Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Grading the Bucs: A baffling defeat

TAMPA — Okay, well that certainly did not end up as planned.

The Bucs took on a Rams team Sunday that had scored nine points all season, a team that hadn't even scored a touchdown this season. And yet they — the Bucs, that is — found a way to lose. In the home opener.

Ugh.

Final score: Rams 37, Bucs 32.

Uh, did you get that? Thirty-seven.

So how did it happen? Let us count the ways. Mostly it was because Tampa Bay let the Rams hang around and hang around until the Rams finally decided to say, "Okay, you don't want it? We'll take it."

And that's what they did. They took it.

Now the Bucs are 1-2 with the defending Super Bowl champs coming to town. Here's a look back at Sunday's head-shaker.

Beat the clock: Grade F

The Bucs had a chance in the waning moments, but couldn't punch it for the go-ahead score. Part of the blame goes on poor clock management. The Bucs went into the locker room with a timeout in their pockets. (And, actually, they used one when the clock was already stopped with four seconds left.) Poor job there by the Bucs. Even coach Dirk Koetter said the Bucs should have done a better job managing the clock.

Kicking game: Grade D-minus

Can't totally pin this loss on kicker Roberto Aguayo, but the rookie kicker didn't help. Again. And now there are questions about Aguayo's reliability. Again. He missed an extra-point and a 41-yard field goal attempt. Those have to be automatic kicks in this league. From now on, the Bucs have to be nervous every time he goes out for a kick. And, you know, here's the scary part: He still hasn't lined up for a truly critical kick yet.What's going to happen when the game is actually on the line? His misses Sunday had the Bucs chasing points the rest of the day.

Running game: Grade Absent

The Bucs miss running back Doug Martin. That's not surprising. Nor is it an indictment of Charles Sims, who was chosen to pick up the bulk of Martin's touches. Sims is a solid pass catcher and ran hard, but he's no Martin. Few are. Sims carried the ball 13 times for 55 yards. The Bucs offense managed to move the ball at times without much of a ground game, but the sooner Martin returns, the sooner the Bucs offense will look like the way Dirk Koetter draws it up. Until then, we can't give the Bucs ground game a grade because like Martin, it's absent.

Adam Humphries: Grade B-plus

Is that Adam Humphries or Julian Edelman? The Bucs have themselves quite a third-down, slot-guy in Humphries. Precise routes, great hands, toughness, speed. The little guy has it all. He has become the passing game's most dangerous weapon behind Mike Evans. Call him Tampa Bay's Good Hands Man. He had nine catches for 100 yards.

Weather: AAA Safety Rating

The thunderstorm that delayed the ending of Sunday's game seemed to be lurking over the top of Raymond James Stadium for about an hour before it finally decided to unload with only two minutes left in regulation. Officials held off as long as they could before suspending the game, but they absolutely did the right thing shutting it down when they did. The timing wasn't great for Tampa Bay. The Bucs had the Rams hemmed in their own end facing a third and long, but obviously, fan and player safety is more important than anything else. So, for the officials, an AAA Safety Rating.

Anthem singer: Grade A-plus

With so much attention paid to how athletes react to the national anthem, we've sort of lost one thing: the actual national anthem. On Sunday, Star Swain (what a name!) performed the song and was outstanding. If you were kneeling or sitting for the song, you couldn't help but get up for a standing ovation when Swain was done. Good stuff.

F

D-

Absent

B+

A+

AAA

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