Let’s see what this loss means for the Bucs going forward.
3 Takeaways From the Buccaneers’ Loss to the Texans
Pass Defense Continues to Struggle
This has been an ongoing issue for the whole season, but this time it was especially obvious that major changes are needed on defense. After taking the lead on a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game, it felt like it was the victory strike for a resilient Tampa Bay offense that managed to put up 37 points, a season-high so far. However, the defense proceeded to allow 75 passing yards in 40 seconds, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown that would be the final blow for a struggling Bucs defense and a statement from an inspired C.J. Stroud, who recorded an impressive five touchdowns on 470 passing yards, a new NFL single-game rookie record.
Stroud’s record was in part thanks to a dismal effort from Tampa Bay’s secondary, and the trend seems to continue in the wrong direction for them. They have allowed 76 points over their past three games and continue to rank toward the bottom of the league in passing yards (2274), passing touchdowns (13), and yards per passing attempt (7.4). And to make matters worse, the schedule is only getting harder and harder as the season progresses. If they want to go anywhere, they need to turn things around quickly.
Keep Feeding the Receivers
Despite a mediocre effort on defense, not everything was bad for the Buccos on the field. Led by quarterback Baker Mayfield and his 265-yard and two-touchdown effort, the Tampa Bay offense managed to put up 37 points, marking a season-high through eight games. Second-year tight end Cade Otton was much more involved in the passing game, hauling in a team-high six receptions on nine targets for 70 yards and the team’s two passing touchdowns. Running back Rachaad White had a decent game despite racking up only 73 rushing yards, recording two rushing touchdowns, and leading the backfield with 20 rushing attempts.
Even though wide receiver Chris Godwin did not find his groove, hauling in just two of his six targets for a mediocre 16 yards, teammate Mike Evans made up for it, totaling 87 yards in just four catches. White and rookie wideout Trey Palmer also had their fair share of catches, recording four for 46 yards and three for 51 yards, respectively. They will look to continue the trend in the upcoming games.
The Division Title Slips Away
Four weeks ago, the Buccaneers stood in sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a solid 3-1 record to start the season. Things have since gone downhill from there. They are 0-4 since their Week 5 bye, featuring losses in entirely winnable games against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7 and against the Texans last week. This puts them in third place with a mediocre 3-5 record in a division that any other team would easily win. They still have time to adjust and come back from behind, as the first-place New Orleans Saints are currently 5-4, but that seems very unlikely considering the lackluster performance we saw against a subpar team like the Texans.
Even if they do manage to turn things around and win the division, they are a long shot to make some real noise in the playoffs. They did not make any significant moves at the deadline, and the talent is simply not there for them. It looked like the offense was ready to turn things around and secure the win against the Texans, but a mediocre game on defense meant the Bucs would walk out of NRG Stadium with an awful two-point loss. They will hope to turn things around next week when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.