Head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith deserve the blame for this performance in the desert, the second year in a row the Buccaneers have stunk up the joint in Arizona.
The final score was 38-33. Forget, for a moment, that the Bucs valiantly made a game of it in the second half, and that the Cards gave Tampa Bay every chance to actually pull it out. Let me take aim at the aforementioned coaches.
Let’s start with the defense. Adrian Peterson is a good running back. There is no denying that. But the Bucs made it look too easy for him. And how in the world can the defense let the Cardinals’ receivers get so wide open, especially superstar Larry Fitzgerald? You’d think you’d make sure he was covered on every play. I guess not. The tackling was abysmal. And what all of those defensive offside penalties? Smith’s unit was the one I was concerned most about going into the season. Five games in, and my opinion hasn’t changed.
By the way, I was listening to the radio broadcast coming out of the locker room. When asked about defensive adjustments, Koetter said they had to tackle better. I think covering wide-open receivers would also have been a good idea. At one point, it was 31-0.
Now let’s rip Koetter for a few moments. At the end of the first half, the Bucs were getting whipped 24-0, yet were in scoring position. Koetter decided to go for it on 4th and goal, and were stopped. I’m pretty good at math. When you’re down 24, you need three touchdowns and a field goal. Why not kick the field goal (with your brand-new kicker) in that situation to at least get points on the board? The Bucs reached the end zone five times in the second half, and went for the two-point conversion four out of five times. Had they just kicked extra points after the first three – and taken the FG at the end of the half – we could’ve been looking at a one-score game. After an awful throw by backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick that gave Arizona a free touchdown, the Bucs went down and responded, yet missed another two-pointer. Again, this could’ve been a one-score game late in the fourth quarter, with the Bucs having a chance to cap off a miraculous comeback.
Hey coach: pick up a manual that tells you when to go for two, and when to kick the PAT. You really screwed this up big-time. I don’t know if the Buccaneers would’ve won this game in crazy fashion, but they certainly would’ve been in a better position if you had known what to do, and when to do it.
See you in Buffalo next Sunday. Will Jameis Winston be able to play? Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy: Arizona Cardinals
Let’s flash back to the offseason for a moment. The Buccaneers decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on Doug Martin’s contract. That essentially meant 2015 could be his last year in a Tampa Bay uniform.
Dear Jason Licht: please re-sign this guy.
Martin is back and better than ever, showing the brilliance we haven’t seen since his rookie year. After Sunday’s performance in Philadelphia in which he rushed for 235 yards, No. 22 is one of the top running backs in the NFL – second-best, in fact. In ten games, he has 941 yards on the ground. Only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has more.
And while Martin has only found the end zone four times, I believe his success – and the effectiveness of the entire running game – is a factor in Jameis Winston’s recent success. What quarterback wouldn’t like to have a running game like the Bucs have right now? They’re averaging 142 yards per game on the ground – third best in the league.
Hopefully Martin can keep running wild for the rest of the year, and be rewarded in the offseason for doing so.