An Ugly Day Across the Board in Minnesota

In my season preview a couple of weeks ago, I opined that the Bucs’ defense was the unit I was most concerned about heading into 2017.  They showed some promise against Chicago in the opener.

 

So much for that.

 

The Buccaneers’ leaky, unable-to-make-a-tackle secondary showed up again in Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Vikings.  This is the third straight time they’ve made Case Keenum look like a superstar (the last two were when he was with the Rams.)  And while the secondary kept springing leaks, the pass rush was nowhere to be seen.  Yes, the two go hand in hand more often than not.

 

The offense doesn’t get any good grades, either.  Jameis Winston was picked off three times – once in the end zone, the other near the goal line when he threw into triple coverage.  Hey Jameis: it’s not a good idea to throw the ball to an area where there are three purple-clad defenders lurking.  You tend to do this a lot, and I’m begging you to stop.

 

 

Tampa Bay only had 26 yards rushing.  That’s not going to cut it, either.  Part of that, of course, is being forced to throw because the Bucs were playing from behind all day.

 

If this loss wasn’t bad enough, the injuries are piling up.  Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes didn’t play.  Perhaps the biggest loss was Lavonte David, who got hurt in the fourth quarter and could be out for a while.  Noah Spence and Gerald McCoy are also banged up.  Who’s going to step it up on defense?  Heck, who’s going to play defense at this point?

 

The Bucs host the Giants next Sunday.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

Solid Opener: Bucs Roll the Bears

If you were worried about any rust from the Buccaneers’ season being delayed by a week, worry no more.  Tampa Bay dominated the bumbling Chicago Bears at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 29-7.

 

You don’t have to look far to find the story of this one.  The Bears were sloppy, and the Bucs made them pay.  Tampa Bay’s first TD came one play after Chicago fumbled while deciding to scoop up a punt.  A Mike Glennon (remember him?) fumble led to another touchdown.  And the icing on the cake, if you will, was Robert McClain picking off Glennon, and running it back for a “pick six.”

 

And that was all in the first half.

 

Mike Evans is poised for a gigantic year.  He caught his first TD pass of the season following the fumbled punt return, and finished with 93 yards on the day.  The addition of DeSean Jackson is huge.  Even though D-Jax only had 3 catches, his presence allows for a lot of 1-on-1 coverage for both receivers, and Evans is already reaping the benefits. 

 

Jacquizz Rodgers had a decent day that included a 1-yard touchdown run.  Speaking of the running game, can we please get rid of Charles Sims?  He’s terrible, and I’ve been saying that for a while.

 

So, what about Jameis Winston?  I’ll call his day ‘efficient.’  He did have the nice TD to Evans, and he didn’t throw a pick.  But he still needs some work on the deep ball.  There were several times where he missed an open receiver on a long ball.

 

For the defense, it was all about the turnovers.  Good thing, because Glennon was finding open receivers, and had a number of dropped passes.  But if you can take the ball way, who cares?

 

Nick Folk made all 3 of his field goal attempts.  But he missed an extra point.  Oh, Roberto Aguayo, where are you?  That’s right – he’s unemployed.  He could’ve been on the field for this one, but he didn’t make the Bears’ roster after the Bucs let him go.

 

It’s great to win the opener.  It gives us fans hope that this season will be special.  Next week: the Bucs head to Minnesota to play the Vikings.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Bucs’ Opener Postponed

We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Buccaneers to kick off their season.

 

This morning, the NFL announced it is postponing the Bucs’ opener against the Miami Dolphins until Week 11, due to Hurricane Irma.

 

Both teams originally had their bye weeks scheduled for Week 11.  Now, they’ll both have to play 16 games in a row.  Not playing in Miami was a no-brainer.  But why couldn’t the NFL move the game to another location?  There are many other stadiums that this game could’ve been played in on Sunday.  But no, Mr. Goodell and his team decided to take away the bye week, putting the Bucs (and Dolphins) at a disadvantage when November rolls around.

 

That said, I hope everyone in Florida stays safe this weekend.  That is the most important thing.

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

 

Season Preview: 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s time to get down to business.

 

One week from today, the Buccaneers kick off the 2017 season against the Dolphins in Miami.  Here are some things I’ll be keeping an eye on as the games begin to count:

 

THE OFFENSE: by all accounts, the Bucs are loaded.  Jameis Winston is starting his third year in Tampa Bay, and does he ever have weapons.  The names are many: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Doug Martin (after he finishes serving his suspension.)  On that last note, I want to see how they’re going to run the ball in Martin’s absence.  It appears Jacquizz Rogers will be the featured back, along with Charles Sims (who I’m not a big fan of.)

 

Here are two things to look for: can Winston cut down on his mistakes?  And perhaps an even bigger question: can this team finish off drives with touchdowns?  It’s one thing to move the ball at will down the field, but if you can’t finish it off with six, that’s disappointing.

 

THE DEFENSE: this is the group I’m most concerned about.  I know what you’re thinking – ‘well, they looked great during the preseason.’  The key word there is the last one.  This is a unit that gave up a lot of big plays last year, especially in the passing game.  The Buccaneers play in a loaded NFC South – with quarterbacks named Ryan, Brees and Newton.  The tackling has to be better.  The secondary has to be a lot better than it was in 2016.  I think the Bucs are going to score a lot of points, but I can also see them giving up a lot as well.  We’ll see.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS: the kicking game was solved during the preseason.  Nick Folk is the guy now.  Roberto Aguayo was cut, and is now unemployed.  He signed on with the Bears, but they let him go, too.  Given all of the issues in the kicking game last season, Folk will be under intense scrutiny, and will surely hear about it when he misses a kick.

 

It’s playoffs or bust for the Bucs.  They went 9-7 last year and missed the postseason by one game.  There’s only way 2017 will be considered a success is if Dirk Koetter’s guys are still playing football come January.

 

Until then, it’s on to Miami for the season opener….

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers