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Bucs-Vikings report card: Where’s this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?

By Tom Jones
Published: September 24, 2017 Updated: September 24, 2017 at 04:47 PM
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is sacked by Minnesota's Everson Griffen.

O NO
True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other team. Where's this offense we heard about all offseason? Where are all these weapons? Where's the explosiveness? Where are the points? While Minnesota was busy putting up 21 first-half points, know how many the Bucs were putting up? A measly three. Once the score was 28-3 early in the third quarter, it was too late. It was mop-up time and all ensuing stats were pretty much meaningless. The Bucs offense needed to make noise in the first half, not the second. GRADE: D-minus.

LACKING BITE
Doesn't matter who is standing behind center, if you give an NFL quarterback - even if he is a third-stringer - enough time to throw the ball, he will carve you up. Case in point: Vikings quarterback Case Keenum, aka Bucs Killer. He might be Minnesota's third option behind injured QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford, but he's good enough to pick apart a defense if he has all day to look for open receivers and step into throws. He spent most of the afternoon doing whatever he wanted. Tampa Bay's defense was banged up. But it seems pretty silly to use injuries as an excuse when the other team is using their third quarterback. GRADE: D-minus.

BEST IN THE LEAGUE
Want one word to describe the Vikings' new U.S. Bank Stadium? Sorry, one word won't do. Spectacular. Jaw-dropping. Incredible. I could go on. This is the swankiest joint in the NFL, and that's saying something when you consider how nice the digs are in Dallas and Atlanta, which just opened the Mercedes-Benz. What makes the Vikings' new stadium so cool, well besides everything, is the use of so many windows to allow so much natural light onto the field. It has the feel of an open-air stadium minus the feel of the blustery conditions Minnesota has in the winter. The stadium is purple and loud and warm. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is a really nice stadium. But a place such as U.S Bank is on a complete other level. I can only imagine that the Glazers look at a place like this and start to dream about such a place in Tampa Bay someday. GRADE: A-plus.

HOME COOKIN'
Yeah, this Dalvin Cook kid can play a little. Actually, he can play a lot. No surprise that the Bucs wanted to draft him and probably would have had tight end O.J. Howard not been sitting there when the Bucs picked 19th overall in the 2017 draft. The good news for the Bucs is they don't have to face Cook too often. They got more than their fill on Sunday as Cook punched through the Bucs defense on the ground and through the air. And his yards after contact proves that there is no level where this guy can't dominate. GRADE: B-plus.