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

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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

A Disappointing, Chilly Day at Ray-Jay

On Sunday, I saw in person what I’ve been listening to on the internet and seeing on social media all season long: the Bucs are a bad team.  On Buccaneer Bri’s annual trip to Ray-Jay, the Bucs lost to the Lions, 24-21, on a field goal in the closing seconds.  But honestly, it shouldn’t have even been that close.

 

I saw with my own two eyes all of the reasons the Buccaneers are now 4-9.  They had five turnovers.  The tackling was terrible.  They have no pass rush.  None.  They never laid a finger on Matthew Stafford.  Heck, by my unofficial count, they only chased after him once….in the entire game…and that one play ended with a roughing the passer penalty.  The play-calling was questionable at times, as was the use of timeouts at the end of the game.

 

And yet, there they were, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

 

Do you think Mike Smith’s defense could do the job from there?  (insert sarcastic laugh here.)

 

Instead of me rambling on about how Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith are doomed after the season, I will dedicate the rest of this article to my personal Ray-Jay experience, since I only get down there once a year.

 

It was chilly.  No, really.  I brought my jacket and wore jeans, and I needed both.  The two ladies who came to the game with me were shivering as well as the game went on.  This was, by far, the coldest game I’ve ever been to in Tampa.  But it beat the snow that fell back home while I was gone.

 

I know Tampa always draws a lot of visiting team’s fans.  But geez, did the entire state of Michigan fly in for this game?  It felt like there were as many Lions’ fans there as Bucs’ fans.  Detroit fans deserve praise for traveling en masse to support their team.  But it’s depressing for Tampa Bay fans like me, and ownership needs to do something to change that.

 

This was also my first time sitting in the upper deck.  I don’t think I will do it again, and it had nothing to do with how far away I was from the action.  There was absolutely no vibe upstairs.  It was like being in a library for much of the game.  I didn’t feel like I was part of the festivities at all.  Oh well, I chose to sit upstairs because the area where I usually sit was just too expensive.  From now on, I think I will just spend the extra bucks and go back down to the lower bowl.

 

There was a nice couple from Detroit sitting behind us.  They left before halftime, after Stafford threw his second pick.  The guy said, “same old Lions!”  I overheard the lady he was with talk about going to the movies.  I hope they made it in time, if that’s in fact where they ended up.  For all I know, they may just have been sick of me yelling and trying to the enjoy the game in a morgue-like atmosphere, and they have just moved to another section.  Where they ended up is a question I will likely never know the answer to.

 

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  The Bucs have three more games left – all of them against division opponents – and in case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the division is really, really good.  I can easily see the Bucs finishing 4-12.  They’re on Monday Night Football next week against Atlanta.  Jon Gruden will be calling the game, then he’ll be honored at halftime.  If the ceremony is streamed live someplace, that may very well be the best part of the night.

 

Photo Courtesy: Me

Solid Opener: Bucs Roll the Bears

If you were worried about any rust from the Buccaneers’ season being delayed by a week, worry no more.  Tampa Bay dominated the bumbling Chicago Bears at Ray-Jay on Sunday, 29-7.

 

You don’t have to look far to find the story of this one.  The Bears were sloppy, and the Bucs made them pay.  Tampa Bay’s first TD came one play after Chicago fumbled while deciding to scoop up a punt.  A Mike Glennon (remember him?) fumble led to another touchdown.  And the icing on the cake, if you will, was Robert McClain picking off Glennon, and running it back for a “pick six.”

 

And that was all in the first half.

 

Mike Evans is poised for a gigantic year.  He caught his first TD pass of the season following the fumbled punt return, and finished with 93 yards on the day.  The addition of DeSean Jackson is huge.  Even though D-Jax only had 3 catches, his presence allows for a lot of 1-on-1 coverage for both receivers, and Evans is already reaping the benefits. 

 

Jacquizz Rodgers had a decent day that included a 1-yard touchdown run.  Speaking of the running game, can we please get rid of Charles Sims?  He’s terrible, and I’ve been saying that for a while.

 

So, what about Jameis Winston?  I’ll call his day ‘efficient.’  He did have the nice TD to Evans, and he didn’t throw a pick.  But he still needs some work on the deep ball.  There were several times where he missed an open receiver on a long ball.

 

For the defense, it was all about the turnovers.  Good thing, because Glennon was finding open receivers, and had a number of dropped passes.  But if you can take the ball way, who cares?

 

Nick Folk made all 3 of his field goal attempts.  But he missed an extra point.  Oh, Roberto Aguayo, where are you?  That’s right – he’s unemployed.  He could’ve been on the field for this one, but he didn’t make the Bears’ roster after the Bucs let him go.

 

It’s great to win the opener.  It gives us fans hope that this season will be special.  Next week: the Bucs head to Minnesota to play the Vikings.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers