Some Final Thoughts on the 2018 Bucs

 

As we say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to reflect on the Buccaneers season that ended with a last-place finish, and the firing of Dirk Koetter as head coach.

 

BEST MOMENTS: the first two games against the Saints and Eagles, both won by the Bucs.  Nobody outside of us diehard fans thought they win a shootout in the Superdome, then beat the defending champs in the home opener, both with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games.

 

WORST MOMENT: things started going downhill with the blowout loss to the Bears in Chicago, followed by another defeat in Atlanta after the bye week.  It was only then that the Bucs decided to fire Mike Smith as defensive coordinator.  Smith should’ve been let go before the season began, much less five games in. With Smith at the helm, his defense allowed at least 30 points in four of the first five games.

 

BEST OFFSEASON ACQUISTION: Jason Pierre-Paul.  What a steal this guy was.  He had 12.5 sacks on a team that, last year, hardly got any pressure on the quarterback. 

 

BIGGEST DRAFT DISAPPOINTMENT: Ronald Jones.  The Bucs drafted him in the second round.  He gained a grand total of 44 yards rushing.  He didn’t even play in more than half of the games, and not all of those were due to injury.  The Bucs clearly were not happy with him from the start of training camp, hence the lack of playing time.

 

GOOD RIDDANCE AWARD: DeSean Jackson.  He made it clear he wants out.  I say, get out of town.  This whiner was unhappy that Winston wasn’t getting him the ball.  He pulled off similar antics when he played for Philadelphia and Washington.

 

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK GOING FORWARD: Jameis Winston.  General Manager Jason Licht has made it clear that Winston will return in 2019.  We saw a lot of good Jameis, and a lot of bad Jameis: 19 TD passes, 14 INT’s and three lost fumbles.

 

INTERESTING FACT: on December 2nd, I saw the Bucs beat the Panthers at Ray-Jay.  That was the last time Tampa Bay tasted victory. 

 

Sure, there are other good and bad moments, but these are the ones that come to mind at first.  I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and go Bucs.

 

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Bucs Give Cowboys Early Christmas Present

‘Tis the season for giving.  So, it seems only appropriate that the Buccaneers gift-wrapped a win for the Cowboys today.

 

There were two key plays that stood out.  First, there was Jameis Winston getting blindsided, fumbling, and Jaylon Smith running it all the way back for a touchdown in the first quarter.  Then, it was another fumble by Winston in the third quarter on a botched handoff that Dallas recovered at the Tampa Bay 4.  Two plays later, the Cowboys were up by 14.

 

But there’s more.  On the ensuing drive, the Bucs had the ball for over nine minutes, ran 17 plays, and ended up with zero points.  On the second-to-last play of the drive, Tampa Bay had fourth down on the Cowboys 2-yard line, and got hit with a delay of game penalty.  How the heck does that happen in a situation like that?

 

These are the Bucs; anything’s possible.

 

Tampa Bay had nine penalties in all.  That’s coaching.  I’ve blasted previous head coaches for lack of discipline, and I won’t hold back this time, either.  I’m looking squarely at you, Dirk Koetter.  I hope you have only one game left as head coach in Tampa, despite an NFL Network report saying the opposite may be true.  Yes, Dallas was matching the Bucs penalty-for-penalty, but that’s not what I’m getting at.

 

And don’t give me any of this baloney about how the Bucs outgained the Cowboys in total yards.  You can put up 600 yards of offense every week, but it you keep self-destructing, it makes no difference.

 

So, we have ourselves another 10-loss season.  The season finale is next Sunday at Ray-Jay against the Falcons.  One more week of this torture.  Drink heavily, Bucs fans.

 

Photo courtesy: Associated Press

Winning vs. Tanking For the Bucs

So yet again, the Buccaneers are playing out the string at the end of a season.  They will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight year.

 

This brings up the debate that I always see: should the team just keep losing to get a better draft pick, or try to (gasp) win these last two games for a sense of pride?

 

Look – it’s pretty much a given that Dirk Koetter will be fired at the end of the season.  GM Jason Licht may walk the plank with him.  Then there’s the future of Jameis Winston.  And today brought the news that DeSean Jackson sold his house in Tampa.  All of that said, will a couple of losses – and moving a couple of spots in next year’s draft – really have that much of a difference?

 

I say no.  I want to see wins.

 

I’m a diehard fan of this team.  I have been for over 30 years.  I want them to win every single week.  Nearly three weeks ago, I was at Ray-Jay to see Tampa Bay beat Carolina.  The Bucs haven’t won another game since.  They’ll be in Dallas on Sunday, then host Atlanta (another disappointing team) in the finale.  It’s a losing season no matter what.  But I’d rather have 7-9 instead of 5-11. 

