They Blew It! Bucs Fall in OT

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory….or however that old saying goes.

There were the Bucs, taking their first lead of the game with just over two minutes to go. But in “where-have-we-seen-this-before” fashion, they let Teddy Bridgewater march the Vikings right down the field at the end of regulation, and Minnesota tied the game with a field goal on the final play.

How many different ways can a football team find a way to lose? On the first play of overtime, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass, fumbled the ball, Anthony Barr picked it up and took it into the end zone for the Vikings’ victory.   Yes, Tampa Bay lost on the equivalent of a walk-off fumble.

It was another pathetic showing by the Bucs offense. Through the first three quarters, they had gained less than 100 total yards.  They finished with a paltry 225.  Doug Martin, who’s rumored to be on the trading block, had only 27 of the team’s 66 rushing yards.  The offensive line was awful once again; Mike Glennon was sacked five times.

And the defense, which was decent through 57 ½ minutes, couldn’t seal the deal when Tampa Bay finally had the lead. We’ve seen our fair share of that over the years (although there haven’t been many “close-out” opportunities in 2014.)  Dear Jonathan Banks: why couldn’t you pick off that pass on the final drive?

I really like Lavonte David, though. You could argue that he is the best player on this team, both offense and defense.  Dear Bucs: please don’t give him away if you do a fire sale.

Photo Courtesy: AP

 

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Gerald McCoy: $98 Million Extension? Wow…

Gerald McCoy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And his paycheck is going up – WAY up.

On Saturday, the Bucs signed him to a seven-year extension that could be worth up to $98 million dollars.

McCoy is a great player. There’s no denying that. But this year, he’s playing on a defense that is ranked worst in the league. In a “what have you done for me lately” frame of mind, he only has two sacks through the first six games.

Still, I think it is a good move to lock him up for the long-term. But the question, as always, is whether he’s worth all that money. I’ve said all my life that I don’t think any player in any professional sport is worth that kind of dough. But that’s one man’s humble opinion.

We’ll see what McCoy and the rest of his teammates do against the Vikings on Sunday.

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com

Yes! The Bucs Can’t Lose Today!

So the Buccaneers have the bye week today.

After the way the season has gone so far, thank goodness.

Let us celebrate the fact that there is no way the Bucs will lose another game for at least another seven days.

Enjoy the games today. And until next week, Go Bucs!

 

Bucs at the Bye: What a Mess

The Buccaneers have mercifully made it to the bye week with a record of 1-5. Just about everything that could go wrong through the first six weeks, has.

Remember back to the draft, when Tampa Bay used all of its draft picks on the offensive side of the ball? Maybe the Buccaneers should’ve thought a little bit about the defense, which has been shredded so far in the first six games. Consider these numbers:

The Bucs rank dead last in scoring defense, allowing 34 points a game. Twice in the last month, they have been blown out, giving up 56 to Atlanta and 48 yesterday to Baltimore. They have given up a whopping 165 points in the past four games. They are worst in total yards allowed per game (422.) They have the second-worst pass defense, and are 25th when it comes to stopping the run. They’re not getting any pressure on the quarterback; they only have nine sacks through six games. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Many fans are already calling for Lovie Smith’s head. That’s not going to happen to a first-year coach. But here’s a question: how does defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer still have a job? If I could only make one change during the bye week, it would be to send him packing. It wouldn’t fix all of the problems in Tampa, but it would at least send a message. It’s one thing to have a bad defense; it’s another thing for opposing teams to consistently run the ball down your throat, and for quarterbacks to play pitch-and-catch with wide-open receivers all day long, which is what we’ve seen so far in 2014.

Lovie says he’s not changing his defensive scheme. Okay, then….

The offensive side of the ball is no better. The Buccaneers are ranked 28th in total offense. They have no running game whatsoever. Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey or anyone else who takes handoffs is not getting the job done. The offensive line has been awful in terms of opening holes or protecting the quarterback.

Speaking of the QB position, I really think Mike Glennon is an adequate quarterback – not a superstar by a long shot, but not terrible, either. He’s thrown seven touchdowns compared to three interceptions. And consider this: he’s doing it with no running game or decent pass protection. His receivers often drop his passes. Anyway, he’s the best the Bucs have right now, so you might as well stick with him.

While Smith won’t get fired this season (or so I think) he definitely needs to be held accountable for this mess. He brought in some high-profile defensive free agents during the offseason. That plan hasn’t worked out. If we, the fans, turned up the heat on Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano when they were on the sidelines, then we should absolutely treat Smith the same way.

In the meantime, enjoy the bye week, knowing that Tampa Bay can’t lose next Sunday.

Photo Courtesy: tampabay.com

Embarassing Effort By Bucs Against Ravens

This has gotten embarrassing.

The Buccaneers were thoroughly annihilated at home on Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens, 48-17. It brought back memories of the debacle in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and even more memories of all those blowout losses Raheem Morris’ team had down the stretch in his final season as head coach.

