Here are some thoughts on the Bucs’ first victory of the season: a 20-14 win over the Panthers in Charlotte.
It is amazing what Todd Bowles has done with this defense in just two games. Take Mike Smith’s swiss-cheese defense, and flip it 180 degrees. Bowles’ unit kept the Panthers out of the end zone, and has only allowed one offensive touchdown in eight quarters. After Carolina, not surprisingly, marched down the field for a final drive, Vernon Hargreaves made the play that everyone’s still buzzing about, stopping Christian McCaffrey at the two-yard line with less than 90 seconds to play. It was a night where the Bucs stifled McCaffrey all the way around.
Another star was Shaquil Barrett. He’s another new face on defense, and he sacked Cam Newton three times.
The Buccaneers gave up some long plays in this one, but tightened up in the red zone. I remember Tony Dungy’s teams winning a lot of games like this. I’m just throwing that out there.
On offense, Jameis Winston did not turn the ball over. That is huge. Everyone (including me) rips him when he screws up, so it is only fair that I praise him when he has a good game. His stats may not jump out at you, but again, no turnovers.
Chris Godwin is a beast: 121 yards and a TD. He, not Mike Evans, is the Bucs’ leading receiver after two games.
Peyton Barber churned out 82 tough yards on the ground, and scored a touchdown. He had to work for every one of those yards against a tough Carolina defense.
This was not a perfect game by any means. There were way too many penalties again (p.s. – someone tell Bruce Arians and Bowles that you can’t call back-to-back timeouts.) Going 2-for-12 on third down isn’t going to cut it, either. But at the end of a late night, the Bucs beat a division opponent on the road. That is huge.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press