Tagged: Dirk Koetter

A Fitz-Magical Season Opener For the Bucs

One of the big questions coming into this season was: how would the Buccaneers start out with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games?

 

Wow.  Just wow.

 

Enter Mr. Fitzpatrick.  He was unbelievable in Sunday’s 48-40 stunner over the Saints in the Superdome.  How amazing was Fitz?  He was 21-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns.  He also ran for a score.  And, he made arguably the biggest play of the game by running for a first down late in the fourth quarter to help the Bucs run out the clock.

 

Remember last year how Winston couldn’t connect with DeSean Jackson on the deep ball?  Fitzpatrick had no problem.  The two connected for two long touchdowns.  Fitz also hit Mike Evans for a deep score.  We didn’t see much of that last year.  Evans and Jackson combined for almost 300 receiving yards in this one.

 

It’s worth mentioning that offensive coordinator Todd Monken – who called the plays during the preseason – was calling the shots in the opener.  Dear coach Koetter: please keep it this way.

 

This was not a perfect game by any means.  Mike Smith’s defense is still a sieve, allowing 40 points to Drew Brees and company.  The pass rush – even with all those off-season acquisitions – only had one sack.  The secondary had its struggles.  They did force two turnovers, including a fumble return for a TD, but Smith is lucky the offense bailed him out.

 

But this was all about “Fitz-Magic.”  I said it before, and will say it again: what if the Bucs win 2 out of 3 without Winston?  Well, they’ve got the first one.

 

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

 

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Getting Fired Up For the Bucs’ Season Opener

Let’s get it on, ladies and gentlemen.

On Sunday, the Buccaneers kick off the 2018 season in New Orleans against the Saints.

Remember last year when we had to wait half the year to play a division foe?  Well, we get one right out of the gate this time.

There are a lot of questions, as always.  How can the Bucs do with Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Jameis Winston for the first three games?  Can the defense actually stop anyone, unlike last year? (Vita Vea and Brent Grimes will not play in New Orleans.)  Will Todd Monken keep calling the plays, or will Dirk Koetter re-take control?

I would love to see an amazing turnaround this season to prove the doubters wrong.  No one outside of us diehards thinks Tampa Bay’s going to do anything this year.  That includes Vegas; trust me, I was just there last week, and saw the long odds we’re facing.  But beating the Saints in the opener would be a great start.

So come along for the ride, and I’ll have a few things to say about the game Sunday night, win or lose.

Go Bucs!

 

The Good – and Bad – From the Bucs’ Second Preseason Game

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

 

Bucs’ Training Camp is Here. Let’s Go!

Training camp for the Buccaneers is underway.  And so is Buccaneer Bri’s sixth year of writing this little blog about the team.

 

What should we be looking for as workouts begin?  Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick is our starting quarterback for the first three games because Jameis Winston is suspended.  The offensive and defensive lines have both been overhauled.  Dirk Koetter is starting the year on the hot seat (and in my opinion, so should defensive coordinator Mike Smith.)  And the team’s apparent new slogan is “wreak havoc.”

 

Expectations appear to be low.  That makes sense, since Tampa Bay went 5-11 last year and the other three teams in the NFC South all made the playoffs.

 

One thing will not change: my passion for this team.  Diehards stick with their team through good and bad.  So will I.  And I hope you will tag along for the ride that officially resumes September 9 in New Orleans.

 

Let’s prove the pundits wrong and shock the world.


Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Recapping the 2017 Bucs, and the Expectations That Weren’t Met

Before the season began, it was understandable why so many Bucs’ fans were expecting a playoff year in 2017.  After all, Tampa Bay did go 9-7, and added a lot of firepower on the offensive side of the ball.

The Buccaneers finished 5-11.

So what happened?  Was the bar set too high?  I don’t think so, based on the success of last season.  But let’s break down what turned out to be a disappointing season in Bucs’ country.

Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball.  This was the biggest area of concern on 2016, the feeling that Mike Smith’s unit couldn’t stop anybody.  Well, in 2017, they still couldn’t stop anybody.  Guess where the Buccaneers finished in total defense (based on total yards allowed per game.)  They were dead last.  When it came to stopping the other team on third down?  Yep, dead last.  Guess which team had the fewest sacks in the NFL?  That would be Tampa Bay.  The defense gave up nearly 24 points a game, which puts them in the bottom ten in that category.  Sometimes stats can be misleading.  These aren’t.

And yet, Dirk Koetter said Monday that he expects Mike Smith to return with him next season.  Right.

Offensively, this was supposed to be the year Jameis Winston made the jump to the next level.  He’s shown flashes of brilliance.  The biggest one that comes to mind was just a day ago, when amazingly he led his team 95 yards in the final two minutes (with no timeouts) to beat the eventual NFC South champions.  But the turnovers are a problem – a big problem.  He continues to force the ball into double coverage (even triple coverage.)  And the fumbles are just as big an issue.  He has to do a better job hanging on to the football.  Period.

Finally, there was the disaster known as special teams.  Nick Folk started the year as the team’s kicker, taking over for Roberto Aguayo.  Folk was just as bad.  He single-handedly cost the Bucs the game against the Patriots.  Patrick Murray returned and stabilized that position a bit, though he missed some important kicks down the stretch.  And we won’t soon forget the other mishaps: allowing 100+ kickoff returns in each of the last two games, the punt block that the Saints ran back for a score in the Superdome.

