A Fitting End to the Bucs Season

Well, so much for the chance at finishing the season at .500.

The Bucs lost their 2019 finale in overtime to the Falcons, 28-22, in overtime.  The game ended with Jameis Winston throwing a pick-six on the first play of OT.  His first pass in a Tampa Bay uniform was an interception returned for a touchdown.  His career in Tampa may have ended the same way.

No, this wasn’t all on Jameis.  Matt Gay missed three field goals, bringing back memory of the Giants meltdown earlier in the year.  His performance Sunday should not be ignored whatsoever.

But let’s get back to Winston.  By now, you’ve probably read all the stats: he threw for over 5,000 yards.  He’s the first player to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.  Seven of those INT’s were returned for touchdowns.  And now, Tampa Bay has to decide what to do with him.

I’ve waited until the end of the year to make my personal decision.  I’ve seen enough.  Winston has cost this team too many games by himself.  And while he is not responsible for every defeat over the last five years, he deserves a lot of the blame.  There is no justification for throwing 30 interceptions (and losing five fumbles) in your fifth season in the NFL.  This was, by far, the most picks he’s thrown in a season (the next highest total is 18 in 2016.)  If he did that in his rookie year, I’d cut him some more slack.  But he’s had five years to figure this out, and he hasn’t done it.

Winston’s critics will point to the still leaky defense, the aforementioned missed kicks, the record passing numbers he put up, the worry about starting from scratch with a new QB, etc.  But for me, all of those mistakes, and the inability to play consistently well, is too much for me to stomach anymore.  It’s time for Jameis to go.

Photo courtesy: USA Today

Bucs Come Up Big in Atlanta

Think of everything that happened in Tampa Bay’s 35-22 win over the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta.

Jameis Winston threw two more interceptions, but also three touchdowns.  Two of them went to superstar Chris Godwin.  The other one was caught by Vita Vea.

Vita Vea?

Yes, the guy on the defensive line who weighs 347 pounds reported as an eligible receiver, and caught a 1-yard TD pass.


The Bucs defense played well.  Yes, you read that right.  They had six sacks.  They forced two turnovers, once of which was a fumble returned for a touchdown by Ndamukong Suh.  With the exception of the second play of the game, the secondary did a nice job covering the Falcons’ receivers.  Atlanta was just 4-of-16 on third downs.  Where has this defense been over the past two months or so?

Need more insanity?  Matt Gay missed three extra points (one of them blocked.)  And those misses didn’t come back to haunt the Bucs.

Godwin and Mike Evans are both over 1,000 yards receiving.  Vea is suddenly a touchdown machine.  And Tampa Bay is staying out of the cellar of the NFC South for the time being.

Enjoy Victory Monday, Bucs fans.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An UGLY Performance by the Bucs

This was disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.

There was nothing to like about Sunday’s game at Ray-Jay, where the Buccaneers were soundly beaten by the Saints, 34-17.  New Orleans is the better team; there’s no questioning that.  Still, this was bad.

The problems with this team are the same ones we’ve seen game in and game out.  The secondary is awful.  The offensive line can’t protect anybody.  Jameis Winston continues to turn the ball over with relative ease.  He had four more INT’s in this game.  I blame the first one on O.J. Howard, but the other three are all on the quarterback.  He has nearly 100 turnovers (including lost fumbles) in his nearly five years in Tampa.  And don’t get me going on the whole “they’re not all his fault” thing.  That’s true, but the number of miscues is still alarming to say the least.

By the way, Howard didn’t get another pass thrown to him after he caused that first turnover. 

But it doesn’t stop there.  The play calling is horrible.  51 passes and only 8 rushes?  And it’s not just this game.  I have serious concerns about Byron Leftwich’s ability.  And Bruce Arians’ postgame act is getting old.  He can rip the officials all he wants.  But he was brought in to fix this mess, and it hasn’t happened.  And Bruce, you may want to think twice before challenging another pass interference call.

For weeks, I’ve been quietly saying to myself that Tampa Bay is still better than Atlanta.  Well, now they’re tied.  And the Falcons are playing better than the Bucs right now.  After next week, our team could very well be in sole possession of the NFC South cellar…again.

Photo courtesy: USA Today

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

 

Some Final Thoughts on the 2018 Bucs

 

As we say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to reflect on the Buccaneers season that ended with a last-place finish, and the firing of Dirk Koetter as head coach.

 

BEST MOMENTS: the first two games against the Saints and Eagles, both won by the Bucs.  Nobody outside of us diehard fans thought they win a shootout in the Superdome, then beat the defending champs in the home opener, both with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games.

 

WORST MOMENT: things started going downhill with the blowout loss to the Bears in Chicago, followed by another defeat in Atlanta after the bye week.  It was only then that the Bucs decided to fire Mike Smith as defensive coordinator.  Smith should’ve been let go before the season began, much less five games in. With Smith at the helm, his defense allowed at least 30 points in four of the first five games.

 

BEST OFFSEASON ACQUISTION: Jason Pierre-Paul.  What a steal this guy was.  He had 12.5 sacks on a team that, last year, hardly got any pressure on the quarterback. 

 

BIGGEST DRAFT DISAPPOINTMENT: Ronald Jones.  The Bucs drafted him in the second round.  He gained a grand total of 44 yards rushing.  He didn’t even play in more than half of the games, and not all of those were due to injury.  The Bucs clearly were not happy with him from the start of training camp, hence the lack of playing time.

 

GOOD RIDDANCE AWARD: DeSean Jackson.  He made it clear he wants out.  I say, get out of town.  This whiner was unhappy that Winston wasn’t getting him the ball.  He pulled off similar antics when he played for Philadelphia and Washington.

 

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK GOING FORWARD: Jameis Winston.  General Manager Jason Licht has made it clear that Winston will return in 2019.  We saw a lot of good Jameis, and a lot of bad Jameis: 19 TD passes, 14 INT’s and three lost fumbles.

 

INTERESTING FACT: on December 2nd, I saw the Bucs beat the Panthers at Ray-Jay.  That was the last time Tampa Bay tasted victory. 

 

Sure, there are other good and bad moments, but these are the ones that come to mind at first.  I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and go Bucs.

 

Bucs Finish in Last Place….Again

I hope this was the last time we see Dirk Koetter on the Tampa Bay sidelines.  And that may not be the only change we see in the coming days.

 

The Bucs finished in last place in the NFC South yet again this year, losing 34-32 to the Falcons in the regular season finale.  The Buccaneers blew a 17-0 lead in this one.  After starting the season 2-0 (remember that?) they lost 11 of their last 14 games.

 

At the end of 2017, I was in favor of giving Koetter one more year.  Well, that year has come and gone, and there wasn’t any improvement in the win total.

 

When you go 5-11 in back-to-back seasons, change is inevitable.  A housecleaning at One Buc Place would not surprise me, starting at the top.  But, with the Glazers, who knows.

 

Photo courtesy: Atlanta Falcons

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Schedule

The Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule is now out.  Now it’s time to dissect it, decide which games are most winnable, and for out-of-town fans like me, think about which game to head south to see.

 

My first thought after taking a look at this: ouch!  What a tough five-game stretch to open with.  The Bucs face four playoff teams, starting with the division champion Saints in the Superdome, followed by the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the home opener.  Then, they get the Steelers on a Monday night.  How does a Bucs’ team that went 5-11 last season end up on MNF?  Oh, that’s right, they’re playing the Steelers, which will give the idiots at BSPN something to crow about while at the same time dissing Jameis Winston, even if Winston gets off to a good start.

 

Tampa Bay goes to Chicago in September.  It sure beats December.  But Baltimore in mid-December could be interesting to say the least.

 

There is a stretch of three straight home games in late November/early December.  And wouldn’t it be interesting if the finale against the dirty birds from Atlanta is meaningful?  One can dream, anyway.

 

Here’s the schedule:

 

Sept. 9 — @ New Orleans

Sep. 16 — PHILADELPHIA

Sept. 24 — PITTSBURGH (Monday)

Sept. 30 — @ Chicago

BYE WEEK

Oct. 14 — @ Atlanta

Oct. 21 – CLEVELAND

Oct. 28 — @ Cincinnati

Nov. 4 — @ Carolina

Nov. 11 – WASHINGTON

Nov. 18 @ NY Giants

Nov. 25 – SAN FRANCISCO

Dec. 2 – CAROLINA

Dec. 9 – NEW ORLEANS

Dec. 16 — @ Baltimore

Dec. 23 — @ Dallas

Dec. 30 – ATLANTA