Mon Sep 26 6:24pm ET
By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady thorws during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Russell Gage catches a touchdown pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The Packers won 14-12. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Tom Brady gets up after being sacked during the second half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) While injuries have been a factor, there's more to Tampa Bay's scoring woes than a young offensive line and the absence of Tom Brady's top receivers.
''I'm not going to sit here and blame it on the rookies,'' coach Todd Bowles said Monday, reflecting on the Buccaneers (2-1) being limited to three offensive touchdowns through three games after averaging 29.9 points per game last season.
With a second-year pro playing center and a rookie filling in at left guard after two starting linemen went down during training camp, Brady has struggled to get the offense going in victories over Dallas and New Orleans, as well as during a 14-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
It hasn't helped that leading receiver Mike Evans sat out against the Packers while serving a one-game suspension or that two of Brady's other primary targets - Chris Godwin and Julio Jones - missed the past two weeks because of injuries.
Bowles reiterated that center Robert Hainsey, guard Luke Goedeke and third string left tackle Brandon Walton, another inexperienced player thrust into the lineup because starter Donovan Smith and backup Josh Wells are injured, were not the reason the Bucs didn't get into the end zone until just 14 seconds remained against Green Bay.
''They're playing good football They're making a few mistakes, but they're not the blame for everything that's going on offense,'' Bowles said. ''It's the offense as a total. We've got to get better running our plays and executing overall - young guys and older guys, coaches, everybody.''
The Bucs lost two fumbles, were 2 for 11 on third-down conversions and rushed for only 34 yards on 14 attempts on Sunday.
Brady completed 31 of a season-high 42 passes for 271 yards, relying on Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden and newly signed Cole Beasley to take up the slack for the absence of Evans, Godwin and Jones at receiver.
Gage's 1-yard TD reception trimmed Green Bay's lead to 14-12 before Brady's bid to force overtime with a 2-point conversion was thwarted - in part - by a delay of game penalty that was the final miscue on a mistake-filled day.
''We've got to get the ball off. We've got to be cognizant of that as a unit,'' Bowles said. ''We've played enough ball to where we know we've got to get the ball snapped.''
The penalty backed the ball up to the 7-yard line, increasing the difficulty of making a 2-point conversion. Brady's pass intended for Gage was tipped by Packers linebacker De'Vondre Campbell before falling incomplete.
''We didn't play well enough. There wasn't one thing,'' Bowles said, summing up the loss.
''We didn't play well enough. We didn't score enough points. We let them get out to a fast start. You can name a number of things that could have went right that didn't go right,'' Bowles added. ''We didn't play like we played the last two games. We had more mistakes than we had the previous two.''
The defense regrouped after Aaron Rodgers threw for touchdowns on Green Bay's first two possessions, building a 14-3 lead. The Packers threatened again on their next possession, driving to the Bucs 2 before Aaron Jones fumbled into the end zone, where safety Logan Ryan recovered for Tampa Bay. Green Bay didn't come close to scoring again. Through three games, the Bucs are allowing 9 points per game.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
Despite recovering from a slow start to keep the Bucs within striking distance, there is concern the defense has given up points on the opposition's opening drive in every game.
''Got to play four quarters. ... The first quarter, we gave up 14 points just from missed assignments and doing something we aren't supposed to be doing,'' Bowles said. ''Second half, they played a lot better and gave us a chance to win.''
Although he lost a third-quarter fumble that stopped a promising drive, Gage made the most of being targeted 13 times with 12 receptions for 87 yards. Beasley made his Bucs debut after only three days of practice, catching three passes for 12 yards.
The Bucs rushed for 34 yards, with Leonard Fournette gaining 35 on 12 attempts, against the Packers. Backup RBs Rachaad White and Ke'Shawn Vaughn did not play any snaps on offense, which Bowles said has to change.
''We've got to play the other two more,'' the coach said. ''When Lenny gets in a flow, we've still got to play the other two more.''
