We’re about to get our first look at the 2019 Buccaneers. The team holds its first workout of training camp on Friday.
There’ve been a lot of changes since the end of last season. That comes with the territory of eleven straight seasons without making the playoffs. Bruce Arians is now in charge. Gerald McCoy is gone – to a division rival no less. Jason Pierre-Paul is out of commission for a while – possibly the entire season. Enter Ndamukong Suh, and first-round pick Devin White, who Tampa Bay hopes will be the next Derrick Brooks. And under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Bucs will be moving to a 3-4 defense.
On offense, this has to be Jameis Winston’s breakout season, otherwise he won’t be around much longer. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are back from injuries. The running game is still in flux, with Peyton Barber apparently in the starting role for now. Can Ronald Jones do…well, anything? Can the offensive line do…well, anything?
On special teams, there’s a kicking competition between Cairo Santos and rookie Matt Gay. As I often say on social media, can we just get someone who can make a kick? And while we’re at it, how about a special teams’ touchdown or ten?
One thing we already know: Arians is a soundbite machine. Watch any of his news conferences and you’ll see what I mean.
And for me, as I unofficially begin my seventh season of this blog, I thank you for your continued support. Let’s shock the world. Go Bucs.
The Bucs hope they’ve found Gerald McCoy’s replacement.
On Thursday, they officially signed Ndamukong Suh. This had been reported by various outlets a couple of days ago, but I like to wait until things like this are confirmed (must be my TV news background.)
Suh has been around the league for a while. Last year, he was on a Rams team that went to the Super Bowl. He spent the early part of his career in Detroit.
This guy is solid; there’s no doubt about that. But he also comes with baggage – i.e. doing things like stepping on a player during a game. If he can get rid of that stuff, then okay. At the very list, he needs to put numbers similar those put up by McCoy did.
On Monday night, the Buccaneers released Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, a six-time Pro-Bowler, a leader on the defensive line, and a guy who’s done so much for the local community.
Why did this happen? The same reason a lot of moves like this happen: money.
I love how the team officially tells us fans about the news. They say they have “mutually parted ways” with the player in question. Oh, please. And then there’s Twitter – when McCoy was trending, saying his release was a “surprise.” Clearly, the Twitter universe is not a Bucs fan. We diehards have known for a long time that this move was probably coming.
Thanks for the memories, #93. I’m sure you’ll taste the playoffs with another team, like so many other former Bucs have.
Last week, Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was involved in a car accident in Florida, and suffered a neck injury.
Now, we get word from BSPN that his injury may be so bad that J.P.P. may miss most, if not all, of the entire 2019 season. NFL Network is reporting that he will get a second opinion on his injury, and there is hope that it may heal on its own.
But if the former is indeed true, Tampa Bay would be losing a guy who led the team with 12.5 sacks last year. And then, there’s the drama surrounding the future of Gerald McCoy (which I’ve been following but waiting to write about until we find out the ‘end result’ if you know what I mean.)
Bottom line: fixing the Buccaneers’ awful defense could be a lot more challenging than it already is. Stay tuned.
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.
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…
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.
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 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.
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.