Eagles 31, Buccaneers 20: Postgame takeaways & observations

TAMPA, Fla. — This wasn’t a hopeless afternoon, but when it was over, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were still winless.

Fresh off a bye, the Bucs couldn’t slow Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense in the second half during the Philadelphia Eagles’ 31-20 victory Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay led at halftime and appeared to find some rhythm with rookie Mike Glennon at quarterback. However, the Eagles outscored the Bucs 17-3 in the second half to continue Tampa Bay’s slide.

Here are a few thoughts and observations from a day when the Bucs fell to 0-5 …

1. In the end, the Bucs’ defense broke too much against the Eagles’ offense.

Philadelphia opened with a strong eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive that took all of three minutes, 14 seconds. But the Bucs’ defense settled well soon after, forcing a LeSean McCoy fumble on the next drive.

The rest of the first half didn’t go much better for the guys in green, with four punts to one touchdown drive before they went into the locker room down 17-14.

The Eagles fared better in the second half, however, looking much more active, with quarterback Nick Foles finishing 22-of-31 passing for 296 yards with three touchdowns. Despite some late-game blunders, the Bucs’ defense entered as this team’s strongest unit. No opponent had scored more than the New England Patriots’ 23 on them all season. Today was a different story, though.

2. Glennon looked more comfortable than in Week 4.

Nobody thought the rookie was going to step into the Bucs’ quarterback slot and handle the transition seamlessly after the Josh Freeman saga. The learning curve is too high, and Glennon is no Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

But Glennon’s performance was a step forward compared to his debut, when he went 24-of-43 passing for 193 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals. He finished 26 of 43 for 273 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, and he showed some awareness and mobility in doing so.

Beyond his showing through the air, he also had an impressive 16-yard scramble on a third-and-14 play late in the second quarter. There were still some weak moments, like when he was flagged for intentional grounding late in the first quarter for failing to escape the tackle box, a play that set up a third-and-16. Overall, despite his record falling to 0-2 as a starter, this was a good day for him.

3. This is what offensive football should look like.

The Bucs matched their season-high point total of 17 points, achieved against the New York Jets in Week 1, with that many in the first half. This display wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it was a breath of fresh air after the mess of previous weeks.

Beyond Glennon’s performance, Doug Martin had 67 yards on 16 carries. Playing without Mike Williams, the Bucs were led in receiving by Vincent Jackson, who had 114 yards on nine catches. Yes, Glennon has flaws. But it’s safe to say the production the offense showed most of Sunday would have never happened with Freeman behind center.

4. It was good to see Johnthan Banks on the field.

Friday was an odd day at One Buc Place when it was revealed the rookie cornerback was the franchise’s third player to contract MRSA. There were even rumblings that this game could have been in jeopardy as scheduled because of the staph infection concerns.

But late Saturday night, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement that said Banks posed no threat to other players. On the field, his day was mixed: He was on Riley Cooper when the wide receiver hauled in a 47-yard touchdown pass from Foles in the third quarter.

Who knows what will come with this strange health story, but here’s hoping we don’t hear about more infected players soon, if ever.

5. Penalties must stop.

This has been a recurring issue throughout the early part of the season, but it was more of the same Sunday for a group that can’t avoid tripping over themselves.

The Bucs finished with eight penalties for 72 yards. Many of those were holding calls that killed possible momentum-building plays, and the blunders added a herky-jerky element to the Bucs’ play all afternoon. Whatever the cause, these miscues can’t continue. But little to this point shows that Tampa Bay will correct its ways.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.