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
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
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
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
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
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.