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Buccaneers Film Room Week 7: Tampa Bay vs. Chicago

The Bucs dominated their Week 7 matchup from beginning to end, but there were a couple of plays that really sealed the deal.

Photo credit: John A. Babiak/@Photog_JohnB

The Buccaneers snapped a two-game skid to the Bears in dominant fashion Sunday, winning by a final score of 38-3. And honestly, the margin seemed like it was bigger than 35 points. The Bucs never allowed the Bears to have even a glimmer of hope in this game and still left at least 17 points off the board in the process.

There's a lot to choose from when it comes to breaking down the Bucs' Week 7 win, so I'll do my best to pick the most relevant examples/reasons why the Buccaneers destroyed the Bears the way they did.

Offense

Tampa Bay's offense is arguably the best in the NFL, so just imagine what happens when you give Tom Brady and Co. a short field. 

The Bears found out on Sunday. 

Six of the Bucs' 12 drives started in Chicago territory on Sunday and four of those six drives ended in touchdowns. Three of those four scoring drives came in the first quarter and the Bucs scored touchdowns, which were the catalysts in building Tampa Bay's 21-0 first quarter lead.

Tampa Bay's first touchdown came on the shoulders of Leonard Fournette, who punched it in from two yards out to give the Bucs a 7-0 lead. 

Play No. 1: Tom Brady's four-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin. Q1; 3rd and goal from the Chicago 4; 4:40 remaining.

The Bucs' second touchdown was a result of a mismatch and chemistry. The Bucs come out in 11 personnel while Chicago comes out with four down linemen. Mike Evans and Tyler Johnson are stacked at the top of the screen. Chris Godwin is the lone receiver at the bottom. 

Brady motions Godwin inside and when no one follows, Brady knows the Bears are in zone coverage. He also Cameron Brate's route will occupy the safety and corner, leaving Godwin 1-on-1 with linebacker Danny Trevathan

You don't have to be Tom Brady to realize this is a mismatch. Brady locks in on Godwin. Godwin sees Trevathan open his hips and immediately knows the defender is out of place and looks for the ball. Brady sees Godwin turn his head and delivers a strike to his outside shoulder for the touchdown.

Play No. 2: Tom Brady's eight-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans. Q2; 3rd and goal from the Chicago 8; 0:14 remaining.

It's been fun watching Brady make throws on the move this year. You can tell his repaired MCL is making a difference as he's able to move more effeciently in Year 2 with the Bucs. 

That mobility comes in handy on this play. The Bucs come out in a 3x1 set with 11 personnel. Evans is the lone receiver at the bottom of the screen this time. The Bears come out in what looks like a Cover 2 shell pre-snap. 

Evans' route is a big reason why this play works. The Bears have a good defense called for this situation, as everyone is initially covered. But Evans stems outside just to break his route off inside in order to gain leverage on Kindle Vildor, the Bears cornerback.

DeAndre Houston-Carson then makes a questionable decision to bite down on Fournette's shallow route despite having two underneath defenders in the area. This allows Evans to find the soft spot in the zone. Brady sees Evans break open and steps up in the collapsing pocket to make the throw, narrowly avoiding Bilal Nichols in the process. The pass is complete and the Bucs have their fifth touchdown of the first half as well as a 35-3 lead after this play. 

The fact that Brady is able to make this throw as effectively as he does in this position is another example of how is arm is still as strong as ever. 

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Defense

The Bucs' short fields were gift-wrapped to them by the defense, who swarmed Justin Fields and the Bears offense all game long. 

Play No. 3: Antoine Winfield Jr. strip-sacks Justin Fields. Q1; 2nd and 10 from the Chicago 25; 14:20 remaining

The first sign of trouble came on the second play when Antoine Winfield Jr. buried Fields in the backfield for the game's first sack. 

This play was a result of good design, good execution, and honestly, the presence of Vita Vea

Ndamukong Suh still requires double teams when he is on the field, but Vea typically requires them more than any other player on the defensive line. The Bears double-team him with the center and guard, which leaves everyone else in a 1-v-1 situation. 

Todd Bowles sends Winfield Jr. and Ross Cockrell off the edge, which is probably why the Bears didn't slide their protection left. Fields doesn't see the blitzing safety and gets rocked. He fumbles, but the Bears are able to jump on it and avoid more disaster.

After the game, Fields admitted to not seeing the safety, but running back Khalil Herbert took the blame for the sack. The tape proves the confusion: The Bears had eight men in to protect against the Bucs' five pass rushers (technically 5-1/2 if you count Suh), and yet the Bucs still got the sack.

“I didn’t see him so I didn’t feel anything," Fields told reporters. "The free safety blitzed off the edge. We were supposed to pick that up and we didn’t, so fumble.”

“Yeah, that was my responsibility," said Herbert. "I’ve got to get there faster. You know, I’ve seen it. I got over there late, but I’ve got to get over there faster. I’ve seen it, I’ve just got to get there."

Herbert may have been responsible for picking up the blitzing defender, but he certainly wasn't in the best position to do so. Fields shares blame in not recognizing Winfield Jr. but in his defense, it was a good play call and good play design by Bowles.

This play set the tone for the defense early and the unit never let up as the game went on.

Play No. 4: Jordan Whitehead intercepts Justin Fields. Q3; 3rd and 12 from the Tampa Bay 25; 7:40 remaining

The game was pretty much out of reach at this point, but the Bears were putting together a nice little drive to at least keep some hope of a comeback alive. 

Things were looking pretty good as the Bears faced a 3rd and 2 from the Tampa Bay 15, a holding call turned that into a 3rd and 12 from the TB25. 

The Bucs send four and look to be in Cover 2 Man (or it could be Cover 7). Fields sees a good matchup in Darnell Mooney vs. Kevin Minter and takes his shot. The ball is a bit high, but is definitely catchable. Yet it goes off Mooney's hands and into the arms of a closing Jordan Whitehead, who records the interception and even adds 17 return yards after the fact.

Fields didn't receive much help throughout this game and this play is good demonstration of that. There's also the question of why just one of five routes were beyond the first down marker. Sure, the Bears could have been playing for fourth down, here, but at the same time, shouldn't you have more options for a first down?

Either way, this play slammed the door shut on this drive and on the game, as well.

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