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Smith says Bucs didn’t draft the wrong QB

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The Sports Xchange

TAMPA — If you were judging by the duel between Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota in the season opener Sunday, you would have to say the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked the wrong quarterback.

Mariota, whom Tampa Bay didn’t want, completed 13-of-16 passes for 204 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half of the Titans’ 42-14 rout of the Bucs.

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay, had two passes intercepted in the first half and put his team in a four-touchdown hole by halftime.

“I’d say that their quarterback played better (Sunday),” head coach Lovie Smith said. “Their football team played better (Sunday). Their coach did a better job of coaching their football team than I did (Sunday). But … it’s one game.

“Let’s not overreact to a bad performance. We’re going to feel bad about this one and give them all their due credit. But it’s not more than that. We have the guy that’s perfect for us.”

The Winston-Mariota comparisons will rage for as long as they play. Counting his Rose Bowl victory with Oregon over Winston and Florida State in the national semifinal last January, Mariota is 2-0.

Mr. Perfect was the cucumber cool Mariota, who finished with a spotless 158.3 passer efficiency rating. He matched Fran Tarkenton’s NFL record for throwing four touchdown passes as a rookie on opening day, set in 1961, and became the only first-year player to do that in a half in the season opener.

Winston, who went 16-of-33 for 210 yards with two touchdowns to tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the two interceptions, was drawing comparisons to Brett Favre.

Thing is, it’s a dubious mark because Favre is the only other quarterback since 1991 whose first NFL pass resulted in a pick six.

“I can’t put us behind the 8-ball like that,” Winston said after the game. “The first drive, it was a dumb decision. But you’ve got to find a way to bounce back and keep playing.”

Winston’s second pick came when he failed to get the football over the head of Titans linebacker Deiontrez Mount when trying to hit running back Charles Sims in the flat.

“He just made a great play; I got to throw it higher,” Winston said.

REPORT CARD VS. TITANS

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus — QB Jameis Winston threw a pick-six on his first NFL pass and had another interception lead to a Titans touchdown. He was the anti-Marcus Mariota in this game, but rallied to throw two touchdown passes to TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Winston also was sacked four times.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C — RB Doug Martin was off to a pretty good start with 48 yards in the first half. But he only had three more touches after that as the Bucs had to abandon their running game. Rookie Ali Marpet did some nice things in the run game.

PASS DEFENSE: D — The Bucs made rookie Marcus Mariota into Joe Montana. The Titans quarterback set an NFL record with four touchdown passes in the first half of his first game. He tied the overall rookie mark set by Fran Tarkenton in 1961. The Bucs never got any pressure on Mariota, who worked the middle of the field.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — Titans RB Bishop Stankey averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the Bucs, who weren’t very physical up front. Tampa Bay’s linebackers were slow to react and tackled poorly.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C — Nothing special. Rookie punter Jacob Schum netted 43.5 yards on four punts. Rookie K Kyle Brindza made both extra points and kicked off well.

COACHING: D — The Bucs had five and a half months to prepare for quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Titans. They were lost against the spread option. One game does not a career make, but it looked like they chose the wrong quarterback.


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