NEW ORLEANS ó What a rotten day in New Orleans. Call it the Big Queasy. Another drubbing. Another season down the tubes, or so it would appear.
It was a crazy day. There were loads of injuries, including yet another (same) injury to Jameis Winstonís shoulder and a scary one to Bucs defensive end Will Gholston. There was a fight. And mistakes aplenty.
So, with that in mind, Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones hands out his report card from Tampa Bayís 30-10 loss against the Saints.
I GOT YOUR BACK
Some might call it a cheap shot. Some might call it cowardly. The NFL might call it an act worthy of a suspension. Know what I call Mike Evans blasting Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore? The act of a good teammate. Was it dirty? Yeah, sure. And did the whole incident on the sideline start because Winston put his finger on the head of Lattimore? Absolutely. But when Lattimore responded by pushing Winston, someone needed to do something, and Evans did the right thing. I guarantee the Winston-Evans bond is tighter now than ever before. Did Evans do Lattimore wrong? Who cares? Evans did right by his quarterback. GRADE: A.
Remember the good old days when the kicker was the Bucsí biggest problem? Well, now everything else is worse than the kicker. That says a lot about the rest of the team. But the kicker isnít too bad. Patrick Murray finally missed a kick, although it was a 54-yarder. But he did make one from 50 and you get the feeling that if the Bucs ever have a situation where the game is on the line (I know that sounds crazy, but play along, eh?), they have a kicker they can rely on. GRADE: B.
BETTER THAN THAT
Saints fans are typically among the classiest around. They love their Saints, and they have as much fun as anyone in the NFL. But they hit a rare sour note when they did the wave while defensive end Will Gholston was lying on the field being looked at for a neurological injury. Perhaps Saints fans simply didnít realize what was going on. Maybe they just got caught up in the moment of someone starting the wave and didnít intend to show such disrespect. It wasnít a malicious act. But it still was a really bad look. To their credit, they did give Gholston a nice ovation when he was carted off. Hey, if you want to boycott the NFL, I say boycott it over the stupid wave. Canít we get rid of the wave permanently at all sporting events? Please? GRADE: D.
SLIP SLIDING AWAY
Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard, the 19th overall pick out of Alabama, is going to be a superb NFL player. He has too much talent, works too hard, and is too dedicated to his craft to believe otherwise. But, man, it has been an up-and-down start to his career. Just two weeks ago, he had a career day with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns. But in five of his eight games, he has caught two passes or fewer. That includes Sunday, when he caught one pass for six yards. Thatís not the worst part. He fumbled after the catch and the Saints scored on the next play to give New Orleans a 30-3 lead. Give him an F (for fumble). GRADE: F.
WHY IS HE HERE?
In the offseason, the Bucs made a big free agent splash, signing wide receiver DeSean Jackson to a three-year deal worth $33.5 million. Which makes games like Sunday so frustrating. For Bucs fans and, you would think, Jackson. Tampa Bayís offense ran 57 plays. And Jackson touched the ball a grand total of three times. He caught two passes for 25 yards and rushed the ball once for eight yards. He was targeted for passes two other times. Thatís five plays for Jackson out of 57. You have to think that wasnít the plan when Jackson was signed. Thatís a D-minus, as in a Bucs offense minus D(eSean). GRADE: D-minus.