Tagged: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Disappointing, Chilly Day at Ray-Jay

On Sunday, I saw in person what I’ve been listening to on the internet and seeing on social media all season long: the Bucs are a bad team.  On Buccaneer Bri’s annual trip to Ray-Jay, the Bucs lost to the Lions, 24-21, on a field goal in the closing seconds.  But honestly, it shouldn’t have even been that close.

 

I saw with my own two eyes all of the reasons the Buccaneers are now 4-9.  They had five turnovers.  The tackling was terrible.  They have no pass rush.  None.  They never laid a finger on Matthew Stafford.  Heck, by my unofficial count, they only chased after him once….in the entire game…and that one play ended with a roughing the passer penalty.  The play-calling was questionable at times, as was the use of timeouts at the end of the game.

 

And yet, there they were, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

 

Do you think Mike Smith’s defense could do the job from there?  (insert sarcastic laugh here.)

 

Instead of me rambling on about how Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith are doomed after the season, I will dedicate the rest of this article to my personal Ray-Jay experience, since I only get down there once a year.

 

It was chilly.  No, really.  I brought my jacket and wore jeans, and I needed both.  The two ladies who came to the game with me were shivering as well as the game went on.  This was, by far, the coldest game I’ve ever been to in Tampa.  But it beat the snow that fell back home while I was gone.

 

I know Tampa always draws a lot of visiting team’s fans.  But geez, did the entire state of Michigan fly in for this game?  It felt like there were as many Lions’ fans there as Bucs’ fans.  Detroit fans deserve praise for traveling en masse to support their team.  But it’s depressing for Tampa Bay fans like me, and ownership needs to do something to change that.

 

This was also my first time sitting in the upper deck.  I don’t think I will do it again, and it had nothing to do with how far away I was from the action.  There was absolutely no vibe upstairs.  It was like being in a library for much of the game.  I didn’t feel like I was part of the festivities at all.  Oh well, I chose to sit upstairs because the area where I usually sit was just too expensive.  From now on, I think I will just spend the extra bucks and go back down to the lower bowl.

 

There was a nice couple from Detroit sitting behind us.  They left before halftime, after Stafford threw his second pick.  The guy said, “same old Lions!”  I overheard the lady he was with talk about going to the movies.  I hope they made it in time, if that’s in fact where they ended up.  For all I know, they may just have been sick of me yelling and trying to the enjoy the game in a morgue-like atmosphere, and they have just moved to another section.  Where they ended up is a question I will likely never know the answer to.

 

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.  The Bucs have three more games left – all of them against division opponents – and in case you haven’t noticed, the rest of the division is really, really good.  I can easily see the Bucs finishing 4-12.  They’re on Monday Night Football next week against Atlanta.  Jon Gruden will be calling the game, then he’ll be honored at halftime.  If the ceremony is streamed live someplace, that may very well be the best part of the night.

 

Photo Courtesy: Me

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Overtime Letdown: Bucs Lose…Again

Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

 

This time, the Buccaneers waited until overtime for the pain and agony to become official: a 26-20 loss to the Packers in Green Bay.  Let me count the ways:

 

Jameis Winston gift-wrapped a Green Bay touchdown when he fumbled the ball right into the arms of Dean Lowry, who took it to the house.  Winston almost cost the Bucs more points in the fourth quarter due to miscommunication on a snap in the red zone.  He’s lucky he recovered the fumble, and ended up throwing his second TD pass of the game to Cameron Brate, which put Tampa Bay in the lead with about six minutes to go.

 

That brings me to my next point: Mike Smith’s joke of a defense couldn’t hold on to that slender lead late in the fourth.  The Packers tied it with a field goal, then won it on the first possession of overtime.  And on that drive, did you happen to notice the shoddy tackling?  Someone remind me again why Smith is still on the staff.

 

Of course, after the Green Bay field goal made it 20-20 with about two minutes to go, Jameis and company got the ball back, with a chance to go down the field and win the game.  They didn’t even come close.

 

While the Buccaneers have solved their field goal kicking situation, they had a punt blocked that led to a Packers’ touchdown.  Another mistake that you cannot make in any game, much less this one.

