What We Saw: Buccaneers at Eagles

Brady and the Bucs march into Philly and dominate for the win.

Buccaneers @ Eagles

Final Score: Buccaneers 28, Eagles 22

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

Another Thursday Night Football win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they easily dispatched a sorry Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on the back of another accomplished performance from Tom Brady and his army of elite offensive talent. The Eagles spent the entire first half playing deep coverage and Brady duly obliged by picking the defense apart, finding his receivers in acres of space to turn and run for extra yards. Leonard Fournette was in “regular season Lenny” form and polished off the beleaguered Eagles defense with a fantastic power-running display.

Jalen Hurts and the Eagles were playing catch-up all night long. When Fournette went in for his second touchdown, the Eagles found themselves hounded by boos from the crowd as they stared a 28-7 deficit with 5:47 left in the third quarter. To their credit, they answered back immediately with Hurts’ first touchdown after a chunk pass interference play. The Bucs were happy to take the underneath options and run down the clock but Miles Sanders pulled off a couple of big runs to set up another Hurts touchdown to bring the Eagles within six points with 5:54 left in the game.

A stupid taunting penalty from Genard Avery extended the Bucs’ final drive before Brady connected with Antonio Brown for a 27-yard gain on third down to put them in the red zone. Brady finished off the contest with a QB sneak and the Eagles never got the ball back. A routine victory from a Bucs team that didn’t get out of the middle gears.

Now, can we all go help Vita Vea get out of his jersey?!

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Quarterback

 

Tom Brady: 34/42, 297 yards, 2 TD, INT | 4 carries, 1 yard

 

Any worries over Tom Brady‘s sprained ligament in the thumb of his throwing hand were quickly brushed aside as he marched down the field for a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown score on the Bucs’ opening drive in which he connected with all three of his main receivers to rip the Eagles’ secondary apart. Of course, the score went to O.J. Howard, breaking fantasy hearts.

 

In fact, Brady went 11-of-12 for 121 yards and two scores in the first quarter, picking off his targets at will with plenty of time to throw thanks to a middling Eagles pass rush and a dominant offensive line.

 

The only blemish from Brady came just before the half, with the seven-time Super Bowl champion proving that he occasionally comes down to the mortal level by throwing an interception on what looked like a complete breakdown with Brown, the receiver looking for the ball in front of the cornerback when Brady was expecting him to go over the top.

 

The game script saw Brady tone it down significantly in the second half as the Bucs went into cruise control, but he did need to manage a final drive to keep the Eagles from having the chance to come back late in the day. A superb throw on the run to connect with his favorite target on the night, Brown effectively ended the game.

 

Running Back

 

Leonard Fournette: 22 carries, 81 yards, 2 TD | 6 targets, 6 receptions, 46 yards

Ronald Jones II: 5 carries, 20 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards

Giovani Bernard: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

 

Leonard Fournette has now established himself as the lead back in this offense under Bruce Arians, the former Jacksonville rusher producing his best fantasy output of the season against the Eagles. It really was as good a power-running performance as you will see this season. Fournette looked in the mood from the off and had an extra slice of nastiness about him in this one.

 

The much-maligned running back has been hot-and-cold for the Bucs so far but seems to be finding his feet and realizing the potential he showed coming out of LSU as the number four overall pick for the Jaguars in 2017. He was driving his feet between the tackles and showing effective one-cuts out of the backfield. He hit paydirt twice and fully deserved it.

 

Ronald Jones II and Giovani Bernard acted only as one-play “take-a-breather” pawns for Lenny all night.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Antonio Brown: 13 targets, 9 receptions, 93 yards, TD

O.J. Howard: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 49 yards, TD

Chris Godwin: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 43 yards

Mike Evans: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 27 yards

Cameron Brate: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 26 yards

 

The three-headed monster had a quieter night than usual as both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were held to under 50 yards as the Bucs jumped out to a huge lead just after the half and settled on running the clock down. It wasn’t that they weren’t effective, it was just the way the game played out. Godwin had key grabs in three of the four touchdown drives, but Evans wasn’t really targeted outside of the opening two drives.

The night belonged to Antonio Brown, who hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a 23-yard touchdown. Brown has now led the team in catches and yards in the past two games as he exhibits peak-career form once again thanks to his chemistry with his quarterback.