So where do the Bucs go from here?  I was hoping Mike Smith would get fired, but Koetter says that’s not going to happen.  Koetter also said he’s going to keep calling the plays.  Good Lord.  The Buccaneers have a top-ten pick in the draft.  They need help just about everywhere, but fixing the defense should be the first priority (though other areas aren’t far behind.)

Finally, I conclude with some thank yous.  Thank you Gene Deckerhoff, Dave Moore, TJ Rives and the rest of the people at the Buccaneers radio network for keeping me entertained all season long.  Thank you to bloggers like JoeBucsFan and Pewter Report for their excellent coverage during the season (and offseason.)  If you don’t follow them on Twitter, I strongly suggest you do.

But most of all, thank you to my readers who come here for my sometimes silly take on my favorite football team.  Without you, I would not be doing this.  I live in the greater Boston area, and not everyone here is a diehard Patriots fan.  I just wish there were more Buccaneers’ fans around here.  This blog will remain mostly dormant until the NFL Draft.  But if something big happens before then, I’ll offer my take here.

Happy New Year, God Bless, and Go Bucs!

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

No Defense, No Victory, Another 10-Loss Season

With another loss in the loss column, we’re getting closer to finding out what happens to Dirk Koetter and his cast of characters at the end of the season.

 

The Buccaneers lost again last night.  For the second week in a row, the score was 24-21.  For the second week in a row, the defense couldn’t stop anybody or get any pressure on the quarterback.  Oh, wait: that’s been the case all season.

 

I’ll be honest: I thought the Bucs would get blown out by the Falcons.  That didn’t happen.  Jameis Winston was outstanding, having arguably his best game of the season, even with his teammates dropping like flies due to injuries.   But Tampa Bay did what 4-10 teams do.  The fumble by Peyton Barber in the red zone was costly.  Twice the Falcons put the ball on the ground – including once in the Bucs’ end zone – and twice they couldn’t come up with a key takeaway.  As for Patrick Murray’s missed 54-yard FG attempt that would’ve forced overtime, well it’s been that kind of year.  At least Murray’s been light years ahead of guys named Aguayo or Folk.

 

So, what’s my big takeaway from this one?  Mike Smith’s defense still stinks.  Sure, he didn’t let Julio Jones go for 250 yards this time (but did you notice the times he was all alone in the middle of the field?)  So, Smith contained Jones, but he had no answer for Devonta Freeman.  If anyone deserves to get canned in two weeks, it’s Mike Smith.  Koetter may very well be done as well.  But if I had to pick one to get rid of, it’s the defensive coordinator.

 

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

A Disappointing, Chilly Day at Ray-Jay

On Sunday, I saw in person what I’ve been listening to on the internet and seeing on social media all season long: the Bucs are a bad team.  On Buccaneer Bri’s annual trip to Ray-Jay, the Bucs lost to the Lions, 24-21, on a field goal in the closing seconds.  But honestly, it shouldn’t have even been that close.

 

I saw with my own two eyes all of the reasons the Buccaneers are now 4-9.  They had five turnovers.  The tackling was terrible.  They have no pass rush.  None.  They never laid a finger on Matthew Stafford.  Heck, by my unofficial count, they only chased after him once….in the entire game…and that one play ended with a roughing the passer penalty.  The play-calling was questionable at times, as was the use of timeouts at the end of the game.

 

And yet, there they were, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

 

Do you think Mike Smith’s defense could do the job from there?  (insert sarcastic laugh here.)

 

Instead of me rambling on about how Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith are doomed after the season, I will dedicate the rest of this article to my personal Ray-Jay experience, since I only get down there once a year.

 

It was chilly.  No, really.  I brought my jacket and wore jeans, and I needed both.  The two ladies who came to the game with me were shivering as well as the game went on.  This was, by far, the coldest game I’ve ever been to in Tampa.  But it beat the snow that fell back home while I was gone.

 

I know Tampa always draws a lot of visiting team’s fans.  But geez, did the entire state of Michigan fly in for this game?  It felt like there were as many Lions’ fans there as Bucs’ fans.  Detroit fans deserve praise for traveling en masse to support their team.  But it’s depressing for Tampa Bay fans like me, and ownership needs to do something to change that.

 

This was also my first time sitting in the upper deck.  I don’t think I will do it again, and it had nothing to do with how far away I was from the action.  There was absolutely no vibe upstairs.  It was like being in a library for much of the game.  I didn’t feel like I was part of the festivities at all.  Oh well, I chose to sit upstairs because the area where I usually sit was just too expensive.  From now on, I think I will just spend the extra bucks and go back down to the lower bowl.

 

There was a nice couple from Detroit sitting behind us.  They left before halftime, after Stafford threw his second pick.  The guy said, “same old Lions!”  I overheard the lady he was with talk about going to the movies.  I hope they made it in time, if that’s in fact where they ended up.  For all I know, they may just have been sick of me yelling and trying to the enjoy the game in a morgue-like atmosphere, and they have just moved to another section.  Where they ended up is a question I will likely never know the answer to.

 

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  The Bucs have three more games left – all of them against division opponents – and in case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the division is really, really good.  I can easily see the Bucs finishing 4-12.  They’re on Monday Night Football next week against Atlanta.  Jon Gruden will be calling the game, then he’ll be honored at halftime.  If the ceremony is streamed live someplace, that may very well be the best part of the night.

 

Photo Courtesy: Me