Wait a minute – you mean the Buccaneers really do have a defense?
For at least one week, the answer is yes.
The Bucs throttled the Jets today at Ray-Jay, 15-10. Heading into this game, the defense had eight sacks all season. They sacked former Buc Josh McCown six times in this game.
Thank goodness for the stellar defense effort, because the offense was not in rhythm for much of the day. Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 50% of his passes, and listening to the radio broadcast, I can’t tell you how many times legendary Tampa Bay broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff described one of Fitzpatrick’s passes as nearly being picked off. He did throw one INT, had another that was nullified by a penalty, but in the fourth quarter he threw the only TD pass of the game to Charles Sims.
Speaking of unusual things, Sims scored a touchdown. This is the same Charles Sims I’m not a big fan of. Oh well, I guess I have to give him props this time around.
Patrick Murray made all of his kicks. The Buccaneers have stabilized their kicking situation…..finally.
But consider this: the Bucs won this game with their backup QB, with no running game, poor offensive line play, and they were without their star receiver, Mike Evans. The highlight reel won’t be one that you’ll want to see over and over again, but we’ll take the wins anyway we can.
The next three games are on the road, starting with next Sunday in Miami. This was originally the season opener, but it got postponed because of Hurricane Irma.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Here’s one thing about this painful-to-watch season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They are in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
The Bucs are 2-11 right now, and are tied with the Jets, Titans, Jaguars and Raiders for the worst record in the NFL. As of this writing, Tampa Bay would own the top pick due to strength of schedule (or lack thereof.) Anyway, it’s some tiebreaker that could change between now and the end of the regular season.
The Buccaneers need a quarterback – badly. Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, who was named a finalist for the Heisman trophy on Monday night, is the name that keeps popping up. If he is still available whenever Tampa Bay is on the clock, the Bucs need to grab him. But taking Mariota will not solve the problems for an offense that has been painful that has trouble just scoring 20 points in a game.
Mariota won’t do well in Tampa if nobody can protect for him. The offensive line, which was overhauled before the season, needs to be revamped again. As bad as Josh McCown has been this year, I would argue that the guys in charge of protecting the quarterback have been the biggest disappointment in 2014. Players like Evan Dietrich-Smith, Anthony Collins, Oniel Cousins, Demar Dotson have not produced. And Logan Mankins – who was acquired before the season began – has only made headlines when he gets called for holding. They are also partly responsible for the abysmal running game. Tampa Bay is 31st in rushing yards, averaging only 78 yards per game.
So for all the fans (including me) who would love to see Mariota in a Bucs uniform, I say bring it on. But let’s hope Lovie Smith and Jason Licht also draft some guys who can do damage in the trenches.
Photo Courtesy: AP
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
A closer look at some of the statistics from Sunday’s painful loss against the Jets:
13: The number of penalties committed by the Bucs. That is way too many. And by the way, that doesn’t include the penalties that were declined.
5: The number of times the Jets got a first down as a result of Tampa Bay penalties.
4.2: The number of yards the Bucs averaged per play. That’s not going to get the job done.
65: The number of rushing yards Doug Martin had. It’s no secret that other teams are going to stack the line of scrimmage to try and stop Martin this season. But if Josh Freeman can’t even complete half of his passes, as was the case Sunday, well I think you know where I’m heading with this.
154: The number of receiving yards Vincent Jackson had on Sunday. Yeah, he’s good.
5: The number of times the Bucs sacked Geno Smith. That’s encouraging.
3: The number of times the Jets sacked Freeman. That’s not encouraging.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
That was pathetic. That was disgusting. There are other words to use, but those two will suffice for now.
The Buccaneers lost to the Jets in the season opener Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands, 18-17. The Bucs seemed to have the game wrapped up when Ryan Lindell kicked a 37-yard FG with 34 seconds left. Heck, the ensuing kickoff went for a touchback. But then Jets quarterback Geno Smith hit a long pass play. Then came the stupid play of the game: Lavonte David hit Smith as he was running out of bounds. The personal foul put New York in field goal range, and Nick Folk took care of that with 2 seconds left.