 

And then there were all of the penalties, and all of the sacks – seven of them in all – that cost the Bucs big-time.  The pass protection was a mess, yet they managed to have a nice game on the ground courtesy of Peyton Barber.  Go figure.

 

Last year, the Bucs finished 9-7.  This loss means they will not match their win total of last year.  It’s just one more sign of what a disappointment this season has been.

 

Next week, they’ll host the Lions and Ray-Jay.  Buccaneer Bri will be making his annual trip down south for that one.  So be on the lookout for some photos, videos and hopefully other fun stuff next Monday.

 

Photo Courtesy: Associated Press

 

Another Tampa Bay Loss, Another Tampa Bay Rant

I’m getting sick and tired of writing about the same old problems with this team every time they lose. 

 

The offense can’t score early in the game.  The defense can’t stop anybody from scoring.  The play-calling leaves a lot to be desired.  And after this latest loss to Atlanta, the Bucs are now further cemented in the cellar of the NFC South at 4-7.

 

Let’s start with Mike Smith’s pathetic defense – you know, the one that allowed at least 30 points for the fifth time this season.  Look: Julio Jones is a great wide receiver – one of the best in the game.  But how do you let a guy like that torch you for over 250 yards?  You’d think it’d be worth double-covering him every now and then, even if it means man-to-man coverage on another receiver like Mohammed Sanu.  You have to make someone other than Jones beat you, and Smith didn’t give that scenario a chance to play out.

 

This defense also has to be the worst in the league at getting off the field on third down.  The Falcons were 11-of-14 on third down in this game.  That is insane.  And it’s been happening all year long.  And let me tell you: we’re not talking 3rd-and-short, either.  A lot of these conversions require double-digit yards, and the Bucs are letting their opponents convert with ease.  How many times to do you a see a Tampa Bay defender playing so soft, that all the receiver has to do is run about two yards to move the chains before the defender even lays a hand on him?

 

Forcing turnovers is still an issue, though they did get a big one in the fourth quarter that nearly led to the Buccaneers coming all the way back from 21 points down.

 

That leads me to my next point: Dirk Koetter’s play-calling.  After the turnover, the Bucs marched down the field and into the red zone.  With about seven minutes to go, Tampa Bay had 2nd and 2 from the 19.  Koetter called three straight pass plays – all of them incomplete.  This was their big chance to tie up a game they had no business even being in, and they couldn’t get two yards in three plays?  As for his decision to go for it on 4th down instead of kicking the field goal, I’m a bit torn.  If you kick the field goal (and yes, we have a guy that can kick now) then you’d be trailing by four, meaning you’d still need a touchdown to win the game, not to mention stopping the Falcons’ offense.  So I was actually okay with the decision to go for it, but I did not like the play-call at all.

 

Naturally, Atlanta got the ball back, marched right down the field and scored the you-knew-it-was coming insurance touchdown.

 

But that’s not the only questionable play-calling.  Tampa Bay has two really good tight ends on this team: Cameron Brate and rookie O.J. Howard.  Can someone explain to me why neither of them saw a pass thrown in his direction for the entire first half?

 

I really don’t see how Koetter and Smith still have jobs at the end of this lost season, especially Smith.  The defense was the biggest problem last year; they’ve done nothing to fix that.  On offense, they’ve got all of these weapons, yet they consistently struggle out of the gate.  I know Jameis Winston is injured, but it’s been this way even when he’s been in there.  That ultimately has to fall on the head coach.

 

OK – rant over.

 

Next week: the Battle of the Bays, at Lambeau Field.

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Bucs Win Again Thanks to Self-Destructing Dolphins

Let’s call this one, winning ugly…part two.

 

For those who didn’t see (or listen to) this game in Miami, you’d look at the final score and think the Buccaneers dominated the Dolphins.  Oh, how wrong you’d be.

 

The Bucs won the game when Patrick Murray split the uprights with four seconds left on the clock.  But let’s talk about the bad football that preceded much of the winning kick.

 

The Bucs won this game because of two things: Jay Cuter and all those Miami penalties.  Tampa Bay picked off Cutler three times in the first half and also recovered a fumble.  But in true Bucs’ fashion, they only led by 13 points at the half.  At the time, I said to myself, “this is going to come back to haunt them.”

