Coming into week three, the Bucs already had a tough task ahead of them. A quarterback duel with Aaron Rodgers was ahead of them, but both sides had a problem, offense.
The Packers made one of the biggest moves of the off season and traded all-pro receiver Davante Adams. That meant Aaron Rodgers had one of the worst receiving corps in the league. Tom Brady and the Buccaneers also came into this with a lack of weapons. Mike Evans was suspended a game for his role in the brawl in New Orleans. Chris Godwin and Julio Jones were nursing injuries. That left the Bucs with, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, Russell Gage and newly acquired Cole Beasley. What resulted was a defensive battle that saw two of the most prolific quarterbacks in NFL history struggle to move the ball.
Russell Gage was the best Bucs’ receiver against the Packers. This encapsulates perfectly the lack of talent each receiver room came into this game with. Gage is a very solid receiver who made his first real impression with the Bucs. Signing for $10 million meant he would have to step up when times get rough, and he definitely did. Gage was targeted 13 times and caught the only touchdown of the game. Byron Leftwitch primarily used him as a slot receiver, sending him there on 39 of his 52 snaps. He was the only receiver who showed any ability to get open in a scheme centered around receivers creating the separation themselves.
Leonard Fournette is still showing reliable hands out of the backfield and has earned Tom Brady’s trust and is the only back Leftwich has felt confident putting out there against the Packers.
Cole Beasley seems to fit well in Tampa and made the most of his snaps. Beasley only saw the field eight times, but Brady threw his way 50% of those plays and has talked all week about how comfortable he’s felt with him. If injuries continue to plague the Bucs, Beasley could be in for a bounce back season.
The rest was rough to say the least. Scotty Miller had the most disappointing night of them all. With all the injuries, this game looked like a prime opportunity for Miller to break out. Instead, he recorded just one catch for just four yards on five targets. This was on 41 passing snaps. Add to this a false start penalty, and he actually lost the Buccaneers yards when he was on the field. This performance is shocking to some, but not all. Miller was reaching legendary status in Tampa a little over a year ago and now he seems like an afterthought. He still has a couple of weeks to turn it around, and I believe a Miller breakout game is in the cards soon.
The hero last week in New Orleans was Breshad Perriman, and it’s been obvious since training camp the coaching staff loves this guy and will give him any opportunity in the world. Perriman has come a long way in this league. Unfortunately his day was definitely less productive than the previous week. Perriman had just 44 yards on three catches. His production wasn’t what made this game forgettable for him, a crucial mental mistake in field goal range when he fumbled the ball giving it right back to Green Bay. This mistake absolutely changed the momentum of the game in the wrong direction.
The odds of the Bucs playing a game with this depleted of a receiving core again is low, but still could happen. With Mike Evans and Julio Jones coming back and Cole Beasley being worked into the offense, Tom Brady and company will get the offense rolling again. I believe this experience has helped them figure out who they are and how they’ll fit into the offense moving forward.
Losing early in the season isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can help teams address their problems.
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