Falcons @ Buccaneers
Final Score: Buccaneers 21, Falcons 15
Writer: Jason Wolf (@<J_Wolf_picks on Twitter)
The Bucs looked to be headed to a comfortable blowout victory at home against the Falcons as they were cruising to a 21-0 lead at the start of the 3rd quarter. The Falcons scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth and just like every game leading up to this one, they surprisingly stuck around to make it a one-possession game. The Falcons did well to come back against the tough Bucs’ D in the fourth but we were robbed of a game-winning drive opportunity for the Falcons thanks to a particularly soft Roughing the Passer call on what would have been a game-saving third down stop.
Marcus Mariota: 14/25, 147 Yards, TD | 7 Carries, 61 Yards, 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Marcus Mariota had his most pedestrian game of the season, both in the stat box but also under the scrutiny of the eye test as well. This game was always going to be a tough ask of him as he came into the game with two of his top three offensive weapons in RB Cordarrelle Patterson and TE Kyle Pitts inactive due to injuries. The Falcons’ QB had a rough go of it from the jump, facing consistent pressure from the Bucs’ D-line, taking five sacks in total on the day. The Bucs were getting into the backfield regularly, pressuring Mariota into incompletions and stuffing the run as well, making life hard on all fronts for the Falcons offense. Down two of his best receiving weapons and facing pressure in the pocket all day, Mariota’s afternoon was doomed from the jump. Mariota finished the first quarter 2/6, for 21 passing yards to go along with 16 yards on the ground from running for his life.
Mariota today pic.twitter.com/UziBW03z3s
— David Schiele WTSP (@Deacon_Schiele) October 9, 2022
Mariota did bounce back nicely in the back half of the third quarter as well as the fourth quarter. He led two scoring drives, connecting with his receivers on mostly quick hitters down the field on his way to leading the Falcons to 15 straight points, even connecting on a two-point conversion to go down 15-21. Mariota extended drives with his legs and showed good decision-making while attempting what could have been an epic comeback if not for the surely-to-be-famed, undoubtedly soft Roughing the Passer penalty. Mariota had his ups and downs all game but watching the Falcons, it almost feels as if HC Arthur Smith is afraid to let Mariota play more freely and open. The Falcons stick to the run game even when it is not working and you have to wonder if it’s because Smith does not trust Mariota to let it rip down the field.
Tyler Allgeier: 13 Carries, 45 Yards
Caleb Huntley: 8 Carries, 34 Yards
RB Tyler Allgeier seems to be getting first crack at lead RB duties with Cordarrelle Patterson out, as the rookie RB saw a 59% snap rate compared to just 24% for backfield partner Caleb Huntley. Allgeier has shown some flashes here and there throughout the season so far but today was an unremarkable day at the office for him. He did show nice burst on his long run of the day of 17 yards where he took the handoff and hit the hole hard, but that was the extent of his highlights for the day. Granted, his offensive line did him near zero favors going up against the stout Bucs’ front seven, but it got really old really fast watching him get stuffed up the middle over and over again. Somehow he only registered a single TFL but it felt like he was stuffed at the LOS close to ten times. Allgeier is suited for a power running scheme but this was the wrong matchup on the wrong day.
Caleb Huntley didn’t fare much better in the box score, rushing for 34 yards on eight carries for a 4.25 YPC which is actually not too bad given the context of going up against the Bucs without much support in terms of offensive threats. Huntley did bust out one nice long run on a first down, making the necessary cut in the backfield and showing nice burst in running through a hole the line created. on a 23 yard gain. The hole was there for him but he saw it clearly and hit it quickly, even making a defender miss in the second level, gaining extra yards while keeping his feet churning. Huntley certainly passed the eye test more than Allgeier today but Huntley also did pretty much nothing with his carries outside of his 23-yard scamper. HC Arthur Smith should create more opportunities for Huntley to get the ball with momentum / in space, even when Patterson returns from injury, at least so they can properly evaluate what they may have with Huntley.
Caleb Huntley making moves.
