If you would’ve told me a month ago that the Buccaneers would beat the Chiefs and Seahawks back-to-back, I would’ve said you’re crazy.
If you would’ve told me a month ago that the Bucs would score just 14 points against Seattle – at home – and still win the game – I would’ve said you’re crazy.
Well, there is nothing crazy about the way Tampa Bay is playing right now. The Bucs beat a very good Seahawks team at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 14-5. Yes, it’s one of those oddball-looking scores but you won’t find me or any other Bucs’ fans complaining about it.
This one was all about the defense, which was getting shredded week after week during the first half of the season. But in the last three games, we’ve seen a complete turnaround. On Sunday, they sacked Russell Wilson six times, picked him off twice, and kept the Seattle offense out of the end zone. One of those interceptions was by Alterraun Verner, who was on the field just two days after his father passed away. If you haven’t seen his reaction yet, you’ll have a tough time not crying. It was a scene very reminiscent of Kwon Alexander’s performance in Atlanta one year ago.
As for the offense, Mike Evans caught two more touchdown passes from Jameis Winston, both in the first quarter. The offense didn’t do much the rest of the way, but the strong performance of the defense bailed them out.
So where do things stand with five games to go? The Bucs are 6-5, still one game behind Atlanta in the NFC South. They are a half-game behind Washington for the #6 seed in the conference. Their remaining games are against the Saints (twice), the Panthers, the Chargers and Cowboys. Yeah, I had to sneak that Dallas reference in at the end. It won’t be easy, but the Bucs are peaking right now; they just have to keep it going.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When the schedule first came out, many Bucs fans like me probably had a trip to Kansas City penciled in as a loss. Sometimes it’s okay to be wrong.
Tampa Bay went into Arrowhead on Sunday and knocked off the Chiefs, 19-17. Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are now 5-5. And most importantly, they’re only one game behind Atlanta in the NFC South. Heck, there are just two games separating the four teams in this division.
Consider some of the things we saw in this game:
*Another solid performance by Jameis Winston, who overcame an ugly fumble in the opening quarter.
*Chris Conte, who was getting beaten by just about every receiver imaginable through the first eight games, came up with a pick for the second straight week. This time, it was the biggest play of the afternoon: picking off Alex Smith and the end zone and returning it more than 50 yards.
*The end result of the aforementioned interception was a Winston TD pass to Alan Cross. ALAN CROSS! Last week, it was some guy named Freddie Martino who found pay dirt. These no-names are coming up with key plays, and that’s a pretty big deal.
*Mike Evans went over the 100-yard mark once again.
*Roberto Aguayo made all four of his field goal attempts. He seems to be settling down. Hopefully that trend continues.
The Bucs at one point were 1-3. They won two in a row, then lost two in a row, now they’ve won two straight. Hopefully they can keep it up against another powerhouse team, Seattle, next Sunday.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers needed this game in the worst possible way. And they got it.
With the exception of one play, the Bucs dominated the Bears on Sunday, winning 36-10.
After the defense looked downright awful the past two games, they actually decided to show up against Chicago. They sacked Jay Cutler four times. They forced four turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown by the much-maligned Chris Conte. They also forced a safety, and shut out the Bears in the second half.
So what was that “one play?” Cutler completed a Hail Mary for a touchdown on the final play of the half that made it a seven-point game. But on the first drive of the third quarter, Jameis Winston pulled off another magic act. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m sure it’ll be on every NFL highlight reel. He escaped a bunch of Bears, avoided a major sack, scrambled around and launched one downfield that Mike Evans came down with. That was the play of the game. Two plays later, Winston threw a long TD pass to Freddie Martino (who?) and the Bucs were in control the rest of the way.
It was great to see Doug Martin back on the field. The Bucs need him desperately. And while the running game struggled mightily behind a makeshift offensive line, he did find the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
But this day was really about the defense finally showing up and playing a good game. And heck, it’s about time the Bucs won a game at Ray-Jay. They only won one of three consecutive home games.
