2 In a Row! Bucs Beat the 49ers

All of a sudden, things are looking up for the Buccaneers.

They beat the 49ers on Sunday, 34-17, for their second straight win. The Bucs are now back at .500.

Jameis Winston shook off an early, poorly-thrown interception to end up with a nice day. Mike Williams is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. And even without Doug Martin, the Bucs suddenly have found a running game, thanks to another big day from Jacquizz Rodgers.

When Tampa Bay fell behind 14-0 early, I thought it was going to be a long afternoon in Santa Clara. No sir. The next 27 points were scored by the road team.

The fact that San Francisco’s run defense is terrible should not diminish the effort by Rodgers, who finished with 154 yards on the ground. Evans’ performance (two more TD’s) is even more impressive when you consider that Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve last week. Russell Shepard and Peyton Barber also found the end zone. Who are those two guys? That’s my point; other players stepped it up nicely.

The defense is also playing much better. Yes, they let the ‘Niners march right down the field to start the game. And the second TD they gave up was the direct result of a bonehead mistake by Winston. But the D held San Francisco to a field goal the rest of the way.

Roberto Aguayo missed another field goal. Yes, it was a 50-yarder, but it’s only going to add to the scrutiny surrounding the second-round pick. He’s now 6-for-11 on FG’s this season. Not good enough.

But six games in, and the Bucs are very much right in the mix. The next three games are at Ray-Jay, where Tampa Bay has struggled to win in recent years. That has to change, starting with the game against a very good Oakland team next Sunday.

Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com

 

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Bucs Beat the Panthers! Winning Ugly Beats Losing

Well, that was worth staying up late for a Bucs’ game that was actually on TV.

This was a game that neither team seemed to want. But in the end, there was beleaguered kicker Roberto Aguayo, who had already missed two kicks earlier in the game, standing out there on the field with :03 left on the clock and the outcome resting on his right foot.

And wouldn’t you know – he nailed it.

The Bucs picked up an important win over a division rival, beating the Panthers, 17-14.

There is so much to dissect. Just look at the last drive alone. Dirk Koetter’s play-calling continues to bewilder me. The Bucs got the ball back with just under 2:00 remaining, and Koetter called two straight running plays, the second of which resulted in the running back going out of bounds, allowing Carolina to save a timeout. Then on the 3rd down, the Bucs threw it to pick up a first down, and suddenly they’re not just trying to milk the clock anymore. They marched down the field, and caught a break when the Panthers were called for a personal foul facemask. They caught another break when the refs said Vincent Jackson went out of bounds after making a catch, when the replay showed otherwise.  That stopped the clock when it otherwise would’ve kept running.  It all resulted in Aguayo’s redemption kick – right down the middle – that set off a late-night celebration in my apartment.

Don’t worry – I kept it down. There are a lot of older people in my building who likely went to bed after Big Papi’s career earlier in the night.

All I heard about going into this game was Carolina not having Cam Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart. Well, the Bucs didn’t have running back Doug Martin, and were without three-quarters of their starting defensive front: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Robert Ayers.

Derek Anderson had beaten the Bucs twice before. It looked like he might do it again, but he made a critical mistake when Brent Grimes picked him off in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, one of four Tampa Bay takeaways.

As I said, this game was far from perfect. Jameis Winston is still making too many dumb decisions. Aguayo gives me a heart attack every time he steps on the field. You’d think the Buccaneers would decide to cover Greg Olsen every now and then. They’re still committing too many costly penalties and crucial times – whether it’s a 3rd and short situation,  or the other team is punting it away and they decide it’s a good idea to knock the punter down to the ground right after he kicks it.

I mentioned Koetter’s play-calling at the end. What about that 3rd down call in the fourth quarter – a running play?  The next play: Aguayo – wide left.

One thing that was great to see was the performance of Jacquizz Rogers, who rushed for over 100 yards, much of it in the first half. The Buccaneers put Charles Sims on IR earlier in the day (he’s been lousy anyway) so it was nice to have a running game in the absence of Doug Martin.

The Bucs are now 2-3, with both wins coming on the road against division opponents. They have their bye week next week, which gives them a chance to get healthy. Thank goodness.

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com

 

Same Old Story For the Bucs Against Denver

Broncos 27, Buccaneers 7

I’m getting tired of writing the same old stuff week after week. But there isn’t much else I can do these days.

The Buccaneers looked awful again on Sunday. More turnovers, more penalties, more poor play in the secondary. And naturally, when Denver had to bring in its backup rookie quarterback, Tampa Bay made him look like him look like a ten-year veteran.

Jameis Winston, after a scintillating performance in the opener against Atlanta, has looked terrible the past three weeks. Against the Broncos, he threw two more interceptions, both of which resulted in Denver touchdowns. By the way – did you notice who made both of those picks? Yes, that’s Aqib Talib, the former Buc. Getting back to Winston, he’s thrown seven INT’s in the last three games.  The dreaded sophomore slump is in full effect right now.

The Bucs need Doug Martin back a.s.a.p. Charles Sims is awful. Aside from being unable to run the ball effectively, he screwed up again in the Denver game. What the heck was he thinking when he apparently tried to lateral the ball – and in the process cough it up – up on 3rd and 1 in Broncos’ territory? They should bench his ass.

The defense – particularly the safeties – continues to be a major disappointment. I’m looking at you, Chris Conte and Brent Grimes. Aside from their poor coverage, Grimes had an interception go right through his hands. He would’ve saved Tampa Bay three points. The defense did get some nice pressure on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch in the first half, but were totally gassed in the second. Denver played keep-away, and the Bucs couldn’t get anything going on offense.  The Broncos’ defense is very, very good.

And I’m not letting Dirk Koetter off the hook, either. Ultimately, this all lies on him. One decision in the fourth quarter stood out: you’re down by 20, midway thru the 4th quarter, you’re facing 4th and 6 on Denver’s side of field, and you punt? I don’t understand that. They still had a chance – albeit a very slim one – of pulling off a miraculous comeback. But by punting there, aren’t you essentially waving the white flag?  Geez.

Next week, the Bucs play in Carolina on Monday Night Football. The whole country gets to see the frustration we Bucs fans have been dealing with for many, many years.

Photo Courtesy: AP