The State of the Bucs on Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving, the Buccaneers have a lot to be thankful for.  For starters, they’re atop the standings in the NFC South.

On Monday night, the blew out the Giants, 30-10, to improve to 7-3.  It wasn’t even close.  After losing two straight games – playing poorly in both – it was nice to see the Tampa Bay dominate an opponent it was supposed to do just that to.

So, let’s talk about the playoff picture for a moment.  The Bucs have a two-game lead in the division.  They have seven games left, including four divisional games.  Their next game in Indy won’t be easy; did you see what the Colts did to Buffalo last week?  Anyway, the Bucs need to keep playing like they did on Monday night.  They got Rob Gronkowski and Sean Murphy-Bunting back, and Carlton Davis is close to returning.  Vita Vea’s injury at the end of the Washington debacle doesn’t seem to be as serious as first though.  But limiting penalties and turnovers will be key in every single game from here on out.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A BAD Loss For the Bucs

Remember what happened before the Bucs even ran a play on offense?  They were called for a false start.  That should’ve been a sign that this was not going to be a good day.

Tampa Bay was upset by Washington, 29-19.  The blame goes on the usual culprits: turnovers and penalties.  Tom Brady threw two more interceptions; one bounced right off his receiver’s hands, the other is squarely on TB12.  But that’s not all: Ryan Succop missed an extra point in the fourth quarter that would’ve made it a 3-point game.  But in the end, it didn’t matter, because when the Bucs’ defense needed a stop, they couldn’t get off the field.  Washington marched 80 yards for a clinching score, taking more than ten minutes off the clock.

Washington came into this game with the worst pass defense in the NFL.  The Bucs made them look like one of the best.

So, the Buccaneers have lost two straight, yet remarkably are still in first place in the NFC South (thank you, Tennessee.)  Still, they’ve got to be more disciplined.  And that starts with you, Coach Arians.  Yes, I know there are injuries.  But other players need to step up, and over the last two games, they haven’t.  Sunday’s loss was arguably the worst since that game in Chicago last year.

Photo courtesy: Washington Football Team

Buccaneers Blow Out the Bears

Against the Bears, the Bucs didn’t have Rob Gronkowski.  Or Antonio Brown.  Or Lavonte David.  Or Richard Sherman.

No problem.

The Buccaneers demolished Chicago, 38-3.  This was blowout city from the get-go.  Tom Brady threw four more touchdown passes – three of them to Mike Evans.  Tampa Bay rushed for 182 yards, including a TD run by Leonard Fournette.  They forced five turnovers, and held the Bears to just a field goal.

Impressive.  There’s not much more to say.

The Bucs are now 6-1 for the first time ever.  They’re in first place in the NFC South.  They play the Saints next week in New Orleans.  This is a big, big game coming up.  If the Bucs want to the win the NFC South, the Saints are the team they have to get by.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Win Over the Eagles

Here are my takeaways from the Bucs’ 28-22 win over the Eagles on Thursday night.

“Playoff Lenny” is coming back into postseason form.  Leonard Fournette had his second big game in a row.  He had 127 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.  He is the #1 running back without question right now, to go along with Tampa Bay’s tremendous passing attack.  Tom Brady threw for nearly 300 yards, two TD’s and one INT.

What a defense the Buccaneers have.  They’re the best against the run, but worst against the pass.  Against Philly, the run defense was again terrific, save for a couple of runs late in the fourth quarter.  The pass defense held Jalen Hurts to just 115 yards through the air, but…

Can the Bucs please cut down on all those penalties?  Most of the Eagles’ “offense” last night came from pass interference calls against the Bucs’ banged-up secondary, which also lost Richard Sherman to injury.  Tampa Bay was penalized seven times for 120 yards.  A couple of times, a Buccaneer defensive lineman jumped offsides.  This has to stop.  And what was Bruce Arians thinking on that 4th down call in the 4th quarter?  It was a lousy play call, it didn’t work, and the Eagles cashed in to make it a one-score game.

And yet, the Bucs are 5-1.  This was another game where they did not turn the ball over.  They’ll host the Bears a week from Sunday.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft: Bucs Choose OLB Tryon

We’re not used to the Buccaneers picking at the very end of the first round of the draft.  But that’s what happens when you win the Super Bowl.  And with the 32nd overall pick, the Bucs went with a pass rusher: outside linebacker Joe Tryon from Washington.

Because I am not big on studying draftees, as usual, the first thing I said was “who’s he?”  Now that I’ve read up on him, I know that he didn’t play at all last year because he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.  In the previous year, he was a stud, with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

I’m okay with this pick.  The Bucs brought back all of their stars from their Super Bowl team, so they’re adding depth on defense.  And if he can be as effective as fellow husky Vita Vea, then all the better.

Some Post-Super Bowl Thoughts on the Bucs

Now that I’ve had a chance to let the Super Bowl victory sink in, and watch the Buccaneers turn into big-time party animals during their boat parade, it’s time to hand out some postseason honors.  There is no rhyme or reason to any of these categories; I’m just going to do these at random.

Offensive MVP: Tom Brady

How could a 43-year old quarterback leave a team he’s been with for 20 years, join one that hadn’t been to the playoffs in over a decade, and end up winning a Super Bowl in his first year with his new team.  When your name is Tom Brady, of course.  Brady looks like he could play until he’s 50 (though he probably won’t.)  As you would expect with him, there was a lot more good than bad.  The number of turnovers from the quarterback position dropped off dramatically compared to his predecessor, Jameis Winston.  After going 7-5 through the first 12 games, Brady led the Bucs on an 8-game winning streak, and their second Super Bowl title.  And you’d be crazy to say he didn’t help others elevate their games.

