But this Week 2 game proved how crazy the swings can be in the NFL, as the Falcons were making this a close game early in the fourth quarter before the Bucs were finally able to pull away with a 48-25 win.
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Tom Brady sits at the helm of an offensive juggernaut. He threw five touchdown passes this afternoon, and the scary thing is that any given Bucs receiver can be the primary threat in a given week — it just depends on the matchups they like.
Brady targeted 10 different receivers and completed a pass to each one of them. He threw 11.3 yards downfield on average, with 58% of his attempts aimed beyond the first-down marker, the second-highest figure in the NFL this week. Brady wasn’t perfect, but he was more than good enough.
Fournette broke three tackles on the ground and gained 32 of his 52 yards after contact.
Work in the passing game is still the big weakness of this backfield. While Fournette did catch all four targets thrown his way, he fumbled on one of them, which will torpedo his grade in that facet of play.
Mike Evans saw just six targets in Week 1 despite Tom Brady throwing 46 targeted passes to Buccaneer receivers. This week, he finished with nine targets and could have had more but for limping off late in the game after he tweaked something running a route.
Evans scored two touchdowns and recorded 75 yards from five catches. Rob Gronkowski also found the end zone twice and now has more touchdowns in his first two games (four) than in his final season in New England (three). He is still a devastating weapon in the red zone.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line is one of the best in the game, and we saw evidence of that in this matchup. Brady getting rid of the ball in under 2.4 seconds helps the group out, and some of the worst pressure that came was due to uncharacteristically slow play from Brady in the pocket on a few plays.
Donovan Smith led the team in pressures allowed (four), but he played 40 snaps in pass protection.
The biggest issue Tampa Bay’s defensive line may have is that they can’t get any of its stars to leave the field, causing talented first-round rookie Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to play just eight snaps in the game.
The starting four each played a minimum of 39 snaps, with Jason Pierre-Paul leading the way with 59. All of the starters registered pressure, but Pierre-Paul and Vita Vea also had batted passes that turned into turnovers, helping the tide turn back in Tampa Bay’s direction.
|Player||Snaps||Pass Rushes||Pressure Rate|
|Jason Pierre Paul||59||36||2.80%|
Devin White and Lavonte David were the only linebackers who played any snaps for the Bucs in this game, as they elected to play with extra defensive backs to combat the Falcons offense. White made some splash plays and was the first defender to make contact with the ball carrier five times in the game, but he missed two tackles, which will hurt his overall PFF grade.
Mike Edwards came away with a critical pick-six late in the game that helped put it back out of sight, but it came from a badly tipped pass at the line. It was his second pick-six of the game, with the other one a far better play, as he broke on the ball and tipped it to himself before making a house call.
Matt Ryan struggled in Week 1 and isn’t coming off the best season of his career. And while his numbers coming out of this game won’t look good — he completed 35-of-46 attempts for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions — they don’t tell the whole story.
Two of his passes were batted at the line and turned into interceptions as the Bucs defensive line were able to get consistently in his face. Still, he did have four turnover-worthy plays that punctuated otherwise efficient passing performance.
Josh Rosen got the final few minutes of play once the game was out of reach. He didn’t complete a pass.
Cordarrelle Patterson may not neatly fit into any conventional position designation, but he is a special playmaker with the ball in his hands wherever he lines up.
Patterson carried the ball seven times and gained 11 yards on the ground, with one of those carries resulting in a nice touchdown run. However, his best work came as a receiver out of the backfield, where a one-handed snag gave him another score. In all, Patterson caught five of his six targets for 58 yards.
|Routes Run||Targets||Receptions||Yards per
Pitts showed the kind of freakish body control he has on one pass thrown behind him by Matt Ryan and looks the real deal even if the production hasn’t quite caught up with that talent.
Atlanta’s offensive line is a problem, and they were overwhelmed at times by the Buccaneers' defensive front despite Matt Ryan getting the ball out of his hands in less than 2.5 seconds. Even when the Bucs aborted rushes to bat passes at the line, the Falcons linemen couldn’t punish them for it. All five starters surrendered multiple pressures, pending grade review.
Atlanta’s defensive front is typically Grady Jarrett and little help around him, but against an elite offensive line like Tampa Bay, even Jarrett was kept quiet.
|Player||Pass Rushes||Win Rate|
|Dante Fowler Jr.||28||21.4%|
Jarrett played 40 snaps in the game and made four tackles, two of which were defensive stops. Jarrett had a couple of winning reps as a pass-rusher but has no pressure to his name at this point in the grading review process.
Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun each played 60 snaps for the Falcons and were heavily involved in the game. Oluokun notched five defensive stops, the most of any player on either side of the ball. Jones had a sack and three total pressures on the blitz.
There wasn’t too much to love about the secondary, but second-year cornerback A.J. Terrell broke up two passes on very similar plays: Brady tried to hit a hole between the corner and safety down the sideline in quick succession, and on both occasions, Terrell was able to gain enough depth to break it up, knocking himself from the game on the second one as his head hit the turf on landing.