There are many reasons why the Buccaneers lost to the Super Bowl champion Patriots on Thursday night, 19-14. Let me count the ways:
The kicking game still stinks. This is the most glaring problem, but as you’ll see, hardly the only one. Why can’t we get a kicker who can consistently kick the ball through the uprights? Nick Folk missed three more field goal attempts. That’s six missed kicks in less than a week, covering two games. And these were bad misses – not even close to being good. One of them was a 56-yarder that would’ve been no good from 26. I am stunned that he is still on the roster after his performance. Can we turn the clock back and bring Matt Bryant back to Tampa?
Jameis Winston is too inconsistent. Ignore his final numbers, which show he threw for over 300 yards. He continues to throw into double coverage. He’s missing open receivers. He can’t consistently throw the deep ball very well. Remember that play where DeSean Jackson was open down the sideline? Jackson can’t be a factor downfield if Winston doesn’t get him the ball.
The play-calling was pathetic at times. Doug Martin was running wild through the Pats’ defense in the first half. So why did Koetter basically abandon the running game in the second? Fast-forward to the fourth quarter, after the Bucs cut the lead to two with just over two minutes remaining. The Bucs went for the onside kick, which was unsuccessful. New England converted it into three points. Why the onside kick? They had one timeout left plus the two-minute warning. They could’ve kicked it deep, gotten a touchback, meaning no time would come off the clock. They could’ve stopped New England, and gotten the ball with about a minute left – in much better field position – and only needing a field goal to win the game (and heck, maybe Folk would’ve made one for a change.)
All the talk up here in New England is about the Pats much-maligned defense bouncing back. Okay, I’ll buy that. But this is a Bucs’ blog, so you get the Bucs’ perspective on the game. Tampa Bay held a Tom Brady-led team to under 20 points. The game was there for the taking, and the Buccaneers didn’t grab it.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images
Why is it when the Buccaneers win a game, it never comes easy? The answer is simple: we’re Bucs’ fans. Nothing comes easy. I can count on one hand how many “easy” wins Tampa Bay’s had over the past decade.
I tweeted during the fourth quarter that if this game came down to Nick Folk’s leg – after he had already missed three kicks – that I was going to hide. I’m glad he made the game-winner – barely. And as more proof that nothing coming easy, there was a flag on that final play.
The Giants jumped offsides. Game over. Bucs 25, Giants 23.
There were so many twists and turns in this one, starting with the ‘what were you thinking’ play-calling at the end of the first half, and ending with the aforementioned Folk redeeming himself. Honestly, this was a game the Bucs easily could’ve lost. But maybe it’s a good sign that they won a game like this.
Jameis Winston’s day? Let’s call it decent. He still can’t consistently hit the deep ball. Yes, there was the beautiful pass to O.J. Howard. But the key word is “consistently.” Still, he wasn’t picked off, and he led his team down the field with the game on the line.
The Bucs still don’t have anything resembling a pass rush. They got by against Eli Manning. If you think that’s going to be okay against Tom Brady, you’re crazy. The return of Brent Grimes in the secondary made a difference on Sunday, though I still have doubts about that unit.
And Folk? My goodness. Can we please get someone who can make a kick? I wonder how short of a leash Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht have on him, especially after the Roberto Aguayo experiment that didn’t pan out.
But hey, we’re three games in, and the Buccaneers have won two of them. I’ll take it.
Up next: the Super Bowl champs on Thursday night. I hate Thursday night games, and not because the Bucs hardly ever win. I just hate them in general. And I despise the color rush uniforms that both teams will be wearing.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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.
What a week it has been for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s not much of a surprising statement, given that the start of free agency always results in a lot of activity around the league. But I wasn’t expecting it to be quite like this.
It all started even before free agency began, when word leaked out that the Bucs were shopping Darrelle Revis. He ended up signing with New England. One year and $16 million later, he’s out of Tampa. That didn’t take long.
So who’s new? They picked up cornerback Alterraun Verner from Tennessee, and defensive end Michael Johnson from Cincinnati. Verner had five picks for the Titans last season. And two years ago, Johnson had 11 1/2 sacks for the Bengals. Throw in former Seattle defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, and it’s clear Lovie Smith and Jason Licht are overhauling just about everything on the defensive side of the ball. A few extra sacks this season would be a nice return on this investment.