Bowles said there's a chance Jones (knee) will be able to play this week against Kansas City. He sounded less certain about Godwin (hamstring) and Smith (elbow), saying their progress will monitored in practice.
35 - The Bucs held the Packers to 67 yards rushing on 25 attempts. Since Bowles installed his defensive scheme in 2019, Tampa Bay held opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground a league-high 35 times.
Another big test for the defense, with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs headed to town Sunday night.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (ankle, back) is not in the league's concussion protocol on Monday, according to head coach Mike McDaniel, although he was listed as DNP at practice Monday. The NFL is reviewing their concussion protocol after Tagovailoa was allowed back in the Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills after appearing extremely wobbly on the field. The 24-year-old is reportedly dealing with a sore ankle and back following the divisional clash, and his status could be in question with a quick turnaround on Thursday night this week against the Cincinnati Bengals. A week after throwing for six touchdowns, Tagovailoa came back to Earth, throwing for under 200 yards and just one score on Sunday. He should be considered questionable to play against the Bengals this week, for now. If he can't go, the Dolphins would turn to backup Teddy Bridgewater.
Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell said that running back D'Andre Swift (shoulder, ankle) could miss time with a shoulder injury he suffered in the Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and that Swift might benefit from having time off while healing up after the team's Week 6 bye. It would mean that Swift would miss the next two games against the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Swift played only 41 percent of the snaps on Sunday and carried the ball seven times for 31 yards while adding three catches for 15 yards. Jamaal Williams played 45 percent of the snaps and had a season-high 20 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Swift is highly questionable to play in Week 4 against Seattle, while Williams will be a priority waiver-wire addition this week.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (ankle) will be good to go for Thursday night's game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3 after his ankle was nicked up in the Week 3 win over the New York Jets, according to head coach Zac Taylor. Mixon has been a huge disappointment for fantasy managers through three weeks, carrying the ball 58 times for 163 yards (career-worst 2.8 yards per carry) and no touchdowns while catching 13 passes for 103 yards. It hasn't been the start that fantasy managers envisioned, but Mixon will remain the team's lead back heading into the matchup against the 3-0 Dolphins on Thursday. Miami's defense has allowed 116 yards per game on the ground so far, so perhaps Mixon will finally make some noise this week.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell said that running back Dalvin Cook (shoulder) is day-to-day with the shoulder injury that he suffered in the Week 3 win over the Detroit Lions. Cook dislocated his shoulder on Sunday, an injury that he's dealt with in the past. The 27-year-old is expected to wear a harness and could play in Week 4 against the New Orleans Saints in London. However, fantasy managers should consider him questionable for that contest. He carried the ball 17 times for 96 yards and a touchdown in the win over Detroit, but he wasn't targeted in the passing game. Alexander Mattison also had a rushing score and would become a must-start in fantasy lineups if Cook is out in Week 4. Mattison is currently rostered in only 55% of Yahoo leagues.
Dynasty | Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said the team is not down on receiver Bryan Edwards Dynasty Analysis: Coach Smith simply said the team is trying to get a look at some other players while Edwards was inactive in Sunday's contest against the Seahawks. If Edwards isn't in the doghouse, he's obviously just waiting for a vacancy as we doubt his one reception for two yards across two games is generating much intrigue. Edwards played 35 snaps in week one followed by a meager 16 in week two before being deactivated in week three so the trend doesn't bode well for a mid-season resurgence. Now found as DLF's WR96, he's in danger of falling completely from the dynasty radar in the coming weeks.
Dynasty | Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said receiver Julio Jones should be available for week four despite a partially torn PCL Dynasty Analysis: Quarterback Tom Brady can use all the help he can get after a lackluster loss vs. the Packers in week three. Missing Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, the GOAT struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the loss while the available receivers did little to help the cause. With Evans returning from suspension in week four, as long as Jones does suit up, things should be looking up in short order, especially as Chris Godwin nears a return of his own. As for Jones, it remains to see how productive the 33-year-old can be in his second game with the team following a 69 yards on 3-of-5 receiving in week one. Advancing age and persistent injury now seem to be the only consistency for DLF's WR84. Julio Jones is a hold only for competitive dynasty teams.
