Tagged: New Orleans Saints

A Fitz-Magical Season Opener For the Bucs

One of the big questions coming into this season was: how would the Buccaneers start out with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games?

 

Wow.  Just wow.

 

Enter Mr. Fitzpatrick.  He was unbelievable in Sunday’s 48-40 stunner over the Saints in the Superdome.  How amazing was Fitz?  He was 21-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns.  He also ran for a score.  And, he made arguably the biggest play of the game by running for a first down late in the fourth quarter to help the Bucs run out the clock.

 

Remember last year how Winston couldn’t connect with DeSean Jackson on the deep ball?  Fitzpatrick had no problem.  The two connected for two long touchdowns.  Fitz also hit Mike Evans for a deep score.  We didn’t see much of that last year.  Evans and Jackson combined for almost 300 receiving yards in this one.

 

It’s worth mentioning that offensive coordinator Todd Monken – who called the plays during the preseason – was calling the shots in the opener.  Dear coach Koetter: please keep it this way.

 

This was not a perfect game by any means.  Mike Smith’s defense is still a sieve, allowing 40 points to Drew Brees and company.  The pass rush – even with all those off-season acquisitions – only had one sack.  The secondary had its struggles.  They did force two turnovers, including a fumble return for a TD, but Smith is lucky the offense bailed him out.

 

But this was all about “Fitz-Magic.”  I said it before, and will say it again: what if the Bucs win 2 out of 3 without Winston?  Well, they’ve got the first one.

 

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

 

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Getting Fired Up For the Bucs’ Season Opener

Let’s get it on, ladies and gentlemen.

On Sunday, the Buccaneers kick off the 2018 season in New Orleans against the Saints.

Remember last year when we had to wait half the year to play a division foe?  Well, we get one right out of the gate this time.

There are a lot of questions, as always.  How can the Bucs do with Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of Jameis Winston for the first three games?  Can the defense actually stop anyone, unlike last year? (Vita Vea and Brent Grimes will not play in New Orleans.)  Will Todd Monken keep calling the plays, or will Dirk Koetter re-take control?

I would love to see an amazing turnaround this season to prove the doubters wrong.  No one outside of us diehards thinks Tampa Bay’s going to do anything this year.  That includes Vegas; trust me, I was just there last week, and saw the long odds we’re facing.  But beating the Saints in the opener would be a great start.

So come along for the ride, and I’ll have a few things to say about the game Sunday night, win or lose.

Go Bucs!

 

After 3 Preseason Games, I Like What I See

It looks like the Bucs are ready to get this party started.

 

There was a lot to like in the so-called “dress rehearsal” preseason game Friday night against the Lions.  Tampa Bay lost, but as usual in preseason, ignore the final score.  The Buccaneers, for the most part, kicked the Lions’ butts while the starters for both teams were in there.

 

Peyton Barber is going to be the starting running back on opening day in the Superdome.  There’s no doubt about that.  He’s looked impressive through three games, while Ronald Jones has struggled.  Jones did catch a nice deep ball down the left sideline, but he’s largely been ineffective running the ball.

 

There’s been more good than bad from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will start the season while Jameis Winston serves his suspension.  Jameis has also played well so far.  Heck, the same can be said of third-stringer Ryan Griffin.

 

Special teams?  Adam Humphries, are you serious?  I know it wasn’t the 2013 Iron Bowl, but it’s rare for any Buccaneers to return any kick for a touchdown under any circumstances.

 

If I do have a question mark, it’s the defense (shocking!)  Yes, I know there are a lot of injuries, including first-round pick Vita Vea.  But I get the impression that the overhauled defensive line isn’t really gelling together yet.  And then there’s the secondary, which is still giving up big plays (but not a lot of points.)  Dirk Koetter says Chris Conte is better than you think.  Hey coach: we the fans beg to differ.

 

I know it’s hard to get excited over games that don’t count.  But the Bucs sure look like a much better team than the one that went 5-11 a year ago.  A note to my readers: I will not be blogging about the final preseason game unless there’s a significant development.  The fourth exhibition game is the least meaningful of them all.  Wake me up in two weeks in New Orleans.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Bucs’ Training Camp is Here. Let’s Go!

Training camp for the Buccaneers is underway.  And so is Buccaneer Bri’s sixth year of writing this little blog about the team.

 

What should we be looking for as workouts begin?  Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick is our starting quarterback for the first three games because Jameis Winston is suspended.  The offensive and defensive lines have both been overhauled.  Dirk Koetter is starting the year on the hot seat (and in my opinion, so should defensive coordinator Mike Smith.)  And the team’s apparent new slogan is “wreak havoc.”

 

Expectations appear to be low.  That makes sense, since Tampa Bay went 5-11 last year and the other three teams in the NFC South all made the playoffs.

 

One thing will not change: my passion for this team.  Diehards stick with their team through good and bad.  So will I.  And I hope you will tag along for the ride that officially resumes September 9 in New Orleans.

