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Takeaways from Buccaneers-Bears | Week 2

Top observations from the Buccaneers’ rousing 27-17 victory over the Bears in Week Two

Week 2 takeaways

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers imposed their will in their regular season home opener against the Chicago Bears in Week Two, 27-17. The Bucs dominated the line of scrimmage and fired on all cylinders. From a six-sack outing by the defense and Shaquil Barrett's one-handed pick-six under the final three minutes to Mike Evans' 70-yard catch-and-run, the Bucs owned their home field.

Tampa Bay's defense kept Bears prized mobile quarterback, Justin Fields, in the pocket. The Bucs held the visiting team to 236 total yards and sacked Fields six times. Rookie Christian Izien notched another interception and third-year Joe Tryon-Shoyinka showcased his first-step quickness for two sacks. Nose tackle Vita Vea consistently brought interior pressure by bullying the opposing center. Overall, the defense showed relentless pursuit, with an "all hats to the ball" mentality.

Offensively, the Bucs tallied 437 total yards of offense and dominated time of possession (35:56). The unit did not turn the ball over for the second-straight game and the unit achieved balance between the run and the pass. Tampa Bay finished with over 100 yards on the ground and the club's workhorse, second-year Rachaad White, averaged 4.3 yards a tote. The Bucs had success on converting third downs, sustaining drives. In a high-effort performance, Baker Mayfield commanded the offense with precision, completing 26-of-34 attempts for 317 yards and a touchdown for a 114.5 quarterback rating. Here are the top takeaways from Sunday's clash against the Bears:

Formidable Defense

The Buccaneers' defense played lights out against the Bears, putting the NFL on notice. Tampa Bay's unit consistently got off the field by collapsing the pocket around Justin Fields, not allowing him to exploit off boot-action. The opportunistic bunch sacked Fields six times, hit him 10 times and forced several errant throws. Fields, who is known for his elusive prowess, tallied just three yards on four carries.

Shaquil Barrett made a sensational one-handed interception off an attempted screen pass, returning it four yards for a touchdown. Initially, Barrett stunted inside. He read Fields' eyes, dissected the play and dropped back to disrupt the passing window. Barrett pivoted and caught the ball one-handed, then raced into the end zone with push from teammates. That play iced the win at Raymond James Stadium. Moments later, rookie nickelback Christian Izien intercepted a pass after Antoine Winfield Jr., who broke on the ball and delivered a hit on Chase Claypool, knocking the ball into the air. Izien got his hands on it, putting the exclamation mark on an already impressive performance by the Bucs' defense.

In addition, a blocked field goal in the second quarter became a critical point in the game. Chicago had favorable field position at the 50-yard line after the special teams gaffe, but a sack by Joe Tryon-Shoyinka sparked a quick three-and-out and a drive that produced -14 yards by the Bears. Tryon-Shoyinka had two of the Bucs' six sacks, and Vita Vea added 1.5 to the mix, while Barrett and Cam Gill contributed one each. The by committee approach put on a show between the hash marks.

Offensive Balance

Overall, the Bucs' offense generated 437 yards of offense after being held to just 242 in a season-opening victory at Minnesota, converting on eight of 15 third downs. The Bucs outgained the Bears by over 200 yardsas Baker Mayfield spurred the offense to new heights. Against Chicago, Mayfield never gave up on any singular play, performing several stunning side-arm, side-angle passes while escaping tackles on the move. He always kept his eyes downfield and delivered the ball with accuracy to all three levels. The Bucs were able to establish the run early, which set up the play-action game and generated advantageous matchups on the outside.

Rachaad White emerged, rushing 17 times for 73 yards. He added 30 yards on five catches for a total of 103 yards from scrimmage. He averaged 4.3 yards per carry and repeatedly broke tackles and created after the catch. White's feel for blocking schemes, whether mid or outside-zone, and his patience at letting blocks develop, energized the unit. Dave Canales, the Bucs' play-caller, got into a groove in Week Two and maximized the personnel on the field.

"He [White] had some tough runs," Todd Bowles stated. "You know, we grinded it out. We had 34 carries, kind of mixed it a little bit. We held it on the ground. We kind of threw some in the air. It was a good balance. Dave (Canales) did a good job balancing them out. Rachaad is our bell cow, and we rely on him when times get tough."

Whether a bubble screen to Chris Godwin, an underneath play-action shovel to Cade Otton, end-around by Deven Thompkins or Rachaad White bouncing a run to the outside, the Bucs' offense became a balanced force to be reckoned with on Sunday afternoon.

Vintage Mike Evans

Baker Mayfield targeted Mike Evans eight times, leading to six receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown, which ranks as his eighth-highest single-game total ever. Evans's 70-yard catch-and-run in the second quarter set up Rachaad White's four-yard scoring run, and he later found the end zone himself with a 32-yard catch on third-and-14 in the third quarter. The 70-yard play was the second-longest of Evans' career, and showcased his YAC skills. Evans had plus-59 yards after-the-catch over expected per Next Gen Stats. The next highest was Garrett Wilson with plus-30.

His 36-yard catch in the third quarter may be his most impressive of all. He leaped to make the grab, came down with it and made a lethal spin move to shrug off an attempted tackle. Evans then somehow managed to stay inbounds and accelerated up the field for a 36-yard gain. That play looked like it came out of the Madden video game.

On several occasions, Evans pushed with a quick release like he was going to run past on a vertical route, then once the defensive back bit, Evans stuck his foot in the ground and turned to Mayfield for the football. That route design, which was run multiple times by both Evans and Chris Godwin - including the 70-yard catch-and-run by Evans - displayed the trust and synergy between quarterback and receiver. Before Evans even spun around for the ball, Mayfield had released the ball, knowing Evans would pivot at a specific depth. The stellar timing and ball placement contributed to the club's offensive ascension. Evans became the offensive catalyst, providing a shot of adrenaline in the Week Two contest. His electric play on the gridiron drew flashbacks to Evans' sensational play at A&M. With crisp routes and shiftiness in-and-out of breaks, Evans stole the show.

"You know, he has been doing it his whole career," said Todd Bowles. "He's fresh. He's healthy. He's in a great place. He competes his butt off every day in practice. It showed in the game. He prepared well and Mike was doing things that Mike does and, you know, we love him."

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