Well, we’ve been down this road before, haven’t we?
A new kicker comes to Tampa, can’t make his fair share of kicks, and gets booted. It happened again on Monday. Chandler Catanzaro, who missed two more kicks against the Redskins on Sunday, is now out of a job.
So who’s the new Bucs’ kicker now? His name is Cairo Santos, signed by the team right after Catanzaro was waived. Santos most recently played for the Rams. He’s made 84% of his kicks during his career. All I ask is that he answer the question I’ve been asking for years:
Can we please get someone who can make a kick?!
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
We’re halfway through the 2018 season, and the Buccaneers sit at 3-5, in the cellar of the NFC South. So, it’s time to hand out some midseason grades.
I’m starting here, because this is the no-brainer. What other grade can I possibly give a unit that’s giving up 34 points a game, can’t cover, can’t tackle, can’t take the ball away, etc. This was the worst defense in the league last year. There has been no improvement, with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, who has eight sacks. Mike Smith got canned, and he may just the first person to lose his job over this pathetic unit.
Here’s the crazy thing about this team. As bad as the defense is, they’re ranked second in the NFL in terms of total yards per game, and they’re averaging 28 points a game. And yet, they’re doing almost all of it through the air – no running game to speak of. Why isn’t this grade higher? Oh, those turnovers…all 21 of them. The Bucs are -15 in turnover ratio. If they’re going to make a second-half run, the mistakes need to go down dramatically.
I mentioned Mike Smith finally getting canned for his awful defense. But geez, doesn’t Dirk Koetter deserve some of the blame for his team’s performance? You’d better believe he does. Tampa Bay is one of the ten most-penalized teams in the league. A lot of that is attributed to coaching. And what kind of coach calls for a fake punt from deep his own territory, trailing by 21 points? If the Bucs don’t get hot down the stretch, it’s adios, Dirk.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Chandler Catanzaro has missed four extra points this season. That’s four too many. He’s 10-of-12 on field goal attempts, which actually isn’t that bad, but it just feels that way. Remember how shocked we all were when he hit from 59 yards out to beat the Browns in overtime? As for punt returns, why isn’t DeSean Jackson getting more touches? He’s an explosive player. Remember that punt return for a TD against Pittsburgh that was called back? Yes, I know it didn’t count, but this guy has the knack to make big plays on special teams, and I don’t understand why he’s not getting more touches.
The Bucs face the Redskins on Sunday at Ray-Jay.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
I’ve heard it all about Jameis Winston being the future of the franchise, etc.
Well, this Tampa Bay fan has had enough of the future.
After a dreadful, four-interception performance against the Bengals on Sunday, Dirk Koetter finally put Jameis Winston on the bench. If coach is smart – and that’s up for debate – he’ll keep the former #1 overall pick there for a while.
Winston’s four picks weren’t just bad, they were awful. The passes were literally thrown right into the hands of Cincinnati defenders, the last one turning into a pick-six that finally led to Koetter to make the move. Winston has now thrown ten interceptions in four games. Ten. I want to know why Koetter waited so long to bench Winston. Why not put Ryan Fitzpatrick in to start the second half? That didn’t happen. After the change was made, Fitzmagic returned, and he rallied his team from an 18-point deficit.
There’s more blame to go around, of course, so let’s spread it. Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point for the third straight game. How the heck is he still on this team? Every time he screws up, it changes the whole mindset. Do not let the Bucs’ two-point conversion that tied the game mean that Catanzaro is off the hook.
In the first half, the defense was getting shredded (again.) But they held the Bengals scoreless for over 28 minutes of the second half. Ah, but when Tampa Bay tied the game with just over a minute ago, the defense let Andy Dalton march his team into field goal range. And I still don’t know why the Bucs were flagged for delay of game after a Cincy completion with about 10 seconds left. In the end, it looks like it didn’t matter, because the kick that won the game would’ve been good even from five yards further back.
Coach Koetter, I was able to watch nearly the entire game, after working an overnight shift nonetheless. Your seat is not just hot, it’s flame-broiled. Do us fans a favor, and give Fitzpatrick the start in Carolina next Sunday. Fitz is not the long-term solution; no one is disputing that. But if you want the best chance to win, Fitz needs to be the guy against the Panthers.
Photo Courtesy: Pewter Report
Well, where do we begin to dissect this one?
There is so much that happened in this wacky game. But for now, let’s focus on the guy who, in the words of Gene Deckerhoff, puts “toe to leather”: Chandler Catanzaro.
