BUCS WEEK 7 RECAP – OCTOBER 26
By Leo Haggerty
Made it down to Buccaneers practice on Friday. Had a chance to ask HC Bruce Arians a few question and here’s his answers.
LH : Tom Moore has probably forgot more football than most people will ever know. How much of an asset is he to the team?
BA : It’s unbelievable. He’s my sounding board. He’s seen so much in this game and coached so many great players. I lean on him tremendously and always have.
LH : The Bears definitely want to run the football and stopping the run is the Bucs strong suit. Will this be a test for the defense?
BA : Oh, it is every week, yeah. Same thing last week, and the way they run it. I really like the running back, and the quarterback adds another dimension. It’ll be a really good test for us, two good forces. Their run game, our run defense, so it should be fun.
LH : You hear a lot of commentators talk about playing to win on the road and to tie at home at the end of the game. Do you agree with that?
BA : Every one of those is so different. What’s going on in the fourth quarter? Can we stop them? If you can’t stop them, go for the win. If you’re going to get the coin toss and lose, why the hell not go for the win? Now, if you’re playing really, really well, you dominated the fourth quarter and you came back, oh, I’m playing for the tie and taking it to overtime for sure. Each and every one is so different.
In a game that was as one sided as the final score indicated, Tampa Bay scored early and often in beating Chicago 38-3. The win improved the Buccaneers to 6-1 keeping the Pewter Pirates atop the National Football Conference South Division. The loss dropped the Bears to 3-4 and the Monsters of the Midway fell to the third spot in the NFC North.
It didn’t take the Bucs long to get on the scoreboard at 11:58 of the opening period. After forcing a Chicago punt that was returned by WR Jaelen Darden 43 yards to the Bears 32 yard line, it took the Pewter Pirates only two plays and 51 seconds to hit pay dirt with RB Leonard Fournette (15 for 81 yards and 1 TD) doing the honors with a 2 yard plunge. K Ryan Succup was good with the extra point and the Bucs took an early 7-0 lead.
Tampa Bay scored again at 4:37 of the first quarter. After CB Dee Delaney picked off an errant throw by Bears QB Justin Fields and returned it 26 yards to set the Pewter Pirates up in Chicago territory. QB Tom Brady (20 of 36 for 211 yards and 4 TD) found WR Chris Godwin (8 for 111 and 1 TD) with a 4 yard strike just over the goal line to finish off a 2:36 drive that travelled 40 yards in six plays. Succup converted the PAT and the Bucs stretched their advantage to 14-zip.
Another Chicago turnover lead to more Buccaneers points with 6 ticks left before the end of the first 15 minutes. After Fields fumbled on a sack by LB Shaquil Barrett that was recovered by NT Vita Vea, Brady hit WR Mike Evans (6 for 76 yards and 3 TD) with a 9 yard bullet in the right front of the end zone. That ended a 35 yard drive that lasted 2:01 taking five plays. Succop booted the singleton and Tampa Bay raced to a 21-0 margin.
The Windy City Gang finally dented the scoreboard at 6:08 of the second quarter. K Cairo Santos split the uprights from 28 yards that closed out a 10 that travelled 57 yards in 3:53 cutting the lead to 21-3.
Tampa Bay answered with their next possession score at the 3:38 of the second period . Again it was Brady to Evans this time with a 2 yard aerial that finished off a five play drive that went 75 yards in 2:33. Succop was true with the kick and the Pewter Pirates stretched their advantage to 28-3 and the Bucs weren’t finished.
After the Bears turned it over on downs, the Buccaneers put up their last points of the first half with 9 seconds left before intermission. For the third time in the first half, Brady connected with Evans this time from 8 yards out. That closed out a 48 yard drive that consumed 1:45 in 10 plays. Succop was true with the PAT and the Bucs took a comfortable 35-3 lead to the locker room.
After a scoreless third period, Tampa Bay flipped the scoreboard at 12:55 of the final period. CB Pierre Desir picked off Field setting the Buccaneers offense with a short field situation. The Bears defense stiffened with their backs to the goal line forcing a 22 yard field goal from Succup. That put a close to a six play drive that went 33 yards in 2:20 and extended the Bucs lead to what would be the final score of 38-3.
Talked with a plethora of Buccaneers after the victory. Started off with, as usual, Arians then LB Jason Pierre-Paul followed by S Antoine Winfield then Godwin plus OT Tristan Wirfs along with Delaney finishing off with Brady. Below are their responses to my questions.