There is, of course, plenty of blame to go around. But for me, most of the blame should lie with head coach Lovie Smith. He does not have this team ready to play. It’s as simple as that.

The offense is awful. There was nothing doing in the running game (again.) The pass protection was pathetic; Mike Glennon was sacked five times. He had a rough game like the rest of his teammates, but I ask this: would Peyton Manning have any success behind this offensive line?

The defensive line is not pressuring the quarterback at all. Joe Flacco had all day to throw. He was playing pitch-and-catch with open receivers for the entire first half. He had five touchdown passes before the intermission. The secondary is pathetic. They cannot cover anybody, it seems. We’ve seen this pretty much all year, even when they face a backup quarterback, which Flacco is anything but. And what really bothers me right now, is that Smith doesn’t seem to be willing to change defensive schemes. Dear Lovie: the Tampa 2 doesn’t work anymore. Can’t you get that into your head?

I won’t provide any stats for the game. 48-17 tells you all you need to know.

The game wasn’t on TV up here in New England (amen to that.) But my twitter friends tell me the Bucs got booed off the field at halftime. It was deserved.

Next week, Tampa Bay has a bye week. Hooray!  They can’t lose!

Coming up in tomorrow’s rant: the Bucs at the bye. It may be hazardous to Tampa Bay fans’ health.

Photo Courtesy: AP

Hey Bucs: About All Those Penalties….

It’s time to look back at how the Buccaneers blew a fourth-quarter lead in the Superdome, and allowed the Saints to eventually win in overtime.

There is one stat that stands out more than any other: penalties. Tampa Bay had every chance to win this game, but kept shooting itself in the foot with one yellow flag after another – 15 of them in all for 113 yards.

Early in the game, whenever Mike Glennon completed a big pass downfield, the Bucs were flagged. Or, his receiver dropped the ball (I’m looking at you, Austin Seferian-Jenkins.) The dropped passed are one thing. But it’s the penalties that cost the Buccaneers a chance to finish a tough, three-game road trip with a more-than-respectable 2-1 record.

The real killers came late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. How awful was that Bucs’ series after the Saints had cut the lead to five? They started on the 20. An offensive holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 10. The next play was an errant snap that sailed to Glennon’s right, which he fell on at the 2. That was followed by back-to-back fouls for delay of game and false start. Next play: Junior Gallette comes in untouched, and brings the Saints to within a field goal. New Orleans would tie the game on its ensuing possession after the free kick.

The last ridiculous (and in my opinion, questionable) penalty came in overtime, when Jonathan Banks was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face. I’ve watched the play over and over, and I still don’t see the penalty. Of course, the Fox crew didn’t exactly provide a conclusive replay, either. But regardless of how Bucs fans feel about the call, the point is this: the penalty came on third down. Instead of forcing the Saints to punt, the Bucs gift-wrapped a first down for them. We all know what happened after that.

Yes, the defense wilted in the fourth quarter and overtime. They had to be out of gas. But the Buccaneers didn’t help their cause with all of those mistakes. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, in a league where the refs are now throwing flags on seemingly every other play. This game was there for the taking, and the Bucs let it slip through their hands.

Photo Courtesy: AP

The Good (and Bad) from the Bucs’ OT Loss to the Saints

Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ difficult-to-swallow, 37-31 overtime loss to the Saints on Sunday.

 

THE BAD
The Bucs blew an eleven-point lead in the fourth quarter, and ended up losing in OT. That’s the short version. Now, for the long version…

The meltdown really kicked in after New Orleans had just scored to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to five. The Bucs got the ball back, and went backward via a botched snap and a couple of penalties. The “drive” ended with Mike Glennon getting sacked in the end zone for a safety, which essentially gave New Orleans the two points it didn’t get on the previous two-point conversion attempt. After the Saints got the ball back, they marched right down the field and kicked the tying field goal. When the game went into overtime, the Saints won the coin toss, took the ball, scored a touchdown, and that was that. The defense was obviously gassed at the end of the game, and allowed 511 yards of total offense.

And oh, those penalties: 15 of them in all for 113 yards. The biggest one came in overtime on third down against Jonathan Banks. If not for that penalty, the Bucs would’ve forced a Saints’ punt in the extra period. 15 penalties is way too many, whether you agree with the calls or not (and there were some questionable ones.)

I will have more on the disastrous fourth quarter in tomorrow’s write-up.

The Bucs still don’t have much of a running game to speak of. We have not yet seen the same Doug Martin who was a stud two years ago. He did have a couple of bursts on the Superdome turf, but he just isn’t the same player he used to be.

 

THE GOOD
Glennon had another solid day as the Bucs’ quarterback, going 19-for-32 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. But unlike last week, he was unable to lead Tampa Bay on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.

It was nice to see Vincent Jackson finally have a big day: eight catches for 144 yards.

As I mentioned, the defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense. And yet, Drew Brees didn’t even have his best game. The Bucs picked him off three times, and ran one of those interceptions back for a touchdown (by Danny Lansanah.)

 

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com