Finally, Another Win!

Winning cures everything, right?

Well, I would hardly say the Buccaneers are cured of all their problems.  But it’s always nice at the end of the day when your score is higher than your opponent’s.  Tampa Bay beat Arizona at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 30-27.

This was by no means a work of art.  Jameis Winston threw two more interceptions.  The secondary looked like, well, the secondary.  The Bucs got schooled on a fake punt.  And they got the break of the season when Arizona’s Maxx Williams dropped what would’ve been an easy touchdown on 4th down in the fourth quarter.

But in the end, Peyton Barber’s 1-yard run with 1:43 left was the game-winner.  And after the Bucs took the lead, raise your hand if you thought the Cardinals would march right down the field to tie or win the game.  Surprisingly, that didn’t happen.

There was definitely an effort to get Ronald Jones more involved in the game.  He had more yards receiving (77) than rushing (29.)  He did score a touchdown on the ground, but also lost a fumble without being touched. 

It was easy to see why both teams have losing records.  There were mistakes galore on both sides.  But Tampa Bay’s four-game losing streak is over, and it feels so good.

The Saints come to Ray-Jay next week.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers Midseason Report

Now that we’re officially halfway through the 2019 NFL season, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve seen so far in the first eight games for the Bucs.  You’ll notice I’m not going through every player or every position.  I’m just going to pick and choose.  So here we go:

OFFENSIVE MVP: Mike Evans.  This guy is a stud; there’s no other way to say it.  Remember how he started off with no touchdowns in the first two games?  Well, now he has seven.  His 842 receiving yards are second in the NFL behind only Michael Thomas of the Saints.  Evans and Chris Godwin have become one of the best receiving tandems in the league.

DEFENSIVE MVP: Shaq Barrett.  What a pickup this guy was.  He leads the league in sacks with 10.5, eight of which came in the first three games.  The drop-off since then is likely attributed to teams paying more attention to him now, but that opens up opportunities for others.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: the secondary.  Even with all those draft picks spent on this group, they’re still terrible.  They’re allowing 31 points a game.  They are second-worst in defending the pass (Oakland sneaked ahead of them!)  And yet, the run defense is best in the league.  Knowing that, it’s no secret why teams are just throwing the ball at will.

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Jameis Winston.  Believe me, I read all kinds of comments from the lovers and haters on a weekly basis.  The haters point to all the turnovers and bad decisions.  The lovers will mention the big passing games he’s had, and how the aforementioned secondary is making him look back.  It will very interesting to see what the Bucs do with him after this season.

BEST GAME SO FAR: The Week 4 win over the Rams in L.A.  Tampa Bay pulled a stunner, scoring a season-high 55 points against the defending NFC champs.

WORST GAME SO FAR: the game right before that, against the Giants.  The Bucs blew a 28-10 lead, and made rookie QB Daniel Jones look like a superstar, as they have with so many other rookie and backup quarterbacks.  Has anyone seen what Jones has done since that game?

So, there’s a quick summary.  The Bucs finally play a home game this weekend against the Cardinals.  It’s only their third game at Ray-Jay so far.  And in just over a month, I’ll be heading down to Tampa for the game against the Colts.

Go Bucs!

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs’ New Head Coach: Bruce Arians

We now know who’ll be guiding the Buccaneers’ ship next season, and it’s someone the NFL is very familiar with.

 

Bruce Arians was named the team’s new head coach on Tuesday night.  Arians coached the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons, and was successful there, making the playoffs twice.  We can only hope he’ll help Tampa Bay end an 11-year playoff drought.  After 2017, Arians “retired” (yeah, okay) and then spent the 2018 season in the broadcast booth with CBS, teaming up with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green.

 

I like this hire.  Of course, I’ve said that about a lot of hires over the years.  This guy has a proven track record – not just in Arizona, but in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Cleveland prior to that.  He’s also an offensive-minded coach.

 

Hey coach: have you seen our defense over the past few years…

 

As for the guy he’s replacing, Dirk Koetter?  He just became the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.  Oh, the drama.

 

Photo courtesy: Associated Press

 

Hey Bucs: Fix the Defense….NOW

There is a lot of anger right now amongst us Bucs fans.  And most of it is directed at one guy: defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

 

After today’s exasperating, last-second, 30-27 loss in Buffalo, a lot of fans say it’s time for Smith to walk the plank.

 

And why not?  This was the third time in six games – and second in a row – that his defense has surrendered at least 30 points (Minnesota is the other one.)  Remember last week when the Cardinals jumped out 31-0 against his defense?  Today, his unit could not hold on after the Buccaneers took the lead late in the fourth quarter.  In the blink of an eye, the score went from 27-20 to 27-27.

