The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered Thursday night’s Week 5 matchup against the Chicago Bears sporting a three-game winning steak. It’s really been more about the team’s defense than Tom Brady and Co. on offense.
Speaking about offense, the Bears were coming off a dismal Week 4 performance against the Indianapolis Colts after benching Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles.
In what was a tight game, Chicago came out on top by the score of 20-19. The game itself was not the prettiest affair. With that said, a win is a win for the now 4-1 Bears.
As we review Chicago’s victory over Tampa Bay, let’s check in on the biggest winners and losers from the Week 5 NFL “Thursday Night Football” tilt.
Winner: Ronald Jones creates balance on Buccaneers’ offense
While Leonard Fournette was active for Thursday night’s game, he was only going to see action in an emergency situation. The recently-acquired back is dealing with an ankle injury. In his stead, Jones took a bulk of the reps behind Tom Brady in the backfield. The former second-round pick showed out big time.
After putting up 310 total yards in the first four games of the season, Jones went for 125 total yards on 20 touches. He averaged a resounding 6.2 yards per rush, too. If the Buccaneers can continue to get this type of balance behind Brady, it will make the team hard to beat moving forward.
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Loser: David Montgomery continues to come up small
With Tarik Cohen out for the season, Chicago has been forced to rely on this unimpressive second-year player from Iowa State. Heading into Week 5, Montgomery was averaging just 3.8 yards per rush throughout his young career. The back did nothing to change that Thursday night against the Buccaneers.
Montgomery ran the ball 10 times for 29 yards, averaging a pedestrian 2.9 yards per carry. Sure he scored a touchdown from three yards out and came up with a big late-game catch. But this performance is not going to help create the balance Chicago needs with its issues at quarterback.
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Winner: Tyler Johnson gets things going for the Buccaneers
It was a shock to many experts that this former Minnesota standout fell all the way to the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft this past April. Here’s a kid that had put up nearly 2,500 receiving yards with 25 touchdowns in his final two seasons with the Golden Gophers. After failing to catch a pass in each of his first four games as a pro, Johnson stepped up big time Thursday evening.
Including that catch, the rookie hauled in four receptions for 61 yards on six targets. All of this came earlier in the game and with Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin sidelined to injury. If Johnson can play at this level once Godwin returns and with Mike Evans aboard, it’s going to make the Buccaneers’ offense that much more dangerous.
Loser: Rob Gronkowski just doesn’t have it anymore
Following a brief one-year retirement, Gronkowski decided to join his former teammate Tom Brady with the Buccaneers this season. The expectation was that this future Hall of Fame tight end would pick up where he left off with Brady in New England over the past several years. Heading into Week 5, that was not the case. Gronkowski recorded just nine receptions for 88 yards in four games.
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Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, his performance Thursday night did nothing to quiet suggestions of Gronkowski’s demise. Dealing with a shoulder injury, he caught all of 3-of-6 targets for 52 yards. We know Tampa’s offense is more geared to receivers. With that said, Gronkowski continues to be nothing more than a decoy on the field this season.
Winner: Bears star Khalil Mack comes to play
We saw a frustrated Tom Brady throughout Thursday night’s game as his offensive line failed to protect the aging quarterback. For good reason. Mack was an absolute monster out there. Having recorded just four quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks through the first quarter of the season, Chicago needed the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year to step up. He did just that.
Mack registered three quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and two sacks in the 20-19 win. He was dominant going up against Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith. The Bears will need more of the same from Mack if they hope to expand on this surprising 4-1 start to the season.
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Loser: Buccaneers offensive line fails Tom Brady
To be clear, Brady was not too sharp Thursday evening. With Tampa Bay looking to drive for the win late in the fourth quarter, he missed multiple open targets. It led to a turnover on downs and the end of the Buccaneers’ three-game winning streak.
With that said, Brady’s offensive line did not do him any favors here. He was hit eight times and sacked three times throughout the game. That’s not what Brady had been accustomed to during his days with the Patriots. Simply put, this unit is going to have to play much better moving forward.