Bucs Denied Chance at Victory Because They Can’t Count To 12

This was yet another game that was there for the taking for the Bucs.

It was sloppy (on both sides.) Yet there was Tampa Bay, appearing to be in position for a game-winning field goal with about 20 seconds left on the clock after Louis Murphy caught a pass down to the Cincinnati 20. The Bucs were rushing up to the line to run another play when everything stopped.

Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis wanted to challenge the previous play, claiming the Bucs had 12 men on the field. In the final two minutes of the game, all reviews come from upstairs. But what Lewis effectively did do, was give the replay official more time to consider taking another look. And upon further review, you guessed it: there was one too many Buccaneers on the field.

12 men on the field? That’s unacceptable. That’s bad coaching – plain and simple. Are you listening, Lovie Smith and Marcus Arroyo?

Instead of being in position for Patrick Murray to win the game, the Bucs were back to the 46. The next two plays went nowhere. Then on 4th and 20, our lovable quarterback, Josh McCown, threw a completion to Mike Evans that was well short of the first down. With only nine seconds left, why wouldn’t you just heave it toward the end zone at that point? Who cares if it gets picked off; you’re going to lose the game anyway.

14-13 was the final.

The Bucs had 13 penalties in this game. Same old story there. I don’t know the official stats, but Tampa Bay has to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. It is unbelievable how often this team shoots itself in the foot. If Greg Schiano deserved to be blasted for his players’ lack of discipline last year, then Smith is worthy of the same amount of criticism.

The defense only allowed 14 points to a high-powered Bengals’ offense, including three interceptions of Andy Dalton. Cincinnati had less than 300 yards of total offense, just like the Bucs. But Tampa still couldn’t win a game they had a chance to pull out at the end.

Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Buccaneer Bri!

I hope everyone takes time out today to be thankful for family, friends and everything else that falls into the “giving thanks” category.

There is, of course, football to be played on this day.  The Buccaneers are not part of it (Amen to that) but there is still plenty to watch on TV.  The Bucs’ next game is Sunday at Ray-Jay against the Bengals.

Cheers!

 

Brian W.

Editor and Founder, Buccaneer Bri

 

Bucs Implode Against Bears: Can We Please Bench McCown?

I think I share the sentiment of Bucs fans everywhere when I say, why the heck is Josh McCown still quarterbacking this team?

He practically single-handedly gave the Bears the game on a silver platter on Sunday during a second-half implosion that resulted in a 21-13 Chicago win. Sure, there are other problems besides the play of the quarterback. But “McClown”, as we the fans now call him, is the easiest target.

After the Bears had cut the lead to 10-7, McCown coughed up the football on a sack. It was yet another awful display of ball control. One play later, Chicago was ahead.

On the very next possession, McCown threw a pick deep in Tampa Bay territory. Four plays later, the Bucs were looking at an 11-point deficit.

It’s not just McCown who’s drawn my ire. The play-calling at the end of the game left a lot to be desired. Fast-forward to late in the fourth quarter. The Bucs were trailing by eight and facing a 4th and short. The Bucs were not showing any urgency on offense. Yet they rushed up to the line, and McCown ran a quarterback sneak that went nowhere. I double-checked the clock: there was 2:07 remaining when he snapped the ball. Why on earth would you not let seven more seconds tick off the clock, so that you could take some time to discuss the biggest play of the game? Nope, Lovie Smith decided not to do that. Instead, the play call was a sneak behind the awful center known as Evan Dietrich-Smith?

But wait – it gets worse. After the 2:00 timeout, Smith decided to challenge the play, even though it was pretty clear McCown did not pick up the first down. Why is this significant? It cost the Bucs a timeout, meaning they could’ve gotten the ball back with more time than the handful of seconds they ended up with.

Yes, there were other problems that contributed to this loss. But once again, the play of “McClown” is at the top of the list. Can we please put Mike Glennon back in there? McCown has been a disaster, and while Glennon is no superstar, it makes a lot more sense to play the young QB at this point.

If only Lovie would see it that way.

Photo Courtesy: chicagobears.com

 

Mike Evans is a Beast For Tampa Bay

When the Buccaneers chose Mike Evans with their first-round pick in this year’s draft, the idea was to create a powerful tandem with fellow wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

So far, Evans has done a lot more than that. He is now the No. 1 receiver on this football team. There’s no question about that.

Through ten games, Evans has 794 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, five of them coming in the last three games. He’s broken the 100-yard plateau three games in a row, and on Sunday against Washington he went for 209 yards and two long TD catches. Evans became the first rookie receiver in eleven years to have at least 200 yards and two touchdowns in a game. The last time it was happened, it was done by some guy named Anquan Boldin.

