By: Lucas Kochevar
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers unveiled their championship banner on Thursday night's season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. The passing offenses were humming out of the gate and never seemed to slow down. Both quarterbacks threw the ball fifty-plus times and eclipsed 350 yards. Both defense still forced turnovers and had strong stretches. Overall, this game was a great way to open up the season. There are a couple of takeaways that you can gather from these teams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers offense is more dangerous than ever. I understand that they were playing one of the worst defenses in the league from last season, however, the Buccaneers still seem like a well-oiled machine. The rushing game wasn't exceptionally strong, but they only rushed the ball 14 times. The passing attack was unreal. The ball was spread out to Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. Those three guys were huge, especially Brown, who provided a big time catch that had a 2015 Steelers AB feeling to it. Tom Brady looked sharp despite throwing two picks, where one was a Hail Mary heave. Watching Tom Brady do this at 44-years old seems absolutely absurd. The Mike Evans' disappearing act was a bit concerning, but there's only so many people that can catch the ball.
I think Tampa Bay was especially sloppy on the offensive line. They seemed undisciplined, but that's an easier fix. The defense did lose CB Sean Murphy-Bunting to an elbow injury caused by a fellow Buccaneers player. I think the linebackers for Tampa had a great showing as Devin White and Lavonte David both recorded double-digit sacks. Vita Vea was an absolute wrecking ball in the middle of that defense and might make his first pro bowl if he stays healthy. The secondary couldn't contain Amari Cooper whatsoever and Dallas was moving the ball with ease. If Murphy-Bunting has to miss an extended period of time, then this secondary could be in trouble if they play like they did tonight.
The Dallas Cowboys should win the NFC East. This was an impressive performance for a team entering a year full of high expectations with Dak Prescott back. Prescott actually outplayed Brady and drove the Cowboys downfield time after time with Amari Cooper leading the way. Cooper was a monster and solidified himself as a primary receiver. Ceedee Lamb played well and was a nice change of pace for them. The offensive line kept holding towards the end of the game, but overall they played well. The run game was a bunch of nothing with Zeke. I think this offense is finally moving off the need for Zeke to be a focal point. The offense rides and dies with Dak. They should try to incorporate Zeke in order to take the pressure off Prescott.
The Cowboys defense was not very great for the entire night as Brady had all the time in the world to throw. Something I did notice was Trevon Diggs playing all over the place. He managed to be the best CB on the field and made an excellent play on the ball. CB Anthony Brown was tied for leading the team in tackles, the only issue is it happened because they kept throwing at him. I thought Micah Parsons played the game fast and showed off his raw talent. He needs more time to really shine, but it was still very encouraging from him. This defense has a long way to go in order to be effective, especially under DC Dan Quinn.
As I stated earlier, this game was a perfect start to the season with some back and forth offense and late game heroics from the best quarterback to play the game. Dallas will travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers next week, meanwhile, Tampa Bay will stay at home to face the Falcons.