Tagged: Minnesota Vikings

Hey Bucs: Fix the Defense….NOW

There is a lot of anger right now amongst us Bucs fans.  And most of it is directed at one guy: defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

 

After today’s exasperating, last-second, 30-27 loss in Buffalo, a lot of fans say it’s time for Smith to walk the plank.

 

And why not?  This was the third time in six games – and second in a row – that his defense has surrendered at least 30 points (Minnesota is the other one.)  Remember last week when the Cardinals jumped out 31-0 against his defense?  Today, his unit could not hold on after the Buccaneers took the lead late in the fourth quarter.  In the blink of an eye, the score went from 27-20 to 27-27.

 

By the way – Arizona got shut out today.  The Cards’ offense is terrible – except when they face the Buccaneers.  The same can be said for whoever the Bucs face these days.

 

I’m not saying Smith is solely to blame for today’s defeat in Orchard Park.  The Bucs had three turnovers; the third one – the fumble by Adam Humphries – was the mostly costly because it set up the game-winning field goal.  But that final Buffalo drive featured a run for a first down in which there were several missed tackles.  That is unacceptable.  That falls on the coaching staff.

 

The defensive meltdown is what we’re all talking about, instead of a very good performance by Jameis Winston.  He wasn’t perfect by any means (he threw an interception and lost a fumble) but he was much better than in previous games.  O.J. Howard had his best game of the season.  Mike Evans continues to show he’s one of the best receivers in the game.

 

For crying out loud, the Bucs put 27 points on the board against a very good Buffalo defense.  And they still didn’t win the game.

 

We’re six games in.  The Bucs are 2-4 and sitting in last place in the NFC South.  They need to get this turned around in a hurry, or the high aspirations before the season will soon be just a bad dream.  And it starts with fixing this hole-filled defense.

At least they fixed the problem with the kicking game, for now.

By the way, Buccaneer Bri will not be blogging after next week’s game against Carolina.  Vegas is calling next week, and Bri will gladly favor a trip to southern Nevada any day of the year.

 

Photo courtesy: Buffalo Bills

 

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An Ugly Day Across the Board in Minnesota

In my season preview a couple of weeks ago, I opined that the Bucs’ defense was the unit I was most concerned about heading into 2017.  They showed some promise against Chicago in the opener.

 

So much for that.

 

The Buccaneers’ leaky, unable-to-make-a-tackle secondary showed up again in Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Vikings.  This is the third straight time they’ve made Case Keenum look like a superstar (the last two were when he was with the Rams.)  And while the secondary kept springing leaks, the pass rush was nowhere to be seen.  Yes, the two go hand in hand more often than not.

 

The offense doesn’t get any good grades, either.  Jameis Winston was picked off three times – once in the end zone, the other near the goal line when he threw into triple coverage.  Hey Jameis: it’s not a good idea to throw the ball to an area where there are three purple-clad defenders lurking.  You tend to do this a lot, and I’m begging you to stop.

 

 

Tampa Bay only had 26 yards rushing.  That’s not going to cut it, either.  Part of that, of course, is being forced to throw because the Bucs were playing from behind all day.

 

If this loss wasn’t bad enough, the injuries are piling up.  Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes didn’t play.  Perhaps the biggest loss was Lavonte David, who got hurt in the fourth quarter and could be out for a while.  Noah Spence and Gerald McCoy are also banged up.  Who’s going to step it up on defense?  Heck, who’s going to play defense at this point?

 

The Bucs host the Giants next Sunday.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

Solid Opener: Bucs Roll the Bears

If you were worried about any rust from the Buccaneers’ season being delayed by a week, worry no more.  Tampa Bay dominated the bumbling Chicago Bears at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 29-7.

 

You don’t have to look far to find the story of this one.  The Bears were sloppy, and the Bucs made them pay.  Tampa Bay’s first TD came one play after Chicago fumbled while deciding to scoop up a punt.  A Mike Glennon (remember him?) fumble led to another touchdown.  And the icing on the cake, if you will, was Robert McClain picking off Glennon, and running it back for a “pick six.”

 

And that was all in the first half.

 

Mike Evans is poised for a gigantic year.  He caught his first TD pass of the season following the fumbled punt return, and finished with 93 yards on the day.  The addition of DeSean Jackson is huge.  Even though D-Jax only had 3 catches, his presence allows for a lot of 1-on-1 coverage for both receivers, and Evans is already reaping the benefits. 

 

Jacquizz Rodgers had a decent day that included a 1-yard touchdown run.  Speaking of the running game, can we please get rid of Charles Sims?  He’s terrible, and I’ve been saying that for a while.

 

So, what about Jameis Winston?  I’ll call his day ‘efficient.’  He did have the nice TD to Evans, and he didn’t throw a pick.  But he still needs some work on the deep ball.  There were several times where he missed an open receiver on a long ball.

 

For the defense, it was all about the turnovers.  Good thing, because Glennon was finding open receivers, and had a number of dropped passes.  But if you can take the ball way, who cares?

 

Nick Folk made all 3 of his field goal attempts.  But he missed an extra point.  Oh, Roberto Aguayo, where are you?  That’s right – he’s unemployed.  He could’ve been on the field for this one, but he didn’t make the Bears’ roster after the Bucs let him go.

 

It’s great to win the opener.  It gives us fans hope that this season will be special.  Next week: the Bucs head to Minnesota to play the Vikings.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Ugh! Bucs’ Playoff Hopes Dashed By Saints

Simply put, that stunk.

