Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mistakes, mental errors to blame for Week 1 loss

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ struggles in Week 1 come down to mistakes and mental errors.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a rocky start to their season with their loss against the Saints on Sunday. Although the offense looked great on their opening drive and the defense was pretty consistent all day, mistakes and mental errors once again plagued the team like it did in 2019.

The team did come away with things to build on but their biggest issue was their sloppy play and they will have to clean it up if they want to be a true contender in 2020.

Tom Brady had his moments but he also contributed with mental mistakes of his own. Brady threw two interceptions and was called out by his head coach after the game. Bruce Arians did later admit on Monday that the first interception was not Brady’s fault, but he doubled down on the second interception after calling it a “bad mistake” after the game on Sunday.

Arians minced no words and said, via Chris Stroud, “When you’re throwing an out route, you don’t throw it low and inside.” He further added he wanted to see more “grit, determination” from his hall of fame quarterback.

Donovan Smith was the other offensive player for the Buccaneers to stand out with disappointing plays throughout the game. He gave up two sacks and was continuously beat throughout the game.

Smith is in his sixth season with the Buccaneers and he cannot continue to play as poorly as he did on Sunday. With a quarterback like Brady, the team needs to ensure he is protected and comfortable and if Smith is not up to the job, the team may plug rookie Tristan Wirfs at left tackle instead.

Both players had penalties on Sunday, but Arians was especially upset with Smith and told the media on Monday, via The Athletic (subscription required), “I was very disappointed in his play.” Arians expects Smith to bounce back, but in a season of high expectations, he will need him to.

There were other mental mistakes Sunday eventually resulting in loss of points and points given up. All of these were involved different players but were just as crucial as Smith and Brady.  Vita Vea had a key neutral zone infraction even though he was lined up right over the ball on a critical fourth and two. The play came just after the two-minute warning and it gave the Saints a free first down on a drive resulting in a field goal.

Overall, the Buccaneers had nine penalties for 103 yards which is not ideal. Self-inflicted wounds are never good, and the team had another one on a short kickoff when Mike Edwards ran into returner Jaydon Mickens causing a muffed kick and the third turnover of the game for the Buccaneers. This led directly to another field goal to all but seal the game.

The team also allowed a blocked field goal attempt which left points off the board. These are the types of plays championship teams cannot make.