It was nice to at least dream about the possibility of going to the playoffs, if only for a couple of weeks.
Then Sunday happened.
For a little while, the Bucs had me and the rest of the fans believing. After starting 2-4, they won four of their next six to get back to .500. But they haven’t been able to get over that hump. It’s been three years since Tampa Bay has had more wins than losses at any point in a season.
And in case you didn’t know, the Bucs are once again the most penalized team in the NFL. They’ve moved one flag ahead of Buffalo in the number of penalized accepted (125.)
So there will be no playoffs for the Bucs this year. Sure, they’re mathematically still alive. But realistically – forget about it.
I have no idea which Tampa Bay team is going to show up on Thursday night against the Rams. As an aside: with the exception of Thanksgiving Day, I am not a fan of these Thursday night games at all. I will go on the record saying that, whether the Bucs win or lose, not to mention my work schedule doesn’t allow me to watch such games.
A note to my readers: because of the Thursday night game – and my aforementioned work schedule – I probably won’t get around to posting anything about the Bucs/Rams contest until the weekend. But I’ll give y’all some quality reading material at some point long after we know the final result.
Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 27-14 victory over the Bills in their third preseason game.
OFFENSE KEEPS IMPROVING
This unit keeps getting better. After a sloppy start, the offense rebounded for a more-than-respectable first half. Josh McCown had his best performance of the preseason: 13-16, 112 yards and a 24-yard touchdown pass to rookie Mike Evans. Unlike last week, Evans hung onto the ball this time. Doug Martin also found the end zone from one yard out. McCown also led an 82-yard scoring drive, something else the team had been lacking until now. The Bucs scored 24 points in the first half. Let that sink in for a moment.
DEFENSE DOMINANT AGAIN
The defense was stingy once again, holding Buffalo to just 82 yards in the first half. But for first time this preseason, we saw their ability to create turnovers: three of them in fact. Clinton McDonald returned a fumble for a touchdown. Dashon Goldson picked off E.J. Manuel. Lavonte David forced a fumble which set up Martin’s TD run. You know Lovie Smith, who prides himself on forcing takeaways, was pleased with the effort.
The Bucs wrap up the preseason on Thursday night against the Washington Redskins.
Photo courtesy: AP
Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 20-14 loss to Miami in the second preseason game.
*THE OFFENSIVE LINE IS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS.
The line did play better than it did last week in Jacksonville, but that’s not saying much. Still, Doug Martin had a bit more room to run on this night, and Josh McCown did have considerably more time in the pocket. He hit Vincent Jackson in the back of the end zone for Tampa Bay’s first touchdown of the game. McCown outplayed Mike Glennon.
*IF THE DEFENSIVE LINE STAYS HEALTHY, WE WON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THIS UNIT AT ALL.
Gerald McCoy looks like a beast out there again this year. His sack of Ryan Tannehill in the second quarter set up the aforementioned touchdown. The first-team defense has not allowed a touchdown through the first two games. Yes, it’s only preseason, but it’s definitely an encouraging sign.
*MIKE EVANS MAKES HIS DEBUT.
We got a glimpse of what the first-round draft pick is capable of doing. After catching a short pass from Glennon, he broke a tackle, raced down the left sideline for a big gain. But he fumbled before crossing the goal line. Evans said after the game he made a rookie mistake. As long he learns from it in time for opening day…
Next week, the Bucs travel to Buffalo to play the Bills. The third preseason game is considered the dress rehearsal – the game when the starters play the longest. So it will be an important game to follow.
Photo Courtesy: Buccaneers.com
Mike Williams’ tenure in Tampa Bay is over.
On Friday, the Bucs traded the wide receiver to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. He will be reunited in Buffalo with new head coach Doug Marrone, who coached Williams at Syracuse.
Williams was drafted by Tampa Bay four years ago, and quickly emerged as the team’s No. 2 receiver. But he missed most of last season due to injury. And then there are the off-field issues – the most recent coming late last month when he was stabbed. Police arrested his brother in the case.
It’s worth taking a look at the Buccaneers’ situation at wide receiver for a moment. You have Vincent Jackson. And then, you have….well, I think you see the point. The team could sorely use another guy who can stretch the field besides V-Jax.
It looks like that is yet another area to address in this year’s draft, in a year where Tampa Bay could use help just about everywhere.
Bobby Rainey was terrific. The defense was sensational. The Bucs won again on Sunday, beating the Bills at Ray-Jay, 27-6.
Let’s start with Rainey. On the second play of the game, he sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 127 yards on the day. Who would’ve thought that after losing Doug Martin and Mike James for the season, the running game would start to flourish? Aside from a tough game against a very good Carolina defense, Rainey has been amazing since taking over as Tampa Bay’s primary ball carrier.
But the defense was the real story of this game. They forced five turnovers, including picking off E.J. Manuel four times, two of them by budding star Lavonte David. They sacked him seven times. They kept the Buffalo offense out of the end zone. The Bills were held to 214 yards of total offense. It goes without saying; you’re going to win a lot of games when you do that.
Mike Glennon’s numbers were not very good: 9-of-25 for 90 yards. He did complete two long passes to Vincent Jackson, one of which went for a touchdown. He also threw a TD pass to Tim Wright. But Glennon was also intercepted twice. It was not exactly an awe-inspiring performance. The Bucs only had 246 yards of offense. Fortunately, his performance took a back seat to that of the defense.
So after an 0-8 start, the Buccaneers have won four of their last five. The 49ers visit Ray-Jay next Sunday for the final home game of the season.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
This is what happens when you face one of the hottest teams in the league. After the Bucs had won three games in a row, the Panthers gave them a dose of reality on Sunday afternoon with a 27-6 thumping.
This game was a lot like the first one against Carolina in terms of Tampa Bay’s inability to get anything going. Yes, it was a game for much of the first half. But at the end of the day, the Panthers dominated in just about every way humanly possible. Mike Glennon looked a lot like a rookie again, losing a key fumble down by the goal line. The offense couldn’t score a touchdown; heck they only mustered 206 total yards. The defense couldn’t stop Cam Newton. Carolina had 426 total yards – more than doubled the Bucs’ output.
Carolina is simply the better team. I was not surprised that the Panthers gave them an old-fashioned butt kicking. The Bucs are once again in the running for the #1 draft pick, though they need a lot of help. I can’t even bring myself to start the “Fire Schiano!” chants again, at least for a week.
NEXT WEEK: the Buffalo Bills visit Ray-Jay.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images