 

Let’s prove the pundits wrong and shock the world.


Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Schedule

The Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule is now out.  Now it’s time to dissect it, decide which games are most winnable, and for out-of-town fans like me, think about which game to head south to see.

 

My first thought after taking a look at this: ouch!  What a tough five-game stretch to open with.  The Bucs face four playoff teams, starting with the division champion Saints in the Superdome, followed by the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the home opener.  Then, they get the Steelers on a Monday night.  How does a Bucs’ team that went 5-11 last season end up on MNF?  Oh, that’s right, they’re playing the Steelers, which will give the idiots at BSPN something to crow about while at the same time dissing Jameis Winston, even if Winston gets off to a good start.

 

Tampa Bay goes to Chicago in September.  It sure beats December.  But Baltimore in mid-December could be interesting to say the least.

 

There is a stretch of three straight home games in late November/early December.  And wouldn’t it be interesting if the finale against the dirty birds from Atlanta is meaningful?  One can dream, anyway.

 

Here’s the schedule:

 

Sept. 9 — @ New Orleans

Sep. 16 — PHILADELPHIA

Sept. 24 — PITTSBURGH (Monday)

Sept. 30 — @ Chicago

BYE WEEK

Oct. 14 — @ Atlanta

Oct. 21 – CLEVELAND

Oct. 28 — @ Cincinnati

Nov. 4 — @ Carolina

Nov. 11 – WASHINGTON

Nov. 18 @ NY Giants

Nov. 25 – SAN FRANCISCO

Dec. 2 – CAROLINA

Dec. 9 – NEW ORLEANS

Dec. 16 — @ Baltimore

Dec. 23 — @ Dallas

Dec. 30 – ATLANTA

Yes! Thank God(win) For One Last Bucs’ Victory

If you’re like me, you’re still trying to comprehend how the Buccaneers beat the Saints in the season finale.

 

Jameis Winston threw three more interceptions, including a horrendous one into triple coverage.  The Bucs gave up a 100+ yard kickoff return for the second week in a row (but scored their own special teams touchdown in the fourth quarter.)  A missed extra point by Patrick Murray was looming large.  There’s no way Winston would drive his team 95 yards in the final two minutes.

 

Oh, but he did.  Yes, the recent turnover machine hit Chris Godwin on a deep ball with nine seconds left in the contest to win it.  And before all of the Saints fans in attendance could wipe away their tears of disbelief, they found out they’d won the NFC South anyway, because Carolina choked against Atlanta.

 

This Godwin kid is pretty good, the more I see of him.  He’s made some acrobatic catches, and with the disappointing season turned in by Desean Jackson, Godwin could be the number-two receiver on next year’s team.

 

Was this game perfect?  Of course not.  I mentioned the interceptions and the kickoff returns.  Mike Smith’s defense is still a sieve.  The lack of a pass rush was a problem all year, though they did sack Drew Brees twice.

 

But it was nice to finally win a game.  I’d much rather see them win than intentionally lose to improve their draft pick order.  Heck, this team needs help just about everywhere, so any decent player will do at this point.

 

Coming on Monday: my ‘year in review.’  As you might expect, with a 5-11 season, it won’t be pretty.  But tonight is a night to be joyous, because the boys in Pewter finally won another game.  Happy New Year, and good night.

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

This is Bad, Bucs Fans. Very Bad

Just when you thought the Buccaneers’ season couldn’t get any worse, it has.

 

Oh, has it ever.

 

In what is quickly becoming a season to forget, the Bucs were trounced by the Saints in the Superdome today, 30-10.  We saw a lot of the same old Bucs: the defense got picked apart again. The running game was non-existent.  Jameis Winston was ineffective (before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.)  And special teams were problematic yet again, with the Saints blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown, and another missed field goal (though that was the least of the problems on this day.)

 

But here’s the question that a lot of fans – including me – are asking right now: has Dirk Koetter lost this team?  The lasting image from this game will be the scuffle on the Tampa Bay sideline, which appeared to be instigated by Winston, and involved Mike Evans annihilating Marshon Lattimore.  I am shocked Evans did not get kicked out of the game, but he could very well be suspended for that hit.  But look closely at the replay: you see Koetter doing absolutely nothing to diffuse the situation.  Nothing.  Doesn’t the head coach need to take the control there?  Well, Koetter didn’t do that.   This is about a lack of discipline, and a lack of discipline can be traced to bad coaching.  I’ve written the same thing about Lovie Smith in years’ past, and I’m not letting Koetter off the hook, either.

 

This was supposed to be the year the Bucs made the jump to the next level – the playoffs.  Instead, they sit at 2-6 and in the basement of the NFC South, and are arguably one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL right now.  This five-game losing streak started with the New England game the Bucs could’ve won.  There was the early knockout punch in Arizona.  There was the late meltdown in Buffalo.  And now we’ve seen back-to-back abysmal performances against division opponents.  Do the Glazers have the guts to make a change-mid season?  We shall see.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times