What We Saw: Week 13

Diontae Johnson saved the Steelers' season with his two 4th quarter TD receptions

Buccaneers @ Falcons

Final Score: Buccaneers 30, Falcons 17

Writer: Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

 

This game could have had a ceremonial coin toss featuring the two best QBs in the history of their franchises, Steve Young and Brett Favre. Funny how things work out. Anywho, fast forward to Sunday where we got treated to nearly 700 passing yards in what was a competitive game for the better part of three quarters, and this game was far more enjoyable than anticipated. It was an overall impressive win on the road for the Bucs who have been a bit leaky at times defensively and now will potentially be without Jamel Dean after he sustained a concussion.

As for the Falcons, it’s clear that Arthur Smith is starting to get more comfortable in the role and the personnel decisions are getting much better, but when Tampa clicks on defense and you have that bad of an offensive line, there’s just no way of coming back. Ultimately, the Falcons could never get back the feeling they had in the first half and the Bucs won comfortably, Tampa Bay 30, Atlanta 17.

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Quarterback

 

Tom Brady: 38/51, 368 yards, 4 TD, INT | 1 carry, -1 yards

 

Nearing the end of the first half, the Bucs decided to continue throwing the ball, despite being inside their own 10. Brady ran a play they previously ran with little success, this time to Fournette rather than Godwin, but essentially the same place on the field. It was jumped by Marlon Davidson and he was able to run it in for a score.

 

 

Despite having two timeouts and better starting position, Tampa then elected to kneel out the first half when faced with 22 seconds on the clock. It seemed like a true momentum switch. That’s about all I can say about Tom that wasn’t just, wow. He may not have been pressing the ball as far down field every play as it would seem by his stat line, but no one sets up a catch and run quite like Brady.

 

 

Running Backs

 

Leonard Fournette: 13 carries, 44 yards | 8 targets, 7 receptions, 48 yards, TD

Ronald Jones: 1 carry, 2 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 0 yards

Gio Bernard: 1 carry, 3 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards

 

Leonard Fournette has been a force to reckon with lately, and I’m not even referring to his work on the ground. The short passing routes were an extension of the rushing game for Lenny and he’s shown good anticipation and hands in the flat. On the ground, Atlanta was oddly stout. You would think they would play back a little after the Bucs showed little to no respect for the secondary, but apparently, you would think wrong. It certainly seemed Arthur Smith was willing to let the Bucs be one dimensional and hope for the best though after seeing even A.J. Terrell get worked on some stop and go’s.

 

 

As for the now irrelevant backs, Ronald Jones left the game with an illness. Gio Bernard is mostly a special teams player now with his limited snap counts and Fournette’s emergence in the passing game.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Chris Godwin: 17 targets, 15 receptions, 143 yards

Mike Evans: 10 targets, 7 receptions, 99 yards

Tyler Johnson: 1 target, 1 reception, 5 yards

Breshad Perriman: 3 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards

Rob Gronkowski: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 58 yards, 2 TD

Cameron Brate: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards, TD

 

When there’s a record in play, you know Tom Brady is going to do everything in his power to get it. Rob Gronkowski and he are now second only to Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison but the gap may prove too much. That won’t stop Brady from giving Gronk every red zone target he can handle. The majority of Gronk’s work comes on the opponent’s side of the field and it was more of the same in this contest. When they’re this good though, why would you stop?

 

 

Chris Godwin had himself a game. Didn’t matter if it was a screen, a five yard slant, or a 25 yard corner, he was dialed in. This has been a top five combo in the league this year when Godwin has been healthy and it does have shades of Brady to Wes Welker. Many of the routes are manufactured by picks and sharp route running, but it has a lot to do with how fast Brady’s release is, which was on display against Atlanta. He and Mike Evans were taking turns burning Fabian Moreau who continues to be a focal point of opposing defense. I should also note, he left the field shortly with a hip/groin issue as it was listed, but returned to the game.

 

 

Evans, not to get lost in the impressive games by Godwin and Gronk, played quickly today as well. He played closer to the line than his aDOT has reflected this year and was creating 2-3 yards of separation on each target. Then when the defense brought the safeties into the box, Brady called the audible to hit Evans downfield on the deep down the sideline on a post route. Perfect execution.

 

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

Quarterback

 

Matt Ryan: 30/41, 297 yards | 3 carries, 2 yards

 

This is what it’s like being Matt Ryan.

 

 

They did attempt to open the passing game a bit more than they have and that is commendable. At least they’re starting to recognize what they need to do to match up with high-powered offenses. The issue with Ryan was that he was too often trying to take the deeper target and in doing so, missed a lot of open targets underneath. That may just have been to mix up the levels on the defense, but too many times he tried to thread the needle over taking the easy throw. They did have success when Ryan was changing up the plays at the line, but he needed to be better at sliding protection to match the rush. They did a better job this week at not being predictable and running almost every first down, but the sacks were drive killers and he took far too many hits.

 

Running Backs

 

Cordarrelle Patterson: 13 carries, 78 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 18 yards

Mike Davis: 4 carries, 32 yards, TD | 4 targets, 4 catches, 37 yards

Qadree Ollison: 2 carries, 7 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards

Keith Smith:  1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

It’s nice to see that Atlanta finally understand who Mike Davis is. They signed him as a lead back and took opportunities away from him in the passing game. Now they’re reaching an equilibrium and he is more involved in the passing game and his rushing attempts are disguised much more. He was able to get in the end zone on what would be back to back big gains on the ground by pulling blocks to the left and attacking the over pursuing defenders much like running a screen.

Cordarrelle Patterson proved he has the juice to act as a traditional back mixing in receiving routes to bolster his role and not just a 50/50 that needed to cede targets to less talented players. He works best off tackle and his best run of the night was the play that set up the Davis touchdown. Despite all the flashy numbers earlier in the year, this was the best performance from this group this season.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Kyle Pitts: 7 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards

Russell Gage: 12 targets, 11 receptions, 130 yards

Olamide Zaccheaus: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 44 yards

Tajae Sharpe: 5 targets, 3 reception, 10 yards

 

For as good a day as Godwin had, Russell Gage was not far behind. Most of his work was done near the line, but he consistently created big gains showcasing his ability to make guys miss with the ball in his hands. He created separation on the outside which was something no one else was able to do, and let Ryan set up deep shots and just take less punishment. The latter was probably more important, to be honest. He also moved well in pre-snap motion and shot off the line at the call. It helped to get the defense on its heels for the run game as well.

 

 

Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe were unable to get much going by way of separation on the outside, and Sharpe especially was disappointing in the red zone. Early in the game, with a 13-7 deficit, Ryan tried multiple times to find an open target in the end zone, but nothing would materialize and they settled for a field goal. It was a great stand for the Bucs.

The best compliment to Gage’s speed around the line and YAC ability was Pitts’ strong hands at the catch point. Though he was not able to convert on a couple high leverage targets, the main issues were either on Matt Ryan missing his target or a great pass breakup which could still have been caught had it veered slightly more to his body. It was a good performance for the rookie all around as he showed his physicality and speed when he grabbed targets near the line. He did miss a blocking assignment, but that’s to be expected when he’s still learning the complexity of the position in the NFL. If he works more from the numbers in and they limit the need to run him outside with say a return from Calvin Ridley, they could compete with almost any team offensively.

 

 

Chris Sanzo (@Doombot12_FF on Twitter)

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