What We Saw: Buccaneers at Bears

Benjamin Haller breaks down the messy Thursday Night Football matchup at Soldier Field.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears

 

Bruce Arians’ vision of leading his team to the Super Bowl on the back of Tom Brady‘s experience took a big hit at Soldier Field last night. This was by no means a classic – two aggressive defenses showed their worth (Khalil Mack was sensational), and both offenses were hampered by disappointing quarterback play, overwhelmed offensive lines, stupid penalties, and a lack of quality receiving talent. Brady and Nick Foles were fraught with frustration the entire night, often remonstrating with their teammates or coaches on the sidelines.

The Bears ran out 20-19 winners in a fist-fight thanks to a late 38-yard field goal from Cairo Santos. Some dubious playcalling by Matt Nagy meant there was still over a minute left on the clock for Brady to mount a legendary comeback, however, he couldn’t connect with Cameron Brate on a 4th down pass to put the Buccaneers into field goal range.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Quarterback

 

Tom Brady: 25/41, 253 yards, 1 TD | 3 carries, 0 yards

 

The frustration for Tom Brady (14.12 fantasy points on Yahoo!) was real last night. Angered by penalties from his offensive line, the veteran signal-caller never really got into a rhythm and fell to his 1st ever career loss on Thursday Night Football. Brady’s first half was a mixed bag – the Buccaneers raced into a 10-0 lead thanks to a touchdown from Mike Evans, and Ronald Jones was impressive in the run game. At that point, it seemed like Brady would pick-and-choose his outputs and steer the pirate ship to an easy win. That was far from the truth. The Bears defensive line managed to generate plenty of pressure from the edge and Khalil Mack had his way with rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs most of the night.

 

 

In the second half, the disjointed relationship between Brady and his new offense was extremely evident. Brady thrived in New England by using James White as a check-down option to move the sticks, however, rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn was hardly utilized after fumbling due to a huge hit from Kyle Fuller. Brady admitted after the game that “he needs to think better” in certain situations. Without Chris Godwin and a fully healthy Mike Evans, you have to worry about Brady’s ability to be productive in the passing game. No good for fantasy purposes, of course.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Ronald Jones: 17 carries, 106 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 19 yards

Ke’Shawn Vaughn: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 5 yards, 1 FUM

 

The only real positive for this offense last night was the emergence of Ronald Jones (15.50 fantasy points) as a legitimate RB1. Fantasy owners who balked at RoJo after the signing of Leonard Fournette were no doubt irritated by his productive showing. The 3rd year back out of USC has had a stuttering career in the NFL so far, mainly due to niggling injuries and a lack of opportunity. He looked the part last night, breaking off a number of explosive runs and gaining 90 of his 106 yards on the ground after contact.

 

 

Jones should have had with a touchdown (that eventually went to Mike Evans a few plays later) after one of the silliest rules in football was applied after a nice catch and run over the middle. Still, this was an encouraging sign for nervous RoJo owners and he can be trusted as a useful option through the bye weeks.

 

 

Rookie back Ke’Shawn Vaughn was touted for a big role tonight after Leonard Fournette was activated “only for emergencies” but the Buccaneers hardly used the former Vanderbilt scatback, whose first touch ended up being called a fumble and led to the first Bears touchdown. Vaughn is not fantasy-relevant at this point in the season.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Tyler Johnson: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 61 yards

Rob Gronkowski: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 52 yards

Cameron Brate: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 44 yards

Mike Evans: 9 targets, 5 receptions, 41 yards, 1 TD

Jaydon Mickens: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards

Tanner Hudson: 4 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

 

It was always going to be a tough ask for this offense to go into Soldier Field without Chris Godwin, especially with Mike Evans banged up. 5th round rookie Tyler Johnson out of Minnesota led the team in receiving yards and showed some skill and toughness after the catch. It is worth keeping an eye on Godwin’s status for next week when considering Johnson as a waiver wire add. He also completely disappeared in the second half as Brady targeted his more experienced receivers.

