It’s been two consecutive weeks that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have stunned the natural world with victories against the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s been by no means a fluke. Tons of the credit is owed to the offensive aerial attack and a “no quit” defense. Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Head Coach, Dirk Koetter, has harped time and time again about this team not starting fast and stringing together explosive plays right off the bat. If these past two weeks have taught us anything, it’s that this Bucs team isn’t the old Bucs anymore. To start this weeks Battle Damage Assessment (BDA), let’s dive deeper into the field general himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The NFL’s leader in passing yards thus far this season is none other than Tampa’s Fitzpatrick. Having produced back to back 400 plus yard games and averaging four touchdowns per game, it’s hard not to love the level Fitzpatrick is playing on at the moment.
If there were ever a way to scare your opponent and pin them against the wall early, it’d have to be starting the game with a 75 yard touchdown throw to the leagues best deep threat receiver in Desean Jackson. On the opening drive and 11 seconds into the start of the contest, Fitzpatrick throws a beautiful bomb to Jackson for the quick score, and just like that, Tampa has early control of the game.
Fitzpatrick’s next series produced just 20 total yards after a false start penalty on Caleb Benenoch pushed the Bucs offense back five yards and a seven yard sack by Philly’s Fletcher Cox. Philly was bringing pressure up front and allowing the defensive backs to cover their respective receivers deep. In doing so, Fitzpatrick was left to check the ball down to his running backs before inevitably punting the ball.
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The next two series Fitzpatrick had no luck pushing the ball down the field, again, with the last series of the quarter ending in an interception for Philly off of a fumbled ball from O.J. Howard. Fitzpatrick played smart and took what the defense was showing him and didn’t force anything down field that could get him in trouble.
In the beginning of the second quarter, Fitzpatrick produced much of the same while picking up a few first downs before finding Howard on an out route that went 75 yards for a score. The next series was more exciting as Fitzpatrick kept his cool and connected on several deep throws to Howard and Chris Godwin to set up the last touchdown of the half.
The third quarter of the contest comes around and Fitzpatrick has great field position to start the second half with. Field position directly contributed to an easy score for Mike Evans. The rest of the game was mostly defense and special teams with Fitzpatrick unable to move the ball out of Tampa territory.
All in all, Fitzpatrick played another incredible game with great vision and patience, while not forcing anything to his pass catchers. If the offensive play calls were more aggressive after the third quarter of play, we would’ve witnessed another touchdown or two. If I had to name one con to Fitzpatrick’s play this week, it’d be the lack of time on the field for the offense towards the end of the game when the defense was on its last leg.
BDA Grade: A
Next up, Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends