So yet again, the Buccaneers are playing out the string at the end of a season. They will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
This brings up the debate that I always see: should the team just keep losing to get a better draft pick, or try to (gasp) win these last two games for a sense of pride?
Look – it’s pretty much a given that Dirk Koetter will be fired at the end of the season. GM Jason Licht may walk the plank with him. Then there’s the future of Jameis Winston. And today brought the news that DeSean Jackson sold his house in Tampa. All of that said, will a couple of losses – and moving a couple of spots in next year’s draft – really have that much of a difference?
I say no. I want to see wins.
I’m a diehard fan of this team. I have been for over 30 years. I want them to win every single week. Nearly three weeks ago, I was at Ray-Jay to see Tampa Bay beat Carolina. The Bucs haven’t won another game since. They’ll be in Dallas on Sunday, then host Atlanta (another disappointing team) in the finale. It’s a losing season no matter what. But I’d rather have 7-9 instead of 5-11.
So, my message to the Bucs is this: don’t just roll over and play dead in AT&T Stadium on Sunday. There are fans who want you to ‘tank.’ I’m not one of them. There will be plenty of time to talk about the future direction of this team. That can wait. Until then, a chance to play ‘spoiler’ against the Cowboys awaits.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
OK, so the headline of this blog post isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. But it didn’t become official until now.
With today’s loss to the Ravens in dreary Baltimore, there will be no playoffs for the Buccaneers for the eleventh consecutive year.
Maybe we should’ve known it wasn’t going to be a good day when, on the opening drive, Chris Godwin dropped a pass that could’ve gone the distance.
Maybe we should’ve known it wasn’t going to be a good day when they flubbed up the extra point on the game’s first touchdown.
Maybe we should’ve known it was going to be a good day when they recovered a muffed punt inside the Baltimore red zone, only to come away with three point.
The Bucs only scored three points in the second half. This is a troubling trend over the past three games, starting with the Carolina game when they only scored seven points after halftime (and they won that game.)
Or maybe, just the thought of chasing Lamar Jackson and company all over the field was too much to comprehend.
No matter how you slice it, the final two games against the Cowboys and Falcons will amount to nothing more than ‘playing out the string,’ though Dallas will certainly have something to play for.
Dirk Koetter’s grave has been dug. It’s only a matter of time before we put him in it. Jason Licht may end up in the ground next to him. We’ll see.
Photo Courtesy: Baltimore Ravens
Well, you can drop all that talk of, “what if the Bucs run the table and make the playoffs…”
There was no repeat of the magic in the Superdome from the opener. Tampa Bay played well in the first half against New Orleans. But then, just like last week when I was at Ray-Jay, the offense went to bed in the second half (for what it’s worth, I also went to bed before the Saints mounted their comeback, but anyway…)
The game turned in the third quarter when the Saints blocked a punt, and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans scored 25 straight points. The Bucs couldn’t muster any offense after the Saints took the lead. Most of the yards they got were in “garbage time” at the very end.
The end result: Saints 28, Bucs 14.
Cairo Santos missed two field goals. He hadn’t missed since joining the Bucs a fee weeks ago. Yes, we’re back to this problem again.
The Buccaneers had 10 penalties in this game. That, too, is a problem. So is the offensive line and the lack of running game. That’s been an issue all year.
Well, it was a fun two-game streak while it lasted. The best the Bucs can do now is finish at .500, and that would mean beating Baltimore, Dallas and Atlanta. Dirk Koetter’s grave is already dug.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
On Sunday, I made my annual trip down to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs play in person. I left the stadium with a big smile on my face, as Tampa Bay knocked off Carolina.
This one went according to script (you will smell the sarcasm shortly.) The Bucs’ defense came into this game with three interceptions all year. Well, some guy named Andrew Adams doubled that total, in just this game alone. Throw in a fourth pick by Javien Elliot, four sacks, and you’ve got yourself a 24-17 upset.
I, and other Bucs fans, have been bashing this defense all year. Well, over the past few games, we’ve seen some improvement, so I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due. It was the defense that won this game.
Jameis Winston did not throw a pick, though he did have a couple of passes that made me say, “ay ay ay.” Chris Godwin a had a big game, catching a key TD just before the half that I had a good look at.
This team is far from perfect. The Bucs needed every one of those interceptions to win this game, because after they went ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter, the offense went to bed. It felt like Carolina had a zillion chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the defense stepped up, even with so many starters injured. Whatever Mark Duffner is doing with this group, it’s working.
Dear Bucs: see what happens when you don’t turn the ball over as often as the opponent? You usually win.
The Saints come to Ray-Jay next Sunday. We all remember that tremendous opener in the Superdome. I’ll bet New Orleans hasn’t forgotten, either.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are eight home games every year for the Buccaneers. There’s always one in particular that I look forward to, and it’s not always the same team or time of year.
I only get one chance per NFL season to head to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs in person. That chance is this weekend. I’ll be flying down to Tampa to cheer on the home team against the hated Panthers.
Normally I update the blog on Sunday nights after the game. This time, I will write something here later on Monday after I return home, perhaps Monday night. In addition to my thoughts about the game, I hope to have a bunch of photos – and maybe a video or two – to share with you, my readers.
That’s it for now. We’ll chat again on Monday. Go Bucs!
Well, this was a nice change of pace. Consider everything that happened in today’s game against the 49ers.
Jameis Winston threw for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.
The Bucs sacked Nick Mullens four times.
The Buccaneers had two interceptions – their first takeaways in two months. Yes, I said months. And Tampa Bay didn’t turn it over at all.
Is it any coincidence that the Bucs actually won this game?
And please, don’t give me this, “well, they were playing the ‘Niners.” Listen: the way the Bucs have been going, no game should ever be considered easy.
Oh, and Cairo Santos hasn’t missed a kick since joining Tampa a couple of weeks ago. It’s only two games, but is it possible they’ve at least stabilized that problem spot?
Next up: the Panthers come to Ray-Jay. Ever since beating Tampa, Carolina has lost three straight. Throw in the fact that I’ll be at the game, and you’ve got a wee bit extra intrigue next Sunday afternoon.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers