Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buccaneers handed the Kansas City Chiefs their first home loss in 11 tries, and here we’ll break down the position groups with our weekly grades and analysis.
Reaching .500 with six games remaining may not seem like the greatest accomplishment an NFL franchise can make, but for the Buccaneers, being one game out of first place in the NFC South is a great place to sit.
By defeating the Chiefs on the road by a score of 19-17 the Bucs kept their place in the division and improved their record to 3-2 since their bye week.
This team will still have to pull off some upsets down the stretch to stay in the playoff hunt, but after securing two in a row, the feat seems a bit more plausible than it had before the bye.
It’s Victory Monday, and we’re sending home report cards, so let’s get right to it!
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) looks to pass during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
For the Buccaneers, quarterback Jameis Winston has had an up-and-down first two seasons leading his franchise, and was looking to get a signature win against the 7-2 Kansas City Chiefs on the road.
Just one week after winning his first home game of 2016, the second year player went up against a defense missing their best cornerback and would later go without their sack leader as Marcus Peters was inactive and Dee Ford left midway.
Facing an intense blitz attack early in the game, the Bucs gave him a few seconds to throw the ball by employing special blocking schemes aimed at protecting him and giving him quick hitter options to get the ball out fast.
For the most part, it worked. Winston orchestrated scoring drive after scoring drive as the Buccaneers worked into the Chiefs’ redzone five times coming away with four field goals and a touchdown pass.
The lone score came from the quarterback to an undrafted free-agent by the name of Alan Cross who joined the team out of Memphis and had just his second career reception on the play.
Winston did have an early fumble after a shotgun snap simply slipped out of his hands and Chiefs defender Steven Nelson dove on it for the turnover.
As has been the case since he entered the league, Winston’s underrated running ability was on display as well as he scrambled five times for 22-yards and a long run of 12-yards.
As the clock ticked down on the Bucs’ fifth win of the year, Winston finished with 331-yards passing, one touchdown and a quarterback rating of 97.3.
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) hands off to running back Doug Martin (22) during the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
RUNNING BACKS: B-
In Doug Martin’s second game back for the Buccaneers since returning from a hamstring injury which forced him out of most of the action to this point, it was expected he’d get involved early and often.
His touches only supported this, and he made consistent gains all day long against a defense which was banged up, and had been surrendering 4.7 yards per carry ranking them second worst in the NFL.
While it was great to see Martin carrying a full workload of 24 carries, he was unable to take advantage of the match-up due mainly to an offensive line playing with more back-ups than any team could hope to be successful with.
63 rushing yards isn’t going to blow anyone out of the water, but his nearly 3-yards per carry average came on good runs which helped keep his offense on schedule for most of the game.
Peyton Barber chipped in four carries for 22-yards and Mike James took his lone carry nine yards on a 1st and 20 following multiple false start penalties near the end of the first half.
Contributing in the passing game as well, Martin brought in three of his four targets for 42-yards giving him over 100-yards from scrimmage in his first full game back.
The Buccaneers have survived on the efforts of guys like Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers who is now injured, but it’s great to see Martin back on the field and looking healthier than ever.
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Alan Cross (45) celebrates after scoring during the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Tampa Bay won 19-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
WIDE RECEIVERS and TIGHT ENDS: B
What we saw from the Buccaneers offense this week wasn’t exciting, and it wasn’t exactly highlight reel material for the most part.
It was effective however, and got the job done.
Mike Evans has gong two straight games without a touchdown, but that’s only going to upset his fantasy owners as Bucs fans were no less happy to see him bring in six catches for 105-yards.
Coming up big for his team was early season addition Cecil Shorts III who hauled in five of Winston’s passes for 62-yards, while Russell Shepard and Adam Humphries combined for seven catches and over 100-yards combined.
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) throws a pass in the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports
OFFENSIVE LINE: C+
As long as the Buccaneers are forced to play with a patchwork offensive line, I’m going to feel compelled to grade them on a curve.
Taking into consideration the fact this team is playing with guys not expected to get near the playing time they have, and this unit hasn’t had any chance to meld into a consistent group, makes their performance today all the more impressive.
One sack is all the Kansas City Chiefs got on the Bucs this week, which is an astounding number considering this unit possesses one of the NFL’s sack leaders.
While Dee Ford did leave the game with an injury, he was in long enough to try and make an impact, but he just couldn’t get through recording just one tackle on the day.
Much was made about Justin Houston coming into this week’s match-up, but he too was prevented from making an impact as he tallied just two tackles with one for a loss.
