CHICAGO — Remember when you were a kid and you knew you were going to get a bad report card? So, on the Friday when report cards came out, you suddenly had a sore throat and upset stomach and a fever of 110 because you held the thermometer over a flame? All so you could buy a few days until you had to show your parents your awful report card?
Well, today's a day when the Bucs might want to fake being sick so they don't see this report card. Here are the grades from Sunday's 48-10 abomination against the Bears.
MAKING THE MOVE
Well, the fairytale was fun while it lasted, but all indications are that Ryan Fitzpatrick will go back to being a backup quarterback. That's a good thing. Although he can't really be blamed for the Bucs' embarrassing loss, Fitzpatrick was yanked at halftime and replaced by Jameis Winston. After the game, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said "probably'' when asked if Winston had done enough to get his job back.
This is the right call. Winston is your best quarterback. He gives you a better chance to win. It's his turn to play.
I'm not sure I would have thrown Winston to the Bears with the way that defense was swarming. The Bucs are lucky he didn't get hurt. But he did get some game action and will now have two weeks to get ready for his next start. GRADE: C
ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE
Was there anything positive about Sunday's game? Well, Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack, and that was a big part of why he was brought to Tampa Bay. That's four sacks in four games, putting him on pace for 16.
Be happy if he can get to 10. That would make him the first Bucs player to reach double-digits in sacks since Simeon Rice in 2005.
Three rookies made their debuts, including first-round draft pick Vita Vea and second-round pick Ronald Jones. None had much of an impact, although Vea does clog up a lot of space and allows teammates to make tackles against the run.
Okay, that concludes the silver lining portion of the program. Now back to beating up the Bucs. GRADE: B
PICK UP THAT FLAG
If you're a Bucs fan, it comes off as sour grapes. It would be laughable to say this had any impact on the game. But the officiating was not good.
It's now gotten to the point that any contact at all in the secondary has a good chance of drawing a flag for defensive or even offensive pass interference. It's football, guys. There's going to be some bumping and hand-fighting. Not everything is a penalty. Hey, at least there were none of those dumb roughing-the-passer calls. Then again, the Bucs didn't get enough pressure on Joe Montana, er, Mitchell Trubisky to get a roughing-the-passer penalty. GRADE: D
FIRE THAT GUY
The defense stinks. So the first instinct is to fire the defensive coordinator. It's not like Sunday was the first time this defense has imploded and looked like a bad college defense against some run-and-gun-and- fun national power. So if you were making a case to fire Mike Smith, you certainly have ample evidence. But ask yourself this: would it be any better under another defensive coordinator?
This is more about talent (or lack thereof), and not as much about schemes or coaching. I'm not sure a new coordinator can fix this mess, especially in the middle of a season.
But, unless there is a drastic turnaround, Smith's tenure as the Bucs DC looks to be its final season. GRADE: F
POUND THE ROCK
In today's NFL, you have to be able to throw the ball to have any chance of succeeding. But, geez, you have to run just a little bit. The Bucs can't even run a little bit.
When you keep falling behind by three and four scores at halftime, you sometimes have to abandon the running game. But it feels as if the Bucs are unable to run. They rushed for 60 yards Sunday (3.3 yards per carry) after rushing for 63 last week against the Steelers. That isn't going to get it done. GRADE: C
ANY OTHER GOOD NEWS?
Yes, just as Mitchell Trubisky was throwing his sixth touchdown pass — something a Bears QB hasn't done since guys stopped wearing leather helmets — there came a sudden realization. Lightning season opens next Saturday. GRADE: A.