It's Official: Brady to the Bucs

It’s official.  It’s really happening.  Sure – I’ve been hearing about this news since Tuesday night, but being a diehard fan, I wanted to hear the official announcement.  And on Friday morning, I did.

Tom Brady – the greatest of all time – is now the Buccaneers’ new starting quarterback.

A month ago, there’s no way I could’ve pictured this happening.  Even when Tampa Bay was mentioned as one of the teams in the running for Brady, I considered it a longshot.  Well, people who know me know that I’m usually wrong more than I’m right.  I did it again on this one.

There’s no need for me to mention all of Brady’s accomplishments.  You know them all – highlighted by the six Super Bowl wins.

Can a 42-year old quarterback really bring a championship to a team that hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007?  We’ll see.  The offensive line needs more.  The Bucs don’t have much of a running game.  And the pass coverage, while showing improvement late in 2019, still needs some help.  And it wouldn’t hurt to draft a quarterback in next month’s draft, since Brady isn’t going to be in Tampa for very long.

But man, this is exciting with a capital E.  The Bucs have struggled mightily to fill up Ray-Jay, and when they do, it’s usually because of thousands of visiting team’s fans.  I have a feeling we’re going to see some sellouts in 2020.  Those visiting team fans will still be there, but Bucs fans will occupy the rest, and drown them out.

Let’s go!

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

My Day at Ray-Jay: Bucs Rally Past Colts

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I make one trip down to Tampa each year to see the Buccaneers in action, in person.  I just returned home, and will now offer my thoughts on Tampa Bay’s 38-35 win over Indianapolis.  I won’t go in-depth with stats here, because you all know by now what happened in the game.

Here’s the short version: this was the wildest Bucs game I have ever seen in person at Ray-Jay.  It wasn’t the prettiest, and it was far from perfect, but the entertainment value was a 10 on a scale of 1-to-10.

Would I see good Jameis or bad Jameis?  I saw the extreme versions of both.  First, the bad.  About 60 seconds after I told him from my seat, “don’t screw up,” he threw a pick.  A few plays later, it was 7-0 Colts.  Then came that moment in the second quarter when the Bucs were driving into Colts’ territory.  Jameis threw another bad interception, and I had a clear view down the near sideline where the defensive player was running.  Nothing but green grass.  I said, “goodbye,” long before he reached the end zone to cap off his pick-six. Winston also threw another INT that drew groans from us Bucs fans.

Now, let’s talk about the good Jameis.  He threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth score on a quarterback sneak (if you’re a fan, you know how rare the latter is.)  And he did much of it without superstar Mike Evans, who caught one of the TD’s on a beautiful deep ball in the second quarter.  But Evans pulled his hamstring en route to the end zone, and was out for the rest of the game.  Tampa Bay was down 35-21 in the third quarter, and Winston led the Bucs to 17 unanswered points to pull it out.

Let’s talk about crowd – announced as just over 50,000.  There was a LOT of Indy blue, especially behind the Colts’ sideline.  A loud chant of “let’s go Colts!” even broke out at one point.  We booed them.  They shut up.  But they had their moment in the sun.  In the fourth quarter, they were nice and quiet when we got the “Tampa……Bay!!!!” chant going, which really is the only chant that matters when you’re at Ray-Jay.

Speaking of fans, I must talk about a guy who I will simply call “Fitz,” because he looked like former Tampa Bay quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.  If you look at the photo at the top of this post, he’s the one holding a beer, hugging another fan.  This guy was wasted from the get-go.  Every time Winston made a good play, he yelled, “that’s my quarterback!”  After the pick-six, I yelled to him, “is he still your quarterback?”  He seemed oblivious to that.  The booze kept flowing, and he kept yelling.  At one point, after getting another beer, he gave me a high-five as he was returning to his seat.  God bless you, Fitz.  You will go down as the most memorable fan from this game (in my book.)

And it would be ridiculous if I did not give a shout-out to the two ladies who accompanied me to the game.  I won’t mention their first names unless they want me to, in which case I will update this post.  But they are so much fun to hang out with.

So, it was an exciting (and warm) day at the stadium.  And any time it ends with a win, it’s even better.  Tampa, we’ll meet again next year.

Heading South, and Hoping For Another Win

This weekend, I will be making my annual pilgrimage to Tampa to see the Buccaneers.  They’re taking on the Indianapolis Colts at 1:00.

With that in mind, I decided to take a trip down memory lane.  Here’s what’s happened over the last ten years when I’ve seen the Bucs in person at Ray-Jay.  They’ve won more than they lost (8-3), which is pretty remarkable when you consider they’ve only had two winning seasons during this time period.  A footnote: I went to two games in 2012 but did not go to any in 2013.

The photo at the top of this article is from the Monday night victory over Indianapolis eight years ago.

December 2, 2018:  Bucs 24, Panthers 17

December 10, 2017: Lions 24, Bucs 21

December 11, 2016: Bucs 16, Saints 11

December 6, 2015: Bucs 23, Falcons 19

November 9, 2014: Falcons 27, Bucs 17

November 17, 2013: Bucs 41, Falcons 28

November 9, 2012: Bucs 16, Panthers 10

November 11, 2012: Bucs 34, Chargers 24

November 3, 2011: Bucs 24, Colts 17

November 4, 2010: Bucs 31, Panthers 16

November 2, 2009: Saints 38, Bucs 7

I will be back with more on the game, and my adventure, on Monday.

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!

Buccaneers Midseason Report Card

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.

 

DEFENSE: F

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.

 

OFFENSE: B-

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.

 

COACHING: D

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