Wait a minute – you mean the Buccaneers really do have a defense?
For at least one week, the answer is yes.
The Bucs throttled the Jets today at Ray-Jay, 15-10. Heading into this game, the defense had eight sacks all season. They sacked former Buc Josh McCown six times in this game.
Thank goodness for the stellar defense effort, because the offense was not in rhythm for much of the day. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 50% of his passes, and listening to the radio broadcast, I can’t tell you how many times legendary Tampa Bay broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff described one of Fitzpatrick’s passes as nearly being picked off. He did throw one INT, had another that was nullified by a penalty, but in the fourth quarter he threw the only TD pass of the game to Charles Sims.
Speaking of unusual things, Sims scored a touchdown. This is the same Charles Sims I’m not a big fan of. Oh well, I guess I have to give him props this time around.
Patrick Murray made all of his kicks. The Buccaneers have stabilized their kicking situation…..finally.
But consider this: the Bucs won this game with their backup QB, with no running game, poor offensive line play, and they were without their star receiver, Mike Evans. The highlight reel won’t be one that you’ll want to see over and over again, but we’ll take the wins anyway we can.
The next three games are on the road, starting with next Sunday in Miami. This was originally the season opener, but it got postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s time to get down to business.
One week from today, the Buccaneers kick off the 2017 season against the Dolphins in Miami. Here are some things I’ll be keeping an eye on as the games begin to count:
THE OFFENSE: by all accounts, the Bucs are loaded. Jameis Winston is starting his third year in Tampa Bay, and does he ever have weapons. The names are many: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Doug Martin (after he finishes serving his suspension.) On that last note, I want to see how they’re going to run the ball in Martin’s absence. It appears Jacquizz Rogers will be the featured back, along with Charles Sims (who I’m not a big fan of.)
Here are two things to look for: can Winston cut down on his mistakes? And perhaps an even bigger question: can this team finish off drives with touchdowns? It’s one thing to move the ball at will down the field, but if you can’t finish it off with six, that’s disappointing.
THE DEFENSE: this is the group I’m most concerned about. I know what you’re thinking – ‘well, they looked great during the preseason.’ The key word there is the last one. This is a unit that gave up a lot of big plays last year, especially in the passing game. The Buccaneers play in a loaded NFC South – with quarterbacks named Ryan, Brees and Newton. The tackling has to be better. The secondary has to be a lot better than it was in 2016. I think the Bucs are going to score a lot of points, but I can also see them giving up a lot as well. We’ll see.
SPECIAL TEAMS: the kicking game was solved during the preseason. Nick Folk is the guy now. Roberto Aguayo was cut, and is now unemployed. He signed on with the Bears, but they let him go, too. Given all of the issues in the kicking game last season, Folk will be under intense scrutiny, and will surely hear about it when he misses a kick.
It’s playoffs or bust for the Bucs. They went 9-7 last year and missed the postseason by one game. There’s only way 2017 will be considered a success is if Dirk Koetter’s guys are still playing football come January.
Until then, it’s on to Miami for the season opener….
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Broncos 27, Buccaneers 7
I’m getting tired of writing the same old stuff week after week. But there isn’t much else I can do these days.
The Buccaneers looked awful again on Sunday. More turnovers, more penalties, more poor play in the secondary. And naturally, when Denver had to bring in its backup rookie quarterback, Tampa Bay made him look like him look like a ten-year veteran.
Jameis Winston, after a scintillating performance in the opener against Atlanta, has looked terrible the past three weeks. Against the Broncos, he threw two more interceptions, both of which resulted in Denver touchdowns. By the way – did you notice who made both of those picks? Yes, that’s Aqib Talib, the former Buc. Getting back to Winston, he’s thrown seven INT’s in the last three games. The dreaded sophomore slump is in full effect right now.
The Bucs need Doug Martin back a.s.a.p. Charles Sims is awful. Aside from being unable to run the ball effectively, he screwed up again in the Denver game. What the heck was he thinking when he apparently tried to lateral the ball – and in the process cough it up – up on 3rd and 1 in Broncos’ territory? They should bench his ass.
The defense – particularly the safeties – continues to be a major disappointment. I’m looking at you, Chris Conte and Brent Grimes. Aside from their poor coverage, Grimes had an interception go right through his hands. He would’ve saved Tampa Bay three points. The defense did get some nice pressure on Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch in the first half, but were totally gassed in the second. Denver played keep-away, and the Bucs couldn’t get anything going on offense. The Broncos’ defense is very, very good.
And I’m not letting Dirk Koetter off the hook, either. Ultimately, this all lies on him. One decision in the fourth quarter stood out: you’re down by 20, midway thru the 4th quarter, you’re facing 4th and 6 on Denver’s side of field, and you punt? I don’t understand that. They still had a chance – albeit a very slim one – of pulling off a miraculous comeback. But by punting there, aren’t you essentially waving the white flag? Geez.
Next week, the Bucs play in Carolina on Monday Night Football. The whole country gets to see the frustration we Bucs fans have been dealing with for many, many years.
