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Panthers vs Buccaneers: 5 questions with Bucs Nation

The Panthers take on their apparent Division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tonight. Get an inside like from our opposing bloggers at Bucs Nation.

NFL: DEC 02 Panthers at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The time has come to get that inside scoop from our opposing SB Nation blog over at Bucs Nation. This week, I spoke with managing editor Gil Arcia about just what happened to Jameis Winston against the San Francisco 49ers and what we should expect as he tries to bounce back against the Carolina Panthers.

Week 1 looked rough from the box score, did anything go right for the Buccaneers on Sunday?

The Bucs actually played really well on defense. Coming into the season I wasn’t concerned with that side of the ball because their personnel has been better suite for an aggressive 3-4 scheme. Sunday’s game showed that aggressiveness and success throughout the game. San Francisco struggled in short yardage situations and their run game struggled against the Buccaneers. On the offensive side of the ball, the run game got off to a good start this season. Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber rushed for a combined 108 yards on 21 carries. But the bulk of that was Jones who ran for 75 yards on 13 carries. The offense just needs more work, especially the receivers.

It’s hard to divorce quarterback success from coaching, but Jameis Winston’s three interceptions, two of them pick-sixes, were about as bad of a start as you could have scripted for the historically inconsistent quarter. Do you think there may be trouble with the pairing of Bruce Arians and Winston, or has the former number one pick quarterback just hit his ceiling?

I don’t think there is trouble at all with the pairing. Arians defended his quarterback, which I agreed with. As I was watching the game from the press box, I immediately knew what could have happened on the two interception returns for touchdowns which was confirmed in a way by Arians afterwards.

The pass was to go to Mike Evans on the first pick-six, but the receiver missed the read so Winston turned to the out on a quick throw. Per Arians, he placed the ball perfectly where it should have been. Running back Peyton Barber just ran his route incorrectly.

On the second pick-six, running back Dare Ogunbowale broke for the screen late and got caught up in a crowd of linemen. Where Winston messed up was that he still threw it up where Ogunbowale was supposed to be but wasn’t and should have thrown it away instead. The first interception just bounced off the hands of tight end O.J. Howard and right into the arms of a 49ers linebacker. In Arians’ words, two of the three were not Winston’s fault. But many seem to just go off of the stat sheet instead, which seems like it clearly irritates the head coach after answering questions from the media.

Gerald McCoy is doing very well, thanks for asking. How are the Bucs handling his departure?

There are many who felt the Bucs did him wrong by releasing him. Many others also felt the move should have been made sooner. I have written in the past that McCoy, while a decent player, was never the guy to help propel those around him or make others around him better. He was just the “best” player in a horrible defensive unit for many years and teams always seemed to be successful running the ball right at him.

The Bucs seem to have moved on quickly as they were able to focus on the interior of the defensive line for second-year defensive tackle Vita Vea and veteran Ndamukong Suh. Both played well Sunday. Vea recorded three tackles while Suh brought own four, including a tackle for loss.

Mike Evans has had traditionally poor performances against the Panthers and is also reportedly still dealing with an illness. What are they expecting out of him on Thursday night and who do you expect to pick up his slack?

Evans is fine. He’ll still be heavily featured in the passing game Thursday night but needs Chris Godwin to complement him well. As I briefly mentioned previously, the receivers need to become more familiar with their roles in this new offense. They didn’t do a good job of that this past Sunday and they want any kind of success on offense, the receivers need to have a good game against the Panthers secondary.

Would a loss to the Panthers in Week 2 leave Bucs fans feeling like their season is already spiraling out of control? What kind of performance would they need to see, win or lose, to be optimistic about the rest of 2019?

For some fans, the season has been spiraling out of control since the draft. Some fans have already asked to just finish tanking the rest of the season (we’re just in Week 2, folks). But to provide any kind of confidence for the rest of the season, the team needs to play well. And by well, I mean be consistent and keep it close. Win or lose, they need to show—collectively—that things are coming together. If they win, win without question. If they lose, at least make it competitive. If not, well, I think fans will begin showing up at the team facility holding up signs showing their disgust with the team.