Well, you can drop all that talk of, “what if the Bucs run the table and make the playoffs…”
There was no repeat of the magic in the Superdome from the opener. Tampa Bay played well in the first half against New Orleans. But then, just like last week when I was at Ray-Jay, the offense went to bed in the second half (for what it’s worth, I also went to bed before the Saints mounted their comeback, but anyway…)
The game turned in the third quarter when the Saints blocked a punt, and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans scored 25 straight points. The Bucs couldn’t muster any offense after the Saints took the lead. Most of the yards they got were in “garbage time” at the very end.
The end result: Saints 28, Bucs 14.
Cairo Santos missed two field goals. He hadn’t missed since joining the Bucs a fee weeks ago. Yes, we’re back to this problem again.
The Buccaneers had 10 penalties in this game. That, too, is a problem. So is the offensive line and the lack of running game. That’s been an issue all year.
Well, it was a fun two-game streak while it lasted. The best the Bucs can do now is finish at .500, and that would mean beating Baltimore, Dallas and Atlanta. Dirk Koetter’s grave is already dug.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
Here’s how misleading stats can be. The numbers will tell you that Tampa Bay had almost 500 yards of offense against Washington. Based on that, the Bucs still have one of the best offenses in the league. But what that number doesn’t tell you, is how much this team self-destructs week in and week out. Two interceptions, two lost fumbles, two (more) missed field goals. And most of that happened in Redskins’ territory.
Oh, and Dirk Koetter acknowledged after the game that this was the first time all year that’s he’s called the plays. The Bucs scored three points in this game. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Heck, the defense had what was arguably its best game of the season. The Redskins got less than 300 yards of offense and only scored 16 points. Everything’s relative, of course. However, this unit still hasn’t forced a takeaway since temperatures were in the mid-70’s around here in greater Boston.
So now what? Do they go back to Jameis Winston at quarterback? Ryan Fitzpatrick has been making just as many as mistakes over the past couple of games. I ripped Winston for bad decisions, and I’m not going to let Fitzmagic off the hook now, either. Tampa Bay has 25 turnovers this season. You guessed it: that’s worst in the NFL.
Keep drinking, Bucs fans. No amount of alcohol can completely satisfy us at this point.
Photo courtesy: Washington Redskins
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
Well, we’ve seen this movie too many times before, haven’t we.
You know what I mean. The Bucs give up way too many points, then rally in the second half to make the score look interesting, only to fall in the end. That was the case on Sunday in Carolina.
I only stayed awake for the first half of this game. I saw all I needed to see. Wide open Carolina receivers. A defense that gets hardly any pressure on the quarterback. A secondary that can’t cover anyone or tackle anyone. The penalty flags piling up against the team in the white jerseys.
This was another embarrassing effort, one which Dirk Koetter seems to have no answer for. And don’t even get me started on the play that sums it all up: why you would call a fake punt – from deep in your own territory – when you’re trailing by 21 points? At one point does the head coach have to take the blame for this crap? The answer, in my opinion, is every single game. Barring a miraculous second half of the season, Koetter is gone at the end of the year.
I will have more to say about the first half of the season when I hand out my midseason grades. But I close with this: in the first eight games, the Bucs have allowed at least 30 points in six of them. In three of them, they’ve given up at least 40. Mike Smith got canned a couple of weeks ago. That was only the beginning.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
Fitzmagic is getting another shot in Tampa Bay.
On Monday, head coach Dirk Koetter announced Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start next Sunday against the Panthers over Jameis Winston, who was benched after a dismal performance against Cincinnati.
Winston has thrown ten interceptions in four games, including four awful picks against Cincinnati. The Bucs, believe it or not, actually have the top-ranked offense in the NFL in terms of total yards, and are getting it done primarily through the air. But, they are minus-13 in the turnover department, and their scoring defense is still dead last in the league. Enough said.
I can hear all the Winston supporters out there, saying Fitzpatrick is not the long-term solution. You know what? I agree with that. But he gives Tampa Bay a better chance to win right now compared to the nightmare that Winston has become.
If the Bucs keep losing, you can expect a top-to-bottom house-cleaning at the end of the season. It feels crazy saying that with nine games still to go, but that possibility becomes more real with each defeat.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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
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.