It was another loss for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, but it wasn’t quite as bad as the game four days prior.
The team was bested by the Buffalo Bills 24-18 on Thursday Night Football, and while the score makes the game look much closer than it is, the Bucs still put in a better shift than they did against the Atlanta Falcons the Sunday prior. That doesn’t mean the game was perfect, though, and there remains many things to clean up on the team’s short bye before they head to Houston to play the Texans in Week 9.
Bucs Wire graded the performances of the offense, defense, special teams and coaching for Tampa Bay against the Bills and you can see how we thought the team did below:
It wasn’t as bad as the futile showing against Atlanta, but that doesn’t mean it was good, either.
The offense managed to put up two touchdowns, with the last one coming during a fourth quarter drive with no sense of urgency despite being down 14 (and of course, more on that later). Baker Mayfield played a pretty damn good game, all things considered, but he was let down by his receivers and his offensive line quite a few times over the course of the day. The team also suffered previously from penalties and faced numerous drive killers from yellow flags.
The run game was a bit better, as Rachaad White averaged 4.3 yards per carry, but backup running backs remain almost unplayable in rotation. The problem didn’t exactly fix itself, and the Bucs will have to get a consistent, rotational game going if they want to challenge the Texans next week. All in all, not as bad as it could have been, but 18 points won’t pay the bills going forward.
The Bills offense is high-flying, so it was always going to be a challenge for the Bucs to contain them. That being said, they still didn’t do a great job.
Busted coverages were the norm in this game, with safety Ryan Neal taking a bad angle on tight end Dalton Kincaid for Josh Allen’s first passing touchdown and absolutely no one being in the area for Gabriel Davis’ touchdown grab later on. The team still managed some impressive red zone stands and Antoine Winfield Jr. forced a turnover to continue his ridiculous All-Pro campaign, but there were still problems with the pass rush and Allen was able to scramble far too often out of the pocket.
The upcoming matchup with the Texans won’t feature such an impressive offense, but the Bucs defense needs to pick it up — and not rely on a statistically improbable red zone defense to keep the team afloat going forward.
Special Teams: C-
This was the first down week for special teams in a bit. While kicker Chase McLaughlin made a 57-yard field goal he also had his first kick of the night blocked. Jake Camarda continued to impress with his distances, but he had an awful punt near midfield that resulted in a touchback when he could have easily kicked it inside the 20 with short field. The kick team did a decent job of limiting returns this time around, but it was an overall pedestrian day for this unit.
Coaching has been rough recently, and it hasn’t gotten much better.
The biggest coaching sin in this game was the team’s second-to-last drive, which saw them score a touchdown after a 92-yard journey to put the game within six after a two-point conversion. The problem is that it took seven and a half minutes, which put a subsequent game-winning drive entirely out of reach for Tampa Bay. Being aware of the clock is coaching 101, and either Todd Bowles or Dave Canales has to do better in giving the team an opportunity to score.
There were a few other gaffs too. Todd Bowles decided to punt on 4th and 3 on Buffalo’s 41 yard line, which would have been a 59-yard field goal instead — and kicker Chase McLaughlin had hit a 57-yard field goal earlier in the game. There was also playcalling on third downs, as the Bucs gave up seven of 13 third-down plays to the Bills.
This is a talented team, but the way each week has been trending, coaching will keep it out of the playoffs.