The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took part in an exhibition game disguised as a Week 7 regular season contest on Sunday in their 38-3 thrashing of the Chicago Bears. This game went the way most blowout exhibitions go, too. There were some really good things the Bucs did to build on going forward and some bad things that need to be corrected immediately going into a big NFC South game next week.
The good things start with the Bucs as an offense jumping on the Bears early and often in the first half. The 35-3 score at recess was a clear indication that Chicago was totally outmatched, further illustrated by four touchdown passes by Tom Brady. Three of those TDs went to receiver Mike Evans.
Another good sign for the Bucs when they had the ball was how quiet Bears All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack was. Mack got to Brady twice last year, including getting past Tristan Wirfs for the only sack he gave up in 2020. Mack only had one tackle on Sunday as the Buccaneer offensive line was able to shut out the league leaders in sacks and keep Brady clean all day.
Winning the turnover battle is always huge, and the Buccaneers did that in a big way against the Bears, five to one. Tampa Bay got three interceptions and two fumbles in making Justin Fields look every bit the rookie signal caller he is. He was also sacked four times to punctuate his miserable day at Raymond James Stadium.
The bad for the Bucs probably doesn’t seem as important in an easy win but can’t be discounted for a team looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions. There are two that stand out from this past Sunday.
The Bucs have to be able to take advantage of great field position and score inside the red zone. Whether it was Ronald Jones getting stuffed at the goal line or Ryan Succop missing a 43 yard field goal, chances to put up points can’t be missed. The other bad piggybacks on missed opportunities.
Tom Brady’s thumb is said to be not affecting him, however there has to be some reason he keeps overthrowing open players downfield at an unusually high rate the past couple of games. The biggest miss was an easy touchdown over the head of tight end O.J. Howard at the end of the second quarter on 1st and goal at the 8 yard line. It didn’t hurt against Chicago but it might against better competition in the future.
Overall, the Bucs and their fans should be happy with the lopsided win. It is to be expected for a team with high aspirations. At the same time, the Bears game showed that there are still things that can be corrected in order to give Tampa Bay the best chance of fulfilling those lofty goals.