 

So, my message to the Bucs is this: don’t just roll over and play dead in AT&T Stadium on Sunday.  There are fans who want you to ‘tank.’  I’m not one of them.  There will be plenty of time to talk about the future direction of this team.  That can wait.  Until then, a chance to play ‘spoiler’ against the Cowboys awaits.

 

Photo courtesy: USA Today

 

Bri Goes To Tampa, and Bucs Win

On Sunday, I made my annual trip down to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs play in person.  I left the stadium with a big smile on my face, as Tampa Bay knocked off Carolina.

 

This one went according to script (you will smell the sarcasm shortly.)  The Bucs’ defense came into this game with three interceptions all year.  Well, some guy named Andrew Adams doubled that total, in just this game alone.  Throw in a fourth pick by Javien Elliot, four sacks, and you’ve got yourself a 24-17 upset.

 

I, and other Bucs fans, have been bashing this defense all year.  Well, over the past few games, we’ve seen some improvement, so I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due.  It was the defense that won this game.

 

Jameis Winston did not throw a pick, though he did have a couple of passes that made me say, “ay ay ay.”  Chris Godwin a had a big game, catching a key TD just before the half that I had a good look at.

 

This team is far from perfect.  The Bucs needed every one of those interceptions to win this game, because after they went ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter, the offense went to bed.  It felt like Carolina had a zillion chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the defense stepped up, even with so many starters injured.  Whatever Mark Duffner is doing with this group, it’s working.

 

Dear Bucs: see what happens when you don’t turn the ball over as often as the opponent?  You usually win.

 

The Saints come to Ray-Jay next Sunday.  We all remember that tremendous opener in the Superdome.  I’ll bet New Orleans hasn’t forgotten, either.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Finally Win Again!

Well, this was a nice change of pace.  Consider everything that happened in today’s game against the 49ers.

 

Jameis Winston threw for over 300 yards, two touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.

 

The Bucs sacked Nick Mullens four times.

 

The Buccaneers had two interceptions – their first takeaways in two months.  Yes, I said months.  And Tampa Bay didn’t turn it over at all.

 

Is it any coincidence that the Bucs actually won this game?

 

And please, don’t give me this, “well, they were playing the ‘Niners.”  Listen: the way the Bucs have been going, no game should ever be considered easy.

 

Oh, and Cairo Santos hasn’t missed a kick since joining Tampa a couple of weeks ago.  It’s only two games, but is it possible they’ve at least stabilized that problem spot?

 

Next up: the Panthers come to Ray-Jay.  Ever since beating Tampa, Carolina has lost three straight.  Throw in the fact that I’ll be at the game, and you’ve got a wee bit extra intrigue next Sunday afternoon.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard: Oh, No

It just keeps getting worse for the Buccaneers.

 

Tight end O.J. Howard, who was having an outstanding second season, is done for the rest of the year.  He injured his foot and ankle in the game against the Giants on Sunday.

 

O.J. had five touchdowns this year, and was averaging over 16 yards a catch.  Simply put, he was right up there with the most productive tight ends in the league.

 

The Bucs still have Cameron Brate, but this is another big loss for a team that’s seen its season go down the drain in a hurry.

 

In other news, Jameis Winston is once again the Bucs’ starting quarterback.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is back on the bench.  I mean, at this point, what the heck…

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

…and the Bucs Lose Again, in Familiar Fashion

Stop me if we’ve seen this act before from the 2018 Buccaneers.

 

They can’t stop anyone from scoring, consistently making other bad teams look like Super Bowl contenders.

 

They keep turning the ball over.

 

They can’t take the ball away.

 

They fall behind by a ridiculous amount of points, then rally in the second half to make things interesting, only to come up short in the end.

 

The game against the Giants was almost a mirror image of what we saw in Cincinnati.  This time, it was Ryan Fitzpatrick who got benched in the second half after throwing three interceptions – including a pick-six – and Jameis Winston coming in off the bench to lead the charge. 

 

Heck, Eli Manning only had one incompletion for the entire game.  One!  And I happened to be watching when it happened.  The receiver was open; it was a poorly-thrown ball.  The Buccaneers did sack him four times – got to give them credit for that.

 

Am I surprised the Bucs lost this game?  Of course not.  This is what Tampa Bay does best.  I’m sure they’ll make the 49ers look like superstars next Sunday.

 

But in two weeks, Buccaneer Bri is coming to Ray-Jay.  The excitement is building.

 

Photo courtesy: Associated Press