Once again, we saw today that Jameis Winston and his cast of skill players can’t do everything by themselves. They do need help from the offensive line and their defense from time to time. Unfortunately for Jameis, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson and the rest of the skill players, their best effort wasn’t enough as the Bucs fell to 5-6 on the season after losing 25-12 to the Colts in Indianapolis. Here are the four biggest takeaways from Sunday’s defeat.
1. Penalties and officiating went hand in hand.
Twelve penalties for 95 yards. Will the Bucs ever not have the compulsion to shoot themselves in the foot? Because it certainly doesn’t seem like they won’t. Constant mistakes by the offensive line (more on that in a bit) and the defense gave the Colts chance after chance to make the Bucs pay, and they did just that.
However, the officiating also did not help. Questionable penalty calls, such as an offensive pass interference call on Mike Evans and an illegal hands to the face on Howard Jones, only hurt the boys in red and pewter. Furthermore, a questionable call to uphold Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw’s non-fumble in the fourth quarter led to another Colts score to seal the game with a little under six minutes left.
Yet officiating did not lead to the their loss today. A lack of execution, largely on the secondary and offensive line, led to the Bucs falling under .500 after leading at halftime.
2. The offensive line could not keep Jameis clean to save their lives today.
When your offensive coordinator has to constantly call plays to make your rookie quarterback roll out in order to throw the ball, you have a problem. That’s what happened to the Bucs offensive line today.
The Indianapolis Colts came into today with just 14 sacks on the season. They left Lucas Oil Stadium with 19. Which means they sacked Winston, the future of the franchise, five times. That is unacceptable. Yes, Jameis has an athletic ability that is comparable to Ben Roethlisberger. However, no one wants to him utilize more than once or twice a game. He has to utilize it way more than that today.
The veterans, particularly guards Logan Mankins and Evan Smith, played awful. Center Joe Hawley and right tackle Gosder Cherilus weren’t much better. The only offensive lineman who played adequately was rookie left tackle Donovan Smith, and he still gave up two sacks. The sooner Demar Dotson and Ali Marpet return, the better. Case closed.
3. The offensive skill players continued to help their quarterback in almost every way possible.
Running back Doug Martin had 14 rushes for 97 yards, including a breakaway 56 yard run in the second quarter. Yet he only received two touches in the second half, which should be a crime when you lead going into the break. This led to way too much pressure on Winston and the receivers.
Although those receivers also played well. Mike Evans had five catches for 64 yards, yet dropped a key pass that would have been a touchdown. In his second game back, Vincent Jackson had four catches for 76 yards. And Harvard-bred tight end Cameron Brate showed the team continues to live without the injured Austin Seferian-Jenkins just fine, catching five passes for 53 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.
There is talent here. However, for that talent to do it’s job, the rest of the team must hold up their end of the bargain. They did not today.
Nov 29, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) drops back to pass in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
4. Weekly Winston Watch: Despite continued improvement, it wasn’t enough to win the day.
For the day, Winston was 20 of 36 for 245 yards along with a touchdown and an interception. Not the best numbers (especially after last week’s performance), but solid. He continued to put the Bucs into a position to score, and that lone interception didn’t happen until the end of the game where it was probably too late to come back anyways.
Five sacks do not help him. Constant pressure from the Colts defense did not help him. Drops from his receivers (such as the aforementioned one by Evans above) do not help. If the Bucs brass wants their young signal caller to continue this positive development, they need to continue to put him into position to win. At times today, that did not happen. That needs to change moving forward.
Quick Hits: Defensive end Jacquies Smith injured his hamstring and did not return… Kicker Connor Barth missed the first PAT of his career today…. The Bucs defense had another stellar effort against the run, limited Colts running backs Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw to a combined 30 yards on 23 attempts.