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
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
The Buccaneers have mercifully made it to the bye week with a record of 1-5. Just about everything that could go wrong through the first six weeks, has.
Remember back to the draft, when Tampa Bay used all of its draft picks on the offensive side of the ball? Maybe the Buccaneers should’ve thought a little bit about the defense, which has been shredded so far in the first six games. Consider these numbers:
The Bucs rank dead last in scoring defense, allowing 34 points a game. Twice in the last month, they have been blown out, giving up 56 to Atlanta and 48 yesterday to Baltimore. They have given up a whopping 165 points in the past four games. They are worst in total yards allowed per game (422.) They have the second-worst pass defense, and are 25th when it comes to stopping the run. They’re not getting any pressure on the quarterback; they only have nine sacks through six games. I could go on, but you get the idea.
Many fans are already calling for Lovie Smith’s head. That’s not going to happen to a first-year coach. But here’s a question: how does defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer still have a job? If I could only make one change during the bye week, it would be to send him packing. It wouldn’t fix all of the problems in Tampa, but it would at least send a message. It’s one thing to have a bad defense; it’s another thing for opposing teams to consistently run the ball down your throat, and for quarterbacks to play pitch-and-catch with wide-open receivers all day long, which is what we’ve seen so far in 2014.
Lovie says he’s not changing his defensive scheme. Okay, then….
The offensive side of the ball is no better. The Buccaneers are ranked 28th in total offense. They have no running game whatsoever. Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey or anyone else who takes handoffs is not getting the job done. The offensive line has been awful in terms of opening holes or protecting the quarterback.
Speaking of the QB position, I really think Mike Glennon is an adequate quarterback – not a superstar by a long shot, but not terrible, either. He’s thrown seven touchdowns compared to three interceptions. And consider this: he’s doing it with no running game or decent pass protection. His receivers often drop his passes. Anyway, he’s the best the Bucs have right now, so you might as well stick with him.
While Smith won’t get fired this season (or so I think) he definitely needs to be held accountable for this mess. He brought in some high-profile defensive free agents during the offseason. That plan hasn’t worked out. If we, the fans, turned up the heat on Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano when they were on the sidelines, then we should absolutely treat Smith the same way.
In the meantime, enjoy the bye week, knowing that Tampa Bay can’t lose next Sunday.
Photo Courtesy: tampabay.com
This has gotten embarrassing.
The Buccaneers were thoroughly annihilated at home on Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens, 48-17. It brought back memories of the debacle in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and even more memories of all those blowout losses Raheem Morris’ team had down the stretch in his final season as head coach.
There is, of course, plenty of blame to go around. But for me, most of the blame should lie with head coach Lovie Smith. He does not have this team ready to play. It’s as simple as that.
The offense is awful. There was nothing doing in the running game (again.) The pass protection was pathetic; Mike Glennon was sacked five times. He had a rough game like the rest of his teammates, but I ask this: would Peyton Manning have any success behind this offensive line?
The defensive line is not pressuring the quarterback at all. Joe Flacco had all day to throw. He was playing pitch-and-catch with open receivers for the entire first half. He had five touchdown passes before the intermission. The secondary is pathetic. They cannot cover anybody, it seems. We’ve seen this pretty much all year, even when they face a backup quarterback, which Flacco is anything but. And what really bothers me right now, is that Smith doesn’t seem to be willing to change defensive schemes. Dear Lovie: the Tampa 2 doesn’t work anymore. Can’t you get that into your head?
I won’t provide any stats for the game. 48-17 tells you all you need to know.
The game wasn’t on TV up here in New England (amen to that.) But my twitter friends tell me the Bucs got booed off the field at halftime. It was deserved.
Next week, Tampa Bay has a bye week. Hooray! They can’t lose!
Coming up in tomorrow’s rant: the Bucs at the bye. It may be hazardous to Tampa Bay fans’ health.
Photo Courtesy: AP
Without further ado, here it is:
Sun 9/7 CAROLINA 4:25pm
Sun 9/14 ST. LOUIS 1:00pm
Thu 9/18 @ Atlanta 8:25pm
Sun 9/28 @ Pittsburgh 1:00pm
Sun 10/05 @ New Orleans 1:00pm
Sun 10/12 BALTIMORE 1:00pm
Sun 10/19 BYE
Sun 10/26 MINNESOTA 1:00pm
Sun 11/2 @ Cleveland 1:00pm
Sun 11/9 ATLANTA 1:00pm
Sun 11/16 @ Washington 1:00pm
Sun 11/23 @ Chicago 1:00pm
Sun 11/30 CINCINNATI 1:00pm
Sun 12/7 @ Detroit 1:00pm
Sun 12/14 @ Carolina 1:00pm
Sun 12/21 GREEN BAY 1:00pm
Sun 12/28 NEW ORLEANS 1:00pm
There are a lot of mini-home stands and road trips: two games here, three games there, etc. Nov. 23 marks Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago. As we all know, what looks like an uneventful game late in the season right now, can end up being a big game (and vice versa.)
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com
So the final score of the first preseason game was Ravens 44, Buccaneers 16. Ignore that, as hard as it may be. The most important thing: there were no key injuries. Let’s take a look at some individual performances, since the starters saw very little action:
Josh Freeman only played two series. One of them ended with a field goal. He finished 4-of-7 for 34 yards.
Rookie Mike Glennon got most of the work. He threw for 169 yards and an interception. After his first completion was good for 61 yards, he looked like…well, a rookie…for the rest of the night. Glennon is battling for the backup QB job with Dan Orlovsky.
The starting defense played fairly well. Lavonte David had a sack. Danny Gorrer had a pick. Darrelle Revis did not play. I can only hope he’ll be ready for the season opener against the Jets.
Derek Dimke was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals. This position has gotten a lot more attention after the Bucs lost Connor Barth for the season. Dimke is battling Lawrence Tynes for the starting job. Tynes did not play.
Special teams were awful. There was a muffed punt by Chris Owusu. Chas Henry had a punt blocked in the end zone. Both led to Baltimore touchdowns. In all, the Bucs committed four turnovers. And while the starters were out of the game for most of the mistakes, they are still troubling for Greg Schiano.
The Bucs face the Patriots next Friday night in Foxboro.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images