4 in a Row! Bucs Roll Past Lions

Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are on a four-game winning streak.  And they’re back to .500.  They won again today, beating the Lions in Detroit, 38-17.

The story of this one was Jameis Winston.  After throwing yet another interception on the opening drive of the game, he lit up the Lions defense the rest of the way.  He threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns.  He is the first player in NFL history to throw for over 450 yards in back-to-back games.

And he did it without the injured Mike Evans.  And the other star receiver – Chris Godwin – left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.  But Breshad Perriman stepped up with three TD’s today.  This is a guy who I wondered what the heck he was doing on the field early in the season.  But expect him to see a lot more action in the final two games with Evans and Godwin out.

But back to Winston for a moment.  He’s playing for his job.  And by winning four straight and five of the last six, he’s making the case for the Bucs keeping him beyond 2019, even with all those turnovers. And it’s even more impressive, considering the Bucs haven’t been able to run the ball. 

The Bucs have a chance to play spoiler next week against the Texans.  A reminder: that game is on Saturday afternoon, and will be televised on NFL Network.

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

My Day at Ray-Jay: Bucs Rally Past Colts

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I make one trip down to Tampa each year to see the Buccaneers in action, in person.  I just returned home, and will now offer my thoughts on Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over Indianapolis.  I won’t go in-depth with stats here, because you all know by now what happened in the game.

Here’s the short version: this was the wildest Bucs game I have ever seen in person at Ray-Jay.  It wasn’t the prettiest, and it was far from perfect, but the entertainment value was a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10.

Would I see good Jameis or bad Jameis?  I saw the extreme versions of both.  First, the bad.  About 60 seconds after I told him from my seat, “don’t screw up,” he threw a pick.  A few plays later, it was 7-0 Colts.  Then came that moment in the second quarter when the Bucs were driving into Colts’ territory.  Jameis threw another bad interception, and I had a clear view down the near sideline where the defensive player was running.  Nothing but green grass.  I said, “goodbye,” long before he reached the end zone to cap off his pick-six. Winston also threw another INT that drew groans from us Bucs fans.

Now, let’s talk about the good Jameis.  He threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score on a quarterback sneak (if you’re a fan, you know how rare the latter is.)  And he did much of it without superstar Mike Evans, who caught one of the TD’s on a beautiful deep ball in the second quarter.  But Evans pulled his hamstring en route to the end zone, and was out for the rest of the game.  Tampa Bay was down 35-21 in the third quarter, and Winston led the Bucs to 17 unanswered points to pull it out.

Let’s talk about crowd – announced as just over 50,000.  There was a LOT of Indy blue, especially behind the Colts’ sideline.  A loud chant of “let’s go Colts!” even broke out at one point.  We booed them.  They shut up.  But they had their moment in the sun.  In the fourth quarter, they were nice and quiet when we got the “Tampa……Bay!!!!” chant going, which really is the only chant that matters when you’re at Ray-Jay.

Speaking of fans, I must talk about a guy who I will simply call “Fitz,” because he looked like former Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  If you look at the photo at the top of this post, he’s the one holding a beer, hugging another fan.  This guy was wasted from the get-go.  Every time Winston made a good play, he yelled, “that’s my quarterback!”  After the pick-six, I yelled to him, “is he still your quarterback?”  He seemed oblivious to that.  The booze kept flowing, and he kept yelling.  At one point, after getting another beer, he gave me a high-five as he was returning to his seat.  God bless you, Fitz.  You will go down as the most memorable fan from this game (in my book.)

And it would be ridiculous if I did not give a shout-out to the two ladies who accompanied me to the game.  I won’t mention their first names unless they want me to, in which case I will update this post.  But they are so much fun to hang out with.

So, it was an exciting (and warm) day at the stadium.  And any time it ends with a win, it’s even better.  Tampa, we’ll meet again next year.

Heading South, and Hoping For Another Win

This weekend, I will be making my annual pilgrimage to Tampa to see the Buccaneers.  They’re taking on the Indianapolis Colts at 1:00.

With that in mind, I decided to take a trip down memory lane.  Here’s what’s happened over the last ten years when I’ve seen the Bucs in person at Ray-Jay.  They’ve won more than they lost (8-3), which is pretty remarkable when you consider they’ve only had two winning seasons during this time period.  A footnote: I went to two games in 2012 but did not go to any in 2013.

The photo at the top of this article is from the Monday night victory over Indianapolis eight years ago.