There is also a change on the offensive line. Donald Penn is gone, and Anthony Collins is now a Buc. Like Johnson, Collins spent the past few years in Cincinnati.
But the biggest surprise may have come at the quarterback position. Josh McCown signed a two-year, $10 million contract. Signing a QB may not be a shocker. What is surprising, is that Lovie Smith has pretty much named McCown the starter already. So there won’t even be any competition with Mike Glennon? Will the Bucs draft a rookie QB in the draft? Who knows if we’ve heard the last of this quarterback situation.
Photo Courtesy: tbo.com
Another week, another awful performance by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense.
The Bucs could only muster three points on Sunday afternoon against the Patriots in a 23-3 loss. The Bucs are now 0-3, and in sole possession of last place in the NFC South.
For the third game in a row, Josh Freeman failed to complete 50% of his passes. He finished 19-41 for 236 yards, and an interception to former Buccaneer Aqib Talib late in the first half that led to a Patriots’ field goal. He also missed an open Tim Wright in the end zone. Vincent Jackson dropped two passes, including one that would’ve set up the Bucs inside the Pats’ 5. The Bucs turned it over on downs twice. Ryan Lindell missed another field goal. It was a day of missed opportunities, especially in the first half.
And eventually, you knew that Tom Brady would start catching on with his young receivers. Kenbrell Thompkins caught both of Brady’s touchdown passes in the second quarter as the Pats built a 17-3 halftime lead. The way the Bucs offense has been playing this year, there wasn’t much hope of a comeback.
Doug Martin rushed for a hard-fought 88 yards.
After committing double-digit penalties in each of the first two games, the Bucs only had four penalties against New England.
So now, the Bucs face more of the same questions. They have a quarterback who can’t complete half of his passes. They’ve only scored 34 points through three games, and one of those touchdowns was Mason Foster’s interception return against the Saints. The defense is much-improved from last year, but they can’t do it all. How much longer will Greg Schiano stick with Freeman? The coach seems adamant that Freeman’s his guy. Some of us would beg to differ.
Next week: The Bucs return home to face the Arizona Cardinals.
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new-found soap opera rolls into Foxboro this weekend for a matchup with the undefeated Patriots.
So, how many penalties will the Bucs end up with this time around? They had 13 in Week 1, and ten more in Week 2. The flags have been very costly. Can the Bucs clean up their act in a hurry? They’re going to have to, for them to have any chance to get a win in New England.
Josh Freeman is completing just 45% of his passes through the first two games. There are still plenty of rumblings surrounding his relationship with head coach Greg Schiano. We’ll let the local/national media deal with those “reports.” All we know is Freeman’s on-field performance has been less than subpar so far.
Dashon Goldson will play against the Patriots. His one-game suspension for his hit on Darren Sproles was overturned this week, though Goldson was fined $100,000.
With everything surround the Bucs these days, Doug Martin is not a player to be concerned with. He’s rushed for over 200 yards through the first two games.
The Patriots are off to a 2-0 start, though a lot of the talk has been about how un-Patriot-like they’ve played so far. You have to think – eventually they’re going to break out of their funk.
Kickoff is Sunday at 1:00 on FOX. For the third week in a row, your announcers are Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch. Lynch has had pretty of time already to criticize his former team.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
UPDATED 9/18: Dashon Goldson will be able to play against New England after all. On Wednesday morning, the NFL overturned his suspension.
Below is our previous write-up, when the suspension was first handed down:
As if the first two games of the season weren’t painful enough, the Bucs will play the next one without hard-hitting safety Dashon Goldson.
Goldson was suspended for one game without pay on Monday for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Darren Sproles during Sunday’s loss to the Saints.
Goldson has a knack for drawing personal foul penalties over the past few years. I questioned the two he received in the opener against the Jets. But this hit was definitely helmet-to-helmet contact. He got fined for his actions against the Jets, and now he’s been suspended for next Sunday’s game against New England.
Bottom line: Goldson needs to clean up his act. I know he’s a hard-hitting safety, but if the refs are going to keep penalizing him for the way he hits, he needs to adjust, whether he wants to or not.
Photo Courtesy: AP