There were the Buccaneers, with a chance to creep closer to Minnesota in the Wild Card hunt. Instead, they laid an egg in a 24-17 home loss to the Saints at Ray-Jay. They’re now two games behind the Vikings and Seahawks with three games remaining.

What cost the Bucs against New Orleans? Well, it was the same mistakes that we’ve seen over and over again: bad play in the secondary, too many critical (and some stupid) penalties, and questionable coaching.

Tampa Bay’s defense let Drew Brees have his way pretty much all day. He threw 41 passes. And given the sieve that is the Bucs’ secondary, I’m surprised he didn’t throw it 50 times. They let the Saints convert 12 of 17 third-down conversions. That’s unacceptable for a team fighting for its playoff life.

The Bucs had eight penalties for 80 yards (amazingly, the Saints outdid them in that department with 12.) It started on Tampa Bay’s first offensive play: a long completion to Vincent Jackson that was nullified by a holding call. Then there was Mike Evans getting back-to-back flags in the fourth quarter for pass interference, followed by a personal foul. Mr. Evans needs to get his head in the right place, because we the fans are not happy with him these days. I heard the boos myself during the Atlanta game last week.  And just when it looked like the Bucs would get the ball back for one more shot, a defensive holding call gave New Orleans a fresh set of downs.

The play-calling? The Bucs were facing the worst defense (in terms of yards allowed per game) in the NFL. New Orleans is dead-last against the run. So why the heck did Doug Martin only get eleven carries? He was averaging more than seven yards a carry, and the game wasn’t really out of reach until the very end. And why did Evans – dropsies and all – not even see a pass thrown in his direction until the second half?

Oh, and don’t throw the ball to Donteea Dye (who?) anymore. That was a critical drop late in the game that would’ve kept the potential game-tying drive alive. I know Vincent Jackson was out with an injury, but wasn’t there a better option?

It was a disappointing, frustrating game. I’ve seen so many.

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com

 

Monday Column: Doug Martin is Runnin’ Wild

Let’s flash back to the offseason for a moment. The Buccaneers decided not to pick up the fifth-year option on Doug Martin’s contract. That essentially meant 2015 could be his last year in a Tampa Bay uniform.

Dear Jason Licht: please re-sign this guy.

Martin is back and better than ever, showing the brilliance we haven’t seen since his rookie year. After Sunday’s performance in Philadelphia in which he rushed for 235 yards, No. 22 is one of the top running backs in the NFL – second-best, in fact.  In ten games, he has 941 yards on the ground. Only the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has more.

And while Martin has only found the end zone four times, I believe his success – and the effectiveness of the entire running game – is a factor in Jameis Winston’s recent success. What quarterback wouldn’t like to have a running game like the Bucs have right now? They’re averaging 142 yards per game on the ground – third best in the league.

Hopefully Martin can keep running wild for the rest of the year, and be rewarded in the offseason for doing so.

They Blew It! Bucs Fall in OT

Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory….or however that old saying goes.

There were the Bucs, taking their first lead of the game with just over two minutes to go. But in “where-have-we-seen-this-before” fashion, they let Teddy Bridgewater march the Vikings right down the field at the end of regulation, and Minnesota tied the game with a field goal on the final play.

How many different ways can a football team find a way to lose? On the first play of overtime, Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass, fumbled the ball, Anthony Barr picked it up and took it into the end zone for the Vikings’ victory.   Yes, Tampa Bay lost on the equivalent of a walk-off fumble.

It was another pathetic showing by the Bucs offense. Through the first three quarters, they had gained less than 100 total yards.  They finished with a paltry 225.  Doug Martin, who’s rumored to be on the trading block, had only 27 of the team’s 66 rushing yards.  The offensive line was awful once again; Mike Glennon was sacked five times.

And the defense, which was decent through 57 ½ minutes, couldn’t seal the deal when Tampa Bay finally had the lead. We’ve seen our fair share of that over the years (although there haven’t been many “close-out” opportunities in 2014.)  Dear Jonathan Banks: why couldn’t you pick off that pass on the final drive?

I really like Lavonte David, though. You could argue that he is the best player on this team, both offense and defense.  Dear Bucs: please don’t give him away if you do a fire sale.

Photo Courtesy: AP

 

The Bucs’ 2014 Schedule

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The 2014 regular-season schedule was released Wednesday night. It’s time to start planning those road trips – especially for people like me who don’t live in Tampa.

Without further ado, here it is:

Sun 9/7              CAROLINA                  4:25pm
Sun 9/14            ST. LOUIS                    1:00pm
Thu 9/18            @ Atlanta                     8:25pm
Sun 9/28           @ Pittsburgh                1:00pm
Sun 10/05         @ New Orleans            1:00pm
Sun 10/12          BALTIMORE               1:00pm
Sun 10/19          BYE
Sun 10/26         MINNESOTA               1:00pm
Sun 11/2            @ Cleveland                  1:00pm
Sun 11/9            ATLANTA                      1:00pm
Sun 11/16          @ Washington              1:00pm
Sun 11/23          @ Chicago                     1:00pm
Sun 11/30          CINCINNATI               1:00pm
Sun 12/7            @ Detroit                      1:00pm
Sun 12/14          @ Carolina                    1:00pm
Sun 12/21          GREEN BAY                 1:00pm
Sun 12/28         NEW ORLEANS           1:00pm

There are a lot of mini-home stands and road trips: two games here, three games there, etc. Nov. 23 marks Lovie Smith’s return to Chicago. As we all know, what looks like an uneventful game late in the season right now, can end up being a big game (and vice versa.)

Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com