Photo Courtesy: AP
If the Buccaneers are going to be a contender this season, they cannot lose games like the one they squandered on Sunday against the Rams.
It was the home opener. They were playing a team that hadn’t scored a touchdown in its first two games. And yet again, the Bucs found a way to make the Rams look like an offensive juggernaut. Final score: Rams 37, Bucs 32.
This was a very frustrating defeat, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Here’s what bothered me, in no particular order:
Why don’t we start with the final drive of the game, which happened while most of the country was already tuned in to Sunday Night Football due to a weather delay. The Bucs got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining, two timeouts, and trailing by five. They marched down to the L.A. 15. But after completing that pass to Charles Sims, they inexplicably let a precious 15-20 seconds tick off the clock before running another play. Why wouldn’t you burn a timeout there? Tampa Bay easily could’ve had an extra two plays at the end. The game ended with the Bucs leaving a timeout on the board, and Jameis Winston lying on the ground about five yards from the goal line. Did the thought of throwing the ball into the end zone on the final play ever cross his mind? Once he crossed the line of scrimmage, he had no choice but to pull off a miraculous run. It didn’t happen. The clock management was awful, and Dirk Koetter and Winston need to take the blame for that.
The defense – particularly the secondary – looks as bad as it did under Lovie Smith, and that’s saying something. The number of big plays they’ve given up are mind-boggling. How do you let Case Keenum beat you deep? He did it on the opening drive, and he did it again in the fourth quarter. How do you let a team that scored nine points in two games…put up 37 against you in the home opener?
Then there’s Roberto Aguayo. You know, he’s the guy the Bucs drafted in the second round. He missed an extra point. Then he missed a field goal. That is unacceptable from any kicker, much less a second-rounder. That was four critical points the Bucs didn’t get. And the missed PAT forced the Bucs to go for two twice, and failed both times. Who knows how the game would’ve played out if Aguayo had just done his job?
Turnovers are still a problem. Winston threw a pick that wasn’t his fault (Sims should’ve caught it) and the Rams turned it into a touchdown. Then there was the strip-sack that L.A. returned 77 yards for another score.
We’re only three games in, but this was by far the most frustrating game of the season. And the next two games are against last year’s Super Bowl teams: home against Denver, at Carolina.
Ay ay ay….
Photo Courtesy: AP
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
After one week of the season, the Buccaneers are alone in first place in the NFL South.
Let that sink in for a moment.
The Bucs played a great game in beating the Falcons in Atlanta, 31-24. The Saints lost. So did the Panthers on Thursday night.
There was so much to like about this game. Let’s start with Jameis Winston, who threw four touchdown passes to four different receivers. It was a great way to bounce back from an early interception that led to a Falcons’ touchdown. Mike Evans and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins made gorgeous catches in the end zone. And then there was the short toss to Charles Sims, who broke about four tackles on his way to pay dirt. It was an amazing individual effort. Brandon Myers caught the other TD; who saw that one coming?
The defense was…..well, good enough to win. They sacked Matt Ryan three times. The real star was Kwon Alexander, who had 17 tackles to go with one of those sacks. And late in the game – when you were starting to have flashbacks to the Washington debacle from last season – the defense came up with the stop it needed.
Roberto Aguayo made all five of his kicks. After what he went through in the first half of the preseason, that deserves a mention.
It would’ve been nice to see more from the running game. Doug Martin and company struggled throughout, though Martin did have a couple of big runs in the fourth quarter to help bleed the clock.
Congrats, Dirk Koetter. You’re 1-0 as an NFL head coach.
The bottom line: Tampa Bay beat a division opponent on the road. That in itself is a big deal.
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com
As dress rehearsals go, that was pretty darn good. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now.
The Buccaneers excelled in their third preseason game against the Browns on Friday night, winning 30-13 at Ray-Jay.
The offense didn’t just move the ball; they pushed it down the field. Jameis Winston threw for 259 yards and two TD’s while he was in there. Mike Evans went over the century mark.
The running game struggled a bit. I’m hoping that won’t be the case two weeks from now. Doug Martin and Charles Sims can be quite the tandem if they both stay healthy and be productive.
The defense had eight sacks, including putting Robert Griffin III on his back five times. Is it plausible that the Bucs could actually have a fierce pass rush this season? That would be a nice change of pace. It was a rough night, however, for cornerback Brent Grimes, who got burned twice by Josh Gordon.
But perhaps the biggest reason to exhale was the play of the special teams. Roberto Aguayo – who’s taken a lot of heat to the extent that he was getting booed during training camp – was perfect. Six kicks – three field goals and three PAT’s – and he made them all. Praise the Lord. And his performance may have overshadowed that awesome punt return for a touchdown by Adam Humphries. I mean, how often do we see a Buccaneer return a kick of any kind to the house?
It hasn’t happened too often over the years, my friends.
Overall, there was a lot more good than bad in this game. The last preseason game is generally the most meaningless of them all, but we’ll see what develops. Only two weeks to go until Tampa Bay kicks things off for real in the Dome in Atlanta.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images