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
If you believe the team’s apparent new slogan, then yes.
The Buccaneers just released a new set of promo videos – one of which features Gerald McCoy – and it looks like “wreak havoc” is what we need to get used to this season. No more “Siege the Day.” No more “It’s a Bucs Life.” Apparently, the banners outside Ray-Jay have all been changed to reflect as well.
I like the change. On social media, the post is accompanied by the words, “keep doubting us.” That’s a reference to the fact that no one expects the Bucs to do much in 2018.
Oh, how I wish the Pewter Pirates prove the “pundits” wrong…
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ defensive line – you know, the one that couldn’t rush the quarterback – is going to look a lot different next season. And on paper, it actually looks impressive.
The biggest move came today, when the Bucs got Jason-Pierre Paul from the Giants. Throw in Vinny Curry and Beau Allen, and with Gerald McCoy already in the mix, you’ve got a unit that looks sure to get more than the 22 sacks Tampa Bay got all of last season. Robert Ayers and Clinton McDonald are both gone.
As I mentioned, this all looks intriguing on paper. Will any of it matter as long as Mike Smith is still the knucklehead running the defense? And lest we forget how awful the secondary was last year. Part of that was a lack of a pass rush, but part of it was the generally-awful play of the corners and safeties.
And just to get caught up on all-things-Buccaneers, offensive stars Mike Evans and Cameron Brate both have new deals. They also signed a new center – Ryan Jensen – who will hopefully help the offensive line.
But Jason Licht is opening his checkbook, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not often the Bucs go on spending spree like this.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
In my season preview a couple of weeks ago, I opined that the Bucs’ defense was the unit I was most concerned about heading into 2017. They showed some promise against Chicago in the opener.
So much for that.
The Buccaneers’ leaky, unable-to-make-a-tackle secondary showed up again in Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Vikings. This is the third straight time they’ve made Case Keenum look like a superstar (the last two were when he was with the Rams.) And while the secondary kept springing leaks, the pass rush was nowhere to be seen. Yes, the two go hand in hand more often than not.
The offense doesn’t get any good grades, either. Jameis Winston was picked off three times – once in the end zone, the other near the goal line when he threw into triple coverage. Hey Jameis: it’s not a good idea to throw the ball to an area where there are three purple-clad defenders lurking. You tend to do this a lot, and I’m begging you to stop.
Tampa Bay only had 26 yards rushing. That’s not going to cut it, either. Part of that, of course, is being forced to throw because the Bucs were playing from behind all day.
If this loss wasn’t bad enough, the injuries are piling up. Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes didn’t play. Perhaps the biggest loss was Lavonte David, who got hurt in the fourth quarter and could be out for a while. Noah Spence and Gerald McCoy are also banged up. Who’s going to step it up on defense? Heck, who’s going to play defense at this point?
The Bucs host the Giants next Sunday.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
The third preseason game is normally the one when most of the starters play well into the second half. For this reason, it is considered a ‘dress rehearsal’ of sorts to get ready for the season.
But Saturday night at Ray-Jay, several key Buccaneers didn’t see any action: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander, just to name a handful. Tampa Bay lost to Cleveland, 13-9, and if you look at some of the fan posts on the Bucs’ official Facebook page, you’d think the sky is falling.
This is why preseason games are so hard to judge, and why many people would argue they’re pointless. With so many of your important players on the sidelines, it’s hard to say, “well, this would’ve happened….” if those players were on the field. And if you really want another meaningless game, I present the preseason finale against Washington on Thursday night as Exhibit A.
If there was something to take away from this game, it was the Bucs’ inability to finish off drives in the red zone – again. Three field goals just won’t cut it two weeks from now in Miami.
Just get me through to the season opener at Hard Rock Stadium on September 10th.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After watching Tuesday night’s premiere of “Hard Knocks” on HBO featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I can’t wait for the rest of the season.
It was great to see the Bucs’ training camp through the lenses of NFL Films. Those people do an outstanding job during football season every year. There were the tense moments, like Dirk Koetter chewing out Jameis Winston after throwing a pick. Then, there were the personal, family stories of players like Winston and Gerald McCoy.
And then, there were the lighter moments. I got a chuckle out of Winston answering the question about whether he wanted extra Marriott points if he didn’t let housekeeping into the room. And then there were the rookies singing in front of the rest of the crowd. Chris Godwin, Riley Bullough, Antony Auclair – my goodness. And poor Maurice Fleming and Justin Evans – getting run off stage, with Doug Martin serving as a Gong Show host of sorts.
It looks like next week’s episode will focus, in part, on the kicking battle between Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk. It will likely also include great shots from the preseason opener in Cincinnati. I don’t know how the rest of the football universe is enjoying Hard Knocks so far, but I definitely am.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Well, that was worth staying up late for a Bucs’ game that was actually on TV.
This was a game that neither team seemed to want. But in the end, there was beleaguered kicker Roberto Aguayo, who had already missed two kicks earlier in the game, standing out there on the field with :03 left on the clock and the outcome resting on his right foot.
And wouldn’t you know – he nailed it.
The Bucs picked up an important win over a division rival, beating the Panthers, 17-14.
There is so much to dissect. Just look at the last drive alone. Dirk Koetter’s play-calling continues to bewilder me. The Bucs got the ball back with just under 2:00 remaining, and Koetter called two straight running plays, the second of which resulted in the running back going out of bounds, allowing Carolina to save a timeout. Then on the 3rd down, the Bucs threw it to pick up a first down, and suddenly they’re not just trying to milk the clock anymore. They marched down the field, and caught a break when the Panthers were called for a personal foul facemask. They caught another break when the refs said Vincent Jackson went out of bounds after making a catch, when the replay showed otherwise. That stopped the clock when it otherwise would’ve kept running. It all resulted in Aguayo’s redemption kick – right down the middle – that set off a late-night celebration in my apartment.
Don’t worry – I kept it down. There are a lot of older people in my building who likely went to bed after Big Papi’s career earlier in the night.
All I heard about going into this game was Carolina not having Cam Newton and running back Jonathan Stewart. Well, the Bucs didn’t have running back Doug Martin, and were without three-quarters of their starting defensive front: Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Robert Ayers.
Derek Anderson had beaten the Bucs twice before. It looked like he might do it again, but he made a critical mistake when Brent Grimes picked him off in the end zone late in the fourth quarter, one of four Tampa Bay takeaways.
As I said, this game was far from perfect. Jameis Winston is still making too many dumb decisions. Aguayo gives me a heart attack every time he steps on the field. You’d think the Buccaneers would decide to cover Greg Olsen every now and then. They’re still committing too many costly penalties and crucial times – whether it’s a 3rd and short situation, or the other team is punting it away and they decide it’s a good idea to knock the punter down to the ground right after he kicks it.
I mentioned Koetter’s play-calling at the end. What about that 3rd down call in the fourth quarter – a running play? The next play: Aguayo – wide left.
One thing that was great to see was the performance of Jacquizz Rogers, who rushed for over 100 yards, much of it in the first half. The Buccaneers put Charles Sims on IR earlier in the day (he’s been lousy anyway) so it was nice to have a running game in the absence of Doug Martin.
The Bucs are now 2-3, with both wins coming on the road against division opponents. They have their bye week next week, which gives them a chance to get healthy. Thank goodness.
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com