📺: FOX || NFL+ #ATLvsTB || #DirtyBirds pic.twitter.com/VIt31IxBRN
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 9, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Drake London: 7 Targets, 4 Receptions, 35 Yards
Olamide Zaccheaus: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 39 Yards, TD
There was not much receiving work to go around as Marcus Mariota only threw for 147 yards passing, most of which came in frantic comeback mode in the late third and fourth quarters. Rookie standout Drake London saw the lion’s share of targets, attracting a target on nearly 30% of Mariota’s passing attempts (7 targets on 25 passes), but with Pitts and C-Patt out, the Bucs’ defense was able to zone in on London the entire game, severely limiting his damage done after the catch, where he is most dangerous. London had less than 10 yards after the catch, by far the lowest amount he’s tallied in his young career. London’s stats in the box score leave a lot to be desired, as does the entire Falcons’ offense from this game, but he did make a beautiful highlight reel worthy grab on a massive 3rd down conversion on 3rd & 7 with less than five minutes remaining in the game. With the Falcons down 21-7 and staging a late comeback. London kept the drive alive, reeling in a slightly under-thrown ball with his left hand while running towards the right sideline, easily the highlight of the day for London. London finished the play nicely by extending the ball and ensuring that he got the first down as he was pushed out of bounds. London feels like he is on his way to being a truly special player but it will take a lot more than Mariota to unlock his full potential.
Olamide Zaccheaus popped up again in the box score, reeling in Mariota’s lone passing touchdown of the day. Zaccheaus makes a splash play or scores every now and then but is clearly an afterthought of the offensive game plan when everyone is available and healthy. It would take long-term injuries to Kyle Pitts and/or Patterson to sustain Zaccheaus’ 67% snap rate from today (London also saw the same amount of snaps).
This guy @DrakeLondon_
📺: FOX || NFL+ #ATLvsTB || #DirtyBirds pic.twitter.com/vUZ4xTiSZ2
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 9, 2022
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady: 35/52, 351 Yards, TD | 3 Carries, -3 Yards
The highlight that will be talked about exhaustively from this game is the late Roughing the Passer penalty that was called against the Falcons on a crucial late sack on Brady on a 3rd & 5 with three minutes to go in the game. Instead of the Falcons getting the ball back down six with a chance to march down the field and win the game, the Bucs got a fresh set of downs in field goal range and eventually killed the clock to win the game.
This is nonsense. What are we doing? pic.twitter.com/DgdvX3HsqQ
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 9, 2022
Naturally (and rightfully so), Tom Brady haters and Falcons fans will complain about the call and cry foul over the re-emergence of Brady-ball and will credit head referee Jerome Boger with gifting the Bucs the win. However, this game was a case of the Falcons doing too little too late, with the Falcons failing to stop Brady throughout most of the game. Brady had one of his best games of the season which comes as little to no surprise as he had almost his entire stable of receivers available to him with the return of a healthy-looking Chris Godwin into the mix.
Brady threw for 351 yards on 52 attempts, averaging a healthy 6.75 YPA. Brady was hitting receivers in every area of the field but was mostly happy to dink & dunk his way down the field throughout most of the game, taking what the defense gave him and looking good while doing so. Though most of Brady’s work came in the short game as only 11 of Brady’s passes on the day traveled 10+ yards in the air, he was very effective throwing the ball when he did look down the field, completing 6-11 passes on such passes for 90 yards for over 8 YPA. Brady’s best throw on the night came on a 27-yard dime that he placed perfectly down the sideline between two levels of defenders, dropping the ball where only Mike Evans could possibly get it. Brady and the Bucs offense have not looked consistently great (or even good) at times throughout the young season, but this was a promising game from Brady and the offense. With a full complement of receives and a healthy Chris Godwin, these are the type of stat-lines that we will be seeing more of from Brady as the season goes on.
Mike Evans with his fingertips! @MikeEvans13_
📺: #ATLvsTB on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/bqJCgQ9Kz8 pic.twitter.com/6Y8Ut1lMj0
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2022
Leonard Fournette: 14 Carries, 56 Yards, TD | 11 Targets, 10 Receptions, 83 Yards, TD
Rachaad White: 5 Carries, 14 Yards | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 28 Yards
Leonard Fournette hasn’t been given much spare room to run this season, and that was the case once again this week against the Falcons, doing really well and running hard on his way to a tough-earned 4 YPC. Fournette was asked to pick up the tough yards this game as the vast majority of his carries were designed runs between the hash marks. Fournette showed good strength and versatility in this game, doing well to bust off a couple of runs of 10+ yards as well as catching balls left and right to the tune of 11 targets and 10 receptions.