He turned out to be pretty good.

I know Evans is only a rookie. And the Bucs have had their share of rookies who’ve had big first seasons, only to be forgotten about shortly thereafter. Remember Michael Clayton? And more recently, anyone heard from Doug Martin lately? So we can only hope that No. 13 doesn’t follow in their footsteps. Imagine if Evans had a quality quarterback who could get him the ball more often.

Evans would be a candidate for Rookie of the Year if he didn’t play on a 2-8 team. Think about that.

One more thought about the Bucs: I find it laughable that everyone’s saying they’re only two games out of first place in the awful NFC South. Yes, that is true. But this is not a quality football team. You’re playing for pride, and the future, at this point. The only way they would even have the slightest chance is to win out and finish 8-8. If that miracle were to happen, they would be a home underdog in the playoffs. It’s nice to dream, though.
Next weekend, the Bucs travel to Chicago to play the Bears, the team Lovie Smith took to the Super Bowl a few years’ back.

Photo Courtesy: AP

 

Whoa: the Bucs Won? Amazing!

I had to rub my eyes when I saw the final score of Sunday’s Bucs game against the Redskins at FedEx field.

Tampa Bay beat Washington by 20 points? Yes, it’s true.

In this game, we saw a lot of things that we’ve been hoping to see from the beginning. The Bucs scored a defensive touchdown, a Jonathan Banks pick-six, one of three turnovers forced on the day. They sacked Robert Griffin III six times. That’s worth repeating: the Bucs had six sacks in a single game.

But the biggest headline has to be Mike Evans. The first-round pick out of Texas A&M had seven catches for 209 yards and two, long touchdowns. I was at Ray-Jay last week when he had a big game in a losing effort, and now he does this. He is a beast, and Bucs fans are glad to have him on board.

Sure, the Bucs were far from perfect. They had a whopping eleven penalties for over 100 yards. And they still don’t have a running game to speak of.

But, they won. And we, the fans, can smile, even if just for a short period of time.

Photo Courtesy: AP

 

I Saw the Bucs Lose With My Own Two Eyes…

This past weekend, I made my annual trip down to Raymond James Stadium to see the Bucs play in person. We all know they lost to the Falcons. But you see and experience so much more when you’re at the game, so I wanted to share my thoughts about what I saw. I’m not going to include any stats in this article.

The Bucs lost this game for the same reasons they lost seven others: too many dumb mistakes. Everyone sitting around me (who’ve clearly been to a lot more games than I) knew that every flag was going to be against the home team. Seriously, how many times did the Bucs bail out the Falcons in this game? On Atlanta’s first TD drive, the Bucs jumped offside THREE times. And then there were the occasions that the Falcons faced third and long, only to be given new life by a defensive penalty away from the ball? The penalties are a lack of discipline. A lack of discipline can be traced to bad coaching. You hear that, Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier?

I also saw an Atlanta receiver wide open in the end zone TWICE. How does that happen? On the first one, the Bucs got lucky that Matt Ryan’s pass was underthrown, and the defender was able to get back in time to knock it away. I don’t remember who it was, because it happened at the opposite end of the field. But I DID have a good luck at Devin Hester all alone in the end zone nearest my seat, and he dropped the ball. The Falcons had to settle for a field goal. That dropped pass cost Atlanta four points. I was really hoping that drop would come back to haunt the Falcons. Wishful thinking.

The Bucs need to draft a franchise, stud quarterback next year. I heard that from fans sitting around me at Ray-Jay, and even more in a sports bar after the game. We were all surprised that Josh McCown was given the start. If Mike Glennon is “the future” (Lovie’s words) than why wouldn’t you play him the rest of the season? McCown didn’t disappoint, and I say that sarcastically. For three quarters, he played mistake-free, albeit unspectacular football. But in the fourth quarter, when he needed to rally his team, he couldn’t do it. Even with two minutes to go and trailing by ten, the Bucs still had an outside shot to pull off a miracle. They were down by the goal line, and had all three timeouts that they could’ve used on defense. But McCown threw a pick in the end zone. The fans who hadn’t left the stadium by then started heading for the exits. He got his share of boos.

The other guy who we booed a lot was punter Michael Koenen. He is not having a good year, and he shanked a couple of kicks in the second half that gave Atlanta superb field position. He was also handling kickoffs. Remember Connor Barth? Remind me why got rid of him again?

