The Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule is now out. Now it’s time to dissect it, decide which games are most winnable, and for out-of-town fans like me, think about which game to head south to see.
My first thought after taking a look at this: ouch! What a tough five-game stretch to open with. The Bucs face four playoff teams, starting with the division champion Saints in the Superdome, followed by the Super Bowl champion Eagles in the home opener. Then, they get the Steelers on a Monday night. How does a Bucs’ team that went 5-11 last season end up on MNF? Oh, that’s right, they’re playing the Steelers, which will give the idiots at BSPN something to crow about while at the same time dissing Jameis Winston, even if Winston gets off to a good start.
Tampa Bay goes to Chicago in September. It sure beats December. But Baltimore in mid-December could be interesting to say the least.
There is a stretch of three straight home games in late November/early December. And wouldn’t it be interesting if the finale against the dirty birds from Atlanta is meaningful? One can dream, anyway.
Here’s the schedule:
Sept. 9 — @ New Orleans
Sep. 16 — PHILADELPHIA
Sept. 24 — PITTSBURGH (Monday)
Sept. 30 — @ Chicago
Oct. 14 — @ Atlanta
Oct. 21 – CLEVELAND
Oct. 28 — @ Cincinnati
Nov. 4 — @ Carolina
Nov. 11 – WASHINGTON
Nov. 18 @ NY Giants
Nov. 25 – SAN FRANCISCO
Dec. 2 – CAROLINA
Dec. 9 – NEW ORLEANS
Dec. 16 — @ Baltimore
Dec. 23 — @ Dallas
Dec. 30 – ATLANTA
All of a sudden, things are looking up for the Buccaneers.
They beat the 49ers on Sunday, 34-17, for their second straight win. The Bucs are now back at .500.
Jameis Winston shook off an early, poorly-thrown interception to end up with a nice day. Mike Williams is showing no signs of a sophomore slump. And even without Doug Martin, the Bucs suddenly have found a running game, thanks to another big day from Jacquizz Rodgers.
When Tampa Bay fell behind 14-0 early, I thought it was going to be a long afternoon in Santa Clara. No sir. The next 27 points were scored by the road team.
The fact that San Francisco’s run defense is terrible should not diminish the effort by Rodgers, who finished with 154 yards on the ground. Evans’ performance (two more TD’s) is even more impressive when you consider that Vincent Jackson was placed on injured reserve last week. Russell Shepard and Peyton Barber also found the end zone. Who are those two guys? That’s my point; other players stepped it up nicely.
The defense is also playing much better. Yes, they let the ‘Niners march right down the field to start the game. And the second TD they gave up was the direct result of a bonehead mistake by Winston. But the D held San Francisco to a field goal the rest of the way.
Roberto Aguayo missed another field goal. Yes, it was a 50-yarder, but it’s only going to add to the scrutiny surrounding the second-round pick. He’s now 6-for-11 on FG’s this season. Not good enough.
But six games in, and the Bucs are very much right in the mix. The next three games are at Ray-Jay, where Tampa Bay has struggled to win in recent years. That has to change, starting with the game against a very good Oakland team next Sunday.
Photo courtesy: buccaneers.com
For those of us who love taking road trips to see an NFL game, it’s always fun when the NFL schedule is released. It came out this past week. Here’s how 2016 is shaping up for the Bucs:
SEPTEMBER 11 @ Atlanta 1:00
SEPTEMBER 18 @ Arizona 4:05
SEPTEMBER 25 L.A. RAMS 4:05
OCTOBER 2 DENVER 4:05
OCTOBER 10 @ Carolina 8:30 (Monday Night)
OCTOBER 23 @ San Francisco 4:05
OCTOBER 30 OAKLAND 1:00
NOVEMBER 3 ATLANTA 8:25 (Thursday Night)
NOVEMBER 13 CHICAGO 1:00
NOVEMBER 20 @ Kansas City 1:00
NOVEMBER 20 SEATTLE 4:05
DECEMBER 4 @ San Diego 4:25
DECEMBER 11 NEW ORLEANS 1:00
DECEMBER 18 @ Dallas 1:00
DECEMBER 24 @ New Orleans 1:00
JANUARY 1 – CAROLINA 1:00
A number of things stand out to me immediately:
*The Buccaneers have to make three trips to the western time zone. I can tell you from past experience: things haven’t gone well over the years when they head west.
