1) The Return of Josh McCown
While the outcome is not what anyone wanted, the veteran did make numerous plays with his feet (averaging almost eight yards per run) and some key throws that helped keep the offense moving. His leadership in the huddle and on the sideline was evident and it was the spark that head coach Lovie Smith had been hoping for leading up to the Falcons game. While some may focus on the interception at the end, it was a fluke deflection and a great catch by Lowery of Atlanta. The Bucs still had a great drive down the field to put themselves in position to get back within one score with plenty of time left and all three timeouts. That was encouraging.
2) Mike Evans Emerging as a Downfield Threat
While the frustration mounts, one constant source of hope has been the rookie WR's development. Again on Sunday, he caught seven more balls for 125 yards and a 2nd quarter touchdown. And through Sunday's games, Evans is now tied for second in the NFC with 13 catches of 20+ yards. He clearly has become a go to big play threat for the Bucs. And on the long balls to the sideline, he's also almost impossible to out leap/out fight for the ball. If this play keeps up, he should get some consideration for Rookie of the Year.
3) Third Down Efficiency
Another bright spot Sunday was when the Buc offense had one of its best days at converting third downs all year. They were four for the first four on the opening drive and they would finish 12 of 17 for a very nice 71% overall. That also helped translate into being able to run more plays (obviously) during the drives to expand the offense. The result? The Bucs would finish with 25 first downs Sunday, including 17 by passing. When you talk about sustaining drives and eventually getting points, those kind of numbers are critical.