Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Second Preseason Game

We are now halfway through the preseason, and training camp is officially over.  The Bucs are 1-1 in the preseason, having beaten the Dolphins, 16-14, on Friday night at Ray-Jay.  Here are some takeaways from that game:

The headline may be what happened at the very end of the game, when rookie kicker Matt Gay nailed a 48-yarder to win it.  It’s looking more and more like Gay is going to be Tampa Bay’s kicker, even though Cairo Santos hasn’t done anything bad to justify losing his job.  The rookie has opened eyes with his performance.

It was also a solid performance by Ryan Griffin, who saw the most action of any of the Bucs’ quarterbacks.  Granted, he was playing against Miami’s backups, but the backup QB job is up for grabs, despite Blaine Gabbert’s familiarity with Bruce Arians’ system.

Jameis Winston only played one series for the second straight game.  Let’s just skip over him for now.

My biggest concern may not be the defense, but the offensive line.  Penalties are also a big problem right now.  Arians needs to get this fixed.

The next game is Friday night against Cleveland.  This is the so-called “dress rehearsal,” when the starters tend to play the longest.  The third preseason game is always the one to watch.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Captain’s Take: Bucs Preseason Game #1

Judging a preseason game is so difficult.  You ignore the final score, and try instead to focus on who shined, and who didn’t.  It’s even tougher when a lot of the starters either play very little, or not at all.  That said, here are some thoughts from the Bucs’ 30-28 loss to the Steelers in the preseason opener.

Jameis Winston, who’s looked on-and-off during training camp, was definitely on in this game.  He led Tampa Bay on 12-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Chris Godwin.  With Adam Humphries gone, Godwin is now the #2 receiver behind Mike Evans.  The drive was a nice mix of running the ball (yes, they actually ran it effectively) and passing.

The first-team defense only saw limited action, and wasn’t facing the Steelers’ starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, so it’s hard to judge this unit.  They have been making quite a few plays in camp.  Any improvement these days would be considered a plus.

The battle that intrigues me the most is for kicker.  It’s rookie Matt Gay against the guy who finished last year, Cairo Santos.  On Friday night, Gay made his only attempt, from 55 yards out.  He and Santos have both been lights out in training camp.  Let me reiterate that: the kickers are actually making kicks.  It will be interesting to see who wins the job.  Right now, it’s a toss-up.

In case you missed it: Vita Vea will miss several weeks with a knee injury.  At least he’s not out for the season.  The Bucs also released offensive lineman Evan Smith, who spent the last five seasons in Tampa.

Next up: the Dolphins at Ray-Jay on Friday night.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s Time For Bucs Football

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.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs CB Ryan Smith Suspended

Buccaneers cornerback Ryan Smith has been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

 

This is the second year in a row that a Tampa Bay player will miss the start of the season due to suspension. Remember Jameis Winston last year?

 

Smith is entering the final year of his contract. From what I’ve seen, he hasn’t contributed much consistently to a defense that’s been awful for past several years. I’ll bet all of the rookies the Bucs drafted in the secondary are chomping at the bit right now.

 

Photo courtesy: espn.com

 

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.

 

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