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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key Takeaways from Bucs vs. Bears

There were some individual bright spots as the Bucs suffered a tough loss on the road in Chicago.


-Individual awards

There were a couple of individual bright spots in an otherwise bleak performance on Sunday in Chicago. Jason Pierre-Paul had a sack in his third consecutive game. The last time a Buccaneers player did that was when linebacker Lavonte David notched three sacks in the last three games of the 2016 season. Pierre-Paul now has four sacks on the season and nine quarterback hits. Those four sacks are tied for fourth-most in the NFL and he's tied for the league lead in quarterback hits. DeSean Jackson had another 100-yard game, marking his third in four games. He had just one all of last season. He (424) and receiver Mike Evans (426) rank fifth and fourth, respectively, in most receiving yards this year among all NFL receivers. Quarterback Jameis Winston reverted back to one of his favorite targets in Cameron Brate who caught the Bucs' only touchdown pass of the afternoon. The tight end snagged a 16-yard pass at the goal line to get a touchdown in his first visit to his hometown of Chicago as an NFL player.

-Shuffling secondary

The Buccaneers struggled with middle-of-the-field coverage on Sunday. It can probably be attributed to the amount of shuffling the secondary has had to do so far this season and especially in the last week. After the Steelers' game last Monday night, safety Chris Conte was placed on IR with a knee injury, meaning he won't be able to rejoin the team for at least another eight weeks. Rookie safety Jordan Whitehead was tapped to replace him but then tweaked his hamstring late in the week. He was ultimately ruled inactive for Sunday's game in Chicago meaning it was safety Isaiah Johnson's turn to fill in last minute. The result was a Bears' offense that took the opportunity to exploit interior matchups. Because of the relative question mark at safety, linebackers were needed to help in coverage, taking away the option to help pressure the quarterback. It creates mismatches between linebackers and receivers and tight ends, which the Bears took advantage of.

-Running game sputters

Despite Ronald Jones making his NFL debut, the Bucs were only able to net 60 yards on the ground. That has a lot to do with playing from behind but it's been a struggle all season. While the Bucs' passing yards have been off the charts through four games of the season, there has been little balance in the offensive attack. The offensive line said last week that establishing the run was important but against a stifling Chicago front seven, the odds were already stacked against them. Going into the game, Chicago owned the second-ranked rushing defense, allowing just 65.3 yards per game. True to form, they held both Jones and Peyton Barber to under 30 yards apiece. It was good to get Jones involved and he can hopefully keep building knowing that Chicago may be the toughest challenge he'll face this season.

-Rookies made their debut

Defensive tackle Vita Vea, running back Ronald Jones and wide receiver Justin Watson made their NFL debuts on Sunday. All three were part of the Buccaneers' 2018 draft class. Vea had suffered a calf injury at the start of training camp and had resumed practicing in Week Three. He saw his first NFL action in the first quarter of Sunday's game in Chicago, lining up next to Gerald McCoy. Ronald Jones was activated for the first time this season and got involved starting at the end of the first quarter. His first NFL carry went for five yards. Justin Watson got in on the action on special teams as a member of the punt coverage unit.

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