After the Tampa Bay Bucs came off a week where they beat a division rival in the New Orleans Saints to even up their record a 1-1 they now go on the road to face a tough task. The Houston Texans at 0-2 are desperate for a win in their home opener. A challenging task of trying to limit the NFL most feared defensive line man in JJ Watt and his defensive line. The Bucs Offensive line had a point to prove. Could they hold up against that front 7? Could they allow rookie Qb Jameis Winston time to throw the ball? Can they capitalize on opportunities that a shaky secondary will give them? Can the defense hold a struggling Texans team with a patched up offensive line and build on that confidence they built in getting to Drew Brees. This was a big game for both teams. So we knew it would be competitive and also a low scoring game.
The first quarter the Bucs defense seemed a little slow. Not reacting fast enough to the Houston Texans up-tempo and pace of the game. Bucs defensive line wasn’t generating a whole lot of pressure but in part due to Houston and Mallet getting the ball out of his hand quickly. So, McCoy and company couldn’t get to him as much as they liked. Texans came out of the gate and wanted to show what type of game they wanted it to be right away. Pounding the ball on the ground running it right into the teeth of their defense picking up 5 plus a carry early on 2nd yr. RB Alfred Blue got it going early in the game and kept it going throughout having a career game 31 CAR, 139 YDS, 1 TD. Bucs seemed not to have an answer for him all day long. But the running game of the Texans wasn’t the only issues. It was also the passing game of the Texans that gave them issues also. Wr DeAndre Hopkins who just got cleared to play from having concussion symptoms had a good game. With 8 rec for 101 yards and a TD Hopkins was a problem for the Bucs corner backs all day long. Part of the reason I think Bucs struggled was that CB Johnathan Banks left the game early with an Injury and Last year’s starter Alterraun Verner Seems to be in the doghouse as DC/HC Lovie Smith decided to start Tim Jennings who’s only been with the team for a few weeks in his place. It didn’t look like he had a good game either. Coverage was soft, Looked slow in and out of his breaks and he looked like a player who’s more suited for a role then a starter. DT Gerald McCoy was playing with an Injury even though Lovie Smith said all week long that he wasn’t injured he was just dealing with some pain. Well it showed because out of the 86 snaps that the Texans had on offense McCoy only played half of them. I saw a defense that wasn’t holding their gaps in the defense. Way too many gaping holes for the Texans running backs. LBs David and Alexander racked up a lot of tackles but they didn’t play well at all in the passing game. Once again they were too aggressive in the play action and getting caught up in the box and not deep enough on their drops. The middle of the field seem to be open all day long for the Texans offense as they racked up the years finishing on the Plus side of 400 for the day.
On the offensive side of the ball I want to start out by saying good game to the OLine in the pass blocking for not allowing a sack but have to give them a C grade for the game because we couldn’t run the ball at all. The little success we had was on a few Doug Martin runs 14 CAR, 46 YDS. I still don’t think they run the ball enough (57 yds 20 car). I felt like the game plan coming in was a little off. Seems like they were trying to expose Houston on the deep pass but besides a few balls that where completed. They didn’t do a good job of it. They really wasn’t opening up for the underneath plays. I know TE Austin Saferian- Jenkins is out with the shoulder injury but to not include some safety valves as they did last week for Jameis Winston. I thought he played an okay game (17-36, 261 YDS, 1 TD, and 1 INT). He did have a lot of pressure from the Texans line even though they didn’t give up a sack but He made some really good throws under siege on the move out of the pocket and also under duress inside the pocket just before getting rid of the ball. But he also made some poor read and throws also. On his interception that ball should have never been thrown. Evans had Over/Under coverage and has pressure in his face. Live to see another down and throw it away instead of throwing off your back leg to a wr being double covered. There were a few other passes that he would like to have back also. His passes were low, high, and lead to far and also thrown behind a few receivers. There were also a few drops (9) drops. Bucs Wr Mike Evans 7 REC, 101 YDS was targeted 17 times and had 5 of those drops. Think that’s too much? Vincent Jackson was only targeted 4 times (2 rec 40yds). Even Wr Louis Murphy had more targets (6) than V. Jackson. Jackson is one of our playmakers and this offense doesn’t work nearly as well if he’s not getting involved in the game plan or if Winston is not looking his way. Bucs were also 1-13 on third downs also and in a game where it was so close in the end maybe a few of those catches 3rd down conversions bring different results. But we won’t leave Mike Evans in the dog house either. Let’s put kicker Kyle Brindza in there also after making a 58 yard kick early in the game he then went on to miss 3 others and an extra point also. Now those could have changed the game but doesn’t guarantee that we still win because Bucs showed no way of stopping Houston’s offense. But it could have helped. Special teams was also a dull spot because Bobby Rainey. The Bucs back up RB is also returning punts and early in the game he almost cost the Bucs two possessions by fumbling the punts. He remained back there but it could have cost us.
And lastly the penalties have to stop 10 more penalties for 87 yards. We have to be the most undisciplined team in the NFL and have to be leading the way. Every week Lovie gets up to the podium and says he takes blame and these issues have to be fixed. We are 3 weeks into a new season from last season committing the same penalties. I think I have figured out why we commit so many. The players are not that good. When you are not that good a try and find way to gain an advantage. An offensive line holding, Defensive back holding or a face masking penalty called on FS Chris Conte to help extend a drive for Houston. These things have to stop in order for the Bucs to win games. The margin of error is very little and you can afford to put yourself in these situations every game. Next week they have another tough game against the 3-0 panther and Cam Newton. Lets see if they can come out and finally get a home win.