Safety Justin Evans
While the defense was pretty bad all around, any time you score a defensive touchdown, you’ll likely be a winner for the week. Credit goes to Vernon Hargreaves for punching it out, but Justin Evans wisely scooped and scored. Evans was raised about 100 miles from New Orleans, so some of his family made it down to the game. Evans finished the day with five tackles and the return, but one of the tackles was a big hit on Michael Thomas on a third-down pass. Mike Smith claimed Evans had Pro-Bowl talent and he displayed some improvements from last season already.
Offensive Coordinator Todd Monken
So much for Dirk Koetter regaining play-calling duties.
Todd Monken showed off some solid play calling in the preseason and seemed to have earned it for the remainder of the season. He spread the ball around and utilized a balanced offense. An offense that put up 41 points, is tied for the most they’ve scored in franchise history and the first time since the Super Bowl.
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Monken was underutilized last season and the offense suffered because of it. Koetter isn’t awful at play calling but having less on his plate helps the team as a whole. Having an explosive offense is something the Buccaneers seemingly never have, but if they can keep it up, this season is undoubtedly going to be exciting.
Vernon Hargreaves and Kwon Alexander
When you force a turnover against the Saints you deserve some recognition. Kwon Alexander led the team with nine tackles, and he added a tackle for loss. Hargreaves racked up seven tackles but like DeSean Jackson, was unable to finish the game due to injury. Hopefully, he can come back soon because we have no idea the severity of Brent Grimes’ injury.
The offensive line was heavily criticized entering the year for its inability to protect the quarterback and open up running lanes.
Today, Fitzpatrick went nearly untouched (he wasn’t sacked once) and the combination of Peyton Barber and Fitzpatrick racked up over 100 yards on the ground. There were three penalties against this offensive line, two of which were pretty big.
Donovan Smith had an unnecessary, illegal block above the waist negating a 65-yard reception from Adam Humphries right before the half. Ryan Jensen also had an unnecessary roughness pushing the Bucs back making Catanzaro’s kick less than a chip shot. He still made the kick, but you never want a 15-yard penalty inside the 5-yard line. Other than those two mistakes, the big bodies up front did their job better than expected.
Punter Bryan Anger
Bryan Anger got a game check and only needed to punt once. He doesn’t even have kickoff duties anymore. Not a bad day #ForTheBrand.
Come on, if this game didn’t pump you up are you even a Bucs fan? This team gave the fans an entertaining game, even though they made it closer than it should have in the end, but boy was that exciting. Big plays on offense and plenty of splash-plays on defense made the fans, including myself, jump out of their seats on multiple occasions. It’s a great start of the 2018 season, especially walking out of New Orleans with a big win. The Bucs are 1-0 and over half the teams in the league can’t say that.