Tagged: Nick Folk

Bucs Win Again Thanks to Self-Destructing Dolphins

Let’s call this one, winning ugly…part two.

 

For those who didn’t see (or listen to) this game in Miami, you’d look at the final score and think the Buccaneers dominated the Dolphins.  Oh, how wrong you’d be.

 

The Bucs won the game when Patrick Murray split the uprights with four seconds left on the clock.  But let’s talk about the bad football that preceded much of the winning kick.

 

The Bucs won this game because of two things: Jay Cuter and all those Miami penalties.  Tampa Bay picked off Cutler three times in the first half and also recovered a fumble.  But in true Bucs’ fashion, they only led by 13 points at the half.  At the time, I said to myself, “this is going to come back to haunt them.”

 

And it did.  Matt Moore came in for Cutler in the second half and lit up the Bucs defense like so many other quarterbacks (including some backups) have.  The Bucs nearly gave up a safety that could’ve really changed things in the fourth quarter.  Still, the Dolphins tied the game on one of those “how the heck do you let him get that wide open?” kind of deep throws.  As if you needed any more proof that Mike Smith’s defense is horrendous.

 

But there were all those penalties against the Dolphins – a whopping 17 of them – that helped the Buccaneers’ cause.  The Bucs had nine penalties of their own, including one that negated a touchdown.  It was just bad football.

 

Of course, this was a win, so there are positives.  O.J. Howard had one of the Bucs’ two touchdowns, on his birthday no less.  Happy birthday, O.J.

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to perform admirably in Jameis Winston’s absence.  Fitzpatrick will never be mistaken for Tom Brady, but he’s been efficient.  And he’s won two games with basically no running game and a swiss cheese defense.

 

Patrick Murray continues to make us forget about Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk.  Murray did miss a kick earlier in the game, but made the game-winner, and has played well since the Bucs re-acquired him.

 

On to Atlanta….

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

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Can Murray Rescue the Bucs’ Kicking Game?

And the winner of the Buccaneers’ kicking sweepstakes is: a former Tampa Bay kicker.

 

Patrick Murray is back.  The Bucs signed him today, and fans hope he can make us forget about Nick Folk and Roberto Aguayo.

 

You remember this guy, right?  Sure, you do.  He was the Bucs’ kicker three years ago.  And he was pretty good.  He made 20-of-24 field goals, and connected on all of his extra points (keeping in mind PAT’s were much shorter back then.)

 

Why did the Bucs get rid of him?  He was injured for most of 2015, and they let him go.  Cleveland picked up him, but he got hurt again after just two games last year.

 

All I want is for Murray to kick the ball through the uprights on a regular basis.  Doing that would ease the nerves of fans like me nervous every time the Buccaneers line up for a field goal or an extra point.

 

That’s all, Folk.

 

Plenty of Blame to Go Around For This Bucs’ Loss

There are many reasons why the Buccaneers lost to the Super Bowl champion Patriots on Thursday night, 19-14.  Let me count the ways:

 

The kicking game still stinks.  This is the most glaring problem, but as you’ll see, hardly the only one.  Why can’t we get a kicker who can consistently kick the ball through the uprights?  Nick Folk missed three more field goal attempts.  That’s six missed kicks in less than a week, covering two games.  And these were bad misses – not even close to being good.  One of them was a 56-yarder that would’ve been no good from 26.  I am stunned that he is still on the roster after his performance.  Can we turn the clock back and bring Matt Bryant back to Tampa?

 

Jameis Winston is too inconsistent.  Ignore his final numbers, which show he threw for over 300 yards.  He continues to throw into double coverage.  He’s missing open receivers.  He can’t consistently throw the deep ball very well.  Remember that play where DeSean Jackson was open down the sideline?  Jackson can’t be a factor downfield if Winston doesn’t get him the ball.

 

The play-calling was pathetic at times.  Doug Martin was running wild through the Pats’ defense in the first half.  So why did Koetter basically abandon the running game in the second?  Fast-forward to the fourth quarter, after the Bucs cut the lead to two with just over two minutes remaining.  The Bucs went for the onside kick, which was unsuccessful.  New England converted it into three points.  Why the onside kick?  They had one timeout left plus the two-minute warning.  They could’ve kicked it deep, gotten a touchback, meaning no time would come off the clock.  They could’ve stopped New England, and gotten the ball with about a minute left – in much better field position – and only needing a field goal to win the game (and heck, maybe Folk would’ve made one for a change.)

 

All the talk up here in New England is about the Pats much-maligned defense bouncing back.  Okay, I’ll buy that.  But this is a Bucs’ blog, so you get the Bucs’ perspective on the game.  Tampa Bay held a Tom Brady-led team to under 20 points.  The game was there for the taking, and the Buccaneers didn’t grab it.

 

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Yes! Bucs Win a Game They Easily Could’ve Lost

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

Solid Opener: Bucs Roll the Bears

If you were worried about any rust from the Buccaneers’ season being delayed by a week, worry no more.  Tampa Bay dominated the bumbling Chicago Bears at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 29-7.

