Wow! Gronk Follows Brady to Tampa Bay

So, let me get this straight: not only is Brady a Buccaneer, but so is Gronk.

Wow.

Yes, the Bucs made it official Tuesday night what had been reported earlier in the day: they traded a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft in exchange for former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Gronk retired from the NFL last year and went on to pursue a career in professional wrestling.  And we all know what a party animal he is.  Well, now he’s un-retiring, and reuniting with the quarterback who’s thrown 90 touchdown passes to him over the years.

Think of Tampa Bay’s offense right now: Brady, Evans, Godwin and now Gronk.  The Buccaneers now have three tight ends when you add Howard and Brate to the equation.  Bruce Arians doesn’t use tight ends much in the passing game.  You’d have to think that’s going to change now.

But at a time when sports are not happening, the Bucs are currently the talk of the sports world.  When was the last time we could say that?

Hopefully they address their needs during the upcoming draft.

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 Lose To 49ers in Ugly Opener

Here are some quick thoughts on the Buccaneers’ 31-17 loss to the 49ers in the season opener at Ray-Jay:

As ugly as this game was, I will start with some positives.  The Bucs actually had a running game, led by a rejuvenated Ronald Jones.  The defense looks much, much better than past years.  Vernon Hargreaves III came up with a rare pick-six.  This unit only allowed one offensive touchdown.  So how did San Francisco get 31 points?  Oh, I’m getting to that.  But first, one more positive: rookie kicker Matt Gay was perfect on the day.

Now, let’s get to the ugly stuff:

Jameis Winston had an awful game.  He had three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.  The other one, admittedly, went right through O.J. Howard’s hands.  But Winston was consistently off-target.  He fumbled a snap.  This is the year he has to break out and play like a No. 1 overall pick.  This was not a good start.  And if Twitter was a member of the Bucs coaching staff, Winston would be out on the street right now looking for work.  He MUST do better than this, or his ass is going to be on the bench very soon.

I said I was concerned about the offensive line before the season began.  They did not perform well against the ‘Niners.  Winston was sacked three times, and Demar Dotson was penalized twice for holding, which nullified would-be touchdowns.  The offensive line play makes the running game’s performance even that much more amazing.

Now, I want to take about the curious decision by Bruce Arians early in the fourth quarter.  The score was 20-14.  The Bucs kicked a field goal, but the 49ers were penalized for offsides.  Instead of making it a three-point game, Arians decided to go for it on 4th down from the 2.  Winston’s pass was batted away.  So instead of it being 20-17, the Bucs still needed a touchdown to pull it out – a score they would not get.  So, Arians is a gambler, eh?  He’s 0-for-1 so far.

Next up: the Panthers on Thursday night.  This is the Gerald McCoy Bowl, part one.

Photo courtesy: San Francisco 49ers

It’s Time For Bucs Football

We’re about to get our first look at the 2019 Buccaneers. The team holds its first workout of training camp on Friday.

 

There’ve been a lot of changes since the end of last season. That comes with the territory of eleven straight seasons without making the playoffs. Bruce Arians is now in charge. Gerald McCoy is gone – to a division rival no less. Jason Pierre-Paul is out of commission for a while – possibly the entire season. Enter Ndamukong Suh, and first-round pick Devin White, who Tampa Bay hopes will be the next Derrick Brooks. And under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Bucs will be moving to a 3-4 defense.

 

On offense, this has to be Jameis Winston’s breakout season, otherwise he won’t be around much longer. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are back from injuries. The running game is still in flux, with Peyton Barber apparently in the starting role for now. Can Ronald Jones do…well, anything? Can the offensive line do…well, anything?

 

On special teams, there’s a kicking competition between Cairo Santos and rookie Matt Gay. As I often say on social media, can we just get someone who can make a kick? And while we’re at it, how about a special teams’ touchdown or ten?

 

One thing we already know: Arians is a soundbite machine. Watch any of his news conferences and you’ll see what I mean.

 

And for me, as I unofficially begin my seventh season of this blog, I thank you for your continued support. Let’s shock the world. Go Bucs.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard: Oh, No

It just keeps getting worse for the Buccaneers.

 

Tight end O.J. Howard, who was having an outstanding second season, is done for the rest of the year.  He injured his foot and ankle in the game against the Giants on Sunday.

 

O.J. had five touchdowns this year, and was averaging over 16 yards a catch.  Simply put, he was right up there with the most productive tight ends in the league.

 

The Bucs still have Cameron Brate, but this is another big loss for a team that’s seen its season go down the drain in a hurry.

 

In other news, Jameis Winston is once again the Bucs’ starting quarterback.  Ryan Fitzpatrick is back on the bench.  I mean, at this point, what the heck…

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

(Sigh) Another Frustrating Loss

Before I rip Mike Smith to shreds again, let’s start off with the final play of the game.

 

On one hand, it seems crazy: with the ball at the Atlanta 20, they call a play featuring a couple of laterals, that could’ve ended with DeSean Jackson running into the end zone with no time on the clock.  D-Jax never caught the lateral from Mike Evans, so it was a moot point.  Had Jackson caught it, would he have scored?  He says he would have.  But after watching the play over and over, there were three Falcons closing in on him.  It would’ve been VERY close.

 

Now, here’s my beef: you had the ball at the 20.  You have guys like Evans, D-Jax, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard on your team.  This wasn’t a 50-yard Hail Mary.  Why wouldn’t you take a shot in the end zone with those stud receivers/tight ends?  I don’t understand that.

 

Let’s talk about Jameis Winston’s first start.  He had four touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions: an overthrown deep ball, and a pass that ricocheted off a defender in the end zone.  You can’t have those kinds of plays.

 

Then there’s the kicking game, featuring a missed PAT by Chandler Catanzaro.  That was huge, because when the Bucs cut the lead to 24-22 early in the fourth, they had to go for two to try to tie the game.  They failed. 

 

And now, let’s get to that so-called “defensive coordinator” with a last name of Smith.  This was the fourth time already that his unit has allowed at least 30 points.  And again, the opposition racked up over 400 yards of offense, with wide open receivers all over the field.  And lest we forget that final 26 seconds of the first half when the Bucs had cut the lead to 21-13.  Smith’s defense allowed the Falcons to easily get into field goal range to add three points before going to the locker room.

 

And Koetter refuses to fire him.  Well, if this keeps up, Koetter will also be gone at the end of the season.

 

There is still time to right this ship.  There are still eleven games remaining.  But based on the unwillingness of Tampa Bay to make changes on the defensive side of the ball, this has the potential to get very ugly, very quickly.  I hope I’m wrong.

More FitzMagic: Down Go the Champs!

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like this whole FitzMagic thing that’s going on right now.

 

Two games, two wins.  And we’re not talking about wins over cellar-dwellers.  The Buccaneers have started the season by beating the NFC South champs and the defending Super Bowl champs.

 

Take that, so-called experts who had the Bucs losing their first three games.

 

There is no question who the story is right now: it’s backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Sure, other players stepped up on Sunday.  I’ll get into that in another article.  But Fitz is the headliner right.  He threw four more touchdown passes, two of which went for 75 yards apiece.  He had over 400 yards passing.  He did throw his first interception of the season, which was more the result of O.J. Howard’s inability to hang onto the ball after making a catch.

 

Fitzpatrick has eight touchdown passes in the first two games (and a rushing TD to boot.)  He is just the third player in NFL history to have at least four TD passes in each of his team’s first two games.

 

Let that sink in for a moment.  We’re talking Ryan Fitzpatrick here.  A Buccaneer quarterback is doing this!  Keep pulling magic out of that beard, sir.

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers