Week 4 Preview: Bucs at Rams

So here we go – the start of the most brutal part of the Buccaneers schedule, in which they’ll be away from home for the next six weeks.  First up: a matchup against the NFC Champion Rams in Los Angeles.

Can the Bucs recover from last week’s meltdown against the Giants?  Can Matt Gay get back on track?  How will the Bucs be able to control Aaron Donald, not to mention Sean McVay’s high-powered offense?  These are just some of the things to look for on Sunday.

Tampa Bay will be without their first-round draft pick Devin White again.  And center Ryan Jensen is questionable.  Lord help the offensive line if they’re not healthy and Donald is already licking his chops.

The Bucs are a heavy underdog in this one, as you’d expect.  But if they can pull off the upset, it would be a huge confidence booster moving forward.

Fox has the game on Sunday, with Chris Myers and Daryl Johnson in the broadcast booth at the Coliseum.

Finally, a note to my readers: I am going on vacation on Sunday, so I will not be providing a recap here after the game.  But I will be keeping tabs on it from fabulous Las Vegas.  I will resume the blog with coverage of the next game against New Orleans.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Suh is the Newest Buccaneer

The Bucs hope they’ve found Gerald McCoy’s replacement.

 

On Thursday, they officially signed Ndamukong Suh. This had been reported by various outlets a couple of days ago, but I like to wait until things like this are confirmed (must be my TV news background.)

 

Suh has been around the league for a while. Last year, he was on a Rams team that went to the Super Bowl. He spent the early part of his career in Detroit.

 

This guy is solid; there’s no doubt about that. But he also comes with baggage – i.e. doing things like stepping on a player during a game. If he can get rid of that stuff, then okay. At the very list, he needs to put numbers similar those put up by McCoy did.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Things That Bugged Me About the Bucs’ Loss to the Rams….

If the Buccaneers are going to be a contender this season, they cannot lose games like the one they squandered on Sunday against the Rams.

It was the home opener. They were playing a team that hadn’t scored a touchdown in its first two games. And yet again, the Bucs found a way to make the Rams look like an offensive juggernaut. Final score: Rams 37, Bucs 32.

This was a very frustrating defeat, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Here’s what bothered me, in no particular order:

Why don’t we start with the final drive of the game, which happened while most of the country was already tuned in to Sunday Night Football due to a weather delay. The Bucs got the ball back with less than two minutes remaining, two timeouts, and trailing by five. They marched down to the L.A. 15. But after completing that pass to Charles Sims, they inexplicably let a precious 15-20 seconds tick off the clock before running another play. Why wouldn’t you burn a timeout there? Tampa Bay easily could’ve had an extra two plays at the end. The game ended with the Bucs leaving a timeout on the board, and Jameis Winston lying on the ground about five yards from the goal line. Did the thought of throwing the ball into the end zone on the final play ever cross his mind? Once he crossed the line of scrimmage, he had no choice but to pull off a miraculous run. It didn’t happen. The clock management was awful, and Dirk Koetter and Winston need to take the blame for that.

The defense – particularly the secondary – looks as bad as it did under Lovie Smith, and that’s saying something. The number of big plays they’ve given up are mind-boggling. How do you let Case Keenum beat you deep? He did it on the opening drive, and he did it again in the fourth quarter. How do you let a team that scored nine points in two games…put up 37 against you in the home opener?

Then there’s Roberto Aguayo. You know, he’s the guy the Bucs drafted in the second round. He missed an extra point. Then he missed a field goal. That is unacceptable from any kicker, much less a second-rounder. That was four critical points the Bucs didn’t get. And the missed PAT forced the Bucs to go for two twice, and failed both times. Who knows how the game would’ve played out if Aguayo had just done his job?

Turnovers are still a problem. Winston threw a pick that wasn’t his fault (Sims should’ve caught it) and the Rams turned it into a touchdown. Then there was the strip-sack that L.A. returned 77 yards for another score.

We’re only three games in, but this was by far the most frustrating game of the season. And the next two games are against last year’s Super Bowl teams: home against Denver, at Carolina.

Ay ay ay….

Photo Courtesy: AP

40-7?! Let’s Pretend That Bucs’ Game Never Happened

Well, that was an old-fashioned clunker.

There isn’t a whole lot of good to say about Sunday’s game against Arizona. Whatever could go wrong for the Bucs, did go wrong.

They turned it over five times. One of them was a screw-up on a handoff between Jameis Winston and Charles Sims. Winston also threw four interceptions, one of which was returned all the way for a touchdown. And to be honest, there were a couple of others that also could’ve been picked. By the way, why was he still playing in the fourth quarter when the game was long out of reach?

They dropped passes.

They missed tackles.

They suffered some key injuries. Doug Martin, Robert Ayers, Luke Stocker and Cecil Shorts were all knocked out of the game.

The defense has allowed 64 points in the first two games, and hasn’t forced a turnover. Lovie Smith is probably laughing his ass off in Champaign, IL.

Arizona is a very good team. There’s no question about that. But I was hoping for a much better showing than this. There is a lot of stuff to fix before the home opener against the Rams.

Photo Courtesy: Arizona Cardinals

 

Some Thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 2016 Schedule

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