Just when you thought the Buccaneers’ season couldn’t get any worse, it has.
Oh, has it ever.
In what is quickly becoming a season to forget, the Bucs were trounced by the Saints in the Superdome today, 30-10. We saw a lot of the same old Bucs: the defense got picked apart again. The running game was non-existent. Jameis Winston was ineffective (before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.) And special teams were problematic yet again, with the Saints blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown, and another missed field goal (though that was the least of the problems on this day.)
But here’s the question that a lot of fans – including me – are asking right now: has Dirk Koetter lost this team? The lasting image from this game will be the scuffle on the Tampa Bay sideline, which appeared to be instigated by Winston, and involved Mike Evans annihilating Marshon Lattimore. I am shocked Evans did not get kicked out of the game, but he could very well be suspended for that hit. But look closely at the replay: you see Koetter doing absolutely nothing to diffuse the situation. Nothing. Doesn’t the head coach need to take the control there? Well, Koetter didn’t do that. This is about a lack of discipline, and a lack of discipline can be traced to bad coaching. I’ve written the same thing about Lovie Smith in years’ past, and I’m not letting Koetter off the hook, either.
This was supposed to be the year the Bucs made the jump to the next level – the playoffs. Instead, they sit at 2-6 and in the basement of the NFC South, and are arguably one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL right now. This five-game losing streak started with the New England game the Bucs could’ve won. There was the early knockout punch in Arizona. There was the late meltdown in Buffalo. And now we’ve seen back-to-back abysmal performances against division opponents. Do the Glazers have the guts to make a change-mid season? We shall see.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
Simply put, that stunk.
There were the Buccaneers, with a chance to creep closer to Minnesota in the Wild Card hunt. Instead, they laid an egg in a 24-17 home loss to the Saints at Ray-Jay. They’re now two games behind the Vikings and Seahawks with three games remaining.
What cost the Bucs against New Orleans? Well, it was the same mistakes that we’ve seen over and over again: bad play in the secondary, too many critical (and some stupid) penalties, and questionable coaching.
Tampa Bay’s defense let Drew Brees have his way pretty much all day. He threw 41 passes. And given the sieve that is the Bucs’ secondary, I’m surprised he didn’t throw it 50 times. They let the Saints convert 12 of 17 third-down conversions. That’s unacceptable for a team fighting for its playoff life.
The Bucs had eight penalties for 80 yards (amazingly, the Saints outdid them in that department with 12.) It started on Tampa Bay’s first offensive play: a long completion to Vincent Jackson that was nullified by a holding call. Then there was Mike Evans getting back-to-back flags in the fourth quarter for pass interference, followed by a personal foul. Mr. Evans needs to get his head in the right place, because we the fans are not happy with him these days. I heard the boos myself during the Atlanta game last week. And just when it looked like the Bucs would get the ball back for one more shot, a defensive holding call gave New Orleans a fresh set of downs.
The play-calling? The Bucs were facing the worst defense (in terms of yards allowed per game) in the NFL. New Orleans is dead-last against the run. So why the heck did Doug Martin only get eleven carries? He was averaging more than seven yards a carry, and the game wasn’t really out of reach until the very end. And why did Evans – dropsies and all – not even see a pass thrown in his direction until the second half?
Oh, and don’t throw the ball to Donteea Dye (who?) anymore. That was a critical drop late in the game that would’ve kept the potential game-tying drive alive. I know Vincent Jackson was out with an injury, but wasn’t there a better option?
It was a disappointing, frustrating game. I’ve seen so many.
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com
After Tampa Bay gave up four touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota in the season opener, the obvious question crossed my mind: if a rookie can do that, imagine what a seasoned pro like Drew Brees would do against this defense.
Count me as one of the fans who was pleasantly surprised by what played out at the Superdome on Sunday.
The Buccaneers held Brees under 300 yards passing and sacked him four times. They also forced three turnovers, which was huge given that the Bucs’ offense turned it over on consecutive series in a bizarre fourth quarter.
When Tampa Bay took a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter, I had a feeling the Saints would make a game of it. I’ve seen this movie too many times before. Sure enough, New Orleans found the end zone twice in the final period.
But the defense – and special teams – made enough key plays. After the first Saints’ TD made it a 10-point game, they foiled the two-point conversion, meaning it was still a two-score game. After another touchdown made it 23-19, perhaps the biggest play of the game came when William Gholston blocked the extra point. That means the Saints would need a touchdown at the end of the game to win, instead of a potential-tying field goal. And yes, they were in field goal range in the closing seconds.