All-in-all it was a good day for the group, and they get a serviceable grade which is admittedly hampered a little by the lack of holes opened on perimeter runs in Week 11.
Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end William Gholston (92) against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
DEFENSIVE LINE: C+
Alex Smith doesn’t exactly insight fear in the hearts of defensive linemen, and the Buccaneers linemen are no different.
They didn’t get in on any sacks today, and William Gholston got the groups lone tackle for a loss early in the game against Chiefs running back Spencer Ware.
Where this unit is going to earn their grade is in the running game, or lack thereof.
Kansas City ran the ball a total of 21 times and amassed just 82-yards with the lone touchdown run coming from Smith and his 11-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
On a key third and two, Bucs rookie Noah Spence gained quick penetration through the Chiefs’ offensive line and stuffed Spencer Ware at the line of scrimmage to get their offense off the field, and put the ball back in the hands of their own.
The play is just another in what has been a very encouraging rookie campaign for the Eastern Kentucky product by way of Ohio State, and gives some insight into what this unit can become in the near future.
Finally, on the key interception by Chris Conte it was defensive tackle Gerald McCoy who got a paw on the pass as Smith tried to fire it into the endzone for a go-ahead score.
The turnover led to a Buccaneers touchdown on the other end and gave them the lead they would never relinquish.
Gerald McCoy, Robert Ayers, William Gholston and Noah Spence figure to be long-term mainstays for the defensive line and just imagine what they’ll do when they get to gel completely.
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Chris Conte (23) returns an interception against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C
For the second straight game Buccaneers safety Chris Conte took an interception from the opponent, and for the second time his team put six points on the board shortly afterwards.
Of course, the first time, Conte did it himself and this time the Bucs offense took his interception 52-yards in nine plays and scored a touchdown after Jameis Winston tossed the first touchdown catch of Alan Cross’ young career.
For the rest of the secondary, it was bend and don’t break this week as they sought to contain speed-receiver Tyreek Hill and keep Travis Kelce from overly dominating the day.
The Chiefs tight end got his numbers today, bringing in seven catches for 108-yards, but was never able to find the endzone against what is considered to be a pretty vulnerable defensive unit.
Tyreek Hill ended up with four catches and 59-yards of offense, but for most of the day he was rendered ineffective when you consider three of his catches went for just 17-yards total.
The only touchdown reception in Week 11 was made by receiver Albert Wilson who brought Kansas City to within a score of taking the lead over the Buccaneers late in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Buccaneers secondary was able to shut the door late and not only sealed the victory, but kept Smith under 300-yards passing despite completing 23 of his 30 pass attempts.
Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) congratulated each other during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Travis Kelce went over 100-yards and while he is a talented tight end, the Buccaneers have a talented group of linebackers who can’t carry the whole blame, but get most of it.
Now, the key to the game wasn’t shutting out the Chiefs’ prolific tight end rather, it was to keep him from doing enough to give Kansas City the momentum needed to defeat the visiting Bucs. Well, in that case, mission accomplished.
Kwon Alexander returned to the top of the tackle stats box with his seven, tying him with team leader Chris Conte. While none of them were for a loss, and he certainly didn’t get any sacks this week, Alexander still made his presence known and was a key part of preventing Alex Smith and his offense from gathering any real steam.
Nov 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) is congratulated by T punter Bryan Anger (9) after he made a field goal during the second half against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Chicago Bears 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
Just as all Buccaneers fans were saying earlier this season, we just needed to calm down and give Roberto Aguayo some time to settle in….that’s what we were all saying right?
At any rate, the Bucs’ much celebrated second-round pick has been just about automatic since the bye week, and made four field goals this week in a game which was decided by less than one of them.
His 13-points made him the singularly most important part of this game as he allowed Dirk Koetter to stay conservative and keep his gun-slinging quarterback in check as he looked to tack on points any time he got the chance.
We may all enjoy a good aggressive attack, but having a kicker you can rely on is a great commodity. Don’t make a gold bust of Aguayo’s foot just yet, but the kid is resilient if nothing else, and a big-time contributor today.
Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo now 8-for-9 on field goals over last five games since bye week.
Bryan Anger is going to be the only guy this week who’s team is happy he only made two plays. One was a 44-yard punt, and the other was a 36-yard punt. Neither was returned for much of anything with one going for a touchback and the other burning valuable seconds of the fourth quarter clock.
Now, we can’t end our special teams wrap up without mentioning Josh Robinson who also got some snaps as a cornerback in Week 11 as well.
The Buccaneers signed the free-agent during the off-season and while he hasn’t impacted the defense much at all, he’s been a constant blessing to the special teams coverage in Tampa with today being no different.