Glass Half Empty – Ten Takeaways from Buccaneers 28, Eagles 22

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Too little, too late.

Nice comeback bid from the Birds, but don’t let it distract you from the fact that they looked totally outmatched in the first half and were down by three touchdowns at one point. Last week’s win covered up a lot of the blemishes the Birds otherwise showed in Carolina, but a backdoor cover on Thursday night shouldn’t fool anybody who sat through all four quarters of this slop fest.

Nobody expected the Birds to win this game, but they weren’t competitive until Tampa throttled down to a lower gear, and now they’re 2-4 with a lot of question marks on both sides of the ball. It’s glass half empty on a Friday. Not a moral victory Friday!

1) Still not establishing the run

One attempt for a running back in the first half. One!

And look, you’d expect the Birds to throw in a game where the opposing defense is really banged up and missing starters in the secondary, but even then, the lack of run/pass balance was again egregious. Nick Sirianni is making Doug Pederson and Andy Reid look like Paul Johnson.

You don’t realize how ridiculous the Eagles’ running aversion is until you see another team put the quarterback under center and just hand the ball off. That’s what Tom Brady did with Leonard Fournette over and over again. The Birds operate almost exclusively out of the shotgun, so it’s kind of jarring to put their offense up against an opponent playing a typical pro-style look.

The Birds did run more in the second half, and Sanders had some nice gains, which only amplified the calls for ground and pound. Sanders averaged 6.2 yards when he did get the ball.

As an aside, we did see a formation with both Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell on the field, which was nice. A new wrinkle. Simple split back set out of the shotgun on the game’s first drive. They did it again on the third drive and Hurts ended up taking it himself. Would like to see more of this.

2) Hurts so inaccurate

The 3rd and 5 play on the third drive sums up Hurts’ game thus far this year. It’s one of those throws he’s gonna have to hit consistently if he wants to be a legitimate NFL QB1:

And then you had the interception on the next drive, with a toss-up for Quez Watkins, who couldn’t make a play on the ball. Think you’ve gotta give Quez a significant portion of the blame on that since it was a 50/50 ball and he whiffed entirely.

It feels like there’s too much on Hurts’ plate right now. He’s throwing almost every snap, and making myriad reads on these zone plays and RPOs. We can talk ourselves into that being okay if we believe this is a transitional year to evaluate talent, because more Hurts film is the ultimate goal, but then you ask yourself if it’s counterproductive to put everything on the QB’s shoulders. Can you properly evaluate a guy who is being asked to do it all?

This is too much (tweet came about midway through the game:)

3) Philly fans are the “worst”

We always hear about how shitty we are as fans, but here’s a guy handing the ball to a Tampa fan after a touchdown:

Five years ago dude would have kept it himself or thrown it back onto the field. We’re getting soft!

4) Defense needs better players

Couple of big individual plays. The Avonte Maddox tackle for loss. Rodney McLeod with the third down stop on Antonio Brown (with Jonathan Gannon actually blitzing). Alex Singleton batting that pass attempt on the Marcus Epps non-interception.

Beyond that, it looked like the soft group we saw in the Kansas City matchup. Just getting bashed in the screen game. A healthy diet of Fournette, even if his 3.7 YPC wasn’t too damaging. They had a super-tough assignment but weren’t able to replicate what they did to Sam Darnold against… Tom Brady, which was expected.

After six games, I feel more confident about Jonathan Gannon than Nick Sirianni. You feel the same way or no? The defense needs some added talent via the draft and they should be fine. The offense, not so sure.

Consider this:

That’s pretty telling. Brandon Graham basically saying there’s not enough talent on the defensive side of the ball.

5) Zebra watch

Anybody else feel like Jordan Mailata got away with a ton of holding on the night? We’ll take it!

The first controversial call was the Epps non-interception, and they probably got that right… The review just took fucking forever. Epps looked like he had his hands around the ball, but it scraped the ground before he could get underneath it, so it went down as an incomplete pass and third down stop instead.

This is the best angle I could get off the TV:

The Birds also had to use a challenge to get that Watkins sideline catch overturned. Refs probably should have seen that foot drag in real time.

The Eagles also got screwed by a couple of non-called DPIs, one in particular being that Watkins end zone play prior to the Hurts running touchdown. All of the zebras just seemed a little slow on the uptake last night.