December 2, 2018:  Bucs 24, Panthers 17

December 10, 2017: Lions 24, Bucs 21

December 11, 2016: Bucs 16, Saints 11

December 6, 2015: Bucs 23, Falcons 19

November 9, 2014: Falcons 27, Bucs 17

November 17, 2013: Bucs 41, Falcons 28

November 9, 2012: Bucs 16, Panthers 10

November 11, 2012: Bucs 34, Chargers 24

November 3, 2011: Bucs 24, Colts 17

November 4, 2010: Bucs 31, Panthers 16

November 2, 2009: Saints 38, Bucs 7

I will be back with more on the game, and my adventure, on Monday.

Two Wins in a Row for the Bucs

Two wins in a row?  Three wins in the last four games?

Yes, the Buccaneers are playing much, much better these days.

They beat the Jaguars today in Jacksonville, converting turnovers into points to build an early lead, then making a big play in the fourth quarter to seal the victory when the Jags were trying to get back in it.

The biggest star of this game?  Look no further than rookie Devin White.  He had an interception that led to a touchdown.  Then he found the end zone when Shaq Barrett stripped the ball from Nick Foles, White picked it up and took it to the house.

Jameis Winston had a ho-hum kind of day.  But he did not turn the ball over, and that is the biggest stat of them all.

Over the last two days, the story for the Bucs has been the defense stepping up and making plays.  Who would’ve thought that?  The Colts come to Ray-Jay next Sunday, and Buccaneer Bri (a.k.a. me) will be there for that one.  I can’t wait.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Come Up Big in Atlanta

Think of everything that happened in Tampa Bay’s 35-22 win over the Falcons on Sunday in Atlanta.

Jameis Winston threw two more interceptions, but also three touchdowns.  Two of them went to superstar Chris Godwin.  The other one was caught by Vita Vea.

Vita Vea?

Yes, the guy on the defensive line who weighs 347 pounds reported as an eligible receiver, and caught a 1-yard TD pass.


The Bucs defense played well.  Yes, you read that right.  They had six sacks.  They forced two turnovers, once of which was a fumble returned for a touchdown by Ndamukong Suh.  With the exception of the second play of the game, the secondary did a nice job covering the Falcons’ receivers.  Atlanta was just 4-of-16 on third downs.  Where has this defense been over the past two months or so?

Need more insanity?  Matt Gay missed three extra points (one of them blocked.)  And those misses didn’t come back to haunt the Bucs.

Godwin and Mike Evans are both over 1,000 yards receiving.  Vea is suddenly a touchdown machine.  And Tampa Bay is staying out of the cellar of the NFC South for the time being.

Enjoy Victory Monday, Bucs fans.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An UGLY Performance by the Bucs

This was disgusting.  Absolutely disgusting.

There was nothing to like about Sunday’s game at Ray-Jay, where the Buccaneers were soundly beaten by the Saints, 34-17.  New Orleans is the better team; there’s no questioning that.  Still, this was bad.

The problems with this team are the same ones we’ve seen game in and game out.  The secondary is awful.  The offensive line can’t protect anybody.  Jameis Winston continues to turn the ball over with relative ease.  He had four more INT’s in this game.  I blame the first one on O.J. Howard, but the other three are all on the quarterback.  He has nearly 100 turnovers (including lost fumbles) in his nearly five years in Tampa.  And don’t get me going on the whole “they’re not all his fault” thing.  That’s true, but the number of miscues is still alarming to say the least.

By the way, Howard didn’t get another pass thrown to him after he caused that first turnover. 

But it doesn’t stop there.  The play calling is horrible.  51 passes and only 8 rushes?  And it’s not just this game.  I have serious concerns about Byron Leftwich’s ability.  And Bruce Arians’ postgame act is getting old.  He can rip the officials all he wants.  But he was brought in to fix this mess, and it hasn’t happened.  And Bruce, you may want to think twice before challenging another pass interference call.

For weeks, I’ve been quietly saying to myself that Tampa Bay is still better than Atlanta.  Well, now they’re tied.  And the Falcons are playing better than the Bucs right now.  After next week, our team could very well be in sole possession of the NFC South cellar…again.

Photo courtesy: USA Today

Bucs Release Former First-Round Pick Hargreaves

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves will go down in Tampa Bay history as a first-round bust.

The Buccaneers got rid of their 2016 first-round draft pick on Tuesday, two days after Bruce Arians benched him during the game against the Cardinals for not hustling on a play.

The funny thing is, Hargreaves started out 2019 on fire.  He had a pick-six in the opener against San Francisco.  Then he made the game-saving play near the goal line in the closing seconds to beat Carolina.  But after that, he did a poor job covering, well, just about every receiver from every team.  Opponents knew this, and constantly threw in his direction, constantly drawing the ire of Bucs fans.  He only had one other interception during his time in Tampa.

Hargreaves was just one problem in a disastrous secondary.  This group is very young, and they’re not good.  This move does not improve the pass defense.  But Arians is sending a message here, first with the mid-game benching, and now the release.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Finally, Another Win!

