After a red hot start by the Atlanta Falcons in the first half and a bit of scuffling from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second, the Bucs finished off Sunday’s matchup against Atlanta with a 30-17 win.
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It will be interesting to hear the rationale behind today’s game plan for the Bucs, with Tom Brady taking 51 dropbacks against a defense that has struggled to stop offenses from doing much of anything. Brady missed some downfield throws early in the game and had a crushing pick-six right before halftime but evened out in the second half to put the game away.
|Down||Dropbacks||Yards Per Attempt||First Downs Converted||Passer Rating|
The answer to any questions about play-calling might be explained by Leonard Fournette’s stat line. The Bucs RB averaged less than 3.5 yards in his 13 attempts, with over 70% coming after contact and no carries going for over 10 yards. The Bucs are stretching the limits of how good an offense can be without a running game.
Chris Godwin gets first chance at the ice bath following his workload against the Falcons’ defensive backfield, finishing with 143 yards on 17 targets, with three receptions gaining 15 or more yards. Mike Evans generated four of his own explosive gains as the offense’s vertical threat with an average depth of target of 12.5 on his 10 targets.
Tampa Bay saw more competition in pass rush one-on-ones during this week’s practices than they faced against the Falcons, only allowing three pressures as a unit. Alex Cappa’s pass protection “loss” resulted in a rare hit on Brady, but Atlanta was unable to affect the QB’s rhythm in the second half.
Vita Vea is a destroyer of worlds lined up directly over the helpless centers of the NFL. The titan of a nose tackle produced six pressures and two sacks on Matt Ryan, proof that there’s no solution for allowing interior pressure. Ndamukong Suh had two sacks of his own, proof that there’s no answer for interior pressure.
Devin White didn’t play his most disciplined or effective game against the run game of the Falcons, finishing with only one run stop in 22 opportunities. His nine blitzes and pass rush chances only garnered a single pressure, and he allowed 74 yards as a coverage defender. Chalk it up to sleepwalking against an inferior opponent for the time being, but expectations for the LB are much higher than his output.
When everything is humming for Tampa Bay on the back end, it’s never a surprise that one of its DBs is locking down coverage responsibility. Jamel Dean was only targeted three times on Sunday and allowed zero yards. His teammates were being attacked by Russell Gage — Sean Murphy-Bunting allowed 70 yards, Pierre Desir and Carlton Davis each allowed over 40 — but that won't be Dean’s problem in the film room.
Another quintessential Matt Ryan performance on Sunday: great decision-making, a balanced attack at all levels of the field, efficient production and nothing that felt impactful enough to take control of a game Tampa Bay struggled to win. In fairness, he played very well considering the pass rush he endured.
What got into the Falcons running backs today? Cordarrelle Patterson provided a steady 6 yards per carry on 13 tries, and Mike Davis joined in to march the ball right down the field in the first half. Atlanta’s five first quarter carries netted 74 of its 118 yards on the day.
|Quarter||Attempts||Yards Per Carry||1st Down/Touchdown Rate|
Russell Gage’s fumble as he tried to create extra offense was a killer for an offense building momentum, but he and Ryan were the only two with a consistent connection on Sunday. Seven of his 11 receptions were converted into first downs, and Ryan had a passer rating of 112.2 when targeting this former LSU Tiger.
For an offensive line with some major talent deficit, there can’t be much worse than trailing in a game against the Tampa Bay pass rush. Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman allowed four pressures apiece, combining for three sacks. Each of Chris Lindstrom’s three pressures allowed were pass blocking “losses,” forcing the ball out of Ryan’s hands early.
Grady Jarrett is better than his production this season, but there’s not enough talent around the versatile defensive lineman to unlock all of his best traits. Jarrett’s single pressure made up for half of the pass rush production by a defensive lineman on Sunday and was the only contact anyone made with Brady as a pass rusher.
Deion Jones’ days of playing like a high-end starter seem to be distantly behind him. Jones allowed seven of 10 coverage targets to be caught for over 80 yards, and his calling card in the league is athleticism that allows him to erase mismatches on the interior. His two run stops were sound reps at fitting the run but provided minimal value against Tampa’s pass-happy attack.
Brady loves to pick out a mismatch, and Atlanta is ripe with those outside of A.J. Terrell this season. Falcons DBs allowed 24 of 34 targets to be completed for 232 yards and three touchdowns and 13 first downs. No DB forced any incompletions, and six completions went for 15 or more yards.
|Player||Coverage Targets||Yards Allowed||Passer Rating Allowed||Defensive Success Rate|