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
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
See? All is well in Bucs country, at least for now.
Talk about a bounce-back game. After the Buccaneers were booed off the field in an embarrassing season opener, they marched into the Superdome and beat the division-rival Saints, 26-19.
Jameis Winston had a good day: 14-of-21 for 207 yards. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another. He lost a fumble, but fortunately it didn’t prove costly.
The defense, which was maligned by fans (including me) last week, stepped up to force three turnovers. Those mistakes turned into nine Tampa Bay points.
The fourth quarter was insane. Even with Tampa Bay leading 23-7 going in, I knew New Orleans would make a game of it. Sure enough, the Bucs tried hard to give the game away on a silver platter – whether it was all those penalties, the ultra-conservative play calling or the two lost fumbles. But there were also key plays in their favor: a missed field goal, a blocked PAT, and a stop on a two-point conversion. Still, it wasn’t until the Bucs knocked down Drew Brees’ pass in the end zone as time expired, that we could breathe a sigh of relief.
But the bottom line is: a win is a win, against a division opponent no less. Bucs fans will gladly take it.
Let’s just hope Gerald McCoy’s injury isn’t serious. That would be a crushing blow so early in the year.
Photo Courtesy: AP
So after that debacle in the season opener, the Buccaneers are in New Orleans today to take on the Saints.
The six division games on the schedule carry more weight than the rest, so hopefully the Bucs will show up and give Drew Brees and company a game in their own building.
Check back later this afternoon/evening for my thoughts on the game – good or bad. There is never a shortage of things to talk about.
Enjoy the game, and go Bucs!
It’s time to look back at how the Buccaneers blew a fourth-quarter lead in the Superdome, and allowed the Saints to eventually win in overtime.
There is one stat that stands out more than any other: penalties. Tampa Bay had every chance to win this game, but kept shooting itself in the foot with one yellow flag after another – 15 of them in all for 113 yards.
Early in the game, whenever Mike Glennon completed a big pass downfield, the Bucs were flagged. Or, his receiver dropped the ball (I’m looking at you, Austin Seferian-Jenkins.) The dropped passed are one thing. But it’s the penalties that cost the Buccaneers a chance to finish a tough, three-game road trip with a more-than-respectable 2-1 record.
The real killers came late in the fourth quarter and in overtime. How awful was that Bucs’ series after the Saints had cut the lead to five? They started on the 20. An offensive holding penalty pushed the ball back to the 10. The next play was an errant snap that sailed to Glennon’s right, which he fell on at the 2. That was followed by back-to-back fouls for delay of game and false start. Next play: Junior Gallette comes in untouched, and brings the Saints to within a field goal. New Orleans would tie the game on its ensuing possession after the free kick.
The last ridiculous (and in my opinion, questionable) penalty came in overtime, when Jonathan Banks was flagged for illegal use of hands to the face. I’ve watched the play over and over, and I still don’t see the penalty. Of course, the Fox crew didn’t exactly provide a conclusive replay, either. But regardless of how Bucs fans feel about the call, the point is this: the penalty came on third down. Instead of forcing the Saints to punt, the Bucs gift-wrapped a first down for them. We all know what happened after that.
Yes, the defense wilted in the fourth quarter and overtime. They had to be out of gas. But the Buccaneers didn’t help their cause with all of those mistakes. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed, in a league where the refs are now throwing flags on seemingly every other play. This game was there for the taking, and the Bucs let it slip through their hands.
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
Thank goodness this debacle of a season is over.
In the season finale against the Saints, the Buccaneers got clobbered in the Superdome, 42-17. I had a hunch this would happen; New Orleans needed to win to get in, and the Saints are darn near perfect when playing at home. It seemed every time I saw a highlight, it was a Saints’ receiver breaking free behind the Bucs’ secondary. Once again, the Bucs couldn’t muster 300 yards of total offense. And once again, they had too many penalties.
So Tampa Bay’s final record is 4-12. Was this the end of the line for Greg Schiano? I hope so. He’s had two years to work his magic, and his record is 11-21. The Bucs were the third-most penalized team in the league. Wasn’t Schiano supposed to be a disciplinarian when he arrived? And he never did a good job making adjustments after halftime.
While we’re at it, let’s get rid of offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan as well. The Bucs were dead-last in the league in total offense. They were third from the bottom in total points. Yes, I know they had some key injuries. Here’s a news flash for you: there isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have to deal with injured players.
The jury is still out on rookie QB Mike Glennon. At times, he played well. At other times, he looked like a rookie quarterback. Given the offensive line’s inconsistent (and subpar) performance, it’s hard to make a judgment on Glennon. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if Tampa Bay drafts a quarterback next year.
Will Schiano be a victim of “Black Monday” in the NFL? Stay tuned.
Photo Courtesy: AP