Well, that could’ve gone better.
Bears 48 – Bucs 10
One of the concerns I mentioned back at Week 1 was Tampa’s pass defense. Despite putting up impressive scores in their first two games, the Bucs still let opposing quarterbacks throw seemingly at will, racking up yards and points. Something had to give, and as it happened it was Tampa’s offense.
Granted, longtime Tampa fans know that “The Bucs have an awesome offense!” is not something typically uttered…like…ever. Whenever people have spoken in glowing terms about Tampa the 40+ years of the team’s existence usually revolves around its defense. From Lee Roy Selmon and the “Orange Crush” of the 1970s the days of Warren Sapp and the unit which ultimately helped push the Bucs to their first-ever Super Bowl win in 2002, defense has often been one of the team’s strengths.
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, not so much, today.
Mitchell Trubisky did a fine job marching the Chicago Bears offense up and down Soldier Field today, collecting 38 points just in the first half. Trubisky would end up throwing six touchdowns and 350+ yards while completing 19 of 26 passes and – of equal importance – no interceptions. The Bears running attack was solid if not earthshattering, pulling down 130+ yards on 31 rushing attempts spread across six ball carriers (including Trubisky, who scampered for a couple).
Meanwhile, the Bucs had a bit of day. It’s obvious the Bears watched game film from Tampa’s Monday night game against the Steelers, dialing in on the best ways to harass Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bears D harassed and confounded Fitz all through the first half, sacking him twice and picking him off once. Fitz completed 9 of 18 passes for 126 yards but no scores before halftime, after which Bucs head coach decided it was time to reinsert Jameis Winston into the mix.
Winston’s return to the Tampa offense wasn’t much to write home about, as he also was sacked twice and threw two interceptions on his way to completing 16 of 20 passes for 145 yards and a TD pass. Of course, by the time the third quarter started, the game was already well out of reach so I don’t know that I’d call this a fair test of Winston’s capabilities coming off his 3-game suspension.
Indeed, it’s certainly not fair to place everything on either quarterback’s shoulders, as there’s plenty of woe to spread around. The Bucs running attack? Abysmal. Defense? Well, you saw the score, and the yardage, and so on. Yeah, Coach Koetter’s got some stuff to work on over the next couple of weeks.
The loss drops Tampa to 2-2 and third place in the NFC South behind division rivals New Orleans, who’s on a 3-game winning streak after losing the season opener to Tampa, and the Carolina Panthers, who didn’t have to do anything today as they’re on their bye week. A last-minute touchdown throw helped Cincinnati win against Atlanta, dropping the Falcons to 1-3.
Next up? The Bucs are on their own bye during Week 5, and back in action two weeks from today against the aforementioned Falcons. That’ll be a crucial division game that Tampa should really consider winning. Just sayin’.
Bucs life, yo.