And finally, the Genard Avery taunting penalty. Is it dumb shit? Yes. It’s dumb shit. But it’s a rule change/point of emphasis for the league this season and they want players turning and walking away after the whistle blows. He didn’t, so he gets flagged. It stinks. I hate it as much as you do.

6) Mistakes and breaks

The list is not as long as it usually is:

Mistakes:

  • Miles Sanders 15 yard penalty on the opening drive (we never got a replay of this, or an explanation).
  • Might have been a Reagor drop on the second drive, but the defender looked like he was on his arm.
  • Hurts deep ball interception.
  • The play where Andre Dillard had the wrong snap count and just stood there while Shaq Barrett ran by him.
  • Big Play Slay getting whistled for DPI in the end zone.
  • Holding on a second-half punt return.
  • Jake Elliott no good from 46 yards.
  •  Avery brutal taunting penalty in the fourth quarter.

They actually played a much more clean game this time around. They just didn’t play very well.

Breaks:

  • DPI on the underthrown deep shot for Jalen Reagor.
  • They could have whistled Alex Singleton for wrapping his left arm around the receiver on the Marcus Epps non-interception play.
  • Tampa DPI on that second bomb to Reagor.
  • Cockrell dropping a pick-six on that borked screen.
  • Bruce Arians deciding to go for it on 4th down instead of trying to pin the Birds deep.
  • Another Tampa DPI, this one in the end zone.

Biggest break on the evening was Tampa’s injury situation. They were down two starting corners, a starting linebacker, a starting safety, and then had Richard Sherman leave in the first quarter with a bum hammy. The Eagles not being able to take advantage of all of that was disappointing.

7) Ancillary wins and losses

Lets’ take a look:

  • lost time of possession 39:56 to 20:04
  • 0 turnover margin
  • 3-10 on third down (30%)
  • 1-1 on fourth down
  • allowed Tampa to go 7-13 on third down (53.8%)
  • lost two yards on two sacks
  • 2-4 success rate in the red zone
  • 4 penalties for 41 yards
  • 16 first downs, 27 for Bucs
  • ran 73 total plays, Bucs 47

The good thing is that they got the penalties down last night. That desperately needed to be addressed.

But that 39:56 time of possession number is insanity. You rarely will find a NFL team hold more than 35 TOP in a game. The fact that they barely had the ball at all shows just how ineffective they were from an offensive and game management standpoint. They made the defense play 40 minutes against Tom Brady.

8) Nick’s best call?

The first touchdown had some great design and execution. They let the defensive end collapse, Hurts pulls the ball, and DeVonta Smith runs a pick play to free up Zach Ertz. No flag, either, which is a welcome sight after two previous touchdowns were called back for those infractions:

Notice how they’ve got both tackles lined up on the left there? Nice way to unbalance and sell the run to that side. Some misdirection sprinkled in there.

The other good Sirianni decision worth pointing out is going for two while down eight in the fourth quarter. Analytics guys are unanimous on going for it there. If you fail, you get another shot to tie if you score again. If successful, a TD and extra point wins you the game.

9) Nick’s worst call?

Normally you like to defer when you win the toss, which gives you the ball at halftime. But there was a case to be made in this game that you try to get your offense out there first and try to get some points on the board. Make Brady play catch up. Instead, he went all the way down the field for a touchdown and the Eagles were immediately working from behind.

You could make a strong case that they should have tried to go for it on 4th and 10 from the 28 yard line, down two scores with a little more than 12 minutes on the clock. With that much time remaining, it makes the field goal more palatable, but you were riding some momentum at that point and really could have benefited from getting a TD there. In hindsight, kicking was probably the wrong decision.

10) Excellence in broadcasting

Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the FOX call. Kristina Pink and Erin Andrews on the sidelines, with the latter wearing some shade of brown. Might have been a burnt umber or a smoky topaz. Not totally sure. I’m partially colorblind, so I defer to you all when it comes to things like this.

The broadcast was fine. Everybody thinks Buck and Aikman hate the Eagles, but they were refreshingly honest about the team’s struggles and called what I thought was a fair game.

We also got a Howard Eskin shout out on the first drive, and of course the Bucs scored on the very next play. It was an automatic loss once we saw The King’s mug on TV.

Have a great weekend.

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