Defensive MVP: Devin White

When the Bucs drafted this guy two years ago, we the fans said, ‘he’d better be the next Derrick Brooks.’  Well, he’s on his way.  White was sensational in his sophomore year in Tampa, leading the team in tackles.  And that’s with missing the regular season finale and the wild card game against Washington due to COVID.  White’s INT late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was the cherry on top of a tremendous season.  Or, maybe the official dessert was getting to ride his horse around Ray-Jay for a victory lap after the parade.  It was well-earned.

Best rookie: Tristan Wirfs

This is the guy the Buccaneers took in the first round of the 2020 draft.  What a pick this turned out to be.  One big question I had going into the season was, how well could the offensive line protect Tom Brady?  Wirfs got the job done, and then some.  You didn’t hear a lot about him during telecasts.  That’s because he was doing his job, and not committing penalties.  Antoine Winfield Jr. will get a lot of praise for his work in the secondary – and his little feud with Tyreek Hill – but I’m giving Wirfs the ever-so-slight edge.

Best special teams player: Ryan Succop

You all know how dreadful the Bucs’ kicking game has been over the years.  Succop is another player they picked up in free agency.  In 2020, he made 28-of-31 field goals during the regular season.  That’s 90%.  He was 9-for-9 in the playoffs.  He brought an enormous deal of comfort to a position that has been a weak spot for a long time.

There are many more honorable mentions, but these are just a few.  I’m sure you’re all aware of all the free agents the Bucs have to deal with.  But that’s for Jason Licht to handle in the coming months.  In the meantime, just keep reliving the moment, because who knows when this will ever happen again.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!

They did it!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, beating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9. It’s the Bucs’ second championship, and first in 18 years.

Tom Brady is your MVP. He still has it at age 43.

But to me, the real MVP is Todd Bowles. The defense played the game of its life, keeping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense out of the end zone.

Go crazy, Bucs fans. Enjoy this for awhile!

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

THE BUCS ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL!

It’s been a little more than 24 hours since the Buccaneers punched their ticket to Super Bowl LV.  I admit: it still doesn’t seem real yet.  It still hasn’t sunk in.

When Tom Brady came to Tampa during the offseason, we all knew this was the goal.  But much impact could a 43-year-old quarterback possibly have on a team that hadn’t even made the playoffs in 13 years?

Well, now we know.  An 11-5 record.  A wild card berth.  Three straight playoff wins on the road against three division champions, including the top-seeded Packers on Sunday.  And now, a Super Bowl on their home field against the defending champs, the Chiefs.

The NFC Championship game in Green Bay was, in many ways, a typical 2020 game for the Bucs.  They looked outstanding for 30 minutes, then hung on for dear life in the second half.  Heck, Brady threw three interceptions on three straight possessions.  But the Packers converted those miscued into just six points.  And who know what would’ve happened if Green Bay had not decided to kick a field goal with just over two minutes remaining, trailing by eight, with the ball inside the Bucs’ 10-yard line.

But none of that matters now.  Our Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be making just their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.  We all remember the last one; in 2002, they went to San Diego and blew out the Raiders.  Now, they face superstar Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.

But we’ll dive more into the matchup later on.  For now, let’s just cherish the moment.  It is no longer a dream; the Bucs are in the Super Bowl.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Countdown to the NFC Championship Game

Here we stand, about 48 hours from the NFC Championship game between the Buccaneers and the Packers in Green Bay.  Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers.  Around 6:30 Sunday night, we should know whether the Bucs will be playing in Super Bowl XV, in their home stadium.

The Bucs got some good news and bad news on Friday.  First, the good news: nose tackle Vita Vea, who was thought to be out for the season, has been activated for the game.  This will give a big (literally) boost to Tampa Bay’s defense as they face a potent Green Bay offense.

On the downside, Antonio Brown has been ruled out.  Fortunately, the Bucs still have plenty of weapons in the passing game to make up for his absence.

This is only the fourth time ever that Tampa Bay has made it to the NFC title game.  The Bucs are 1-2 all time, with the last one being the victory over the Eagles in the 2002 season that sent the Buccaneers on their way to becoming Super Bowl champs.  They lost their other two appearances – in 1979 and 1999.

These two teams have only met one other time in the postseason.  In January 1998, the Bucs went to Lambeau Field and lost, 21-7, in the divisional round.

Never before has there been a ‘Battle of the Bays’ with so much at stake.  These two teams used play each other twice a year, back in the old NFC Central days.  I expect a terrific ballgame in Green Bay on Sunday.

ONE WIN FROM THE SUPER BOWL!

Bucs fans: our team is one win away from playing in the Super Bowl.  One more win.

The only thing standing in the way is a victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game.  Of course, that means a trip to frigid Lambeau Field.  But it can be done.

On Sunday, the Bucs knocked off the Saints in the divisional round, 30-20.  This is the same New Orleans team that humiliated the Bucs on national TV in week 9.  But the same unit that got shredded in that game – the secondary – was the difference in Sunday’s victory.  Tampa Bay forced four turnovers, and the offense turned those miscues into 21 points.  The Buccaneers, on the other hand, played turnover-free football, and ran the ball effectively.  The offensive line also turned in another solid performance.

This will be Tom Brady’s 14th trip to a conference championship game, and his first in a pewter uniform.  This will be the Bucs’ fourth appearance in the NFC title game.  The last time was in January of 2003, when they shut down Veterans Stadium in Philly by beating the Eagles.  They would go on to beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

Never before has a “Battle of the Bays” meant so much.  Tampa Bay beat Green Bay handily during the regular season, but the Saints also did that to the Bucs.  Brady and a few others are used to playing in the cold, so I expect them to be ready.  Buckle up: this ride isn’t over just yet.

Photo courtesy: @jwhite_333 (Jordan Whitehead’s twitter)