 

It was also a nice night for forgotten former first-round tight-end O.J. Howard, who had only four catches and 51 yards coming into the night. His six catches and touchdown grab means the big man might be in for an increased role as Rob Gronkowski remains sidelined. He was fired up for this one, outdoing Gronk by spiking the ball into the crowd!

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

Quarterback

 

Jalen Hurts: 12/26, 115 yards, TD, INT, 2 sacks | 10 carries, 44 yards, 2 TD

 

It was a miserable, if not determined, display from Jalen Hurts, the Eagles’ second-year quarterback, who spent most of the night scrambling out of the pocket trying to manufacture yards on the run for his team. The fantasy version of Hurts had a good night thanks to two rushing scores, however, the real-life version of Hurts looked completely out of his depth against a potent Bucs defensive line that never allowed him to work out the pocket. Hurts was often taking off after ditching his first read.

 

The Eagles’ offense was a curious mix of Hurts in play-action scrambling from the Bucs defense, speculative 50/50 downfield bombs that receivers often had to break up from being intercepted, and lots of screens that were obvious and were quickly swallowed up. Completing just 12-of-26 attempts tells the story, and even then he needed his receivers to make fantastic grabs like this one from Quez Watkins.

 

Still, Hurts seems to be the Eagles’ main threat in the red zone and he walked in two scores to salvage his day in terms of fantasy.

 

You cannot fault the effort and will to win of Hurts, he is an impressive character. However, his main issues are his pocket presence or lack of it. He simply doesn’t stay in the pocket long enough for options to develop, and that limits the ability of his receivers to make plays down the field. That is something that needs to improve drastically and quickly. At least he has his legs, making him a fantasy-relevant option at the position.

 

His interception was a simple overthrow of Watkins deep downfield. As I said, those bombs were thrown up 50/50 for most of the day.

 

Running Back

 

Miles Sanders: 9 carries, 56 yards | 4 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

Kenneth Gainwell: 2 targets, 1 reception, 1 yard

 

It was a strange night for Miles Sanders, who actually looked like the most dynamic threat on this Eagles offense despite limited opportunities. The crowd was clearly not pleased with how Sanders was being used so much so that a routine carry from Sanders that resulted in a first down in the third quarter to take the Eagles into the red zone was met by a sarcastic, huge roar of approval. Two big runs in the fourth quarter set up the second Hurts rushing score.

 

…which included a beautiful stiff arm to the mush.

 

Sanders deserved another carry for a chance to hit paydirt on that drive but didn’t get it. He should have been used much more early in the game as Hurts’ inability to pass from the pocket stunted too many Eagles drives.

Promising rookie Kenneth Gainwell disappeared from the offense in this game. Again, tough to explain this offensive gameplan.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Quez Watkins: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 44 yards

DeVonta Smith: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 31 yards

Zach Ertz: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, TD

Jalen Reagor: 3 targets

 

One thing is for sure, Quez Watkins is a fine football player. There are not many sixth-round receivers you can say that about, but the wideout out of Southern Miss keeps getting open and often embarrass’ some of the best corners in the league. He made a fantastic grab to keep one drive alive and hauled in a difficult opportunity for the two-point conversion on the Eagles’ final drive. Watkins also caught a pass just out of bounds of the end zone on fourth down, so he is a red zone target.

 

The bigger issue for Watkins is that in a low-passing offense with an inaccurate quarterback, good receiver play doesn’t always translate to good fantasy production.

Another rookie that saw limited targets was first-round selection DeVonta Smith, who isn’t really building the elite connection you need from your quarterback and top receiving option. They did have one moment but that is nowhere near enough in an age of high-volume, high-impact passing attacks. This was only Smith’s second catch of the night and it came at the start of the fourth quarter.

 

With Dallas Goedert out with COVID-19, veteran Zach Ertz saw more looks in this game, including the first red zone target on the Eagles’ first drive. He was mainly used underneath on early downs for his other grabs.

 

The three targets for Jalen Reagor look grim, however, he did have a big impact on the game for two Eagles touchdown drives. Reagor induced two pass interference penalties totaling 90+ yards. The first came on the opening Eagles drive, and he had another in the third quarter as the Eagles immediately went down the field and answered the Bucs’ score in the second half. Still, one pass also bounced off his hands and should have been hauled in.

A tough night for this offense and all of us who ended up watching it.

 

Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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