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
That didn’t take long. We have our first big headline of the season.
Roberto Aguayo, the kicker taken by the Buccaneers in the second round of last year’s draft, has been kicked off the team. The Bucs made the move after he missed a PAT and a field goal in last night’s preseason opener in Cincinnati.
I don’t think any of us fans are surprised by this. Aguayo has been scrutinized – and criticized – ever since Tampa Bay moved up in the draft to select the kicker in 2016. Last year, he missed nine field goals and two extra points. And while he did make some clutch kicks (the one to win the game at Carolina comes to mind) that was not nearly enough to save his job.
So now what? Don’t think the kicking competition is over. Currently, Nick Folk is the only kicker on the roster. But you can be sure the Buccaneers will bring in someone else to challenge him. I get the impression the team isn’t 100% sold on Folk, but we shall see.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
Remember all that optimism from the Monday night victory over the Bengals?
It’s all gone for now.
What we saw in the third – and arguably most important – preseason game on Saturday night was similar to what we saw all of last year. The Bucs played poorly on all sides of the ball.
On offense, Jameis Winston looked like a rookie. He struggled all night long, especially when the Browns blitzed him. He only threw for 90 yards and one ugly-looking interception. Don’t think for a moment that other teams aren’t going to follow the same blueprint once the season starts.
That brings up the second area of concern: the offensive line. The pass protection was awful, allowing Winston to be sacked four times (and Mike Glennon twice.) The running game wasn’t any better. Yes, Doug Martin did have a nice 19-yard touchdown run. But aside from that, it was slim pickings.
The defense wasn’t that great. Josh McCown (remember him?) threw two touchdown passes against his former team.
Special teams? How about that 53-yard punt return by Travis Benjamin? Yeah, he plays for Cleveland.
At least the Buccaneers cut down on the penalties, anyway.
So there wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about at Ray-Jay on Saturday night. Lovie Smith has two weeks to get all of this fixed in time for the opener against the Titans. I’m not even going to talk about the final preseason game; the fourth one is the most meaningless of all because the starters on both teams hardly ever play.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
Saturday night was the first time we got to see Jameis Winston take the field in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ uniform. He’s a rookie, and for the most part, he looked like one.
THE GOOD: Winston showed the ability push the ball down the field. His longest completion was a 40-yarder to Vincent Jackson. He looked really good on the touchdown drive late in the first half, which he finished off himself with an 8-yard run. Yes, it was against the Vikings’ second-string defense. But these days, we’ll take any bit of good news we can get. Winston finished 9 for 19 for 131 yards.
THE BAD: early on, Winston was way off the mark on his passes. He threw an ugly-looking interception right to a Minnesota defender, which led to a Vikes’ touchdown. He mishandled two snaps; the first one was snapped nearly over his head in the shotgun, the other was an exchange under center. Those mistakes need to be cleared up.
Besides Winston’s performance, I think the offensive line remains a serious concern. The left tackle didn’t put up much of a fight on the first sack of Winston in the first quarter. And on the right side, Demar Dotson left the game with a knee injury. It looks like he’ll be out for awhile. Defensively, the Bucs forced three turnovers. But Minnesota’s first-team offensive was impressive against Tampa Bay’s starters.
Next week, the Bucs host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
When a football team has a 2-10 record, there are many problems that can be singled out: quarterback play, no running game, bad play-calling, etc.
Then there are penalties – all those penalties.
In Sunday’s loss to the Bengals at Ray-Jay, the Buccaneers were penalized a whopping 13 times for 94 yards. Mind you, those are the infractions that were accepted by Cincinnati; it doesn’t count the penalties that are declined. And according to nflpenalties.com, the Bucs are tied for the most-penalized team in the NFL. Tampa Bay has been flagged 102 times, tied for most with Seattle (of all teams.) That’s an average of 8.5 penalties per game.
To me, penalties = lack of discipline.
As I mentioned in my last post, if we the fans slammed former head coach Greg Schiano for having an undisciplined football team, then we need to treat Lovie Smith the same way. Smith took the blame for that unacceptable 12-men-on-the-field penalty that cost the Bucs a chance to kick a game-winning field goal yesterday. While that was the most glaring mistake, penalties in the red zone cost the Bucs chances to score touchdowns against field goals (I’m looking at you, offensive line.) Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson are among the most penalized players in the NFL. Yep, they both play in the trenches.
There is plenty of yellow laundry to go around: offense, defense, special teams, you name it. Heck, these days the Bucs can’t seem to get a big play without having it called back.
Photo Courtesy: tbo.com
This was yet another game that was there for the taking for the Bucs.
It was sloppy (on both sides.) Yet there was Tampa Bay, appearing to be in position for a game-winning field goal with about 20 seconds left on the clock after Louis Murphy caught a pass down to the Cincinnati 20. The Bucs were rushing up to the line to run another play when everything stopped.
Bengals’ head coach Marvin Lewis wanted to challenge the previous play, claiming the Bucs had 12 men on the field. In the final two minutes of the game, all reviews come from upstairs. But what Lewis effectively did do, was give the replay official more time to consider taking another look. And upon further review, you guessed it: there was one too many Buccaneers on the field.
12 men on the field? That’s unacceptable. That’s bad coaching – plain and simple. Are you listening, Lovie Smith and Marcus Arroyo?
Instead of being in position for Patrick Murray to win the game, the Bucs were back to the 46. The next two plays went nowhere. Then on 4th and 20, our lovable quarterback, Josh McCown, threw a completion to Mike Evans that was well short of the first down. With only nine seconds left, why wouldn’t you just heave it toward the end zone at that point? Who cares if it gets picked off; you’re going to lose the game anyway.
14-13 was the final.
The Bucs had 13 penalties in this game. Same old story there. I don’t know the official stats, but Tampa Bay has to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. It is unbelievable how often this team shoots itself in the foot. If Greg Schiano deserved to be blasted for his players’ lack of discipline last year, then Smith is worthy of the same amount of criticism.
The defense only allowed 14 points to a high-powered Bengals’ offense, including three interceptions of Andy Dalton. Cincinnati had less than 300 yards of total offense, just like the Bucs. But Tampa still couldn’t win a game they had a chance to pull out at the end.
Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com
Happy Thanksgiving from Buccaneer Bri!
I hope everyone takes time out today to be thankful for family, friends and everything else that falls into the “giving thanks” category.
There is, of course, football to be played on this day. The Buccaneers are not part of it (Amen to that) but there is still plenty to watch on TV. The Bucs’ next game is Sunday at Ray-Jay against the Bengals.
Editor and Founder, Buccaneer Bri