ATL-TB Grades: Bucs rally, hand Falcons fifth-straight loss
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Buccaneers’ 23-19 win over the Falcons.
– Matt Ryan threw 45 times in this contest, but he was largely restricted to underneath stuff (66 percent of his targets went less than 10 yards in the air) as he failed to challenge a Buccaneers’ defense without it’s star player. When he did let loose, the results weren’t all that impressive (4-of-15 on balls more than 10 yards in the air) with a critical misread late in the fourth quarter, which ended the game.
– While Falcons fans are hoping to see Vic Beasley make more plays, it was left to another rookie to star on defense. Playing just 25 snaps, Grady Jarrett scored his second-highest grade of the season, with some good work in the run game and his first career sack (albeit of the clean-up variety). He had some fun against Logan Mankins, and while you do wonder if he can effectively anchor against double teams, he’s starting to make a case for more playing time.
– An up-and-down day for CB Desmond Trufant. He had a nice toe-tapping pick, and was at the center of a controversial pass interference call, but also had some struggles against Mike Evans. The big sophomore receiver caught four balls thrown at him, with Jameis Winston showing no fear of going after the Falcons’ top cornerback.
DT Grady Jarrett (+3.1)
RT Ryan Schraeder (+2.5)
LG Andy Levitre (+2.5)
LB Brooks Reed (+1.6)
LB Justin Durant (+1.1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
– This was a poised and proficient performance from Jameis Winston. Though he had an interception, his ball placement was so good that, without a tipped pass, he never looked close to turning the ball over, and he coped exceptionally well any time the Falcons got pressure on him. He showed a real ability to drive the ball downfield, able to work in between zones in a way that gave the Falcons’ defense fits. It’s no surprise that he had nine completions more than 10 yards in the air.
– By his own very high standards, it’s been a disappointing year for Lavonte David, but this marked his fourth positive grade in a row, and his highest grade of the season. He was back to his instinctive best, working through traffic to make the kind of plays we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him. No surprise, he led the Bucs in defensive stops with eight of them.
– Second-round draft pick Donovan Smith has had a rough introduction to life at the NFL level, but this marked a career day for him. Sure, he allowed three hurries, but he looked more comfortable out there and really worked well off his blocks. Rookies can tend to hit a wall, but with improved performances the past couple of weeks, it’s possible that Smith is hitting his stride.
QB Jameis Winston (+6.8)
LB Lavonte David (+4.1)
RG Ali Marpet (+2.1)
WR Vincent Jackson (+1.6)
TE Luke Stocker (+1.6)
LB Kwon Alexander (+1.6)