As we say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to reflect on the Buccaneers season that ended with a last-place finish, and the firing of Dirk Koetter as head coach.
BEST MOMENTS: the first two games against the Saints and Eagles, both won by the Bucs. Nobody outside of us diehard fans thought they win a shootout in the Superdome, then beat the defending champs in the home opener, both with Jameis Winston suspended for the first three games.
WORST MOMENT: things started going downhill with the blowout loss to the Bears in Chicago, followed by another defeat in Atlanta after the bye week. It was only then that the Bucs decided to fire Mike Smith as defensive coordinator. Smith should’ve been let go before the season began, much less five games in. With Smith at the helm, his defense allowed at least 30 points in four of the first five games.
BEST OFFSEASON ACQUISTION: Jason Pierre-Paul. What a steal this guy was. He had 12.5 sacks on a team that, last year, hardly got any pressure on the quarterback.
BIGGEST DRAFT DISAPPOINTMENT: Ronald Jones. The Bucs drafted him in the second round. He gained a grand total of 44 yards rushing. He didn’t even play in more than half of the games, and not all of those were due to injury. The Bucs clearly were not happy with him from the start of training camp, hence the lack of playing time.
GOOD RIDDANCE AWARD: DeSean Jackson. He made it clear he wants out. I say, get out of town. This whiner was unhappy that Winston wasn’t getting him the ball. He pulled off similar antics when he played for Philadelphia and Washington.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK GOING FORWARD: Jameis Winston. General Manager Jason Licht has made it clear that Winston will return in 2019. We saw a lot of good Jameis, and a lot of bad Jameis: 19 TD passes, 14 INT’s and three lost fumbles.
INTERESTING FACT: on December 2nd, I saw the Bucs beat the Panthers at Ray-Jay. That was the last time Tampa Bay tasted victory.
Sure, there are other good and bad moments, but these are the ones that come to mind at first. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, and go Bucs.
This week, I start a new feature called “Bucs Extra.” It will focus primarily on other elements of the game that might otherwise go unnoticed.
What a little pass rush can do
The Buccaneers sacked Nick Foles three times in this game, and disrupted him on many other plays. Remember when Tampa Bay had no pass rush whatsoever? Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul and Kwon Alexander all sacked the Super Bowl MVP. That helped ease the pressure a bit on an injury-plagued secondary. Ryan Smith also had a strong game. The defense allowed over 400 yards for the second week in a row, but they made enough key plays to be a factor.
Struggling running game
As great as the offense has been, the Bucs have struggled to get much of a running game going through two weeks. 43 yards rushing isn’t going to cut it. Second-round pick Ronald Jones has been a healthy scratch for each of the first two games. What’s up with that? He did struggle in the preseason, but I wonder if there’s more we don’t know.
Can this issue please go away someday? Chandler Catanzaro missed an extra point that really could’ve come back to haunt the Bucs. The PAT needs to be automatic; end of story. He also missed a FG last week in New Orleans. Ever since Connor Barth’s basketball injury way back in the day, our kicking situation has been a mess.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Admittedly, I don’t do much with the NFL Draft when it happens, mostly because I don’t follow much college football on the national level. So, when the Buccaneers draft someone, more often than not I say, “who?”
That said, as I look over who Tampa Bay picked over the last few days, it looks like they’ve done a decent job addressing their most pressing needs. First-round pick Vita Vea provides much-needed help up front. When I wrote about his selection the other night, I said I hoped the Bucs would address their awful secondary with the remaining picks. Well, three of their next four picks are either cornerbacks or safeties. And RB Ronald Jones could…. could be the heir apparent to Doug Martin.
We’ll see how it all plays out. But it looks like Jason Licht did pretty well, at least on paper.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times