It just keeps getting worse for the Buccaneers.
Tight end O.J. Howard, who was having an outstanding second season, is done for the rest of the year. He injured his foot and ankle in the game against the Giants on Sunday.
O.J. had five touchdowns this year, and was averaging over 16 yards a catch. Simply put, he was right up there with the most productive tight ends in the league.
The Bucs still have Cameron Brate, but this is another big loss for a team that’s seen its season go down the drain in a hurry.
In other news, Jameis Winston is once again the Bucs’ starting quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is back on the bench. I mean, at this point, what the heck…
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
Stop me if we’ve seen this act before from the 2018 Buccaneers.
They can’t stop anyone from scoring, consistently making other bad teams look like Super Bowl contenders.
They keep turning the ball over.
They can’t take the ball away.
They fall behind by a ridiculous amount of points, then rally in the second half to make things interesting, only to come up short in the end.
The game against the Giants was almost a mirror image of what we saw in Cincinnati. This time, it was Ryan Fitzpatrick who got benched in the second half after throwing three interceptions – including a pick-six – and Jameis Winston coming in off the bench to lead the charge.
Heck, Eli Manning only had one incompletion for the entire game. One! And I happened to be watching when it happened. The receiver was open; it was a poorly-thrown ball. The Buccaneers did sack him four times – got to give them credit for that.
Am I surprised the Bucs lost this game? Of course not. This is what Tampa Bay does best. I’m sure they’ll make the 49ers look like superstars next Sunday.
But in two weeks, Buccaneer Bri is coming to Ray-Jay. The excitement is building.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
Well, we’ve been down this road before, haven’t we?
A new kicker comes to Tampa, can’t make his fair share of kicks, and gets booted. It happened again on Monday. Chandler Catanzaro, who missed two more kicks against the Redskins on Sunday, is now out of a job.
So who’s the new Bucs’ kicker now? His name is Cairo Santos, signed by the team right after Catanzaro was waived. Santos most recently played for the Rams. He’s made 84% of his kicks during his career. All I ask is that he answer the question I’ve been asking for years:
Can we please get someone who can make a kick?!
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
Here’s how misleading stats can be. The numbers will tell you that Tampa Bay had almost 500 yards of offense against Washington. Based on that, the Bucs still have one of the best offenses in the league. But what that number doesn’t tell you, is how much this team self-destructs week in and week out. Two interceptions, two lost fumbles, two (more) missed field goals. And most of that happened in Redskins’ territory.
Oh, and Dirk Koetter acknowledged after the game that this was the first time all year that’s he’s called the plays. The Bucs scored three points in this game. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Heck, the defense had what was arguably its best game of the season. The Redskins got less than 300 yards of offense and only scored 16 points. Everything’s relative, of course. However, this unit still hasn’t forced a takeaway since temperatures were in the mid-70’s around here in greater Boston.
So now what? Do they go back to Jameis Winston at quarterback? Ryan Fitzpatrick has been making just as many as mistakes over the past couple of games. I ripped Winston for bad decisions, and I’m not going to let Fitzmagic off the hook now, either. Tampa Bay has 25 turnovers this season. You guessed it: that’s worst in the NFL.
Keep drinking, Bucs fans. No amount of alcohol can completely satisfy us at this point.
Photo courtesy: Washington Redskins
We’re halfway through the 2018 season, and the Buccaneers sit at 3-5, in the cellar of the NFC South. So, it’s time to hand out some midseason grades.
I’m starting here, because this is the no-brainer. What other grade can I possibly give a unit that’s giving up 34 points a game, can’t cover, can’t tackle, can’t take the ball away, etc. This was the worst defense in the league last year. There has been no improvement, with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, who has eight sacks. Mike Smith got canned, and he may just the first person to lose his job over this pathetic unit.
Here’s the crazy thing about this team. As bad as the defense is, they’re ranked second in the NFL in terms of total yards per game, and they’re averaging 28 points a game. And yet, they’re doing almost all of it through the air – no running game to speak of. Why isn’t this grade higher? Oh, those turnovers…all 21 of them. The Bucs are -15 in turnover ratio. If they’re going to make a second-half run, the mistakes need to go down dramatically.
I mentioned Mike Smith finally getting canned for his awful defense. But geez, doesn’t Dirk Koetter deserve some of the blame for his team’s performance? You’d better believe he does. Tampa Bay is one of the ten most-penalized teams in the league. A lot of that is attributed to coaching. And what kind of coach calls for a fake punt from deep his own territory, trailing by 21 points? If the Bucs don’t get hot down the stretch, it’s adios, Dirk.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Chandler Catanzaro has missed four extra points this season. That’s four too many. He’s 10-of-12 on field goal attempts, which actually isn’t that bad, but it just feels that way. Remember how shocked we all were when he hit from 59 yards out to beat the Browns in overtime? As for punt returns, why isn’t DeSean Jackson getting more touches? He’s an explosive player. Remember that punt return for a TD against Pittsburgh that was called back? Yes, I know it didn’t count, but this guy has the knack to make big plays on special teams, and I don’t understand why he’s not getting more touches.
The Bucs face the Redskins on Sunday at Ray-Jay.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
Well, we’ve seen this movie too many times before, haven’t we.
You know what I mean. The Bucs give up way too many points, then rally in the second half to make the score look interesting, only to fall in the end. That was the case on Sunday in Carolina.
I only stayed awake for the first half of this game. I saw all I needed to see. Wide open Carolina receivers. A defense that gets hardly any pressure on the quarterback. A secondary that can’t cover anyone or tackle anyone. The penalty flags piling up against the team in the white jerseys.
This was another embarrassing effort, one which Dirk Koetter seems to have no answer for. And don’t even get me started on the play that sums it all up: why you would call a fake punt – from deep in your own territory – when you’re trailing by 21 points? At one point does the head coach have to take the blame for this crap? The answer, in my opinion, is every single game. Barring a miraculous second half of the season, Koetter is gone at the end of the year.
I will have more to say about the first half of the season when I hand out my midseason grades. But I close with this: in the first eight games, the Bucs have allowed at least 30 points in six of them. In three of them, they’ve given up at least 40. Mike Smith got canned a couple of weeks ago. That was only the beginning.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
Fitzmagic is getting another shot in Tampa Bay.
On Monday, head coach Dirk Koetter announced Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start next Sunday against the Panthers over Jameis Winston, who was benched after a dismal performance against Cincinnati.
Winston has thrown ten interceptions in four games, including four awful picks against Cincinnati. The Bucs, believe it or not, actually have the top-ranked offense in the NFL in terms of total yards, and are getting it done primarily through the air. But, they are minus-13 in the turnover department, and their scoring defense is still dead last in the league. Enough said.
I can hear all the Winston supporters out there, saying Fitzpatrick is not the long-term solution. You know what? I agree with that. But he gives Tampa Bay a better chance to win right now compared to the nightmare that Winston has become.
If the Bucs keep losing, you can expect a top-to-bottom house-cleaning at the end of the season. It feels crazy saying that with nine games still to go, but that possibility becomes more real with each defeat.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers