“This was one game that I felt like we got outcoached and got outplayed.” Those were the words of head coach Bruce Arians after his team self-destructed with penalties in the 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears.
This was a game the Bucs should have won. They had a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter and let the Bears back in the game. The Bucs trailed 14-13 at the half.
Not only did the Bucs take a loss on Thursday night they also lost the best nose tackle in the NFL, defensive tackle Vita Vea.
Vea broke his ankle in the second half and will join tight end, OJ Howard, on the IR.
This is a huge blow to the Buccaneer defense. Bruce Arians talked about losing Vea after the game. “I don’t know if there was a better nose tackle out there. He was getting sacks. He was getting pressure up the middle. He got hurt on a great hustle play on the side going back and forth and it was friendly fire that got his leg. He was playing well.”
“You lose players like O.J. and Vita, you can plug the next man in, but they’re not the same. I hate it for him because he was having such a great year.”
Vea finishes his third NFL season with ten tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and three quarterback hits.
This was also a game where the offensive line played horrible. Tom Brady was under a lot of pressure in the second half. This was the first game that rookie offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs looked like a rookie as he was manhandled by All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack.
The Buccaneers finished the game with 11 penalties, seven on the offensive line.
Donavan Smith was called for three penalties, Ryan Jensen had two. Tristan Wirfs and Alex Cappa each had a penalty.
Arians talked about the penalties and how they affected the game. “Just pretty poor execution. We got down and we had a sack, three penalties. You’re not going to beat anybody with 12 penalties or however many we had, and especially when we were down there once and ended up punting because of about six or seven penalties on one drive. So I didn’t have our team ready to play, so it’s obvious.”
The Buccaneers led the league in penalties with 133 last season and were third in the NFL this season going into the game against Chicago.
Playing undisciplined football causes you to lose more games than you win, and the Bucs will find that out if they don’t get this corrected.
Tom Brady summed it up after the game, “Penalties, they stop drives. We had so many third-and-longs. We could never get in any rhythm in the second half. Just poor execution. If you don’t execute on first and second down you have third-and-forever, and those are tough to convert time after time. We’ve got to tighten that up. Play more consistent-type of football. We have a lot of work to do.”
Penalties aside, the Bucs were missing some key contributors. Running backs LeSean McCoy, and Leonard Fournette were sidelined and did not play.
Ronald Jones was the lone running back all night. He averaged six yards per carry, and had his second straight 100-yard rushing game, but he is not the pass-catching threat out of the backfield like a Fournette or McCoy.
Wide receivers Scotty Miller, Chris Godwin, and Justin Watson were out with injuries, and the Bucs lost linebacker Jack Cichy and defensive tackle Vita Vea during the game with injuries.
This game looked like the Bucs team from a year ago where they had penalties at the most critical moments in the game.
The Bucs will be off until Tuesday when they begin preparations for the undefeated Green Bay Packers.
This will be another national game as everyone is anticipating the Brady vs. Rodgers matchup.
The Bucs should have Fournette, and Miller back, and are hopeful that Chris Godwin will be ready to go against the Packers.
If they can’t execute better and cut back on the penalties, it won’t matter who is on the field. The Bucs will put another one in the loss column against the Packers.