Here are some quick thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 31-17 loss to the 49ers in the season opener at Ray-Jay:
As ugly as this game was, I will start with some positives. The Bucs actually had a running game, led by a rejuvenated Ronald Jones. The defense looks much, much better than past years. Vernon Hargreaves III came up with a rare pick-six. This unit only allowed one offensive touchdown. So how did San Francisco get 31 points? Oh, I’m getting to that. But first, one more positive: rookie kicker Matt Gay was perfect on the day.
Now, let’s get to the ugly stuff:
Jameis Winston had an awful game. He had three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The other one, admittedly, went right through O.J. Howard’s hands. But Winston was consistently off-target. He fumbled a snap. This is the year he has to break out and play like a No. 1 overall pick. This was not a good start. And if Twitter was a member of the Bucs coaching staff, Winston would be out on the street right now looking for work. He MUST do better than this, or his ass is going to be on the bench very soon.
I said I was concerned about the offensive line before the season began. They did not perform well against the ‘Niners. Winston was sacked three times, and Demar Dotson was penalized twice for holding, which nullified would-be touchdowns. The offensive line play makes the running game’s performance even that much more amazing.
Now, I want to take about the curious decision by Bruce Arians early in the fourth quarter. The score was 20-14. The Bucs kicked a field goal, but the 49ers were penalized for offsides. Instead of making it a three-point game, Arians decided to go for it on 4th down from the 2. Winston’s pass was batted away. So instead of it being 20-17, the Bucs still needed a touchdown to pull it out – a score they would not get. So, Arians is a gambler, eh? He’s 0-for-1 so far.
Next up: the Panthers on Thursday night. This is the Gerald McCoy Bowl, part one.
Photo courtesy: San Francisco 49ers