After numerous discussions and reports, Koetter and the Bucs decided to put Fitzpatrick under center to start the game. Fitzpatrick, or the offense as a whole for that matter, could not get anything going. The running game was nonexistent once again. In the first half, the Bucs went from one three-and-out series on offense to another.
Meanwhile, the defense played its worst game so far this year, and you know what that means. Chicago‘s receivers were left wide open on multiple occasions because of miscommunication on the defensive side of Tampa Bay. Chicago practically abandoned the running game because they picked up yardage through the air with ease against a secondary that looked completely lost and simply unable to cope with the Bears‘ passing attack. Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky ended up having a career day, passing for 357 yards and six touchdowns, no turnovers.
After trailing with an unbelievable score of 38-3 at the half, Koetter decided to pull Fitzpatrick and put Jameis Winston in the game for the first time this year after his suspension. Yet at that point, the game already seemed to be out of reach for the Buccaneers. Winston did better than Fitzpatrick, completing 80 percent of his passes (16/20) and throwing a touchdown to Cameron Brate. Unfortunately, he also turned the ball over twice, getting picked off both times. While he might not be the one to blame for the first interception—Khalil Mack hit his arm as he was throwing—but the second one, which came on the last offensive play of the day, was clearly Winston’s fault and simply a terrible throw without any kind of pressure.
On a side note, rookies Vita Vea and Ronald Jones both made their debut in pewter and red in this game. Neither one looked particularly good. Jones played better than in the preseason, though. He did have a crucial drop early in the game on a short pass that he simply had to catch if he wanted to have a shot at staying in this league.
After taking a devastating, humiliating 48 – 10 loss against the Chicago Bears, the Buccaneers are finding themselves at a low, in a deep hole which will not be easy to crawl out of. Usually a week 5 bye is never a good thing—it is much too early. Considering the circumstances this year, however, it could hardly come at a better time.