There are many people to point the finger at. Let’s start with the penalties: 13 of them for a whopping 102 yards, including the costly 15-yarder by David at the end. I do question the two personal foul calls on Dashon Goldson. Hey refs: are you not allowed to pop receivers anymore? There was no helmet-to-helmet contact, and that claim of a “defenseless receiver” was garbage.
But I digress. 13 penalties=lack of discipline. Lack of discipline=bad coaching. Greg Schiano deserves the blame for that.
Let’s move on to Josh Freeman. He was so-so. He completed just under half of his passes, he threw an interception right to a Jets’ defender, and he was sacked three times. And what the heck was up with the play-calling communication at the very beginning of the game? Don’t you need to have a backup plan when the device inside the helmet isn’t working? The Bucs burned two timeouts during that debacle, and were flagged for delay of game after one of those stoppages. Yet through it all, Freeman led the Bucs into field goal range in the final minutes, and gave his team a chance to win the game before the last-second meltdown.
Defensively, the Bucs played pretty well – well, aside from the final 34 seconds. They sacked Smith five times and forced two turnovers, two areas that were a concern going into the season. Darrelle Revis had a strong game against his former team. But the meltdown – topped off by the stupid penalty by David – is what we’ll remember more than anything.
Doug Martin couldn’t get much going against a good Jets’ defense, though he did find the end zone following a Jets turnover. Vincent Jackson had a monster game: 7 catches for 154 yards, including a huge play on the Bucs’ final drive. He hasn’t missed a beat from last year. Mike Williams caught a TD pass.
FINAL THOUGHT: it may have been David’s stupid penalty that ultimately cost the Bucs the game. But it was ALL of the penalties that stand out to me at the end of the day. That’s a coaching problem, and it needs to be addressed.
NEXT WEEK: the home opener against the Saints.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
The Bucs open the 2013 season on Sunday against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Here are three things to keep an eye on:
1. Darrelle Revis. This is the headliner, obviously. He’s playing his first game for Tampa Bay against his former team. The Bucs acquired Revis in exchange for two draft picks just before this year’s draft. Revis is recovering from a serious knee injury, and didn’t play at all in the preseason. But he says he’s ready to go. And why wouldn’t he want a little revenge against his former team?
2. The defense. If the down linemen can’t get any pressure on the quarterback, then Revis, Dashon Goldson and the rest of the secondary can only cover for so long. The Bucs had the worst pass defense in the league last year, and some (but hardly all) of that can be attributed to a lack of sacks. The defensive front will be facing Geno Smith, the rookie out of West Virginia. Some so-called pundits think Tampa Bay is catching a break in that regard. I beg to differ. Much of the buzz in New York has been about Smith, Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. But if the Bucs’ defense can’t muster any pass rush, it may not matter.
3. The offense. Last year, Josh Freeman threw for over 4,000 yards. But he’s been inconsistent, especially down the stretch of 2012, when a 6-4 record turned into 7-9 and no playoff berth. He did not play well in the preseason for what it’s worth, and spent a lot of time on his back. We still don’t know if Carl Nicks will be ready to go. Davin Joseph is back after suffering a season-ending injury. This unit has to do a better job of protecting the quarterback. As for Doug Martin? No need to worry about him for the time being.
Kickoff is at 1:00 on FOX. Your announcers are Kevin Burkhardt and former Buc John Lynch.
photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
Unless something drastic happens in the Buccaneers’ final preseason game against the Redskins, we will not be writing a recap about it. Preseason game #4 is the most meaningless of the bunch. We will keep an eye our for significant injuries, etc. But with the starters likely sitting out a large chunk (if not all) of the game, we will resume our coverage next week, in the days leading up to the season opener against the Jets.