Tampa Bay is now 4-5. Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans all lost, so this was good day all the way around for the Buccaneers. A tough trip to Kansas City awaits next Sunday.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For those of us who love taking road trips to see an NFL game, it’s always fun when the NFL schedule is released. It came out this past week. Here’s how 2016 is shaping up for the Bucs:
SEPTEMBER 11 @ Atlanta 1:00
SEPTEMBER 18 @ Arizona 4:05
SEPTEMBER 25 L.A. RAMS 4:05
OCTOBER 2 DENVER 4:05
OCTOBER 10 @ Carolina 8:30 (Monday Night)
OCTOBER 23 @ San Francisco 4:05
OCTOBER 30 OAKLAND 1:00
NOVEMBER 3 ATLANTA 8:25 (Thursday Night)
NOVEMBER 13 CHICAGO 1:00
NOVEMBER 20 @ Kansas City 1:00
NOVEMBER 20 SEATTLE 4:05
DECEMBER 4 @ San Diego 4:25
DECEMBER 11 NEW ORLEANS 1:00
DECEMBER 18 @ Dallas 1:00
DECEMBER 24 @ New Orleans 1:00
JANUARY 1 – CAROLINA 1:00
A number of things stand out to me immediately:
*The Buccaneers have to make three trips to the western time zone. I can tell you from past experience: things haven’t gone well over the years when they head west.
*Is it me, or does Tampa Bay have more 4:00 games than usual, whether it be 4:05 or 4:25? Even three of the home games are late kickoffs.
*They have to play both Super Bowl teams from a season ago. Obviously they get Carolina twice since it’s a division opponent, but the world-champion Broncos also visit Ray-Jay.
*Cold weather doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, although we’ll see what mid-November in Kansas City is like.
*Wouldn’t it be sweet if the season finale against the Panthers was for the NFC South title? Hey, a guy can dream.
I like to head to Tampa in November or early December. So I’m eyeing the games against the Bears or Seahawks, two teams I have never seen in person before. We shall see.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
We are ¼ of the way through the 2015 season. The Buccaneers have a 1-3 record. It’s time to ask the question: are they better at this point in the season than they were four games into 2014?
Looking solely at the record (1 win vs. 0), the answer is yes. But looking at the big picture, the answer is no. And that’s why I’m putting Lovie Smith under my personal hot seat.
He has now been the head coach of the Bucs for 20 games. He has lost 17 of them, including all ten at Raymond James Stadium. Many of those home losses – including the first two this year – have been by double-digits, and his team has not been competitive. That brings up a somewhat obvious statement: Smith does not have this team ready to play.
Sure, there are plenty of areas to point the finger at. He has a rookie quarterback whose five turnovers yesterday single-handedly gave Carolina a win. Many fans are already saying Tampa Bay drafted the wrong quarterback. I’m holding off on that for the time being.
The kicking game has been atrocious. In case you haven’t heard the news, Kyle Brindza was finally cut today. Who his replacement will be remains to be seen.
Smith is also calling the shots on defense. The result so far: the Buccaneers have the third-worst scoring defense in the NFL behind the Bears and Chiefs.
In the end, it all comes back to the head coach.
When the team is struggling, something has to change. If you believe what you read on social media, there is talk that Smith could get fired if he loses at home to the Jaguars next Sunday. Since he hasn’t won a home game in ten tries, that outcome is certainly possible. The Bucs have their bye week after that. Consider this: the Dolphins used the start of their bye week to kick Joe Philbin out of town. His overall record was four games under .500. If Philbin can get ousted for that, then it stands to reason why the Bucs should not be any more patient with Smith.
We, the fans, are angry. And most of our displeasure is directed right at Smith. This is his team, his players. If they are unable to turn this sinking ship around, then he deserves to go sooner rather than later.
Photo Courtesy: AP