 

 

Mike Evans owners were dreaming of a big night after the early touchdown grab but he was clearly limited by his injuries and only hauled in 4 of his 9 targets. Combined with his quarterback’s uncharacteristically impatient performance, Evans failed to take advantage of the opportunity presented.

Brady dished out 16 targets to his tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, and Tanner Hudson. Brate found paydirt last week but the Buccaneers rarely operated in the redzone this week, which is where Brate becomes relevant. Gronkowski stills looks like he is battling his body on every snap and has failed to produce in terms of fantasy so far. Tanner Hudson has been on and off the practice squad this season and was only on the field due to injuries.

 

Chicago Bears

 

Quarterback

 

Nick Foles: 30/42, 243 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT | 1 carry, -7 yards

 

Two touchdowns in the last 2 minutes of the first half overshadowed what was an ugly start from Nick Foles (12.62), who made a number of terrible throws, including one to Allen Robinson that ended up being intercepted by Carlton Davis leading to a Buccaneers touchdown.

 

 

I am about as excited as I was with Mitch Trubisky under center, which is to say not very. Foles looks like a shadow of the player who won the Super Bowl MVP with the Eagles and can be disregarded as a useful fantasy streaming quarterback. Robinson makes any quarterback look better than he is, and at this point, Foles would do well to feed his elite receiver at every opportunity. I will highlight a beautiful clutch 3rd down throw to David Montgomery to ice the game at the end.

 

 

I will also highlight this. No comment.

 

 

Running Backs

 

David Montgomery: 10 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD | 8 targets, 7 receptions, 30 yards

Cordarelle Patterson: 3 carries, 7 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 38 yards

 

The excellent Buccaneers defensive line stuffed the Bears run game for most of the evening, limiting the Bears to just 29 net rush yards. David Montgomery (18.90 fantasy points) had a decent enough night but it was a tough matchup. His moment came at the end of the first half, finding paydirt with a tough 3-yard run.

 

 

Montgomery is nothing more than a low RB2 or FLEX option in this offense. Why? He hasn’t shown the type of speed required to be an effective runner in the NFL, often struggling to turn cuts and jukes into positive yardage at the next level. He has seen an uptick in targets in the passing game thanks to the injury to Tarik Cohen, however, he has now averaged less than 3 yards per carry in his past two outings. Cordarelle Patterson has shown zero progression since entering the league and is heavily reliant on the handful of big plays he makes every season. It is completely impossible to predict when those might occur, however.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Allen Robinson: 16 targets, 10 receptions, 90 yards

Jimmy Graham: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards, 1 TD

Anthony Miller: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 28 yards

Darnell Mooney: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards

Demetrius Harris: 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards

 

The focal point of this offense is star wide receiver Allen Robinson (19 fantasy points), who hauled in 10 catches for 90 yards against a tough Buccaneers secondary. He could have been far more productive with better quarterback play throughout his career, so, unfortunately, this is nothing new for fantasy owners. On the stat sheet it doesn’t quite show, but Robinson in a top 5 receiver in the NFL.

 

 

Jimmy Graham has rolled back the years so far this season, and last night’s wonderful one-handed touchdown catch was his 4th of the season. Graham has been maligned over the past few years for his inconsistency and poor handling but this was a flash of what the former Saints, Seahawks, and Packers veteran can produce. It also came a vital moment just before the half to give the Bears an unlikely lead going into the locker room.

 

 

Anthony Miller continues to be underutilized in Matt Nagy’s scheme and was held to just 4 catches on 4 targets for 28 yards. For fantasy owners hoping for a change in fortune after the Bears replaced Trubisky with Foles continue to be disappointed in the former second-round pick out of Memphis. Rookie receiver Darnell Mooney, picked in the 5th round, saw more targets but could only haul in 2 of his 5 targets. The Bears like Mooney a lot so it is tough to see either of these receivers seeing enough time to be fantasy relevant. Mooney might be the better route runner, however, and deserves your attention as we progress through the bye weeks.

 

 

(Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire)

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