Let’s call this one, winning ugly…part two.
For those who didn’t see (or listen to) this game in Miami, you’d look at the final score and think the Buccaneers dominated the Dolphins. Oh, how wrong you’d be.
The Bucs won the game when Patrick Murray split the uprights with four seconds left on the clock. But let’s talk about the bad football that preceded much of the winning kick.
The Bucs won this game because of two things: Jay Cuter and all those Miami penalties. Tampa Bay picked off Cutler three times in the first half and also recovered a fumble. But in true Bucs’ fashion, they only led by 13 points at the half. At the time, I said to myself, “this is going to come back to haunt them.”
And it did. Matt Moore came in for Cutler in the second half and lit up the Bucs defense like so many other quarterbacks (including some backups) have. The Bucs nearly gave up a safety that could’ve really changed things in the fourth quarter. Still, the Dolphins tied the game on one of those “how the heck do you let him get that wide open?” kind of deep throws. As if you needed any more proof that Mike Smith’s defense is horrendous.
But there were all those penalties against the Dolphins – a whopping 17 of them – that helped the Buccaneers’ cause. The Bucs had nine penalties of their own, including one that negated a touchdown. It was just bad football.
Of course, this was a win, so there are positives. O.J. Howard had one of the Bucs’ two touchdowns, on his birthday no less. Happy birthday, O.J.
Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to perform admirably in Jameis Winston’s absence. Fitzpatrick will never be mistaken for Tom Brady, but he’s been efficient. And he’s won two games with basically no running game and a swiss cheese defense.
Patrick Murray continues to make us forget about Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk. Murray did miss a kick earlier in the game, but made the game-winner, and has played well since the Bucs re-acquired him.
On to Atlanta….
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
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
We’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Buccaneers to kick off their season.
This morning, the NFL announced it is postponing the Bucs’ opener against the Miami Dolphins until Week 11, due to Hurricane Irma.
Both teams originally had their bye weeks scheduled for Week 11. Now, they’ll both have to play 16 games in a row. Not playing in Miami was a no-brainer. But why couldn’t the NFL move the game to another location? There are many other stadiums that this game could’ve been played in on Sunday. But no, Mr. Goodell and his team decided to take away the bye week, putting the Bucs (and Dolphins) at a disadvantage when November rolls around.
That said, I hope everyone in Florida stays safe this weekend. That is the most important thing.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It’s time to get down to business.
One week from today, the Buccaneers kick off the 2017 season against the Dolphins in Miami. Here are some things I’ll be keeping an eye on as the games begin to count:
THE OFFENSE: by all accounts, the Bucs are loaded. Jameis Winston is starting his third year in Tampa Bay, and does he ever have weapons. The names are many: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Doug Martin (after he finishes serving his suspension.) On that last note, I want to see how they’re going to run the ball in Martin’s absence. It appears Jacquizz Rogers will be the featured back, along with Charles Sims (who I’m not a big fan of.)
Here are two things to look for: can Winston cut down on his mistakes? And perhaps an even bigger question: can this team finish off drives with touchdowns? It’s one thing to move the ball at will down the field, but if you can’t finish it off with six, that’s disappointing.
THE DEFENSE: this is the group I’m most concerned about. I know what you’re thinking – ‘well, they looked great during the preseason.’ The key word there is the last one. This is a unit that gave up a lot of big plays last year, especially in the passing game. The Buccaneers play in a loaded NFC South – with quarterbacks named Ryan, Brees and Newton. The tackling has to be better. The secondary has to be a lot better than it was in 2016. I think the Bucs are going to score a lot of points, but I can also see them giving up a lot as well. We’ll see.
SPECIAL TEAMS: the kicking game was solved during the preseason. Nick Folk is the guy now. Roberto Aguayo was cut, and is now unemployed. He signed on with the Bears, but they let him go, too. Given all of the issues in the kicking game last season, Folk will be under intense scrutiny, and will surely hear about it when he misses a kick.
It’s playoffs or bust for the Bucs. They went 9-7 last year and missed the postseason by one game. There’s only way 2017 will be considered a success is if Dirk Koetter’s guys are still playing football come January.
Until then, it’s on to Miami for the season opener….
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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
The Bucs’ situation on the offensive line has gotten a lot of attention this week.
First, there was word that the team invited former Miami guard Richie Incognito to Tampa for a tryout. That sent shivers down me. Yes, they need help up front, but why would you do it with a player with a rap sheet that includes the Dolphins’ bullying scandal among other things?
Then on Tuesday, my nerves calmed down considerably when the Buccaneers acquired six-time Pro Bowler Logan Mankins from the Patriots in exchange for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 draft pick.
Mankins was a beast in Foxboro. Being from New England, I can say truthfully that he was well-liked and respected around these parts. He will definitely bring stability to the Bucs offensive front, even if he is over 30 years old. The Bucs needed to do something in their attempt to better protect Josh McCown, and this helps a lot.
A lot of Patriots fans up here are shocked by this move. For New England, all is not lose. Wright had a decent season on a horrendous team last year. Now, he’s going to be catching balls from Tom Brady.
Still, I think this is an excellent move by the Bucs. Don’t expect to see Mankins play in the final preseason game Thursday night. But he should be ready to go for the season opener on September 7.
Oh, and a final memo to Love Smith and Jason Licht: don’t even think about signing Incognito.
Here’s a quick look back at the positives – and negatives – from the Buccaneers’ 16-10 loss to the Jaguars in their first preseason game Friday night.
If the defensive line is going to play like this on opening day, then there’s a lot to be hopeful for. With Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn leading the way, they stifled the Jags’ first-team offense. And the defense as a whole didn’t allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter. The line did a great job of getting after the quarterback and shutting down the running game.
If the offensive line is going to play like this on opening day, then the Bucs are in trouble – BIG trouble. Josh McCown and Mike Glennon spent most of the night either running their lives or lying flat on their backs. The running game never got going because there were very few holes. And when the Bucs did manage to create a positive play, a flag against the guys up front wiped it out. If the Bucs don’t figure out a solution for this quickly, it’s going to be another long year, regardless of how well the defense plays.
McCown wins this award for his performance. Yes, pass protection was a big problem. But he also put the ball on the turf. And then there was the floater to Winston Guy that went for a 68-yard touchdown. Yes, Guy plays for Jacksonville. McCown is still the starter, of course. But he needs to make better decisions than that if he wants to keep his job.
The Bucs will host the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Photo Courtesy: AP