Here are some thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason opener against the Dolphins. Tampa Bay won, 26-24. But the final score isn’t that important in games like this.
*Ryan Fitzpatrick looked sharp. Considering he’s going to be starting quarterback to start the season, this is a good thing.
*Jameis Winston took over for Fitz. Winston was also solid, that is, until the starting offensive line came out and nearly got his head taken off. He’s suspended for the first three games of the season, but can play in the preseason. Ryan Griffin also played very, very well. It was a good night for all of the quarterbacks.
*It looks like Peyton Barber may have the inside track to be the starting running back. He scored Tampa Bay’s first touchdown, and looked impressive in limited action. Ronald Jones – a.k.a. “RoJo” – also ran one into the end zone. But, he also dropped a pass that was right in his hands. From what I’ve read on social media, this has been a problem in training camp.
Speaking of problems, we STILL can’t get a reliable placekicker. Chandler Catanzaro made two field goals, including the game-winner in the final minute, but he missed another FG, and an extra point. He needs to be more consistent than that. My goodness.
As for the first-team defense, it’s hard to tell. The first-teamers did not allow a touchdown. It was a rough performance for Ryan Smith, though.
All in all, there was more good than bad. We like that around here.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
Training camp for the Buccaneers is underway. And so is Buccaneer Bri’s sixth year of writing this little blog about the team.
What should we be looking for as workouts begin? Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick is our starting quarterback for the first three games because Jameis Winston is suspended. The offensive and defensive lines have both been overhauled. Dirk Koetter is starting the year on the hot seat (and in my opinion, so should defensive coordinator Mike Smith.) And the team’s apparent new slogan is “wreak havoc.”
Expectations appear to be low. That makes sense, since Tampa Bay went 5-11 last year and the other three teams in the NFC South all made the playoffs.
One thing will not change: my passion for this team. Diehards stick with their team through good and bad. So will I. And I hope you will tag along for the ride that officially resumes September 9 in New Orleans.
Let’s prove the pundits wrong and shock the world.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The other shoe has dropped on Jameis Winston.
What had been rumored for about a week became official Thursday afternoon: he’s been suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. For those who don’t know, this all stems from the alleged groping of an Uber driver two years ago.
I read Winston’s statement. He apologizes to the driver of that Uber. One thing he doesn’t say, is that he’s going to appeal, at least at the time of this writing. And a statement released by the team a short time later also makes no mention of an appeal. I think that’s telling. So, Ryan Fitzpatrick will likely be the starter to open the season against three playoff teams from a year ago, including the Super Bowl champion Eagles.
When the Bucs drafted Winston, the one thing I kept telling myself was: he has to stay out of trouble off the field. Clearly, he did not. And now, his reputation is marred even more so than the issues he had at Florida State. What does his future hold in Tampa? I think he’s okay, for now. But what if the Buccaneers surprise everyone and get off to a hot start? What if when Winston returns to action, he still doesn’t perform like a #1 overall pick should on the field? Those are questions that will be answered down the road.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images
The Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule is now out. Now it’s time to dissect it, decide which games are most winnable, and for out-of-town fans like me, think about which game to head south to see.
My first thought after taking a look at this: ouch! What a tough five-game stretch to open with. The Bucs face four playoff teams, starting with the division champion Saints in the Superdome, followed by the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the home opener. Then, they get the Steelers on a Monday night. How does a Bucs’ team that went 5-11 last season end up on MNF? Oh, that’s right, they’re playing the Steelers, which will give the idiots at BSPN something to crow about while at the same time dissing Jameis Winston, even if Winston gets off to a good start.
Tampa Bay goes to Chicago in September. It sure beats December. But Baltimore in mid-December could be interesting to say the least.
There is a stretch of three straight home games in late November/early December. And wouldn’t it be interesting if the finale against the dirty birds from Atlanta is meaningful? One can dream, anyway.
Here’s the schedule:
Sept. 9 — @ New Orleans
Sep. 16 — PHILADELPHIA
Sept. 24 — PITTSBURGH (Monday)
Sept. 30 — @ Chicago
Oct. 14 — @ Atlanta
Oct. 21 – CLEVELAND
Oct. 28 — @ Cincinnati
Nov. 4 — @ Carolina
Nov. 11 – WASHINGTON
Nov. 18 @ NY Giants
Nov. 25 – SAN FRANCISCO
Dec. 2 – CAROLINA
Dec. 9 – NEW ORLEANS
Dec. 16 — @ Baltimore
Dec. 23 — @ Dallas
Dec. 30 – ATLANTA
Before the season began, it was understandable why so many Bucs’ fans were expecting a playoff year in 2017. After all, Tampa Bay did go 9-7, and added a lot of firepower on the offensive side of the ball.
The Buccaneers finished 5-11.
So what happened? Was the bar set too high? I don’t think so, based on the success of last season. But let’s break down what turned out to be a disappointing season in Bucs’ country.
Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball. This was the biggest area of concern on 2016, the feeling that Mike Smith’s unit couldn’t stop anybody. Well, in 2017, they still couldn’t stop anybody. Guess where the Buccaneers finished in total defense (based on total yards allowed per game.) They were dead last. When it came to stopping the other team on third down? Yep, dead last. Guess which team had the fewest sacks in the NFL? That would be Tampa Bay. The defense gave up nearly 24 points a game, which puts them in the bottom ten in that category. Sometimes stats can be misleading. These aren’t.
And yet, Dirk Koetter said Monday that he expects Mike Smith to return with him next season. Right.
Offensively, this was supposed to be the year Jameis Winston made the jump to the next level. He’s shown flashes of brilliance. The biggest one that comes to mind was just a day ago, when amazingly he led his team 95 yards in the final two minutes (with no timeouts) to beat the eventual NFC South champions. But the turnovers are a problem – a big problem. He continues to force the ball into double coverage (even triple coverage.) And the fumbles are just as big an issue. He has to do a better job hanging on to the football. Period.
Finally, there was the disaster known as special teams. Nick Folk started the year as the team’s kicker, taking over for Roberto Aguayo. Folk was just as bad. He single-handedly cost the Bucs the game against the Patriots. Patrick Murray returned and stabilized that position a bit, though he missed some important kicks down the stretch. And we won’t soon forget the other mishaps: allowing 100+ kickoff returns in each of the last two games, the punt block that the Saints ran back for a score in the Superdome.
So where do the Bucs go from here? I was hoping Mike Smith would get fired, but Koetter says that’s not going to happen. Koetter also said he’s going to keep calling the plays. Good Lord. The Buccaneers have a top-ten pick in the draft. They need help just about everywhere, but fixing the defense should be the first priority (though other areas aren’t far behind.)
Finally, I conclude with some thank yous. Thank you Gene Deckerhoff, Dave Moore, TJ Rives and the rest of the people at the Buccaneers radio network for keeping me entertained all season long. Thank you to bloggers like JoeBucsFan and Pewter Report for their excellent coverage during the season (and offseason.) If you don’t follow them on Twitter, I strongly suggest you do.
But most of all, thank you to my readers who come here for my sometimes silly take on my favorite football team. Without you, I would not be doing this. I live in the greater Boston area, and not everyone here is a diehard Patriots fan. I just wish there were more Buccaneers’ fans around here. This blog will remain mostly dormant until the NFL Draft. But if something big happens before then, I’ll offer my take here.
Happy New Year, God Bless, and Go Bucs!
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you’re like me, you’re still trying to comprehend how the Buccaneers beat the Saints in the season finale.
Jameis Winston threw three more interceptions, including a horrendous one into triple coverage. The Bucs gave up a 100+ yard kickoff return for the second week in a row (but scored their own special teams touchdown in the fourth quarter.) A missed extra point by Patrick Murray was looming large. There’s no way Winston would drive his team 95 yards in the final two minutes.
Oh, but he did. Yes, the recent turnover machine hit Chris Godwin on a deep ball with nine seconds left in the contest to win it. And before all of the Saints fans in attendance could wipe away their tears of disbelief, they found out they’d won the NFC South anyway, because Carolina choked against Atlanta.
This Godwin kid is pretty good, the more I see of him. He’s made some acrobatic catches, and with the disappointing season turned in by Desean Jackson, Godwin could be the number-two receiver on next year’s team.
Was this game perfect? Of course not. I mentioned the interceptions and the kickoff returns. Mike Smith’s defense is still a sieve. The lack of a pass rush was a problem all year, though they did sack Drew Brees twice.
But it was nice to finally win a game. I’d much rather see them win than intentionally lose to improve their draft pick order. Heck, this team needs help just about everywhere, so any decent player will do at this point.
Coming on Monday: my ‘year in review.’ As you might expect, with a 5-11 season, it won’t be pretty. But tonight is a night to be joyous, because the boys in Pewter finally won another game. Happy New Year, and good night.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
How many ways can a football team lose a game? When you’re 4-11, you find new ways every single week.
There were the Buccaneers, nursing a four-point lead in the closing minutes on Sunday against the Panthers. They had a chance to extend it to seven. Patrick Murray – who had already made four field goals – missed one that would’ve put Tampa Bay up by seven.
Admit it: you just knew Carolina would go down the field and win the game after that. That’s what 4-11 teams do. There was Chris Baker – jumping offside on 4th down – giving the Panthers new life. Then Cam Newton – arguably my least-favorite player in the NFL – fumbling the shotgun snap, only to pick it up and run it into the end zone for the game-winner.
Carolina 22, Tampa Bay 19.
Winston continues to struggle with ball security. He lost three more fumbles, the last of which led to a meltdown which I’m sure is already on every highlight reel across the country. And lest we forget about the 100+ yard kickoff return that featured several missed tackles by the Bucs.
Does all of this sound familiar? It should. I’ve been writing about it all season, and Bucs fans have been seeing it for themselves all year.
Anyway, from all of us at Buccaneer Bri (which is actually just a one-man band for those who don’t know) Merry Christmas. Some of us have to work our real jobs on Christmas Eve, and that group includes me. And to my fellow fans: one more week of this torture!
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images