Bucs Get First Win in Dramatic Fashion

Here are some thoughts on the Bucs’ first victory of the season: a 20-14 win over the Panthers in Charlotte.

It is amazing what Todd Bowles has done with this defense in just two games.  Take Mike Smith’s swiss-cheese defense, and flip it 180 degrees.  Bowles’ unit kept the Panthers out of the end zone, and has only allowed one offensive touchdown in eight quarters.  After Carolina, not surprisingly, marched down the field for a final drive, Vernon Hargreaves made the play that everyone’s still buzzing about, stopping Christian McCaffrey at the two-yard line with less than 90 seconds to play.  It was a night where the Bucs stifled McCaffrey all the way around.

Another star was Shaquil Barrett.  He’s another new face on defense, and he sacked Cam Newton three times. 

The Buccaneers gave up some long plays in this one, but tightened up in the red zone.  I remember Tony Dungy’s teams winning a lot of games like this.  I’m just throwing that out there.

On offense, Jameis Winston did not turn the ball over.  That is huge.  Everyone (including me) rips him when he screws up, so it is only fair that I praise him when he has a good game.  His stats may not jump out at you, but again, no turnovers.

Chris Godwin is a beast: 121 yards and a TD.  He, not Mike Evans, is the Bucs’ leading receiver after two games.

Peyton Barber churned out 82 tough yards on the ground, and scored a touchdown.  He had to work for every one of those yards against a tough Carolina defense.

This was not a perfect game by any means.  There were way too many penalties again (p.s. – someone tell Bruce Arians and Bowles that you can’t call back-to-back timeouts.)  Going 2-for-12 on third down isn’t going to cut it, either.  But at the end of a late night, the Bucs beat a division opponent on the road.  That is huge.

Photo courtesy: Associated Press

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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

The Good – And Bad – From the Bucs’ Preseason Opener in Miami

Here are some thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason opener against the Dolphins.  Tampa Bay won, 26-24.  But the final score isn’t that important in games like this.

 

*Ryan Fitzpatrick looked sharp.  Considering he’s going to be starting quarterback to start the season, this is a good thing.

 

*Jameis Winston took over for Fitz.  Winston was also solid, that is, until the starting offensive line came out and nearly got his head taken off.  He’s suspended for the first three games of the season, but can play in the preseason.  Ryan Griffin also played very, very well.  It was a good night for all of the quarterbacks.

 

*It looks like Peyton Barber may have the inside track to be the starting running back.  He scored Tampa Bay’s first touchdown, and looked impressive in limited action.  Ronald Jones – a.k.a. “RoJo” – also ran one into the end zone.  But, he also dropped a pass that was right in his hands.  From what I’ve read on social media, this has been a problem in training camp.

 

Speaking of problems, we STILL can’t get a reliable placekicker.  Chandler Catanzaro made two field goals, including the game-winner in the final minute, but he missed another FG, and an extra point.  He needs to be more consistent than that.  My goodness.

 

As for the first-team defense, it’s hard to tell.  The first-teamers did not allow a touchdown.  It was a rough performance for Ryan Smith, though.

 

All in all, there was more good than bad.  We like that around here.

 

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

 

 

Doug Martin Done in Tampa Bay

We all saw this coming, but now it’s official.

 

Doug Martin’s tenure in Tampa is over.  The Bucs released him today after six seasons in red and pewter.

 

The Buccaneers took Martin in the first round of the 2012 draft.  He rushed for over 1400 yards, twice.  I will never forget that game in Oakland where he ran wild for about 250 yards and four touchdowns.  Heck, he was one of the top running backs in the NFL.

 

But it’s impossible to ignore how this all ended.  There was the second-to-last game of the 2016 season in New Orleans, with the Bucs still in playoff contention, and Martin was inactive.  At the time, we thought it was a benching, only to learn later he had been suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.  And Martin announced he had entered a drug rehab program.

 

In 2017, he just wasn’t the same.

 

This was a move that had to be made.  So now what?  Well, right now Peyton Barber moves into the lead running back role, pending what the Bucs do in the draft.

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2 In a Row! Bucs Beat the 49ers

All of a sudden, things are looking up for the Buccaneers.

They beat the 49ers on Sunday, 34-17, for their second straight win. The Bucs are now back at .500.

Jameis Winston shook off an early, poorly-thrown interception to end up with a nice day. Mike Williams is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. And even without Doug Martin, the Bucs suddenly have found a running game, thanks to another big day from Jacquizz Rodgers.

When Tampa Bay fell behind 14-0 early, I thought it was going to be a long afternoon in Santa Clara. No sir. The next 27 points were scored by the road team.

The fact that San Francisco’s run defense is terrible should not diminish the effort by Rodgers, who finished with 154 yards on the ground. Evans’ performance (two more TD’s) is even more impressive when you consider that Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve last week. Russell Shepard and Peyton Barber also found the end zone. Who are those two guys? That’s my point; other players stepped it up nicely.

The defense is also playing much better. Yes, they let the ‘Niners march right down the field to start the game. And the second TD they gave up was the direct result of a bonehead mistake by Winston. But the D held San Francisco to a field goal the rest of the way.

Roberto Aguayo missed another field goal. Yes, it was a 50-yarder, but it’s only going to add to the scrutiny surrounding the second-round pick. He’s now 6-for-11 on FG’s this season. Not good enough.

But six games in, and the Bucs are very much right in the mix. The next three games are at Ray-Jay, where Tampa Bay has struggled to win in recent years. That has to change, starting with the game against a very good Oakland team next Sunday.

Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com