Jordan Whitehead, Ryan Smith step up
The Buccaneers secondary was a beaten and battered mess on Sunday. Vernon Hargreaves is out for the year, Brent Grimes suffered an injury late in the week and Chris Conte banged up his knee in the second half.
Tampa decided to thrust rookie safety Jordan Whitehead into action, and it worked out very well. Whitehead met Wendell Smallwood at the line of scrimmage and shortly after stuck the Eagles just short of a first down. He displayed speed to the sideline and a rare willingness to meet backs at the line of scrimmage.
With no other options to turn to, Tampa Bay needed Ryan Smith to start as an outside cornerback.
Smith performed exceptionally well against the Eagles. He made a pair of big plays on special teams and kept receivers in front of him. This was a career day for Smith, who has been ripped apart by Bucs fans for years.
The Fitzpatrick Era
Has there been too much Ryan Fitzpatrick talk?
He’s been almost perfect. 819 yards, eight touchdowns and a 78.7 completion percentage. What a start.
‘FitzMagic’ tore apart the Super Bowl champions. On every drive, Fitzpatrick rarely missed his mark. Whether it be down the field bombs to Jackson or intermediate throws to Mike Evans, Fitzpatrick has been a machine.
The only chance the Eagles had to stop Fitzpatrick was because of drops, fumbles or boneheaded penalties. Even Fitzpatrick’s turnover wasn’t his fault.
In the clutch, Fitzpatrick has shined. When the Bucs needed a first down against the Saints, he scrambled to move the chains. Fitzpatrick had to convert again in week two, and he found Jackson to all but seal the victory.
There will be plenty of conversations about the new quarterback controversy in Tampa Bay. Fitzpatrick has just beaten two of the best teams in the NFC and has a chance to beat the dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.