Well, you can drop all that talk of, “what if the Bucs run the table and make the playoffs…”
There was no repeat of the magic in the Superdome from the opener. Tampa Bay played well in the first half against New Orleans. But then, just like last week when I was at Ray-Jay, the offense went to bed in the second half (for what it’s worth, I also went to bed before the Saints mounted their comeback, but anyway…)
The game turned in the third quarter when the Saints blocked a punt, and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans scored 25 straight points. The Bucs couldn’t muster any offense after the Saints took the lead. Most of the yards they got were in “garbage time” at the very end.
The end result: Saints 28, Bucs 14.
Cairo Santos missed two field goals. He hadn’t missed since joining the Bucs a fee weeks ago. Yes, we’re back to this problem again.
The Buccaneers had 10 penalties in this game. That, too, is a problem. So is the offensive line and the lack of running game. That’s been an issue all year.
Well, it was a fun two-game streak while it lasted. The best the Bucs can do now is finish at .500, and that would mean beating Baltimore, Dallas and Atlanta. Dirk Koetter’s grave is already dug.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
On Sunday, I made my annual trip down to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs play in person. I left the stadium with a big smile on my face, as Tampa Bay knocked off Carolina.
This one went according to script (you will smell the sarcasm shortly.) The Bucs’ defense came into this game with three interceptions all year. Well, some guy named Andrew Adams doubled that total, in just this game alone. Throw in a fourth pick by Javien Elliot, four sacks, and you’ve got yourself a 24-17 upset.
I, and other Bucs fans, have been bashing this defense all year. Well, over the past few games, we’ve seen some improvement, so I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due. It was the defense that won this game.
Jameis Winston did not throw a pick, though he did have a couple of passes that made me say, “ay ay ay.” Chris Godwin a had a big game, catching a key TD just before the half that I had a good look at.
This team is far from perfect. The Bucs needed every one of those interceptions to win this game, because after they went ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter, the offense went to bed. It felt like Carolina had a zillion chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the defense stepped up, even with so many starters injured. Whatever Mark Duffner is doing with this group, it’s working.
Dear Bucs: see what happens when you don’t turn the ball over as often as the opponent? You usually win.
The Saints come to Ray-Jay next Sunday. We all remember that tremendous opener in the Superdome. I’ll bet New Orleans hasn’t forgotten, either.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There are eight home games every year for the Buccaneers. There’s always one in particular that I look forward to, and it’s not always the same team or time of year.
I only get one chance per NFL season to head to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs in person. That chance is this weekend. I’ll be flying down to Tampa to cheer on the home team against the hated Panthers.
Normally I update the blog on Sunday nights after the game. This time, I will write something here later on Monday after I return home, perhaps Monday night. In addition to my thoughts about the game, I hope to have a bunch of photos – and maybe a video or two – to share with you, my readers.
That’s it for now. We’ll chat again on Monday. Go Bucs!
We’re halfway through the 2018 season, and the Buccaneers sit at 3-5, in the cellar of the NFC South. So, it’s time to hand out some midseason grades.
I’m starting here, because this is the no-brainer. What other grade can I possibly give a unit that’s giving up 34 points a game, can’t cover, can’t tackle, can’t take the ball away, etc. This was the worst defense in the league last year. There has been no improvement, with the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, who has eight sacks. Mike Smith got canned, and he may just the first person to lose his job over this pathetic unit.
Here’s the crazy thing about this team. As bad as the defense is, they’re ranked second in the NFL in terms of total yards per game, and they’re averaging 28 points a game. And yet, they’re doing almost all of it through the air – no running game to speak of. Why isn’t this grade higher? Oh, those turnovers…all 21 of them. The Bucs are -15 in turnover ratio. If they’re going to make a second-half run, the mistakes need to go down dramatically.
I mentioned Mike Smith finally getting canned for his awful defense. But geez, doesn’t Dirk Koetter deserve some of the blame for his team’s performance? You’d better believe he does. Tampa Bay is one of the ten most-penalized teams in the league. A lot of that is attributed to coaching. And what kind of coach calls for a fake punt from deep his own territory, trailing by 21 points? If the Bucs don’t get hot down the stretch, it’s adios, Dirk.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Chandler Catanzaro has missed four extra points this season. That’s four too many. He’s 10-of-12 on field goal attempts, which actually isn’t that bad, but it just feels that way. Remember how shocked we all were when he hit from 59 yards out to beat the Browns in overtime? As for punt returns, why isn’t DeSean Jackson getting more touches? He’s an explosive player. Remember that punt return for a TD against Pittsburgh that was called back? Yes, I know it didn’t count, but this guy has the knack to make big plays on special teams, and I don’t understand why he’s not getting more touches.
The Bucs face the Redskins on Sunday at Ray-Jay.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
Let’s face it: when your team loses by a score of 48-10, there is absolutely nothing positive worth writing about. I could go on and on about so many things that happened in Chicago on Sunday.
But the bulk of my anger – and the anger of many Tampa Bay fans – is pointed directly at defensive coordinator Mike Smith. I have seen enough. If I’m the Bucs, I send him packing by noon tomorrow at the latest, and bring in someone who can try to fix this laughingstock of a defense. And if they don’t fire him during this bye week, I will gladly borrow someone’s blowtorch and literally set him on fire.
The Bucs have given up 139 points through four games. In two of them, their opponent scored at least 40, and Pittsburgh put up 30. And it’s not just all those points. We the fans are sick of seeing wide-open receivers on just about every play. How many of those touchdowns they’ve allowed could be classified as “too easy?” The answer: too many. And it’s not just the first four games of this season: we saw too much of this in 2016 and 2017.
This team brought in, and drafted, a lot of defensive talent. Yes, I know there are injuries. Yes, I know they’re young. But for goodness sake: can we please get someone who can cover somebody?
There are other problems, of course: I think we’ve seen the end of Fitzmagic. And the Bucs still don’t have much of a running game to speak of. But the defense – or lack thereof – is by far the biggest problem. To those in charge of the organization: you’ve got a week off to make what appears to be an easy decision. Please, throw Smith in one of the cannons and fire his ass out of Ray-Jay, and into a bay full of alligators.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports
They made too many mistakes.
When you turn the ball over four times and make other costly miscues – like committing a holding penalty on what would’ve been a punt return for a touchdown – you usually don’t win in the NFL. The Buccaneers dug themselves a big hole on Monday Night Football against Pittsburgh, and there wasn’t enough Fitzmagic left in the air at Ray-Jay to complete a miraculous comeback.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, including one in the red zone and one from his end zone that ended up being a pick-six. He played much better in the second half, but it wasn’t enough. The Steelers gave the Bucs every opportunity to pull it out, but there was no miracle on this night.
Let’s look at the big picture here. After three games without Jameis Winston, the Bucs are 2-1. And they’ve done it with a backup quarterback, Mike Smith’s still-awful defense (especially the secondary) and no….and I mean no…running game whatsoever. I will gladly take a 2-1 record given those facts.
So now that Winston’s suspension is over, now what? Who gets the start at Soldier Field next Sunday? Will Koetter stick with Fitzpatrick for one more game, knowing the bye week follows? Or does he think Winston will be ready to go? That will be a very interesting decision the coach has to make.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
File this one under the “better late than never” category.
I took this video when I was at Ray-Jay last Sunday, but am just getting around to putting it on the site now. Hope you enjoy it.