What Just Happened?

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Vegas said it. The experts said it. Every fan from 31 other teams said it,

“The Bucs will take a heavy loss against the New Orleans Saints. The Buccaneers are perennial losers and that would be shown come week one.”

Instead, the NFL viewership was treated to Fitz-Magic as the veteran signal caller ran the game, racking up 417 yards through the air and 36 on the ground. Fitzpatrick threw 4 scores and ran one in himself showing grit and determination at the goal line. Peyton Barber repaid the faith shown in picking him above the now discarded Roland Jones II picking up crucial yards and forcing the Saints defense to respect the Bucs running game. The Tampa Bay offense was in high octane made and was not taking prisoners as big play after big play yielded results. Todd Monken showed why he needs to be calling the plays for the offense as his aggressive decisions lead to long TDs to DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. Chris Godwin rubber stamped his credibility for a starting role with 41 yards and a TD and series of athletic catches. Life is good looking at the offense.

But to every silver lining there is a cloud and this cloud was a big one. Firstly, as I wrote about in an article in preseason addressing certain rule changes the way rules are worded means they are open to be abused and one certainly was. As Smith challenged Alvin Kamara for a pass late in the game with the score 48-24 the ball fell incomplete and the Saints had to punt. Then the officials donned capes and flew into action throwing flags and ensuring the Saints were allowed to keep marching to flip momentum. We will see that play happen often over the course of this season and I guarantee that the team that benefits will be the larger market team. Another black mark on this game is Chandler Catanzaro, who made his PATs and the FGs early in the game. Catanzaro has the chance to put the game beyond the Saints late on and didn’t. Yes I’m being critical, but he’s paid to make those kicks when they matter. It mattered and he missed.

Finally, the biggest cloud was Mike Smiths defense. The unit predicted to be most improved was run from one end of the field to the other and had the offense not been so prolific, this game would have been an embarrassment. Whilst it’s great to win you must always be looking at ways to improve and the defense and play calls has to be that area. Great start, but this team could be something special if it isn’t let down by the defense.

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