The helplessness of Ryan Smith has been one of this season’s greatest disappointments. The Bucs had hopes that the former fourth round pick in 2016 could step up and supplant Brent Grimes after this year, but the likelihood of that happening appears bleaker by the week. Smith led the team in tackles with nine, but he was a constant target of Matt Ryan’s from start to finish of the game. The lowlight came on Julio Jones’ second touchdown in which Smith was juked to the ground.
Atlanta moved Julio Jones around the formation to avoid Brent Grimes as much as possible, and it paid off big time. Cornerback is a tough position to play in the NFL, and Smith has already changed positions twice, so perhaps he needs a little more time to develop, but it isn’t happening in 2017. The Bucs will need to plan on adding at least two starting-level corners this off-season and have Smith in a reserve role.
It was a good day for the two Evans on the Bucs, but a far less successful one from the Smith’s. The corner Smith played his part in a defensive meltdown, but it was the coordinator Smith that should get most of the blame. Mike Smith has been on the hot-seat for the majority of the season, and this latest shredding won’t make things any better.
First year Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has struggled to get his offense back to the levels it was last year, but he thoroughly out-coached Mike Smith in this game to the tune of 516 total yards. Julio Jones had scored just one touchdown all season, but Smith’s secondary couldn’t figure out a way to slow him down at all. Giving up 253 receiving yards to one player is a major indictment on the defensive talent, but the coordinator’s bad gameplan and failed in-game adjustments never allowed the Bucs to have a real shot at winning this game.
So, Buccaneer fans, who were your winners and losers from the loss to Atlanta? Did DeSean Jackson or O.J. Howard deserve spots among the winners? Sound off in the comments below.
"Need more Buccaneers discussion? Check out the latest PewterCast InstantCast!"