Rapid Reaction: Redskins 31, Buccaneers 30


Throughout my time as a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I’ve had plenty of heartbreak, many moments yelling at the TV, and a lot of slack-jawed, open-mouthed stares as I watched the boys in red and pewter absolutely crumble on the field. Today was the worst thing I have ever seen as a Bucs fan. Worst than the blowout losses to Baltimore and Atlanta last year. Worse than blowing so many leads over the years. Worse than all of the marquee free agent signings and high draft picks that we have had blow up in our faces over the years. As I write this, a massive headache continues to build. This is not going to be pretty. So buckle up, Bucs fans.

Here are the four biggest things that happened during the Bucs’ 31-30 loss to the Redskins at FedEx Field that dropped them to 2-4 on the season.

1. Apparently no one told Lovie Smith that you have to play defense even when your team is winning 24-7 at the start of the second half.

Where to start with this so-called “defense.” Well, we can start with the first half, which was great. They hounded Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, and kept running backs Matt Jones and Alfred Morris in check. They scored a defensive touchdown when Cousins was sacked and stripped of the football, which was then picked up by defensive end Howard Jones (who could be this year’s Jacquies Smith) and returned for the score that put the Bucs up 24-7.

However, it seems like Lovie and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier either took a nap at halftime, or told their players to do so when they were on the field during the second half. Why do I say that? Because they let an offense led by KIRK COUSINS walk all over them in the last two quarters, allowing Washington to score 24 points, including a final drive in which it seemed that absolutely no one on defense wanted to play pass coverage.

Now let’s make something clear: Cousins is a decent starting NFL quarterback. But he’s not Tom Brady. And while I watched the Buccaneers’ defense absolutely implode against him and the rest of the Redskins’ offense, it made me feel like I was watching the second coming of Joe Montana.

So, Lovie, a word of advice: the next time your team leads 24-7 at halftime, don’t tell your defense to become as soft as a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie that has just come out of my grandma’s oven. Tell them to continue to play tough, physical and smart football. If they had done that in the second half today, you and your team would be walking out of FedEx Field today with a .500 record.

2. 16 Penalties for 142 yards. Yes, you read that right.

All season long, almost every respected reporter and analyst that covers the Bucs has called the team out for it’s lack of discipline and high amount of penalties. Well the number listed above is beyond comprehension. It’s utter ridiculousness.

Where do I start with this one? Three penalties on rookie right guard Ali Marpet, which hurt a couple of first downs the Bucs had gained. Holding on veteran left guard Logan Mankins and an illegal block in the back by wide receiver Mike Evans that negated a Charles Sims run that gained over 40 yards. An offensive pass interference call on Evans that canceled his touchdown pass that would have put the Bucs up by 10 in the fourth quarter. Holding on linebacker Kwon Alexander that gave the Redskins a fresh set of downs inside the Bucs’ five yard line, which then led to a Washington touchdown.

All of those penalties, plus ten other accepted infractions (the block in the back on Evans was declined), were a large reason why the Bucs lost today. They constantly gave the Redskins more chances to score (which Cousins & Co. usually did), as well as put more pressure on rookie quarterback Jameis Winston to try to make something happen (more on Winston in a bit). If you want to be a winning football team, those are mistakes you cannot make week in and week out. That is one of the major reasons why the Buccaneers are 2-4 right now and not 3-3.

3. Doug Martin continues to be the driving force behind the Buccaneer offense, and I’m definitely okay with that.

Now for the high points of the afternoon. Let me refer you to this tweet on my feelings about Doug Martin today.

The Dougernaught continued to show why he is one of the NFL’s best backs, touching the football a combined 22 times for 171 total yards, including that 49 yard burst up the right side of the Washington defense. He continues to show why offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has so much faith in him. His ability to cutback, move in space, and use his speed and elusiveness to gain yards from the smallest of holes makes him an invaluable piece of the Tampa Bay offense. As long as Martin continues this stellar performance (his third straight 100 yard game), then the Buccaneer offense should continue to perform well as the season progresses.

4. Weekly Jameis Checkup: The evolution of the team’s first franchise quarterback takes another sizable step forward.

21 of 29 for 297 yards and two touchdowns. No turnovers. Only one sack taken. All in all, the best day Jameis Winston has had yet as the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Oct 25, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The rookie quarterback continues to show his transition into the franchise quarterback that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never had in their 40 years of existence. He made strong, sound decisions all day long. He threw the ball away when pressured. He stepped up in the pocket and side stepped multiple Washington blitzes. He made accurate passes down the field to his receivers all day long.

Even after he lost reliable security blanket Vincent Jackson and fellow veteran Louis Murphy to knee injuries, his connection with sophomore receiver Mike Evans grew. Evans had a team high eight catches for 164 yards, including a 40 yard touchdown reception on the Bucs’ third play from scrimmage. Even while the offense suffered multiple setbacks due to mistakes and penalties, Winston never lost his cool, fighting back until the very end. That is exactly what Buccaneer fans want to see from their young, franchise signal caller moving forward.

Quick Hits: Jackson and Murphy both did not return after sustaining knee injuries. Cornerback Mike Jenkins injured his ankle, but did return…. Receiver Donteea Dye Jr. had his first NFL touchdown reception on a seven yard pass from Winston in the second quarter…. Kicker Connor Barth continued his strong performance in his second stint with the team, making all six kicks he attempted today: field goals from 21, 22 and 45 yards, and all three extra points.