That missed FG by the saints earlier in the fourth helped. I’m not going to lie to you there.
One more note on the three sacks: Jacquies Smith now has four in the first two games. He’s leading the league in that category. That bears repeating: a Buccaneer is leading the NFL in sacks. Sure, it’s only two games, but when the last time (before now) that statement was true?
Sunday’s victory in New Orleans wasn’t perfect – not by a long shot. The Bucs still need to do a better job of closing out games when they’ve got the lead in the fourth quarter. But after a 2-14 season, we’ll take any positives that we can, and Sunday produced enough of them.
Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com
As a journalist, I’m supposed to come up with new and creative ways to state my opinion. After seeing the same old story from the Buccaneers on Sunday in Carolina, I’m open to new terminology.
Josh McCown is pathetic. All three of the Bucs turnovers can be traced directly to him: two lost fumbles and an interception. Sure, you can argue all you want about that phantom fumble that was revered on a challenge by Ron Rivera. But the bottom line is, this guy is dreadful when it comes to protecting the football. Then there’s the lack of a sense of urgency. Down by two scores late in the fourth quarter (before McCown found the end zone with his legs) he took forever getting his team organized at the line of scrimmage. Even Dave Moore, the Bucs’ radio commentator, was all over him for that. Would Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers ever play like that? No way.
And yet, Mike Glennon, who stood on the sidelines once again, wonders if he’ll ever take another snap for this team. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue saying it: Glennon is not the answer at quarterback, but he’s sure looked a LOT better than the guy now known as “McClown.” Josh needs to be benched, but if Lovie Smith hasn’t done it by now, it’s probably not going to happen.
And the defense? They lost to backup QB Derek Anderson for the second time this season. They made him look like a star. He threw for 277 yards. The entire Bucs offense only had ten more than that. Carolina held the ball for over 37 minutes, as the defense could not get off the field. We saw this in the season opener, and we saw it again on Sunday. They did force a turnover down by the goal line, but there were other chances – especially in the fourth quarter – to get the ball back and they couldn’t capitalize. An interception of Anderson was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty. Then there was Alterraun Verner’s inability to hang on to a sure pick.
Again, we’ve seen these problems all year long. Why should they change now? The Packers will be angry when they come to Ray-Jay next weekend, having lost to Buffalo. And in the season finale, the Saints may need that game to win the division that nobody seems to want.
But hey – the Bucs are still in the running for the No. 1 draft pick!
Photo Courtesy: AP
Here are some thoughts on the Buccaneers’ difficult-to-swallow, 37-31 overtime loss to the Saints on Sunday.
The Bucs blew an eleven-point lead in the fourth quarter, and ended up losing in OT. That’s the short version. Now, for the long version…
The meltdown really kicked in after New Orleans had just scored to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to five. The Bucs got the ball back, and went backward via a botched snap and a couple of penalties. The “drive” ended with Mike Glennon getting sacked in the end zone for a safety, which essentially gave New Orleans the two points it didn’t get on the previous two-point conversion attempt. After the Saints got the ball back, they marched right down the field and kicked the tying field goal. When the game went into overtime, the Saints won the coin toss, took the ball, scored a touchdown, and that was that. The defense was obviously gassed at the end of the game, and allowed 511 yards of total offense.
And oh, those penalties: 15 of them in all for 113 yards. The biggest one came in overtime on third down against Jonathan Banks. If not for that penalty, the Bucs would’ve forced a Saints’ punt in the extra period. 15 penalties is way too many, whether you agree with the calls or not (and there were some questionable ones.)
I will have more on the disastrous fourth quarter in tomorrow’s write-up.
The Bucs still don’t have much of a running game to speak of. We have not yet seen the same Doug Martin who was a stud two years ago. He did have a couple of bursts on the Superdome turf, but he just isn’t the same player he used to be.
Glennon had another solid day as the Bucs’ quarterback, going 19-for-32 for 249 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. But unlike last week, he was unable to lead Tampa Bay on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
It was nice to see Vincent Jackson finally have a big day: eight catches for 144 yards.
As I mentioned, the defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense. And yet, Drew Brees didn’t even have his best game. The Bucs picked him off three times, and ran one of those interceptions back for a touchdown (by Danny Lansanah.)
Photo Courtesy: buccaneers.com