Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Falcons grades: D for disaster

TAMPA — It was John Lynch Ring of Honor night, a night for defense.

"You didn't go and get a hot dog when our defense was on the field," Lynch said of the great Bucs defenses. "You wanted to watch us."

Could have grabbed as many hot dogs as you wanted Thursday night when the Bucs lost 43-28 to Atlanta.

Another disaster.

And on prime-time national television,

Matt Ryan and the Falcons smashed the Bucs. Mind you, the Bucs got some licks in, like Gerald McCoy's sack and strip on Ryan to help set up a touchdown. But there wasn't nearly enough, and the Bucs' new defensive scheme (Don't cover the tight ends or fullback!) didn't work as planned. Oh, and Atlanta was nothing like the team the Bucs beat in the season opener.

Welcome to 3-5, kids.

Road trip!

F Another home loss. That's 0-4 this season and 3-17 since Lovie Smith became Bucs coach in 2014. It's dreadfully remarkable. I might consider taking these clowns on a plane out of Tampa, fly them around a couple of hours, land back here and pretend it's the road. Something, anything. This is awful.

Here's Johnny

A It was Lynch's night. You can't mess that up. Not with Lynch and his family and his family's smiles — I bet there isn't a cavity in there — at halftime. More than 70 of Lynch's former Bucs teammates gathered on the field for the unveiling of his name and number. "I'm so humbled," Lynch said. By the way, the Bucs of today better get a move on or they're going to run out of Ring of Honor guys to honor.

Great look if you like Fruit Roll-ups

F Was it just me (hint: it wasn't) or did the Bucs either forget Halloween was over or get the jump on being the first NFL team to wear its Christmas long johns? Didn't like the look: red pants, red jerseys and red faces — at least there should have been. Wasn't Sunday's Raiders game embarrassing enough? You need costumes?

Let Mikey do it

B+ Have we mentioned lately that Bucs receiver Mike Evans is really good? He grabbed two touchdown passes in the first half to give him an NFL-leading eight receiving scores. He made a one-handed grab in the third quarter despite the John Lynch moment of the night, a smashing hit by Atlanta safety Keanu Neal.

Trust no one

C- Didn't like Dirk Koetter declining a personal foul penalty that could have pushed the Falcons back during a first-quarter drive. The Bucs took the down, and Matt Bryant kicked a field goal. But does Koetter have that little confidence in his defense to stop Matt Ryan and Atlanta on third and very long? Nope. Probably shouldn't.

Should have kept singing

A It was a gorgeous evening, and the pregame ceremony matched it: a beautiful national anthem performance by Christian Lance and the Levitical Worshippers and colors presented by the Amputee Veterans of America Support Team. If they can stand, I can stand.

And now for something completely different

A Here was something you don't see every Bucs game. More like once a year. On their first possession of the night, the Bucs scored a touchdown. They hadn't done that on their opening possession since the Washington game in October 2015.

Running on empty

D It's never a bad thing to have a Peyton on your team and a Barber, just as long as it's Manning and Ronde. In this case, it's Peyton Barber, who started at running back for the Bucs. And there was Antone Smith. Tepid first-half work, 41 yards on 12 carries, and not close to what the Bucs will need to turn this season back around.

John, are you sure you're retired?

F These guys can't cover anyone when it matters. Anyone.

Well, at least Glennon got in

W That was for Jameis Winston, who played well. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. 'W' is also for worry: Winston went out of the game after getting hit while working on a two-point conversion late in the game (the conversion failed).

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