Fournette was the backbone of the offense against the Falcons, as he led the team in rushing and receiving. While only three of Fournette’s carries went for 5+ yards, he averaged a solid 8.3 YPC on his 10 receptions, a strong number for a power RB catching the ball out of the backfield. Fournette had timely play after timely play, seemingly always coming through with the tough few yards needed to get a first down whether it was running or through the air. One of his best plays was a 20+ yard pitch and catch out of the backfield just before the half that set the Bucs up for what would turn out to be a crucial field goal going into the half to put the Bucs up 13-0. This game was filled with chain-moving receptions for Fournette and was a peak Lenny game as he secured both offensive touchdowns for the Bucs on his way to an efficient and much-needed stat-stuffing day for the Bucs.
Rachaad White, the feared usurper of Fournette’s workload received a few touches out of the backfield as well, catching three balls on four targets in addition to his handful of carries. For now, White is not a threat to cut into Fournette’s touches significantly as Fournette is better in pass pro and has Brady’s complete trust with the ball in his hands. Surely White’s role will increase as the year goes on in efforts to best protect Fournettte from the wear and tear of the season, but concerns over the rookie RB eating into Fournette’s touches seem to be overblown for now.
Leonard Fournette gets his 2nd touchdown of the game and celebrates with a cutout of his own face 🤣pic.twitter.com/Oo4HUtKVfV
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) October 9, 2022
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Chris Godwin: 1 Carry, 2 Yards | 6 Targets, 6 Receptions, 61 Yards
Mike Evans: 8 Targets, 4 Receptions, 81 Yards
Russell Gage: 6 Targets, 2 Receptions, 20 Yards
Cade Otton: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 43 Yards
Chris Godwin looked as healthy as we have seen him all season in somewhat limited work, hauling in all six of his targets for six receptions and a quality 10 YPC. Godwin only played 52% of the offensive snaps as the Bucs continue to work him back into the offense gradually after coming off his ACL tear. Godwin lined up wide right and in the slot, doing most of his damage out of the slot, including two catches that went for 15+ air yards. The Bucs even called a designed run for Godwin, showing that they are confident in his ability to take hits and keep playing. Godwin’s comeback from a gruesome injury has been nothing short of incredible, and it appears as though fantasy owners who trusted Godwin this offseason will be rewarded handsomely for their trust in him, especially as he works his way into playing a full set of snaps.
Mike Evans did his thing, yet again displaying his elite deep ball specialist ability, especially on a 27-yard reception where he beat Falcons’ best CB, AJ Terrell, down the sideline and made an incredible fingertip catch between Terrell and the help defender coming in to make a hit/play on the ball (to which he couldn’t do either). It was yet another hit in a long line of classic Brady-Evans deep balls down the sideline. It feels like every time Brady is looking Evans’ way, they are looking to connect on a bomb. Two of Evans’ four incomplete targets traveled 20+ yards in the air, so we know this connection is secure as no one else on the team (or the league) can do what Mike Evans does.
Russell Gage continues to see his workload significantly decrease when Chris Godwin is active and healthy, as Godwin is Brady’s preferred slot target. Gage still saw six targets but it came on a 73% snap rate, not nearly as efficient as he is when one of Evans/Godwin are off the field. Gage clearly needs two of Julio, Godwin, and Evans to be unavailable in order to provide reliable production.
Cade Otton is a fourth-round rookie TE who had an impressive coming-out party, snagging six of his seven receptions for 43 yards. Otton showed reliability in snagging his targets and was clutch as well for Brady as two of his six targets went for big first downs to keep the chain moving. Otton’s snap share shot all the way up to 94% against the Falcons, and he showed great promise as both a blocker and a receiver. Look for Otton to become another weapon as the season goes on, as it would not be surprising at all for him to leap over TE Cameron Brate in the pecking order.