Monday Column: It’s Time For Lovie Smith To Go

Bucs fans: have you had enough of Lovie Smith?

I know I have.

Sunday’s devastating collapse at the hands of the Redskins was the final straw. It was a game in which the Buccaneers blew a 24-0 lead.

When a game like that happens, the head coach has to be the fall guy. There are no exceptions. Smith cannot coach. His team is undisciplined. He is supposedly a defensive guru, but consider the quarterbacks he’s lost to so far this season: Marcus Mariota, Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton and now Kirk Cousins. Ignore Newton, and focus on the other three.  Tampa Bay beat Blake Bortles, but even he put up impressive numbers against this sieve of a defense.

Please don’t tell me how the Bucs’ defense is in the top ten, in terms of total yards allowed. As I mentioned in a previous column, look at the points they’re giving up. Tampa Bay is giving up almost 30 points a game on average. The Buccaneers are tied for dead-last with the Bears in that category.  The secondary, in particular, has been awful.

But let’s get back to Lovie’s bad coaching. The debacle began to unravel in the third quarter. After Washington scored to make it 24-14, the Redskins pulled off a successful onside kick. The Bucs were not ready for that. That’s bad coaching. The ‘Skins went on to score another touchdown to make it a three-point game.

Let’s skip ahead to late in the fourth quarter. Doug Martin, who had another big game, had just ripped off a big run to the Redskins’ five-yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 1, the Bucs run….a toss sweep….to Charles Sims? Are you serious? When Sims took the ball, 3rd and 1 just became 3rd and 5. Washington wasn’t fooled. Why does Sims even get the ball in that situation? Why not throw one up in the end zone for Mike Evans, who broke out of his slump in a big way? Anyway, Lovie’s team ended with a field goal and a six-point lead with about 2:20 to go. When Washington got the ball back, I knew the Redskins would march right down the field, with receivers running wide open, and get the game-winning score.

There’s one more thing that dawned me overnight: it was so nice of the Bucs to burn all of their timeouts before the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter. That’s bad coaching. What if they had one timeout left on that final desperation play? Instead of Sims trying a desperation lateral that resulted in a fumble (the clock would’ve run out anyway), Tampa Bay would’ve had the ball on the Washington 39. It’s possible Connor Barth could’ve saved the day with a 56-yarder at the gun. Who knows?

And then there are the penalties – 16 of them for 142 yards. Many of them were 15-yard personal fouls. That’s lack of discipline. That’s bad coaching. Lovie deserves the blame for that.

Lovie Smith has been Tampa Bay’s head coach for 22 games. His record is 4-18. After yesterday’s debacle, I don’t think he deserves to coach his 23rd game in Atlanta next Sunday. We’ll see if the Glazers feel differently.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Monday Column: Tampa Bay Keeps Shooting Itself in the Foot

The Buccaneers had every opportunity to go to 2-1 on Sunday. But the same problems that plagued them last year did them again against Houston, with a new one rearing its ugly head.

Take your pick. In no particular order:

The Bucs’ defense could not stop a running game that did not have Arian Foster. And they could not stop a quarterback named Ryan Mallett.

Offensively, Tampa Bay was an awful 1-for-12 on third down. The running game is still ineffective. Jameis Winston completed just under half of his passes (but I do like the fact that he’s not afraid to throw the ball downfield.) Mike Evans had over 100 yards receiving, but he also had several key drops. Vincent Jackson could’ve had a touchdown, but he couldn’t get both feet inbounds.

And then, there are special teams. This is the “new one rearing its ugly head” part. Rookie kicker Kyle Brindza made a 58-yard field goal that would’ve been good from about 70. My reaction: wow. What he did do the rest of the way? He missed three other field goals and a PAT. My reaction to that: wow. So there are 10 points the Bucs left on the field. Yes, the last one attempt came during desperation time, but still.

And of course, there are the penalties: 10 of them in all for 84 yards. Seriously, can this team go more than, say, three plays without a yellow flag being thrown? Tampa Bay was the most penalized team in the league last year. So far this year, the Bucs are tied with the Steelers in that category. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: penalties=lack of discipline. Lack of discipline=bad coaching. I know Lovie Smith isn’t reading this, but that is fact.

The undefeated Panthers come to Ray-Jay on Sunday. I honestly have no idea what to expect.

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images