The Buccaneers did not do much right on offense or defense, which played a massive part in the 20-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Afternoon.
All season, the issues that have been there are still preventing this Bucs team from winning games.
On defense, the Bucs could not get off the field on third down. As a result, the Buccaneers had the Steeler’s offense at third and long seven times during the game, letting them convert all seven.
And for the third game in a row, the tackling was horrid.
Let’s break down how the Bucs lost this game
The Buccaneers Running Game Remains Grounded As Offensive Struggles Continue
The Bucs can’t run the ball with any authority on offense. Of course, a lot of that stems from the ineptitude of the offensive line, but the excellent running backs create something from nothing.
After six weeks, the Buccaneers are last in the NFL running the ball, averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
The bad news is no reinforcements are coming for the offensive linemen. Ryan Jensen is months away from form playing. If Brandon Walton, Nick Leverett, and Fred Johnson were better than the five guys starting every week, they would be starting. But they are not. That’s why they stay on the sidelines on game day.
Rookie guard Luke Goedeke is taking a lot of heat this week, as Steelers defensive linemen Cam Heyward beat him all game long. Bowles talked about Goedecke and his performance so far this season.
“We can see the improvement. Can we get a lot better? Yes. But we’re happy with the things he’s doing. He’s giving up a few plays here and there, but I wouldn’t single him out to be replaced.”
According to PFF, Goedeke has allowed 15 quarterback pressures. That is tied for the eighth most in the NFL. His pass-blocking efficiency is 96.3, which ranks 52 out of 64 players. His overall blocking score of 44.4 ranks the fourth worst among NFL guards.
Buccaneers Struggles In The End Zone Continue
It is embarrassing to have a first and goal on the one and not be able to get the ball in the end zone.
The Bucs were often faced with third, short, and first and ten inside the red zone and had to settle for a Ryan Succop field goal.
The Bucs finished the game 1/4 in the red zone and are 3/9 in the red zone the last two weeks.
Listening to Todd Bowles and Tom Brady talk to the media after every game, they are talking about the same things all the time. It’s the same issues every game.
Why aren’t these issues being fixed? Why can’t the offense score touchdowns in the red zone? Why can’t the defense get off the field on third down?
To watch the Bucs play at times is like watching the movie Groundhog Day. It’s the same inept play calling, no imagination to the offense, and the same defensive mistakes game after game.
Byron Leftwich and his playcalling are fooling no one. But, unfortunately, this offense reminds me of the stale vanilla playcalling so prevalent in the preseason.
Maybe someone needs to remind Leftwich that he does have two future Hall of Famers on the roster and is ok to use them in the offense.
Why did Mike Evans only have four targets with The Steeler’s secondary riddled with injuries? Think about that! Your best player on offense, and you’re only attempting to throw the ball to him four times.
Buccaneers Defense Can’t Get Off The Field On Third Down
The defense struggles to get off the field on third down, and they have since early in the season. After starting the game holding Pittsburgh to 3/11 on third downs, the Steelers converted 4/4 to finish the game converting 7/15.
The Bucs had the Steelers third and 11, third and 15, third and 12, and third and 15. Each time the Steelers converted. The Bucs’ defense made Mitch Trubisky look like a future Hall of Famer with his playmaking ability. The defense also broke down more times than in any other game this season.
There are no excuses for this kind of performance.
Maybe Todd Bowles is in over his head? Unfortunately, many coaches are excellent coordinators but can’t make that jump to being a head coach and have success.
Bowles bombed in New York as a head coach and is off to a disappointing start in Tampa.
The Bucs have been in this spot before. In 2020 they were reeling at 7-5 at the bye week before winning eight in a row, culminating in the Bucs winning the Super Bowl.
The Carolina Panthers are next on the schedule, and head coach Steve Wilks has said there would be an open competition this week for the starting quarterback position.
If the Bucs can’t go into Charlotte and beat this Panthers team that is a hot mess, then you might as well hoist the red flag and call it a season.