Winning cures everything, right?

Well, I would hardly say the Buccaneers are cured of all their problems.  But it’s always nice at the end of the day when your score is higher than your opponent’s.  Tampa Bay beat Arizona at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 30-27.

This was by no means a work of art.  Jameis Winston threw two more interceptions.  The secondary looked like, well, the secondary.  The Bucs got schooled on a fake punt.  And they got the break of the season when Arizona’s Maxx Williams dropped what would’ve been an easy touchdown on 4th down in the fourth quarter.

But in the end, Peyton Barber’s 1-yard run with 1:43 left was the game-winner.  And after the Bucs took the lead, raise your hand if you thought the Cardinals would march right down the field to tie or win the game.  Surprisingly, that didn’t happen.

There was definitely an effort to get Ronald Jones more involved in the game.  He had more yards receiving (77) than rushing (29.)  He did score a touchdown on the ground, but also lost a fumble without being touched. 

It was easy to see why both teams have losing records.  There were mistakes galore on both sides.  But Tampa Bay’s four-game losing streak is over, and it feels so good.

The Saints come to Ray-Jay next week.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers Midseason Report

Now that we’re officially halfway through the 2019 NFL season, it’s time to reflect on what we’ve seen so far in the first eight games for the Bucs.  You’ll notice I’m not going through every player or every position.  I’m just going to pick and choose.  So here we go:

OFFENSIVE MVP: Mike Evans.  This guy is a stud; there’s no other way to say it.  Remember how he started off with no touchdowns in the first two games?  Well, now he has seven.  His 842 receiving yards are second in the NFL behind only Michael Thomas of the Saints.  Evans and Chris Godwin have become one of the best receiving tandems in the league.

DEFENSIVE MVP: Shaq Barrett.  What a pickup this guy was.  He leads the league in sacks with 10.5, eight of which came in the first three games.  The drop-off since then is likely attributed to teams paying more attention to him now, but that opens up opportunities for others.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: the secondary.  Even with all those draft picks spent on this group, they’re still terrible.  They’re allowing 31 points a game.  They are second-worst in defending the pass (Oakland sneaked ahead of them!)  And yet, the run defense is best in the league.  Knowing that, it’s no secret why teams are just throwing the ball at will.

BIGGEST QUESTION MARK: Jameis Winston.  Believe me, I read all kinds of comments from the lovers and haters on a weekly basis.  The haters point to all the turnovers and bad decisions.  The lovers will mention the big passing games he’s had, and how the aforementioned secondary is making him look back.  It will very interesting to see what the Bucs do with him after this season.

BEST GAME SO FAR: The Week 4 win over the Rams in L.A.  Tampa Bay pulled a stunner, scoring a season-high 55 points against the defending NFC champs.

WORST GAME SO FAR: the game right before that, against the Giants.  The Bucs blew a 28-10 lead, and made rookie QB Daniel Jones look like a superstar, as they have with so many other rookie and backup quarterbacks.  Has anyone seen what Jones has done since that game?

So, there’s a quick summary.  The Bucs finally play a home game this weekend against the Cardinals.  It’s only their third game at Ray-Jay so far.  And in just over a month, I’ll be heading down to Tampa for the game against the Colts.

Go Bucs!

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Draining Defeat for the Bucs in Seattle

In a season that has been frustrating to say the least, this may have been the most draining defeat suffered by the Buccaneers so far in 2019.

Seattle beat Tampa Bay in overtime, 40-34.

The Bucs went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the NFC.  At one point, they led 21-7.  They coughed up that lead.  Still, they persevered, scoring the tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation.

So why did they lose?  Look no further than the well-documented worst secondary in the NFL.  Russell Wilson torched them for five touchdown passes, including the game-winner on the opening possession of OT.  This was the sixth time in eight games that the Bucs’ opponent has scored at least 30 points.  That is, simply put, unacceptable.

Don’t blame Jameis Winston for this loss.  He played well.  He did lose a critical fumble in the fourth quarter – and you can debate all you want about whether Donovan Smith’s arm caused the miscue – but Winston recovered from that, and led his team down the field to tie the game in the closing seconds. And something dawned on me after the fact: do you think Bruce Arians should’ve gone for two and the win, instead of playing for overtime? I’m just going to throw that out there.

To pull off an upset, you need some breaks to go your way.  Seattle’s kicker missed a PAT and two field goals, including one at the end of regulation.  Winston’s first TD pass could’ve easily been a pick in the end zone, but ricocheted into the arms of…. Breshad Perriman of all people.  But despite that good fortune, the Bucs couldn’t pull it out.

The brutal stretch of games away from Ray-Jay is now over.  The Bucs only won one of them, against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Later this week: Bri hands out his midseason report card.

Photo courtesy:  Seattle Times