As we say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to reflect on the Buccaneers season that ended with a last-place finish, and the firing of Dirk Koetter as head coach.
BEST MOMENTS: the first two games against the Saints and Eagles, both won by the Bucs. Nobody outside of us diehard fans thought they win a shootout in the Superdome, then beat the defending champs in the home opener, both with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games.
WORST MOMENT: things started going downhill with the blowout loss to the Bears in Chicago, followed by another defeat in Atlanta after the bye week. It was only then that the Bucs decided to fire Mike Smith as defensive coordinator. Smith should’ve been let go before the season began, much less five games in. With Smith at the helm, his defense allowed at least 30 points in four of the first five games.
BEST OFFSEASON ACQUISTION: Jason Pierre-Paul. What a steal this guy was. He had 12.5 sacks on a team that, last year, hardly got any pressure on the quarterback.
BIGGEST DRAFT DISAPPOINTMENT: Ronald Jones. The Bucs drafted him in the second round. He gained a grand total of 44 yards rushing. He didn’t even play in more than half of the games, and not all of those were due to injury. The Bucs clearly were not happy with him from the start of training camp, hence the lack of playing time.
GOOD RIDDANCE AWARD: DeSean Jackson. He made it clear he wants out. I say, get out of town. This whiner was unhappy that Winston wasn’t getting him the ball. He pulled off similar antics when he played for Philadelphia and Washington.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK GOING FORWARD: Jameis Winston. General Manager Jason Licht has made it clear that Winston will return in 2019. We saw a lot of good Jameis, and a lot of bad Jameis: 19 TD passes, 14 INT’s and three lost fumbles.
INTERESTING FACT: on December 2nd, I saw the Bucs beat the Panthers at Ray-Jay. That was the last time Tampa Bay tasted victory.
Sure, there are other good and bad moments, but these are the ones that come to mind at first. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and go Bucs.
Well, you can drop all that talk of, “what if the Bucs run the table and make the playoffs…”
There was no repeat of the magic in the Superdome from the opener. Tampa Bay played well in the first half against New Orleans. But then, just like last week when I was at Ray-Jay, the offense went to bed in the second half (for what it’s worth, I also went to bed before the Saints mounted their comeback, but anyway…)
The game turned in the third quarter when the Saints blocked a punt, and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans scored 25 straight points. The Bucs couldn’t muster any offense after the Saints took the lead. Most of the yards they got were in “garbage time” at the very end.
The end result: Saints 28, Bucs 14.
Cairo Santos missed two field goals. He hadn’t missed since joining the Bucs a fee weeks ago. Yes, we’re back to this problem again.
The Buccaneers had 10 penalties in this game. That, too, is a problem. So is the offensive line and the lack of running game. That’s been an issue all year.
Well, it was a fun two-game streak while it lasted. The best the Bucs can do now is finish at .500, and that would mean beating Baltimore, Dallas and Atlanta. Dirk Koetter’s grave is already dug.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
On Sunday, I made my annual trip down to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs play in person. I left the stadium with a big smile on my face, as Tampa Bay knocked off Carolina.
This one went according to script (you will smell the sarcasm shortly.) The Bucs’ defense came into this game with three interceptions all year. Well, some guy named Andrew Adams doubled that total, in just this game alone. Throw in a fourth pick by Javien Elliot, four sacks, and you’ve got yourself a 24-17 upset.
I, and other Bucs fans, have been bashing this defense all year. Well, over the past few games, we’ve seen some improvement, so I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due. It was the defense that won this game.
Jameis Winston did not throw a pick, though he did have a couple of passes that made me say, “ay ay ay.” Chris Godwin a had a big game, catching a key TD just before the half that I had a good look at.
This team is far from perfect. The Bucs needed every one of those interceptions to win this game, because after they went ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter, the offense went to bed. It felt like Carolina had a zillion chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the defense stepped up, even with so many starters injured. Whatever Mark Duffner is doing with this group, it’s working.
Dear Bucs: see what happens when you don’t turn the ball over as often as the opponent? You usually win.
The Saints come to Ray-Jay next Sunday. We all remember that tremendous opener in the Superdome. I’ll bet New Orleans hasn’t forgotten, either.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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
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.
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
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