*Is it me, or does Tampa Bay have more 4:00 games than usual, whether it be 4:05 or 4:25? Even three of the home games are late kickoffs.
*They have to play both Super Bowl teams from a season ago. Obviously they get Carolina twice since it’s a division opponent, but the world-champion Broncos also visit Ray-Jay.
*Cold weather doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, although we’ll see what mid-November in Kansas City is like.
*Wouldn’t it be sweet if the season finale against the Panthers was for the NFC South title? Hey, a guy can dream.
I like to head to Tampa in November or early December. So I’m eyeing the games against the Bears or Seahawks, two teams I have never seen in person before. We shall see.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
This pretty much went the way I, and probably just about everyone else, expected it to go.
The 49ers are a better team than the Buccaneers. There’s no doubt about that. Colin Kaepernick is a better quarterback than Mike Glennon. There’s no doubt about that. Tampa Bay couldn’t even muster 200 yards of total offense. 33-14 was the final in the home finale.
The “Fire Schiano” folks out there got some added ammunition late in the fourth quarter. The Bucs were down by 9. They tried some chicanery on the ensuing kickoff, only to see Eric Page fumble, and one of the ‘Niners pick up the ball and take it in for a gift-wrapped touchdown. Why on earth are you trying something like that in that situation? Coming back from a nine-point deficit in less than five minutes is not impossible – maybe unlikely, but still there was at least a little hope.
That three-game winning streak by the Bucs seems like such a long time ago. In two of the last three weeks, they’ve been beaten soundly by two of the best teams in the NFC. Three of Tampa’s four wins have come against lesser competition (or one might argue, “equal”) with the lone exception coming at Ford Field against the Lions (upsets do happen every now and then.)
The last two games are on the road: against St. Louis and New Orleans. 4-10 could easily become 4-12. I hope these will be the final two games Schiano is on the sidelines.
Photo Courtesy: AP
Bobby Rainey was terrific. The defense was sensational. The Bucs won again on Sunday, beating the Bills at Ray-Jay, 27-6.
Let’s start with Rainey. On the second play of the game, he sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 127 yards on the day. Who would’ve thought that after losing Doug Martin and Mike James for the season, the running game would start to flourish? Aside from a tough game against a very good Carolina defense, Rainey has been amazing since taking over as Tampa Bay’s primary ball carrier.
But the defense was the real story of this game. They forced five turnovers, including picking off E.J. Manuel four times, two of them by budding star Lavonte David. They sacked him seven times. They kept the Buffalo offense out of the end zone. The Bills were held to 214 yards of total offense. It goes without saying; you’re going to win a lot of games when you do that.
Mike Glennon’s numbers were not very good: 9-of-25 for 90 yards. He did complete two long passes to Vincent Jackson, one of which went for a touchdown. He also threw a TD pass to Tim Wright. But Glennon was also intercepted twice. It was not exactly an awe-inspiring performance. The Bucs only had 246 yards of offense. Fortunately, his performance took a back seat to that of the defense.
So after an 0-8 start, the Buccaneers have won four of their last five. The 49ers visit Ray-Jay next Sunday for the final home game of the season.
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
UPDATE: On Monday, former Buccaneers CB Eric Wright failed his physical with his “new” team, the 49ers. As a result, the trade was voided, and Wright was returned to the Bucs. But he won’t last for long. All signs pointing to Tampa Bay dumping him.
The Bucs had traded their starting right cornerback to San Francisco for a 2014 draft pick. It was just over two weeks ago that Wright was arrested for suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles. And last season, he was suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.