 

By the way – Arizona got shut out today.  The Cards’ offense is terrible – except when they face the Buccaneers.  The same can be said for whoever the Bucs face these days.

 

I’m not saying Smith is solely to blame for today’s defeat in Orchard Park.  The Bucs had three turnovers; the third one – the fumble by Adam Humphries – was the mostly costly because it set up the game-winning field goal.  But that final Buffalo drive featured a run for a first down in which there were several missed tackles.  That is unacceptable.  That falls on the coaching staff.

 

The defensive meltdown is what we’re all talking about, instead of a very good performance by Jameis Winston.  He wasn’t perfect by any means (he threw an interception and lost a fumble) but he was much better than in previous games.  O.J. Howard had his best game of the season.  Mike Evans continues to show he’s one of the best receivers in the game.

 

For crying out loud, the Bucs put 27 points on the board against a very good Buffalo defense.  And they still didn’t win the game.

 

We’re six games in.  The Bucs are 2-4 and sitting in last place in the NFC South.  They need to get this turned around in a hurry, or the high aspirations before the season will soon be just a bad dream.  And it starts with fixing this hole-filled defense.

At least they fixed the problem with the kicking game, for now.

By the way, Buccaneer Bri will not be blogging after next week’s game against Carolina.  Vegas is calling next week, and Bri will gladly favor a trip to southern Nevada any day of the year.

 

Photo courtesy: Buffalo Bills

 

A Postgame Rant on the Bucs’ Loss to Arizona

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.

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

40-7?! Let’s Pretend That Bucs’ Game Never Happened

Well, that was an old-fashioned clunker.

There isn’t a whole lot of good to say about Sunday’s game against Arizona. Whatever could go wrong for the Bucs, did go wrong.

They turned it over five times. One of them was a screw-up on a handoff between Jameis Winston and Charles Sims. Winston also threw four interceptions, one of which was returned all the way for a touchdown. And to be honest, there were a couple of others that also could’ve been picked. By the way, why was he still playing in the fourth quarter when the game was long out of reach?

They dropped passes.

They missed tackles.

They suffered some key injuries. Doug Martin, Robert Ayers, Luke Stocker and Cecil Shorts were all knocked out of the game.

The defense has allowed 64 points in the first two games, and hasn’t forced a turnover. Lovie Smith is probably laughing his ass off in Champaign, IL.

Arizona is a very good team. There’s no question about that. But I was hoping for a much better showing than this. There is a lot of stuff to fix before the home opener against the Rams.

Photo Courtesy: Arizona Cardinals

 

Some Thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 2016 Schedule

For those of us who love taking road trips to see an NFL game, it’s always fun when the NFL schedule is released. It came out this past week. Here’s how 2016 is shaping up for the Bucs:

SEPTEMBER 11      @ Atlanta 1:00

SEPTEMBER 18      @ Arizona 4:05

SEPTEMBER 25      L.A. RAMS 4:05

OCTOBER 2            DENVER 4:05

OCTOBER 10          @ Carolina 8:30 (Monday Night)

OCTOBER 23          @ San Francisco 4:05

OCTOBER 30          OAKLAND 1:00

NOVEMBER 3         ATLANTA 8:25 (Thursday Night)

NOVEMBER 13       CHICAGO 1:00

NOVEMBER 20       @ Kansas City 1:00

NOVEMBER 20       SEATTLE 4:05

DECEMBER 4         @ San Diego 4:25

DECEMBER 11        NEW ORLEANS 1:00

DECEMBER 18       @ Dallas 1:00

DECEMBER 24       @ New Orleans 1:00

JANUARY 1 –           CAROLINA 1:00

 

A number of things stand out to me immediately:
*The Buccaneers have to make three trips to the western time zone. I can tell you from past experience: things haven’t gone well over the years when they head west.

*Is it me, or does Tampa Bay have more 4:00 games than usual, whether it be 4:05 or 4:25? Even three of the home games are late kickoffs.

*They have to play both Super Bowl teams from a season ago. Obviously they get Carolina twice since it’s a division opponent, but the world-champion Broncos also visit Ray-Jay.

*Cold weather doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, although we’ll see what mid-November in Kansas City is like.

*Wouldn’t it be sweet if the season finale against the Panthers was for the NFC South title? Hey, a guy can dream.

I like to head to Tampa in November or early December. So I’m eyeing the games against the Bears or Seahawks, two teams I have never seen in person before. We shall see.

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times