For the second game in a row, he missed an extra point that came back to haunt the Bucs. Then, with the game tied, he had a chance to it with a 40-yarder at the end of regulation. Nope – wide right.
Fast-forward to late in overtime. There was Catanzaro, sent back on to the field with less than two minutes remaining in OT. It was a 59-yard attempt. The ball starts out heading toward the right upright, then curves back in. And it had the distance.
Ballgame. My goodness.
Remember when the Bucs had Matt Bryant? Sure – that guy was money. Every other kicker Tampa Bay has had, with the exception of a brief flash of brilliance from Connor Barth, had been terrible. Was this remarkable kick in overtime enough to save his job? Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before I rip Mike Smith to shreds again, let’s start off with the final play of the game.
On one hand, it seems crazy: with the ball at the Atlanta 20, they call a play featuring a couple of laterals, that could’ve ended with DeSean Jackson running into the end zone with no time on the clock. D-Jax never caught the lateral from Mike Evans, so it was a moot point. Had Jackson caught it, would he have scored? He says he would have. But after watching the play over and over, there were three Falcons closing in on him. It would’ve been VERY close.
Now, here’s my beef: you had the ball at the 20. You have guys like Evans, D-Jax, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard on your team. This wasn’t a 50-yard Hail Mary. Why wouldn’t you take a shot in the end zone with those stud receivers/tight ends? I don’t understand that.
Let’s talk about Jameis Winston’s first start. He had four touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions: an overthrown deep ball, and a pass that ricocheted off a defender in the end zone. You can’t have those kinds of plays.
Then there’s the kicking game, featuring a missed PAT by Chandler Catanzaro. That was huge, because when the Bucs cut the lead to 24-22 early in the fourth, they had to go for two to try to tie the game. They failed.
And now, let’s get to that so-called “defensive coordinator” with a last name of Smith. This was the fourth time already that his unit has allowed at least 30 points. And again, the opposition racked up over 400 yards of offense, with wide open receivers all over the field. And lest we forget that final 26 seconds of the first half when the Bucs had cut the lead to 21-13. Smith’s defense allowed the Falcons to easily get into field goal range to add three points before going to the locker room.
And Koetter refuses to fire him. Well, if this keeps up, Koetter will also be gone at the end of the season.
There is still time to right this ship. There are still eleven games remaining. But based on the unwillingness of Tampa Bay to make changes on the defensive side of the ball, this has the potential to get very ugly, very quickly. I hope I’m wrong.
This week, I start a new feature called “Bucs Extra.” It will focus primarily on other elements of the game that might otherwise go unnoticed.
What a little pass rush can do
The Buccaneers sacked Nick Foles three times in this game, and disrupted him on many other plays. Remember when Tampa Bay had no pass rush whatsoever? Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kwon Alexander all sacked the Super Bowl MVP. That helped ease the pressure a bit on an injury-plagued secondary. Ryan Smith also had a strong game. The defense allowed over 400 yards for the second week in a row, but they made enough key plays to be a factor.
Struggling running game
As great as the offense has been, the Bucs have struggled to get much of a running game going through two weeks. 43 yards rushing isn’t going to cut it. Second-round pick Ronald Jones has been a healthy scratch for each of the first two games. What’s up with that? He did struggle in the preseason, but I wonder if there’s more we don’t know.
Can this issue please go away someday? Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point that really could’ve come back to haunt the Bucs. The PAT needs to be automatic; end of story. He also missed a FG last week in New Orleans. Ever since Connor Barth’s basketball injury way back in the day, our kicking situation has been a mess.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Here are some quick thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason victory over the Titans Saturday night.
On the plus side, the headline is Jameis Winston. He played the entire second quarter, and was sizzling. He even showed an ability to connect on the deep ball, something that was sorely missing last year. He is still making a couple of “what the heck were you thinking?” throws, but overall there was more good than bad in Nashville.
Staying with the passing game, the Buccaneers appear to have a formidable group of wide receivers. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, etc. all look strong in the early going.
Chandler Catanzaro was perfect on all of his kicks. Amen.
Now for the negative: the penalties, oh those penalties. Tampa Bay was sloppy in this department, and many of the flags were thrown while the first-teamers were on the field. Hey coach: clean this up immediately.
After playing well against Miami, Ryan Fitzpatrick was…well, “meh.” Lest we forget….he’s the starter for the first three games.
For all the hype surrounding the revamped defense, they didn’t put much pressure on the quarterback. They also missed some tackles. Sound familiar?
If you watch any preseason game, watch the next one against the Lions on Friday night. The third game is the so-called “dress rehearsal” in which the starters play the longest. Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers