Wait a minute – you mean the Buccaneers really do have a defense?
For at least one week, the answer is yes.
The Bucs throttled the Jets today at Ray-Jay, 15-10. Heading into this game, the defense had eight sacks all season. They sacked former Buc Josh McCown six times in this game.
Thank goodness for the stellar defense effort, because the offense was not in rhythm for much of the day. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 50% of his passes, and listening to the radio broadcast, I can’t tell you how many times legendary Tampa Bay broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff described one of Fitzpatrick’s passes as nearly being picked off. He did throw one INT, had another that was nullified by a penalty, but in the fourth quarter he threw the only TD pass of the game to Charles Sims.
Speaking of unusual things, Sims scored a touchdown. This is the same Charles Sims I’m not a big fan of. Oh well, I guess I have to give him props this time around.
Patrick Murray made all of his kicks. The Buccaneers have stabilized their kicking situation…..finally.
But consider this: the Bucs won this game with their backup QB, with no running game, poor offensive line play, and they were without their star receiver, Mike Evans. The highlight reel won’t be one that you’ll want to see over and over again, but we’ll take the wins anyway we can.
The next three games are on the road, starting with next Sunday in Miami. This was originally the season opener, but it got postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Remember all that optimism from the Monday night victory over the Bengals?
It’s all gone for now.
What we saw in the third – and arguably most important – preseason game on Saturday night was similar to what we saw all of last year. The Bucs played poorly on all sides of the ball.
On offense, Jameis Winston looked like a rookie. He struggled all night long, especially when the Browns blitzed him. He only threw for 90 yards and one ugly-looking interception. Don’t think for a moment that other teams aren’t going to follow the same blueprint once the season starts.
That brings up the second area of concern: the offensive line. The pass protection was awful, allowing Winston to be sacked four times (and Mike Glennon twice.) The running game wasn’t any better. Yes, Doug Martin did have a nice 19-yard touchdown run. But aside from that, it was slim pickings.
The defense wasn’t that great. Josh McCown (remember him?) threw two touchdown passes against his former team.
Special teams? How about that 53-yard punt return by Travis Benjamin? Yeah, he plays for Cleveland.
At least the Buccaneers cut down on the penalties, anyway.
So there wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about at Ray-Jay on Saturday night. Lovie Smith has two weeks to get all of this fixed in time for the opener against the Titans. I’m not even going to talk about the final preseason game; the fourth one is the most meaningless of all because the starters on both teams hardly ever play.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
Before this season began, there was hope – lots of it, in fact.
The hope was that Lovie Smith would come in, and the Buccaneers would turn things around, or at least start to head in the right direction. He and GM Jason Licht would start to right the ship. Some of the so-called pundits even predicted Tampa Bay would qualify for the playoffs.
Those self-proclaimed experts were wrong. Man, were they ever wrong. And we, the fans, paid the price.
None of us expected the Bucs to go 2-14. Remember back in the draft, when the Bucs used all of their picks to upgrade an offense that needed more than a few extra cylinders? The offensive line was overhauled via free agency. What did we end up with in return?
We got an offense that finished 30th in the league in total yards.
We got a journeyman quarterback that won only one of his eleven starts, completed only 56% of his passes, threw more INT’s (14) than TD’s (11) and was sacked 36 times.
We got a running game that averaged less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Think of how much worse it would’ve been had they not gone crazy on Sunday in the finale against the Saints.
We did, however, get a beast of a wide receiver. Mike Evans went for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. Only Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown and Jordy Nelson found the end zone more often. When you consider who was throwing the ball to Evans this year, his stats are even more remarkable.
What did we get on defense? We got a unit that ranked 25th in the league, and more often than not, looked worse than that. Lovie Smith is supposed to be a defensive-minded coach. Plays that could’ve been made to seal games were not made. Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David are great, but the jury is still out on many others.
What’s the most painful part of this season, besides the obvious 2-14? If the Bucs had gone 8-8, they would’ve won the NFC South and would be hosting a playoff game at Raymond James Stadium this weekend.
I was going to hand out final grades, as I did at the midpoint of the season. But honestly, you could take everything I wrote eight weeks ago and just multiply it times two – including the number of wins, sadly.
How the heck did they beat Pittsburgh?
But hey – they’ve got the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft. Yeah! There is hope after all!
By the way, the photo at the top of this article is a shameless selfie, taken as the Bucs were losing to the Falcons at Ray-Jay in November.
Lovie Smith denied it. So did the players. But it’s hard to look at what happened and say the Bucs didn’t “tank” in the fourth quarter of that game against the Saints.
The way this team has played all season, they could’ve easily blown a 13-point lead under normal circumstances. But when you throw in all those backups, and call all those running plays, well, you tell me. How many passed did Josh McCown throw in the final 15 minutes? Oh, by the way, he threw a pick. And he got sacked in the end zone for a safety, which I hope is a fitting ending to his brief career in Tampa.