Dynasty | Lions running back D'Andre Swift suffered a shoulder sprain in week three and could miss some time. Dynasty Analysis: At this juncture the injury doesn't appear to require surgery but the back could miss multiple weeks. After a 15/144/1 outburst in week one, Swift was looking like a true cornerstone running back to start the season but followed-on with five carries in week two and seven carries in week three, before exiting with the injury. Already sporting a somewhat troubling injury history, Swift has already shown enough to warrant a lofty RB2 value on DLF's running back rankings but yet another injury could threaten his status. As long as Swift returns from the injury quickly, all can be forgiven but an extended absence or follow-on injury is certain to drop his dynasty ranking.
Dynasty | With the news of Lions running back D'Andre Swift potentially sidelined due to a shoulder sprain, Jamaal Williams could be starting. Dynasty Analysis: Williams has garnered 43 carries over the first three weeks, turning them into 168 yards and four touchdowns. Already showing as one of the better RBBC tandems, should Swift miss games, Detroit would seem to be in good hands with Williams leading the way while Craig Reynolds moves to his immediate backup. Williams, a 27-year-old veteran has never seen more than 153 attempts (2017 & 2021) and should have RB2 upside until Swift returns. He's listed as DLF's RB50 and is a starting candidate in all dynasty formats.
Dynasty | New England quarterback Mac Jones suffered a high ankle sprain in the Patriots loss to the Ravens on Sunday. Dynasty Analysis: Jones hurt his ankle on the last play of the game and it capped off a pretty underwhelming performance that featured him completing 22-of-32 passes 321 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. On the year, Jones now has a TD:INT ratio of just 2:5. High ankle sprains take time to heal and it's likely Jones is going to be out a few weeks, leaving this un-explosive offense in the hands of Brian Hoyer. Jones has mostly been a victim of circumstance and lack of talent in his two years, but his ranking of QB20 may be a touch too high at this point.
Dynasty | Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has avoided the league's concussion protocol. Dynasty Analysis: Wait. What!?! Anyone who saw Tua hit his head on the field, then wobble repeatedly as he tried to walk to the huddle is having a hard time believing his injury is to his back, as reported. Still, the Dolphins are claiming his back just locked up on him and that his injury had nothing to do with his head. We'll wait and see what the NFL investigation shows, but at this point, it looks like our dynasty QB16 escaped serious injury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White could be in line for more touches moving forward. Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles said the team "has to play" more White and Key'Shawn Vaughn more. Vaughn has yet to play an offensive snap for Tampa Bay, so the fantasy relevance of this news is geared toward White. For now, White shouldn't be started in fantasy lineups, but perhaps he'll have some standalone value. It's tough to trust just what coaches say, so this is a backfield to monitor over the next few games.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been trending after he was seen getting up wobbly from a hit against the Buffalo Bills, and Dolphins' head coach Mike McDaniel said he's also dealing with a sore ankle. Since Miami has a quick turnaround against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football, this is worth monitoring. McDaniel said he can't say for sure Tua will play, so this could be a close call up to kickoff. If Tagovailoa is active, he's at risk for a bust performance, but his upside remains high in what could be a high-scoring affair with a ton of offensive talent on each side.
Tests have confirmed that New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (ankle) suffered a "pretty severe" high-ankle sprain in the Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, according to sources. The hope is that Jones won't need surgery. His timetable is still to be determined, but it's hard to imagine he'll play in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers. Fantasy managers running with the 24-year-old second-year signal-caller in two-QB leagues will need to find another option for at least the next couple of weeks and possibly longer. Jones threw for 321 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions on 32 attempts on Sunday in the loss to Baltimore. Thirty-six-year-old veteran Brian Hoyer is now in line to start against the Packers this Sunday, making Green Bay's defense/special teams unit extremely attractive as a fantasy streamer.