While the Bucs need a stud quarterback, I can tell you Mike Evans is a stud receiver. Man, some of the catches he was making….he was amazing. He and Vincent Jackson make a formidable receiving tandem, IF only they had a decent quarterback who could not only get them the ball, but hit them in stride every once in awhile. That was another thing I noticed: how many passes from McCown did not give the receiver any chance of gaining yards after the catch?

There was a nice crowd at the game. I thought there would be a lot more empty seats than there were, given this was a matchup between two bad teams. While it wasn’t a sellout by any means, but decent nonetheless. There were quite a few Falcons’ fans in attendance, not surprising based on simple geography.

So those are my observations from my seat in Section 121. If you were at the game, I’d love to hear yours.

Bucs’ Midseason Report Card

Now that the Buccaneers have reached the midway point of the 2014 season, it’s time for a midterm report card. As you might expect, there are more bad grades than good ones on a team that’s 1-7. I’m not going to grade each and every player, because that would take forever.

 

LOVIE SMITH AND JASON LICHT: F
When the Bucs hired Smith almost immediately after firing Greg Schiano, there was a sense of hope among Tampa Bay fans, a sense that things would start to turn around. There was hope that Smith’s defense would be as fierce as what we saw in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Licht and Smith brought in a ton of free agents on defense (while letting Darrelle Revis go.) They spent their entire 2014 draft on upgrading the offense. Eight games into the season, the Bucs are second from the bottom in both total offense and defense. Some of the pundits predicted the Bucs could be a sleeper team for the playoffs. I was just hoping for some improvement. It hasn’t happened. We should’ve known something was up when they dropped their first two games at home to backup quarterbacks. Even coming off a 4-12 year, the Bucs have been a major disappointment in my opinion.

 

OFFENSE – OVERALL GRADE: D

QUARTERBACKS: D
The Bucs started the season with Josh McCown as the starting quarterback. In 2 ½ games, he threw two touchdowns, four interceptions, and put the ball on the turf a number of times. He’s been sidelined with an injured thumb suffered during the Thursday night debacle in Atlanta.

Enter Mike Glennon. He’s completed 57% of his passes so far. At times, he’s looked OK. Other times, like Sunday in Cleveland, he looked terrible. Now, he’s in danger of losing his job back to McCown. While the quarterback position is hardly the only problem on this team, it should be priority #1 in next year’s draft.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE: F
This group has also been a big disappointment. Remember back to just before the season began, when Tampa Bay acquired pro bowl guard Logan Mankins from the Patriots? That hasn’t helped a unit that has struggled in both the running game and pass protection. Left tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith have not played well at all. The line has given up 21 sacks through the first eight games, and that doesn’t count all of the times the quarterback has been running for his life. It’s worth noting that Smith and Licht also overhauled this unit from last year as well.

 

MIKE EVANS: B
He was the Bucs’ first-round draft pick this year, and we’ve gotten a glimpse of what he can do. While he hasn’t been perfect, he leads the receivers in yards (460) and touchdowns (4) and is tied with Vincent Jackson for the team lead in receptions. He has the potential to be a star down the road, no question about it.

 

DEFENSE – OVERALL GRADE: D-
Let’s think back to the defensive players Smith brought in: Michael Johnson, Alterraun Verner and Clinton McDonald come to mind. Have any of them made an impact? I don’t think so. I hadn’t heard Verner’s name much at all until Sunday, when he was beaten soundly for the winning touchdown in Cleveland. This is the guy who supposedly has to fill Revis’ shoes in the secondary. As mentioned early, Tampa Bay is 31st in the league in total defense behind only Atlanta. They’ve given up the third most points; only Jacksonville and the Jets are worse. They’re near the bottom of the league in sacks. And turnovers – something Smith prides himself on – have not come as often as the fans would like.  Oh, and former first-round pick Mark Barron is now with the Rams.

 

GERALD MCCOY: B+
I’m giving McCoy a grade, because he’s one of the leaders of this defense, and recently signed a 7-year, $98 million contract. He has been one of the few bright spots on defense. His five sacks lead the team. And this guy was playing with an injured hand for a few games.

 

LAVONTE DAVID: A
You mean there’s a player on a 1-7 team that deserves such a grade? Like McCoy, David is a leader on defense. He leads the team in tackles. This guy is everywhere on the field. I look forward to watching #54 in person when I travel to Ray-Jay this weekend to see the Bucs play the Falcons.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

Rookie kicker Patrick Murray has been so-so this year.  He is 8-of-12 on field goals.  He’s had two kicks blocked, one of them coming in the most recent loss to the Browns.  The mistakes on special teams on Sunday actually caused me to lower this grade from a C to a D.

 

Photo Courtesy: AP