Anyway, it was just another creative way for the Bucs to lose their 14th game of the season. The bottom line: the Buccaneers have the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft.
If they don’t take a quarterback, then the front office needs to have its collective head examined. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: a new quarterback alone will not fix all of the problems. The offensive line is dreadful. A full-time offensive coordinator would help, too (what a concept.) Still, with a player like Marcus Mariota available, you need to grab him.
The last time the Bucs had the top overall pick, Tampa Bay drafted some quarterback named Vinny Testaverde. Vinny’s time in Tampa didn’t turn out well. We can only hope for better things when the draft rolls around.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Tribune
Just when you thought the Buccaneers’ offense couldn’t get any more unwatchable, consider what they did on Sunday against the Packers at Raymond James Stadium. Keep in mind; these stats are for the entire game:
*109 Total Yards
*6 first downs
*16 yards rushing
*Josh McCown was sacked seven times and threw an awful interception
*Five straight three-and-outs to start the game
I won’t bother going on any further with my rant. The 20-3 final score, and the stats mentioned above, pretty much say it all. There’s no point in repeating all of the same old mistakes Tampa Bay has been making all year.
And yet, McClown is presumably still the starting quarterback of this team for at least one more game. Why? Lovie Smith says so, that’s why.
One more week of this torture, Bucs fans!
Photo Courtesy: AP
As a journalist, I’m supposed to come up with new and creative ways to state my opinion. After seeing the same old story from the Buccaneers on Sunday in Carolina, I’m open to new terminology.
Josh McCown is pathetic. All three of the Bucs turnovers can be traced directly to him: two lost fumbles and an interception. Sure, you can argue all you want about that phantom fumble that was revered on a challenge by Ron Rivera. But the bottom line is, this guy is dreadful when it comes to protecting the football. Then there’s the lack of a sense of urgency. Down by two scores late in the fourth quarter (before McCown found the end zone with his legs) he took forever getting his team organized at the line of scrimmage. Even Dave Moore, the Bucs’ radio commentator, was all over him for that. Would Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers ever play like that? No way.
And yet, Mike Glennon, who stood on the sidelines once again, wonders if he’ll ever take another snap for this team. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue saying it: Glennon is not the answer at quarterback, but he’s sure looked a LOT better than the guy now known as “McClown.” Josh needs to be benched, but if Lovie Smith hasn’t done it by now, it’s probably not going to happen.
And the defense? They lost to backup QB Derek Anderson for the second time this season. They made him look like a star. He threw for 277 yards. The entire Bucs offense only had ten more than that. Carolina held the ball for over 37 minutes, as the defense could not get off the field. We saw this in the season opener, and we saw it again on Sunday. They did force a turnover down by the goal line, but there were other chances – especially in the fourth quarter – to get the ball back and they couldn’t capitalize. An interception of Anderson was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Then there was Alterraun Verner’s inability to hang on to a sure pick.
Again, we’ve seen these problems all year long. Why should they change now? The Packers will be angry when they come to Ray-Jay next weekend, having lost to Buffalo. And in the season finale, the Saints may need that game to win the division that nobody seems to want.
But hey – the Bucs are still in the running for the No. 1 draft pick!
Photo Courtesy: AP
Here’s one thing about this painful-to-watch season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They are in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
The Bucs are 2-11 right now, and are tied with the Jets, Titans, Jaguars and Raiders for the worst record in the NFL. As of this writing, Tampa Bay would own the top pick due to strength of schedule (or lack thereof.) Anyway, it’s some tiebreaker that could change between now and the end of the regular season.
The Buccaneers need a quarterback – badly. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, who was named a finalist for the Heisman trophy on Monday night, is the name that keeps popping up. If he is still available whenever Tampa Bay is on the clock, the Bucs need to grab him. But taking Mariota will not solve the problems for an offense that has been painful that has trouble just scoring 20 points in a game.
Mariota won’t do well in Tampa if nobody can protect for him. The offensive line, which was overhauled before the season, needs to be revamped again. As bad as Josh McCown has been this year, I would argue that the guys in charge of protecting the quarterback have been the biggest disappointment in 2014. Players like Evan Dietrich-Smith, Anthony Collins, Oniel Cousins, Demar Dotson have not produced. And Logan Mankins – who was acquired before the season began – has only made headlines when he gets called for holding. They are also partly responsible for the abysmal running game. Tampa Bay is 31st in rushing yards, averaging only 78 yards per game.
So for all the fans (including me) who would love to see Mariota in a Bucs uniform, I say bring it on. But let’s hope Lovie Smith and Jason Licht also draft some guys who can do damage in the trenches.
Photo Courtesy: AP