After all the craziness that’s surrounded the team to start the year, the Bucs finally took the field to play meaningful football today. And after the starters hadn’t played in nearly a month they showed early that there was no significant rust to shake off. Tampa jumped out to a quick lead and never gave it up in route to a 29-7 win over the Bears. In a whoopin like this, there is obviously a lot of credit to go around for the Bucs. I’ve limited it down to a handful of guys who win my game balls in this season opener.
Excellent ball placement from Jameis Winston on the Mike Evans TD throw. Put it where only Evans could get it. pic.twitter.com/DKhHWb3N4n
— Ollie Connolly (@OllieConnolly) September 17, 2017
Evan picked up right where he left off in 2016. The Bucs star receiver went for a team-high 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. And what a nice touchdown it was, showing great body control and awareness to get both feet down before he went out the side of the end zone. That was just one of the many big plays he had on Sunday. Whenever the offense needed a spark it always seemed to be Mike Evans making things happen in this game.
Today I have to give credit to the offensive master mind behind the Bucs play calling. For a team that had to be evacuated from the state earlier this week, Tampa Bay played a very clean game. Credit has to go to the head coach for that one. Koetter also kept things very balanced offensively with nearly the exact same number of rushing and passing attempts. I also give him credit for pulling Jameis Winston out in the fourth quarter and not jeopardizing the health of his franchise QB in a game that was essentially over. Overall, a very smart day from the coach and his offense.
David was all over the place on Sunday. He led the team with nine tackles, eight solo tackles, and had one tackle for a loss. He was also able to recover a Mike Glennon fumble which Noah Spence forced on a sack. David was also a key factor in the Buccaneers run defense which was outstanding. He was the player who stood out the most in a game where the Bucs defense stole the show.
Gerald McCoy lived in the Bears backfield this afternoon pic.twitter.com/lQcwBy50JL
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 17, 2017
He may not have filled up the stat sheet, but McCoy was a force. He was completely disruptive against one of the best interior offensive lines in the NFL. While he didn’t get a sack, he was able to hit Glennon four times and never allowed the him to get too comfortable. He was also at the heart of a run defense that helped hold the Bears excellent rushing attack to just 20 yards. To put that into perspective, Jordan Howard had 100 yards rushing on 15 carries when these teams played last year. In this game he carried the ball 9 times for 7 yards.
Out of all the great players on the Bucs roster, it was Cameron Lynch who sparked this team early. After Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen made the mistake of fielding a bouncing punt deep in Chicago territory, it was Lynch down in coverage who made him pay. Cohen put the ball on the ground and Lynch was all over the recovery. This play set up a Jameis Winston touchdown pass and extended the Bucs lead to 10-0. It felt like the team had been a little flat before this play, but Lynch fired up the whole stadium with this huge special teams play.