The Buccaneers will have to re-group quickly as they head for Charlotte and a division matchup with the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night.
The Bucs are hoping build on their defensive performance from last week as they allowed San Francisco just 256 yards of offense. Last year the Bucs defense gave up an average of 383 yards a game and gave up over 400 yards a game numerous times.
The Challenge will be a lot stiffer this week though as Carolina has three big playmakers on offense in quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, and tight end Greg Olsen.
McCaffrey accounted for 128 yards rushing on 19 carries, and caught 10 passes for 81 yards in their opener against the Rams The Panthers racked up 353 yards of total offense and McCaffrey accounted for 59 percent of the Panthers offense.
Last season in the two games against the Bucs, McCaffrey had over 150 yards of offense in each game.
With a talent like McCaffrey, you will not shut him down, you just have to hope to contain him.
The Panthers are coming off a 30-27 loss to the LA Ramas, so getting the first division win is very important to both teams.
If the Bucs are to win this game, Jameis Winston must have a better game than he did in the opener against the 49ers.
Winston threw three picks in that game but after film review, Coach Bruce Arians absolved him of two of those and said that only one pick was truly on Winston.
The first pick intended for OJ Howard in the second quarter Went right off Howards’s hands and right into the hands of Mark Nzeocha.
The second pick late in the first half that put the Niners up 20-7 appeared to be thrown right to defensive back Richard Sherman who returned it for a touchdown.
The third pick by by Ahkello Witherspoon was a result of Peyton Barber not running the correct route. But Winston has to be better with the football and make better decisions.
Was the Ronald Jones that we saw on Sunday an indication that Jones has turned the corner in his NFL career? Or will we see Ronald Jones disappear from the offense again?
The Bucs are counting on Jones to continue to run the ball with authority like he did on Sunday, breaking tackles and fighting for those extra yards. Jones had 93 yards of offense against the 49ers.
As well as the defense played as a group, the defensive line did not do a whole lot. With Nadakomg Suh, Vita Vea, Beau Allen, and what we saw from Rakeem Nunez Roches in the preseason, more was expected.
Devin White needs to have a big game. The fifth round pick from LSU was recovering from tonsillitis all week and although managed to suit up on Sunday, did not have the impact that the Bucs were expecting from their number one pick.
Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly is still the anchor of the Panthers defense. Kuechly coming up his fifth Pro Bowl season had two sacks, 130 tackles and one interception in 2018.
Kuechly had eight tackles and half a sack against the Rams last week.
Mike Evans had a sub par game against the 49ers with only two catches and was a real non-factor offensively will have another tough matchup this week as he will go up against James Bradberry in the Panthers secondary.
Bradberry has had some of his better games against Mike Evans. Last year in Charlotte, Bradberry held Mike Evans to one catch for 16 yards, and in the rematch in Tampa, Evans had a slightly better game with four catches for 48 yards.
Carolina defensive linemen Gerald McCoy will be jacked up to play against his former teammates just like Kwon Alexander was for the 49ers.
McCoy had one tackle in his Carolina debut.
It’s a short week for the Bucs and the panthers have not lost at home to the Bucs since 2016. The panthers have won 12/19 in Carolina against Tampa Bay and Cam newton is 9-4 against the Bucs all-time.
Look for Jameis Winston to be much improved this week, but the defense will struggle to contain Christian McCaffrey and the Bucs will come back to Tampa 0-2 losing to the Panthers 20-17.