 

You don’t have to look far to find the story of this one.  The Bears were sloppy, and the Bucs made them pay.  Tampa Bay’s first TD came one play after Chicago fumbled while deciding to scoop up a punt.  A Mike Glennon (remember him?) fumble led to another touchdown.  And the icing on the cake, if you will, was Robert McClain picking off Glennon, and running it back for a “pick six.”

 

And that was all in the first half.

 

Mike Evans is poised for a gigantic year.  He caught his first TD pass of the season following the fumbled punt return, and finished with 93 yards on the day.  The addition of DeSean Jackson is huge.  Even though D-Jax only had 3 catches, his presence allows for a lot of 1-on-1 coverage for both receivers, and Evans is already reaping the benefits. 

 

Jacquizz Rodgers had a decent day that included a 1-yard touchdown run.  Speaking of the running game, can we please get rid of Charles Sims?  He’s terrible, and I’ve been saying that for a while.

 

So, what about Jameis Winston?  I’ll call his day ‘efficient.’  He did have the nice TD to Evans, and he didn’t throw a pick.  But he still needs some work on the deep ball.  There were several times where he missed an open receiver on a long ball.

 

For the defense, it was all about the turnovers.  Good thing, because Glennon was finding open receivers, and had a number of dropped passes.  But if you can take the ball way, who cares?

 

Nick Folk made all 3 of his field goal attempts.  But he missed an extra point.  Oh, Roberto Aguayo, where are you?  That’s right – he’s unemployed.  He could’ve been on the field for this one, but he didn’t make the Bears’ roster after the Bucs let him go.

 

It’s great to win the opener.  It gives us fans hope that this season will be special.  Next week: the Bucs head to Minnesota to play the Vikings.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Season Preview: 2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s time to get down to business.

 

One week from today, the Buccaneers kick off the 2017 season against the Dolphins in Miami.  Here are some things I’ll be keeping an eye on as the games begin to count:

 

THE OFFENSE: by all accounts, the Bucs are loaded.  Jameis Winston is starting his third year in Tampa Bay, and does he ever have weapons.  The names are many: Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Doug Martin (after he finishes serving his suspension.)  On that last note, I want to see how they’re going to run the ball in Martin’s absence.  It appears Jacquizz Rogers will be the featured back, along with Charles Sims (who I’m not a big fan of.)

 

Here are two things to look for: can Winston cut down on his mistakes?  And perhaps an even bigger question: can this team finish off drives with touchdowns?  It’s one thing to move the ball at will down the field, but if you can’t finish it off with six, that’s disappointing.

 

THE DEFENSE: this is the group I’m most concerned about.  I know what you’re thinking – ‘well, they looked great during the preseason.’  The key word there is the last one.  This is a unit that gave up a lot of big plays last year, especially in the passing game.  The Buccaneers play in a loaded NFC South – with quarterbacks named Ryan, Brees and Newton.  The tackling has to be better.  The secondary has to be a lot better than it was in 2016.  I think the Bucs are going to score a lot of points, but I can also see them giving up a lot as well.  We’ll see.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS: the kicking game was solved during the preseason.  Nick Folk is the guy now.  Roberto Aguayo was cut, and is now unemployed.  He signed on with the Bears, but they let him go, too.  Given all of the issues in the kicking game last season, Folk will be under intense scrutiny, and will surely hear about it when he misses a kick.

 

It’s playoffs or bust for the Bucs.  They went 9-7 last year and missed the postseason by one game.  There’s only way 2017 will be considered a success is if Dirk Koetter’s guys are still playing football come January.

 

Until then, it’s on to Miami for the season opener….

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Win Over the Jags

Here are some random thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 12-8 victory over the Jaguars in the second preseason game.

 

The offense looks really, really good…..for the most part.  Jameis Winston sizzled in the first half, completing 21 of 29 passes and showing his ability to push the ball downfield.  Of course, there was that awful pass he threw while falling down, that ended up getting picked off in the end zone.  Although the INT was nullified because the refs ruled Winston was down, we can’t have Winston making too many more dumb plays like that.

 

Doug Martin is making a strong case that he should still be in Tampa when he returns from his suspension.

 

Mike Evans continues to shine, although he let a sure touchdown go right through his hands.  I was also impressed with rookie tight end O.J. Howard.

 

The defense also looked strong, stifling the Jacksonville attack for much of the time the regulars were in there.  This unit gave up a lot of big plays last year, and the secondary would’ve been burned for another TD in this contest by Allen Robinson if he had someone other than Blake Bortles as his quarterback.

 

Nick Folk is the guy now in the kicking game.  He made 2 field goals.  But he also missed one, and had one blocked.  Why can’t we get someone who can make a kick?

 

The next preseason game is against the Browns at Ray-Jay this weekend. If you watch any exhibition game, make it this one.  The third game is considered the dress rehearsal.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers