amount of time it’s allowed to go on. The officials let the play last much longer than they should, so of course it’s unstoppable. As soon as Hurts’ forward progress is initially stopped, blow the whistle. Play is dead. Allowing two or three more pushes and surges after forward progress is stopped is why the play is so successful. There isn’t another play in football where that is allowed to happen, so there’s absolutely no need to make an exception for that specific play.
Six Numbers To Consider
16 – Consecutive game streak with 5+ receptions for Chris Godwin, snapped Monday night
33.3% – Bucs’ opponent’s red zone efficiency this season, third best in the NFL
17.5 – Yards per reception for Mike Evans this season, best in the NFL
73 – Yards on a punt by Jake Camarda, a season high and the second longest in his career
+5 – Bucs’ turnover differential this season, second best in the NFL
11 – Career takeaways by Devin White, third most among front seven players in the NFL since 2019
Six Best Tweets
Here’s what I’ll say – if I told everyone that the Bucs would be 2-1 headed into week 4, playing the Saints for sole possession of first place in the division every single Bucs fan would have taken it and pointed to the Eagles as the loss. No need to panic.
— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) September 26, 2023
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 26, 2023
Ronde Barber being honored at halftime with a great Philly dig, thanking all the Eagles fans who came down to see him one more time. pic.twitter.com/iKjvf5Fsr4
— Sara Walsh (@Sara_Walsh) September 26, 2023
Greg Gaines definitely held other side… oh well https://t.co/XMTyFRmArs
— (@ZacOnTheMic) September 26, 2023
NFL Officiating finds new ways to get in the way of games every weekend
— David Harrison (@DHarrison82) September 26, 2023
Devin White: “We’ll see them again. We in the same (conference). We’re going to the playoffs. I’m saying that right now.”
“I know this defense can carry us to the Super Bowl.”
— Evan Closky (@ECloskyWTSP) September 26, 2023
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Miami Dolphins – Seriously, who is stopping that team if Tua is healthy?
2.) San Francisco 49ers – McCaffrey is running like a man possessed
3.) Philadelphia Eagles – Still haven’t found their groove yet, but they’re undefeated
4.) Kansas City Chiefs – Something something Kelce something Taylor Swift something
5.) Buffalo Bills – Commanding win on Sunday, starting to click on both sides of the ball
15.) Tampa Bay Bucs – Small setback, but chance to go 3-1 heading into the bye