Buccaneers @ Panthers
Final Score: Panthers 21, Buccaneers 3
Writer: Ryan McDonough (@RyanTalksFF on Twitter)
It is officially time to panic if you are a Bucs fan. In a matchup that many predicted a Tampa Bay victory as a given even before the Panthers dealt star running back Christian McCaffrey on Thursday, the Carolina defense absolutely dominated Tom Brady‘s offense, generating constant pressure and only allowing 19 rushing yards in the second half.
D.J. Moore had his best showing of the season, but the story of the day was the ground game for the Carolina offense. The combination of Chuba Hubbard‘s speed and D’Onta Foreman‘s power run game overwhelmed the Tampa Bay defense, as the two backs alternated big rushes throughout the game. The success on the ground combined with the stellar defensive play took all the pressure off of P.J. Walker, who entered this season as the fourth-string quarterback, allowing Steve Walks to pick up his first win as interim head coach following Matt Rhule‘s firing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady: 32/49, 290 Yards | 1 Carry, -1 Yard, 1 Fumble (Recovered)
Tom Brady managed to keep his cool on the sideline today, but he was given more than enough reasons to be frustrated. Old reliable Mike Evans dropped what would have been a sure touchdown reception in the first quarter and it seemed as though everything was thrown out of whack from that point forward.
Mike Evans drops a WIDE OPEN 75-yard touchdown.pic.twitter.com/pVG31k0YlH
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 23, 2022
This disarray, when combined with the fact that Evans was in and out of the game with what appeared to be a leg injury, left what was at one point a well-oiled machine reeling. Panthers’ edge rusher Brian Burns was all over Brady, constantly making him have to climb the pocket and not allowing for the depleted Bucs’ offensive line to create time for plays to develop. Brady only took one sack on the day, but the lack of a running game definitely tightened up the Tampa Bay playbook, resulting in the lack of production that we saw today. The Tampa Bay offense didn’t score a point until the fourth quarter, there is definitely reason to be concerned.
Rachaad White: 6 Carries, 24 Yards | 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Leonard Fournette: 8 Carries, 19 Yards | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 7 Yards
There is genuinely not a whole lot to talk about here. There was never really a moment in this game where any of the guys in the Tampa Bay backfield did anything to warrant praise, but they can’t eat all of the blame. Rachaad White managed to spring an 11-yard rush, but only compiled 13 yards on his other 6 attempts. White definitely appeared to be the most active out of the backfield, outperforming Leonard Fournette with fewer opportunities. White seemed to be more adept to create something out of the complete lack of holes created, but also had some rookie moments when he tried to bounce a run outside when there was already an edge set. If there is one thing that a Tom Brady offense can’t withstand, it is someone trying to play hero ball and breaking the system. If White has any desire to move up the depth chart, he needs to play his role.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Mike Evans: 15 Targets, 9 Receptions, 96 Yards
Cade Otton: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 64 Yards
Chris Godwin: 1 Carry, 2 Yards | 13 Targets, 7 Receptions, 43 Yards
Russell Gage: 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 39 Yards
Ko Kieft: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 18 Yards
Kyle Rudolph: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
There was no chemistry on display today. If there was an attempt to play the long game, the ball was dropped. An attempt to play the check-down game resulted in minimal gains as a result of great pass coverage and tackling. Mike Evans definitely had some of his signature moments where he found the weak spot in the defense and sat until Brady was able to find him. Chris Godwin looked sharp in Sunday’s action, providing some sense of stability in what was a relatively turbulent receiving corps. Godwin is a mastermind of exploiting coverage over the middle of the field and generated some of the more positive outcomes of Tampa’s offense. Russell Gage was thrust into a larger role as a result of some of the injuries and looked more than capable of filling in the third receiver spot for this unit.
Rookie tight end Cade Otton was impressive as he continues to gain traction to being the TE1 for Brady, a position that we know has been fruitful for others who have occupied that spot. I’m not going to go as far as to say that Otton is the next Rob Gronkowski, but he is the most consistent person we have seen fill that role the season. Otton had one of the uglier plays of the game when he slipped on a route that nearly resulted in a Panthers interception, but looked really solid in all facets of the game besides that instant.
A 19-yard catch and run for CADE OTTON.
— Diandra Loux (@Diandra_loux) October 23, 2022
PJ Walker: 16/22, 177 Yards, 2 TD
P.J. Walker is easily one of the most admirable quarterbacks in the league. He never tries to do too much. He makes his reads, allows his coordinators to make the game easy for him, and follows the plan. Walker could and should have a job in this league for a LONG time, whether it be as a backup or a starter.
Baker Mayfield is reportedly on his way back to playing, but I am not sure if it would make much of a difference based on how we saw the game unfold today. Watch out for the Panthers to run a lot more play-action with power running, something that Mayfield should be familiar with based on his time in Kevin Stefanski‘s system.
D’Onta Foreman: 15 Carries, 118 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 27 Yards
Chuba Hubbard: 9 Carries, 63 Yards, TD | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 10 Yards
What a day for the Panthers’ backfield. The power running of D’Onta Foreman proved to be just what the doctor ordered to kickstart this offense, as his ability to break tackles and break the edge setter allowed him to take off on multiple big gains, including a long of 60 yards.
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) October 23, 2022
Carolina completely broke tendency and used Chuba Hubbard as more of an in-between-the-tackles runner, and consistency trying to bounce Foreman to the outside. Hubbard looked more than comfortable taking on this grittier role, using his speed to make second-level defenders miss on tackle attempts.
Chuba Hubbard makes it 14-0 Panthers!!
— Brian Y (@byysports) October 23, 2022
This sort of unpredictability out of the backfield makes the Carolina offense much more dangerous but renders both of these backs unreliable options for fantasy managers with there being no real indication of who will take on a majority of the work. Foreman definitely appeared to be the more impressive of the duo, especially with Hubbard sustaining an injury in the third quarter. With Christian McCaffrey no longer on the roster, it is really anyone’s guess as to who will be next up to fill a workhorse role.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DJ Moore: 1 Carry, -3 Yards | 10 Targets, 7 Receptions, 69 Yards, TD
Terrace Marshall Jr.: 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 31 Yards
Tommy Tremble: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 29 Yards, TD
Laviska Shenault Jr.: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 8 Yards
Ian Thomas: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards
The most consistently impressive player in this game was far and away D.J. Moore, which is especially interesting based on the fact that it would have been largely unsurprising if he was on a different roster entering this weekend. Moore was a noted workhorse of the offensive unit, doing legitimately whatever was asked of him in order to secure the victory. The receiver did work on the inside, created space on the outside, gained yards after the catch, and toe-tapped in tight windows. He really appeared to return to his old form, even showing a smile or two following some of his more impressive plays.
Panthers are getting DJ Moore involved 👀 pic.twitter.com/Jm4az4cxzy
— PFF CAR Panthers (@PFF_Panthers) October 23, 2022
Second-year receiver Terrace Marshall had some flashes of being worthy of playing time, especially considering Robbie Anderson was dealt to Arizona earlier this week. Tommy Tremble was quiet until he hauled in a 29-yard touchdown reception to put the game on ice. Heck of a way to cap off National Tight Ends Day for the Notre Dame product.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 23, 2022