Things That Bugged Me About the Bucs’ Loss to the Rams….

If the Buccaneers are going to be a contender this season, they cannot lose games like the one they squandered on Sunday against the Rams.

It was the home opener. They were playing a team that hadn’t scored a touchdown in its first two games. And yet again, the Bucs found a way to make the Rams look like an offensive juggernaut. Final score: Rams 37, Bucs 32.

This was a very frustrating defeat, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Here’s what bothered me, in no particular order:

Why don’t we start with the final drive of the game, which happened while most of the country was already tuned in to Sunday Night Football due to a weather delay. The Bucs got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining, two timeouts, and trailing by five. They marched down to the L.A. 15. But after completing that pass to Charles Sims, they inexplicably let a precious 15-20 seconds tick off the clock before running another play. Why wouldn’t you burn a timeout there? Tampa Bay easily could’ve had an extra two plays at the end. The game ended with the Bucs leaving a timeout on the board, and Jameis Winston lying on the ground about five yards from the goal line. Did the thought of throwing the ball into the end zone on the final play ever cross his mind? Once he crossed the line of scrimmage, he had no choice but to pull off a miraculous run. It didn’t happen. The clock management was awful, and Dirk Koetter and Winston need to take the blame for that.

The defense – particularly the secondary – looks as bad as it did under Lovie Smith, and that’s saying something. The number of big plays they’ve given up are mind-boggling. How do you let Case Keenum beat you deep? He did it on the opening drive, and he did it again in the fourth quarter. How do you let a team that scored nine points in two games…put up 37 against you in the home opener?

Then there’s Roberto Aguayo. You know, he’s the guy the Bucs drafted in the second round. He missed an extra point. Then he missed a field goal. That is unacceptable from any kicker, much less a second-rounder. That was four critical points the Bucs didn’t get. And the missed PAT forced the Bucs to go for two twice, and failed both times. Who knows how the game would’ve played out if Aguayo had just done his job?

Turnovers are still a problem. Winston threw a pick that wasn’t his fault (Sims should’ve caught it) and the Rams turned it into a touchdown. Then there was the strip-sack that L.A. returned 77 yards for another score.

We’re only three games in, but this was by far the most frustrating game of the season. And the next two games are against last year’s Super Bowl teams: home against Denver, at Carolina.

Ay ay ay….

Photo Courtesy: AP

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40-7?! Let’s Pretend That Bucs’ Game Never Happened

Well, that was an old-fashioned clunker.

There isn’t a whole lot of good to say about Sunday’s game against Arizona. Whatever could go wrong for the Bucs, did go wrong.

They turned it over five times. One of them was a screw-up on a handoff between Jameis Winston and Charles Sims. Winston also threw four interceptions, one of which was returned all the way for a touchdown. And to be honest, there were a couple of others that also could’ve been picked. By the way, why was he still playing in the fourth quarter when the game was long out of reach?

They dropped passes.

They missed tackles.

They suffered some key injuries. Doug Martin, Robert Ayers, Luke Stocker and Cecil Shorts were all knocked out of the game.

The defense has allowed 64 points in the first two games, and hasn’t forced a turnover. Lovie Smith is probably laughing his ass off in Champaign, IL.

Arizona is a very good team. There’s no question about that. But I was hoping for a much better showing than this. There is a lot of stuff to fix before the home opener against the Rams.

Photo Courtesy: Arizona Cardinals

 

Kwon Alexander Becoming a Force

When the Bucs scored 31 points against Atlanta on Sunday, it’s easy to put all of the praise on the offense. They gave up 24 points, so it’s easy to assume the defense struggled against Matt Ryan and company.

But one player stood out among the rest: linebacker Kwon Alexander. He had a whopping 17 tackles. He also had a sack.

Remember what he did last year in the Georgia Dome? Let me remind you. Two days after his teenage brother was shot to death, Alexander forced two turnovers and had a third called back by a penalty. The Bucs won the game in overtime. Kwon earned a game ball for his effort.

He missed the last four games of last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Buccaneers lost all four. Before he was sidelined, the team was 6-6 and in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Think his presence means something?

With Alexander and Lavonte David, Tampa Bay has a pretty dynamic 1-2 punch of linebackers. They’re worth keeping an eye on as the season moves on.

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com

 

A Great Opener For the Bucs

After one week of the season, the Buccaneers are alone in first place in the NFL South.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The Bucs played a great game in beating the Falcons in Atlanta, 31-24. The Saints lost.  So did the Panthers on Thursday night.

There was so much to like about this game. Let’s start with Jameis Winston, who threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers.  It was a great way to bounce back from an early interception that led to a Falcons’ touchdown.  Mike Evans and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins made gorgeous catches in the end zone.  And then there was the short toss to Charles Sims, who broke about four tackles on his way to pay dirt.  It was an amazing individual effort.  Brandon Myers caught the other TD; who saw that one coming?

The defense was…..well, good enough to win. They sacked Matt Ryan three times.  The real star was Kwon Alexander, who had 17 tackles to go with one of those sacks.  And late in the game – when you were starting to have flashbacks to the Washington debacle from last season – the defense came up with the stop it needed.

Roberto Aguayo made all five of his kicks. After what he went through in the first half of the preseason, that deserves a mention.

It would’ve been nice to see more from the running game. Doug Martin and company struggled throughout, though Martin did have a couple of big runs in the fourth quarter to help bleed the clock.

Congrats, Dirk Koetter. You’re 1-0 as an NFL head coach.

The bottom line: Tampa Bay beat a division opponent on the road. That in itself is a big deal.

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com