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.
They made too many mistakes.
When you turn the ball over four times and make other costly miscues – like committing a holding penalty on what would’ve been a punt return for a touchdown – you usually don’t win in the NFL. The Buccaneers dug themselves a big hole on Monday Night Football against Pittsburgh, and there wasn’t enough Fitzmagic left in the air at Ray-Jay to complete a miraculous comeback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone and one from his end zone that ended up being a pick-six. He played much better in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. The Steelers gave the Bucs every opportunity to pull it out, but there was no miracle on this night.
Let’s look at the big picture here. After three games without Jameis Winston, the Bucs are 2-1. And they’ve done it with a backup quarterback, Mike Smith’s still-awful defense (especially the secondary) and no….and I mean no…running game whatsoever. I will gladly take a 2-1 record given those facts.
So now that Winston’s suspension is over, now what? Who gets the start at Soldier Field next Sunday? Will Koetter stick with Fitzpatrick for one more game, knowing the bye week follows? Or does he think Winston will be ready to go? That will be a very interesting decision the coach has to make.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
One of the big questions coming into this season was: how would the Buccaneers start out with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games?
Wow. Just wow.
Enter Mr. Fitzpatrick. He was unbelievable in Sunday’s 48-40 stunner over the Saints in the Superdome. How amazing was Fitz? He was 21-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran for a score. And, he made arguably the biggest play of the game by running for a first down late in the fourth quarter to help the Bucs run out the clock.
Remember last year how Winston couldn’t connect with DeSean Jackson on the deep ball? Fitzpatrick had no problem. The two connected for two long touchdowns. Fitz also hit Mike Evans for a deep score. We didn’t see much of that last year. Evans and Jackson combined for almost 300 receiving yards in this one.
It’s worth mentioning that offensive coordinator Todd Monken – who called the plays during the preseason – was calling the shots in the opener. Dear coach Koetter: please keep it this way.
This was not a perfect game by any means. Mike Smith’s defense is still a sieve, allowing 40 points to Drew Brees and company. The pass rush – even with all those off-season acquisitions – only had one sack. The secondary had its struggles. They did force two turnovers, including a fumble return for a TD, but Smith is lucky the offense bailed him out.
But this was all about “Fitz-Magic.” I said it before, and will say it again: what if the Bucs win 2 out of 3 without Winston? Well, they’ve got the first one.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
Let’s get it on, ladies and gentlemen.
On Sunday, the Buccaneers kick off the 2018 season in New Orleans against the Saints.
Remember last year when we had to wait half the year to play a division foe? Well, we get one right out of the gate this time.
There are a lot of questions, as always. How can the Bucs do with Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Jameis Winston for the first three games? Can the defense actually stop anyone, unlike last year? (Vita Vea and Brent Grimes will not play in New Orleans.) Will Todd Monken keep calling the plays, or will Dirk Koetter re-take control?
I would love to see an amazing turnaround this season to prove the doubters wrong. No one outside of us diehards thinks Tampa Bay’s going to do anything this year. That includes Vegas; trust me, I was just there last week, and saw the long odds we’re facing. But beating the Saints in the opener would be a great start.
So come along for the ride, and I’ll have a few things to say about the game Sunday night, win or lose.