LH : You score 38 points and admit that the offense didn’t play real well. What kind of potential does your offense have?
BA : When we run the ball like that, a ton. But we weren’t really that sharp in the passing game. Even though statistically we had a bunch of touchdowns, but they were all short fields. Didn’t like the way we played with long fields. The second half drive, we wanted to go no-huddle, tire them out. We had that no huddle drive right before half and we execute pretty good then we don’t make the third down. Just a bad audible.
LH : Brady isn’t a scrambled but he manages to extend plays by moving in the pocket. He’s a master at that, isn’t he?
BA : He works extremely hard. You guys go to practice and see him working on those drills day-in and day-out of staying and moving in the pocket when he feels it. The great ones do feel it. There have been so many great quarterbacks that weren’t scramblers that stepped to the right, stepped to the left, complete a ball, slide out like he did last week, slide out this week and make a play.
LH : If you don’t double team Suh and Vea they’re running free. If you do, then JPP and Shaq are singled up. Is it just pick your poison for an offense?
BA : Oh yeah, that front four, when they’re humming and you throw Joe in there in some packages then that frees up Devin and Kevin and Lavonte. Hopefully, we’ll have Lavonte back next week.
LH : On one play, Fields scrambles and heads upfield and then he spots you in front of him and immediately goes into a slide. Do you say anything to him?
JPP : No and I know the rules of the game. You can’t hit the quarterback when he slides. He doesn’t want to get hit. He’s a lightweight. He saw me and slid and all I had to do was touch him.
LH : Earlier in the week, how much of it was hit or miss on you playing this week?
AW : I was ready. I was ready. Probably right after we finished playing Philadelphia I was ready.
LH : How happy were you to see Delaney and Desir come up with picks?
AW : I was super excited for them. Those guys had a great game. They knew they were going to play tonight so they were prepared and they did the job.
LH : You score 38 points and Coach Arians isn’t pleased with the offensive performance. How good can team be?
LH : Your alma mater played in a 9 overtime game this weekend. Did you watch it?
CG : I did, yes. I appreciate you bringing it up.
LH : Do they really need to change the overtime rule?
CG : They have got to change that rule. I was kind of confused as to what was happening. It just didn’t turn out the way I would have like it but they get better.
LH : In almost a year and a half, you’ve started all 27 games since you’ve coming into the NFL and it was just another day at the office. Is the game starting to slow down for you now that you’ve had some experience in the league or is this is just how it’s going right now?
TW : Yeah, I think, honestly, this is just how its going. It’s been really nice having these extra meetings with Tom and our whole offense. Just get our run game going a little bit more. Making sure all eleven of us are on the same page. So, the receivers know what the O-Line is doing, the O-Line knows what the tight ends and receivers are doing. But that’s really helped a lot too. I think giving a lot of guys confidence in the run game as well. But yeah, it was a fun night.
LH : Next man up is fine but its starting to become next men up in the secondary. Is that starting to become an area of concern??
DD : No, not at all. No one likes to get hurt but the guy coming in has to make plays.
LH : You may not start the game but you’re are starter for the play you enter the game. Is that the case?
DD : Yes, you’re a starter for that play. When the play starts, you’re the starter and you have to make plays.
LH : You’re not a scrambler but you manage to extend plays by just taking a step or two in a direction in the pocket. That’s just as beneficial, correct?
Yeah, I try. There were a few others that probably weren’t as great that I wish I probably could have done that a few other times on, so I’m going to keep working at it. It’s something me and the quarterbacks are doing after practice on Wednesdays and Thursdays and trying to continue to work on our agility and agility movements and stuff like that. If we can extend a couple plays here and there, make a couple touchdowns, I think it’s great for our team. So many guys played great tonight. The running backs played great, the line played phenomenal, almost had 200 yards rushing. Defense was incredible, receivers did a good job, so just wish I had a couple better throws but, other than that, it was a great win.
Now, it’s off to The Big Easy for a Halloween night date with New Orleans and former Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston in the Ceasars Superdome. The Saints will be looking for revenge from the playoff loss last year but, more importantly, a win put the Black & Gold even with the Pewter Pirates in the loss column.
I’ll be travelling to Louisiana for the tilt so I’ll have a bird’s eye view of the contest. Until then, stay safe.