Lovie Got Fired!

So a lot of the so-called experts thought Lovie Smith would be on the hot seat at the start of next season.

Guess what?  His seat is now open.

The Bucs fired Lovie last night after two disappointing seasons in which he only won 8 games.

I love how the national media are “stunned” by this.  To me, the only surprising element is that Tampa Bay chose 10pm on a Wednesday night to make the move.

Clearly, the others just looked at the Bucs being ranked in the top 10 in total offense and defense.  They obviously didn’t actually pay attention to what happened in the Red Zone, or the record-setting number of penalties.

I’ll have more to say a bit later.  For now. I say that I agree with this move.

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The Best And Worst of the 2015 Buccaneers

That season went by way too quickly. It’s hard to believe it’s already over.

The Tampa Bay Bucs finished with a record of 6-10. That’s an improvement over their 2-14 record of 2014, but they still finished in last place in the NFC South. I thought I’d take a look back at the best – and worst – of the Bucs’ 2015 season.

Please note: these are listed in no particular order.

THE BEST
Jameis Winston. Remember what happened on his first pass of the season? I do. It was intercepted and run back for a touchdown. Sure, there were many moments where the No. 1 overall pick looked like a rookie. But there were many more where he looked like the Bucs may have found their franchise quarterback. Winston threw for over 4,000 yards (4,042 to be exact.) That’s the third-most passing yards of any rookie QB in NFL history. He threw 22 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions. He also ran for six touchdowns. You can make a very compelling case for him being named rookie of the year. Perhaps most of all, he looks and acts like a leader. He needs to work on the deep ball, but that can be done.

Doug Martin. This was the last year of his contract in Tampa. I am with a lot of Bucs’ fans in begging the team to re-sign him. Martin had his best year since his rookie season: he rushed for 1,402 yards and six touchdowns. The TD number is a bit low, but he had a number of long, long runs that put his team in excellent scoring position. His best game was Week 11 against Philadelphia – when he ran wild for 235 yards.

Dirk Koetter. Why does the offensive coordinator make this list? It’s simple: the Bucs didn’t have one last year; remember when Jeff Tedford left before the season began? Koetter came in, and made an instant impact. The Bucs finished with the fifth-best offense in the NFL in terms of total yards. They averaged just over 21 points per game, which ranks 20th in the league, but still a big improvement over last year. But when I look back at the season, this wasn’t the same old dink-and-dunk Tampa Bay offense that I’ve seen since…well, forever.

THE WORST
The defense. As I’ve said repeatedly over the past four months, Lovie Smith was calling the plays on the defensive side of the ball. That’s why he deserves much of the blame for a unit that allowed just over 26 points per game, sixth-most in the league. The secondary was just awful. Take your pick: Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins, Sterling Moore, Alterraun Verner – it didn’t matter who was trying to cover the opposing team’s receivers. Here is the most alarming stat I could find: the Bucs allowed their opponents to complete 70% of their passes. That is insane. Whether it’s the players, the scheme or the coaching – this should be the first order of the business in the offseason.

UNDECIDED
Mike Evans. On one hand, he had another 1,000 yard season – gaining 1,206 yards. On the other hand, he only scored three touchdowns. And then there were the drops – all of them. According to sportingcharts.com, Evans led the league with eleven dropped passes. And he heard some boos from the fans at Ray-Jay periodically.

BEST GAME: week 11, when they walloped the Eagles, 45-17, and racked up 521 yards of total offense.

WORST GAME: week 7, when they lost to the Redskins, 31-30, a game in which Tampa Bay blew a 24-0 lead. I know Washington ended up winning the NFC East, but blowing a lead like that against anyone is unacceptable.

As always, it’s been a lot of fun writing about the Bucs this season. And I am most grateful to my readers. This is neither goodbye nor farewell, of course. It’s just me saying thank you.

Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com

 

Bucs Stink Up the Season Finale

Well, that was a dud.

What’s more – it’s pretty much what I thought I was going to happen.

The Buccaneers ended their season Sunday night with a 38-10 blowout loss to the division-rival Panthers in Charlotte.

The Bucs had nothing to play for. Carolina still had to win to clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The Panthers had no trouble.

We all know how badly the Bucs allow opposing quarterbacks to complete passes at an alarmingly-high rate. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Cam Newton was 21-for-26 in this game.

If you didn’t see (or listen to) any of the game, don’t be fooled by the final stats that show the Bucs outgaining the Panthers, 386-366. Tampa Bay got a lot of that yardage in the second half when the game was pretty much already over. The Buccaneers also turned it over three times.

The Bucs lost four straight after being 6-6. And wouldn’t you know – because the Saints won, the Bucs finished in last place in the NFC South….again.

I hope Lovie Smith gets canned because of his lousy defense; remember, he called the plays this year. But I don’t think it’ll happen. As for the offense, will Doug Martin be back? What about Vincent Jackson? The questions will be answered in the days and weeks to come.

Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com