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

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Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Second Preseason Game

We are now halfway through the preseason, and training camp is officially over.  The Bucs are 1-1 in the preseason, having beaten the Dolphins, 16-14, on Friday night at Ray-Jay.  Here are some takeaways from that game:

The headline may be what happened at the very end of the game, when rookie kicker Matt Gay nailed a 48-yarder to win it.  It’s looking more and more like Gay is going to be Tampa Bay’s kicker, even though Cairo Santos hasn’t done anything bad to justify losing his job.  The rookie has opened eyes with his performance.

It was also a solid performance by Ryan Griffin, who saw the most action of any of the Bucs’ quarterbacks.  Granted, he was playing against Miami’s backups, but the backup QB job is up for grabs, despite Blaine Gabbert’s familiarity with Bruce Arians’ system.

Jameis Winston only played one series for the second straight game.  Let’s just skip over him for now.

My biggest concern may not be the defense, but the offensive line.  Penalties are also a big problem right now.  Arians needs to get this fixed.

The next game is Friday night against Cleveland.  This is the so-called “dress rehearsal,” when the starters tend to play the longest.  The third preseason game is always the one to watch.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2019 Buccaneers Schedule

The day the NFL schedule comes out is sort of like Christmas in April for us football fans. It’s time to look over the schedule, think which games are winnable/not winnable, only to be proven wrong in five months, etc. And for own-of-town fans like me, it’s time to start thinking about when to take a road trip to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs.

 

Here’s the schedule:

 

Sept. 8 – SAN FRANCISCO

Sept. 12 – at Carolina (Thursday night)

Sept. 22 – NEW YORK GIANTS

Sept. 29 – at L.A. Rams

Oct. 6 – at New Orleans

Oct. 13 – CAROLINA (in London)

—-BYE WEEK—–

Oct. 27 – at Tennessee

Nov. 3 – at Seattle

Nov. 10 – ARIZONA

Nov. 17 – NEW ORLEANS

Nov. 24 – at Atlanta

Dec. 1 – at Jacksonville

Dec. 8 – INDIANAPOLIS

Dec. 15 – at Detroit

Dec. 22 – HOUSTON

Dec. 29 – ATLANTA

 

Tampa Bay has historically gotten rough stretches, and this year is no different. After hosting the Giants in Week 3, the Bucs don’t play another home game until… Week TEN?! The Bucs will be the “home” team for the game in London, but it’s ridiculous that they have to go nearly two months between “real” home games.

Bucs/Panthers in London Next Season

We’ve known for a little while now that the Buccaneers would be playing a ‘home’ game away from Ray-Jay next season.  Now we know who…and where.

 

The Bucs announced today that their game against the Panthers will be played in London.

 

I understand why Tampa Bay has to give up a home game; Tampa will be hosting the Super Bowl in 2021.  But I don’t understand this selection by the NFL at all.  Why would you take a divisional matchup away from the fans in Tampa?  The games against the Panthers, Saints and Falcons carry more weight than the others.

 

Screw you, Mr. Goodell.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 2 vs. Saints: Not This Time

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

Bri Goes To Tampa, and Bucs Win

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

Heading South

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!