Los Angeles Chargers Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater (biceps) suffered a ruptured left biceps tendon in the Week 3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and is expected to miss the rest of the season, according to a source. It's a brutal loss for the offensive line and the Chargers offense as a whole, especially with quarterback Justin Herbert playing through a painful ribs injury that he suffered in the Week 2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Slater was the team's first-round pick in 2021 and made the Pro Bowl in his first NFL season. The Chargers may be forced to turn to Storm Norton to protect Herbert's blind side moving forward, which could cause plenty of protection issues, starting in Week 4 against the Houston Texans.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams (ankle) likely suffered a high-ankle sprain when he was injured in the second half of the team's 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night. Williams refused to be taken off the field on a cart and limped off the field instead. If he indeed has a high-ankle sprain, he will miss some time as quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's blind-side protector. Williams is regarded as the best left tackle in the NFL, and the Broncos defense smothered Garoppolo with pressure with the game on the line late in the fourth quarter with Williams out of the game. Jimmy G could be running for his life more often moving forward without Williams, starting in a Week 4 divisional matchup with the Super Bowl-champion Los Angeles Rams.
Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker (Achilles), who had been impressive through two weeks, is believed to have suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the Week 3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. If it's confirmed, it would knock him out for the season, according to sources. Fantasy managers in IDP leagues that had been running with the 27-year-old as their defensive back will obviously need to go in another direction for the rest of the year. Walker will finish 2022 with a sack, 20 tackles (11 solo) and a pass defensed in three games played. Kerby Joseph is expected to take over for Walker moving forward. It's bad news for a Lions defense that has allowed 265.7 passing yards per game through the first three weeks.
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh said he's expecting quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) to make his season debut in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but doctors will have the final say. Wilson could be cleared as early as Monday, and when that happens, he'll take his starting job back from veteran Joe Flacco. Flacco threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked four times in the Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Wilson suffered a meniscus tear and bone bruise in his right knee in the preseason opener and hasn't played since after having arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 16. Expect the 23-year-old to need to shake off some rust, making him nothing more than a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues if he makes his debut this week.
New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay is expected to be active for the Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys, but the Giants could look to trade him in the near future. The only way a trade is probably possible is if the Giants pay the bulk of his contract in exchange for a late-round pick. Sources say Golladay has been great inside the building, but he played just two offensive snaps in last week's win over the Carolina Panthers and has just two catches for 22 yards through two games. If the 28-year-old becomes more disgruntled with his lack of playing time, the Giants may be forced to make a move. A release would be a last resort. He had just 37 catches for 521 yards an no touchdowns in 2021 and he's rostered in only 10 percent of Yahoo leagues as of Monday.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (knee) traveled with the team and plans to test his knee before the Monday night game against the New York Giants, according to a source. However, it sounds unlikely that he'll play. Wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) is also expected to be inactive in Week 3, according to a source. His return from ACL reconstruction will have to wait at least another week. With Schultz out, rookie Jake Ferguson should have a much bigger role in the passing game on Monday night. Gallup was able to practice in full all week, but the Cowboys aren't rushing him back, especially since Noah Brown has stepped up nicely as the team's No. 2 receiver behind CeeDee Lamb in the first two weeks.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (illness), who missed two practices this week with an illness, is good to go for the Week 3 game against the division-rival New York Giants on Monday night. Parsons was limited in Saturday's practice, putting him on track to suit up this week. The 23-year-old reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year already has four sacks, nine tackles (eight solo), four tackles for loss and seven QB hits through the first two weeks of the 2022 season. He has quickly become a must-start linebacker in IDP fantasy formats, and he could have a huge game on Monday night against a shaky Giants offensive line.