NFL Wire News

Smith shoulders blame for Bucs’ collapse at Washington


The Sports Xchange

TAMPA — After all the hand wringing about rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and his inexperienced offensive line, turns out that side of the football is a strength for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Winston had his best game as a pro, was turnover free for the second consecutive game, and passed for 297 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Washington Redskins.

The Bucs saw running back Doug Martin rush for 136 yards and receiver Mike Evans catch 8 passes for 164 yards and a score.

All that helped the Bucs build a 24-0 lead in the first half. Then the wheels came off the defense and Tampa Bay had its second-biggest collapse franchise history.

Lovie Smith said you can blame the coaching staff for this one.

The Bucs were leading 24-7 when the Redskins prepared to kick off. But inexplicably, the Bucs were not lined up properly. Linebacker Danny Lansanah was standing just inside his own 40-yard line, about 5-6 yards further back than the rest of the front line on the kickoff return. Redskins kicker Dustin Hopkins tapped the football right in Lansanah’s direction and Trenton Robinson recovered for Washington after the ball rolled 13 yards.

“We didn’t line up properly on that play, I’ll just kind of go on that,” Smith said. “We didn’t execute the way (we’re supposed to). It kind of starts with us first as coaches. We didn’t have the guys lined up in the right position on that play. Kind of as simple as that. It’s a great kick whenever you get it. Big play in the game.

“Again, we didn’t have the guys lined up right. I don’t know what else to tell you about it. There is a strategy behind it. You can look at it and say we weren’t lined up right on that play.”

The Bucs had a chance to make it a two-score lead late in the fourth quarter after a 49-yard run by Martin. But two more carries by Martin failed to get the ball in the end zone.

That’s when the Bucs took Martin out and replaced him with running back Charles Sims, who had not had a carry in the second half. The Bucs decided to run Sims on a stretch play outside left tackle. Winston shifted fullback Jorvorski Lane from the I-formation to an off-set left position. But the Redskins had the Bucs totally out-flanked in that direction, with two players unaccounted for.

The Bucs ran the play anyway and unblocked Redkins safety Dashon Goldson makes the tackle of Sims for a 2-yard loss to the Washington 3.

“We would like to have back that sequence,” Smith said. “Ideally, no, you shouldn’t run the ball when you have (defenders there). The ball should go a different place for it. “


–PASS OFFENSE: B-plus. Quarterback Jameis Winston had another turnover-free day and was terrific, passing for 297 yards and two touchdowns. He now has completed 59 percent of his attempts this season.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: A. Running back Doug Martin rushed for 136 yards on 19 carries, including a 49-yard run that should’ve put the game away. Martin now has reached the century rushing mark for three straight games for the first time in his career.

–PASS DEFENSE: D. The Bucs didn’t get any pressure on Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, save for the sack/fumble returned for a touchdown. Cousins set career marks with 317 yards passing.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B. The Redskins weren’t very committed to the run, rushing for 50 yards on 19 carries. Good game by defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and safety Chris Conte coming downhill.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: F. The Bucs allowed the first successful on-side kick of the NFL season after 24 misses. Tampa Bay couldn’t line up right and the Redskins schemed something up that worked. Huge moment in the game.

–COACHING: D. This one is on the coaching staff for bad play-calling, the inability to stop a slant route and for not recovering an on-side kick.

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