Stop me if we’ve seen this act before from the 2018 Buccaneers.
They can’t stop anyone from scoring, consistently making other bad teams look like Super Bowl contenders.
They keep turning the ball over.
They can’t take the ball away.
They fall behind by a ridiculous amount of points, then rally in the second half to make things interesting, only to come up short in the end.
The game against the Giants was almost a mirror image of what we saw in Cincinnati. This time, it was Ryan Fitzpatrick who got benched in the second half after throwing three interceptions – including a pick-six – and Jameis Winston coming in off the bench to lead the charge.
Heck, Eli Manning only had one incompletion for the entire game. One! And I happened to be watching when it happened. The receiver was open; it was a poorly-thrown ball. The Buccaneers did sack him four times – got to give them credit for that.
Am I surprised the Bucs lost this game? Of course not. This is what Tampa Bay does best. I’m sure they’ll make the 49ers look like superstars next Sunday.
But in two weeks, Buccaneer Bri is coming to Ray-Jay. The excitement is building.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
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
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
We have reached the halfway point of the season, and the Buccaneers have a 3-5 record. They’ve already eclipsed their win total from all of last year, and there are signs of optimism, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Still, this team has more losses than wins. That means there are problems that still haven’t been fixed. The biggest one involves Lovie Smith’s supposed calling card: the defense.
This unit does not appear to be much better than 2014, if it all. You can look at all the stats you want. The Bucs are allowing nearly 29 points per game. That’s a lot. They have not shown the ability to come up with the big play late in the game. The most glaring examples came when they blew double-digit leads in the second half to Washington and Atlanta (they did beat the Falcons in overtime.) Then in yesterday’s game against the Giants, Tampa Bay could not stop New York from chewing up precious time off the clock after the Bucs had pulled to within two points.
In the past month, we haven’t seen much of a pass rush. From what I’ve read, Gerald McCoy is taking a lot of heat from the media down in Tampa for his lack of production. He is one of the leaders on this defense, yet he does not have a sack in 2015. And he only has 18 tackles through eight games. Those numbers are staggering, given what the Bucs are paying him.
But the worst part of this defense has to be the secondary. Maybe someday they will learn how to defend the slant. Maybe one of these they will fight receivers at the line of scrimmage. Maybe one of these days they will stop allowing the opposition to get wide open in the middle of the field and beyond.
Lovie Smith is supposedly still calling the plays on defense, unless I’ve missed something. Who knows what defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer is doing these days, or whether he would even be able to make a difference. Smith benched starting cornerbacks Jonathan Banks and Mike Jenkins against the Giants. It’s about time.
On to Dallas next Sunday….
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com
If you’re a Bucs’ fan, you’re shaking your head over what could have been.
Instead of pulling out a game that was arguably winnable, Tampa Bay fell to the Giants at Ray-Jay, 32-18. The game was much closer than the final score indicates.
There is a lot to talk about in this one. Perhaps the biggest headline coming out of this loss was the performance of Mike Evans. If you didn’t see (or listen to) any of the game, you’d think he had a great game: 8 catches for 152 yards. And yes, those are very good numbers. But – oh, those dropped passes. I lost count of how many he had. And a number of them would’ve given the Buccaneers a third down conversion. Doug Martin – who lost a fumble in the first half – also had a big drop in the third quarter that could’ve gone for a touchdown.
Jameis Winston did everything but put the team on his back. If you didn’t see him leaping through the air and into the end zone in the 4th quarter, you should. At the time, it cut the Giants’ lead to two. Tampa Bay missed the potential game-tying, two-point conversion when Russell Shepard couldn’t get the second foot in-bounds. Winston looked like a budding star against New York. Imagine how good his numbers would’ve been if his receivers had hung onto the ball a bit more.
And then, there is the undisciplined nature of this team. It’s a story just about every game, and it was a factor in this one. The penalties continue to kill them. The biggest one was the personal foul on Akeem Spence late in the fourth quarter when the Bucs were trying to get the ball back. You just can’t make undisciplined plays like that. You also can’t keep lining up in the neutral zone. That’s bad coaching.
Another problem: burning two of your precious timeouts way too early. The Buccaneers would’ve had a bit more than 20 seconds (or whatever it was) to mount a last-gasp drive. The Giants’ final touchdown came on a desperation lateral that was fumbled and scooped up by the defense.
The three turnovers (including the last desperation one) all led to Giants’ points.
This was a frustrating game for Tampa Bay. The Bucs had a chance to get back to .500, playing a pseudo-road game at Ray-Jay with tons of Giant blue in the crowd. But it didn’t happen.
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com
If you’re an out-of-town fan like me, you live for the day when the NFL schedule is released. Now we can all start planning trips to Tampa et al.
Without further commentary, here is the 2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule:
9/20 @ New Orleans
9/27 @ Houston
10/25 @ Washington
11/1 @ Atlanta
11/8 NY Giants
11/22 @ Philadelphia
11/29 @ Indianapolis
12/13 New Orleans
12/17 @ St. Louis (Thurs.)
1/3 @ Carolina
A note to my readers: now the draft is over (and you all know who the Bucs picked, from Jameis Winston on down) I will be going into hibernation for a little while until training camp/the preseason gets going. I am grateful to everyone who reads this blog, and I look forward to reconnecting with you for the 2015 season!
This hurts big-time.
Kicker Connor Barth – who has been money since coming to the Bucs a few years ago – is out for the season. He tore his right Achilles tendon playing in a charity basketball game. This guy is not just the best kicker the Bucs have ever had, but he’s also one of the top kickers in the entire league. When he stepped onto the field, you could pretty much put three points on the board.
Read the entire statement from the team here.
So who’s going to kick for Tampa Bay this season? Enter former Giant Lawrence Tynes. He was 33 of 39 in FG’s last season, so that’s encouraging. The loss of Barth stings, but it looks like the Bucs have found a solid replacement.
Also on Wednesday, tickets for all regular-season home games went on sale. But the injury to Barth clearly overshadows that.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images