A little offensive line play goes a long way for Bucs
It was clear early on in Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints that the Bucs’ offense was going to keep scoring unless or until the Saints could get defenders in the backfield. New Orleans never did.
In a nutshell, that was where Sunday’s game was won. It wasn’t perfect, with New Orleans at times making quick work of the Tampa Bay defense with Brent Grimes out with an injury. Still, the Bucs never trailed in the second half and looked throughout like all the negative narratives that followed them throughout the offseason were nothing but talk.
Tampa Bay only sent out the punt unit one time, scoring 48 points in all to tie a franchise record for points in a game. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the victory, as the passing offense looked ready to take on the world. The Buccaneers had touchdown receptions of 58 yards, 50 yards, and 36 yards.
Offensive coordinator and playcaller Todd Monken had the Saints’ defense grasping at straws all day. The Buccaneers were able to spread the ball around in the passing game, largely between Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson.
On the offensive side of the ball, Buccaneers fans could not possibly have asked for more. Fitzpatrick was great. The receivers were great. O.J. Howard had some moments of greatness. Most importantly, the offensive line looked excellent and held the Saints without a single sack.
The Saints’ defense might be bad. Tampa Bay’s offensive performance in many ways required a willing partner, and the Saints complied. New Orleans’ secondary in particular looked like they simply couldn’t keep up with the Buccaneers in getting torched for three deep, easy touchdown passes.
While the unit was not supposed to be New Orleans’ best foot to put forward anyway, a lot of people have been penciling the Saints into the Super Bowl and calling them the best team in the NFC. Their defense will need to come a long way if they’re going to live up to that billing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick shows his value. In the night game on Sunday, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had to leave the game for a while due to an injury. When he was out of the game, the Packers were utterly hopeless, falling well behind the Chicago Bears and needing to claw their way back when Rodgers returned.
A good backup is invaluable at the quarterback position. Fitzpatrick was nearly perfect on Sunday, throwing four touchdowns and only missing badly on one throw when the Buccaneers were already well ahead. Obviously he has had more time to prepare to go into a game than DeShone Kizer in Green Bay, but Kizer’s team is expected to compete for playoff spots while the Bucs are considered long-shots. Fitzpatrick ran for a touchdown and threw four more. Not only could the Bucs not really ask more of their backup, they couldn’t ask more of any quarterback than that.
Coming into the season, people looked at the Buccaneers’ first three games without Jameis Winston and suggested that it could lead to the kind of season that starts poorly and never gets better. In one afternoon, Ryan Fitzpatrick silenced those doubts.
Block and offense will follow. One game in, the offensive line for Tampa Bay…