 

And it did.  Matt Moore came in for Cutler in the second half and lit up the Bucs defense like so many other quarterbacks (including some backups) have.  The Bucs nearly gave up a safety that could’ve really changed things in the fourth quarter.  Still, the Dolphins tied the game on one of those “how the heck do you let him get that wide open?” kind of deep throws.  As if you needed any more proof that Mike Smith’s defense is horrendous.

 

But there were all those penalties against the Dolphins – a whopping 17 of them – that helped the Buccaneers’ cause.  The Bucs had nine penalties of their own, including one that negated a touchdown.  It was just bad football.

 

Of course, this was a win, so there are positives.  O.J. Howard had one of the Bucs’ two touchdowns, on his birthday no less.  Happy birthday, O.J.

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to perform admirably in Jameis Winston’s absence.  Fitzpatrick will never be mistaken for Tom Brady, but he’s been efficient.  And he’s won two games with basically no running game and a swiss cheese defense.

 

Patrick Murray continues to make us forget about Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk.  Murray did miss a kick earlier in the game, but made the game-winner, and has played well since the Bucs re-acquired him.

 

On to Atlanta….

 

Photo Courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

 

It Was Ugly, But the Bucs Will Take It

Wait a minute – you mean the Buccaneers really do have a defense?

 

For at least one week, the answer is yes.

 

The Bucs throttled the Jets today at Ray-Jay, 15-10.  Heading into this game, the defense had eight sacks all season.  They sacked former Buc Josh McCown six times in this game.

 

Six!

 

Thank goodness for the stellar defense effort, because the offense was not in rhythm for much of the day.  Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 50% of his passes, and listening to the radio broadcast, I can’t tell you how many times legendary Tampa Bay broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff described one of Fitzpatrick’s passes as nearly being picked off.  He did throw one INT, had another that was nullified by a penalty, but in the fourth quarter he threw the only TD pass of the game to Charles Sims. 

 

Speaking of unusual things, Sims scored a touchdown.  This is the same Charles Sims I’m not a big fan of.  Oh well, I guess I have to give him props this time around.

 

Patrick Murray made all of his kicks.  The Buccaneers have stabilized their kicking situation…..finally.

 

But consider this: the Bucs won this game with their backup QB, with no running game, poor offensive line play, and they were without their star receiver, Mike Evans.  The highlight reel won’t be one that you’ll want to see over and over again, but we’ll take the wins anyway we can.

 

The next three games are on the road, starting with next Sunday in Miami.  This was originally the season opener, but it got postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

This is Bad, Bucs Fans. Very Bad

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

Hey Bucs: Fix the Defense….NOW

There is a lot of anger right now amongst us Bucs fans.  And most of it is directed at one guy: defensive coordinator Mike Smith.

 

After today’s exasperating, last-second, 30-27 loss in Buffalo, a lot of fans say it’s time for Smith to walk the plank.

 

And why not?  This was the third time in six games – and second in a row – that his defense has surrendered at least 30 points (Minnesota is the other one.)  Remember last week when the Cardinals jumped out 31-0 against his defense?  Today, his unit could not hold on after the Buccaneers took the lead late in the fourth quarter.  In the blink of an eye, the score went from 27-20 to 27-27.

 

By the way – Arizona got shut out today.  The Cards’ offense is terrible – except when they face the Buccaneers.  The same can be said for whoever the Bucs face these days.

 

I’m not saying Smith is solely to blame for today’s defeat in Orchard Park.  The Bucs had three turnovers; the third one – the fumble by Adam Humphries – was the mostly costly because it set up the game-winning field goal.  But that final Buffalo drive featured a run for a first down in which there were several missed tackles.  That is unacceptable.  That falls on the coaching staff.

 

The defensive meltdown is what we’re all talking about, instead of a very good performance by Jameis Winston.  He wasn’t perfect by any means (he threw an interception and lost a fumble) but he was much better than in previous games.  O.J. Howard had his best game of the season.  Mike Evans continues to show he’s one of the best receivers in the game.

 

For crying out loud, the Bucs put 27 points on the board against a very good Buffalo defense.  And they still didn’t win the game.

 

We’re six games in.  The Bucs are 2-4 and sitting in last place in the NFC South.  They need to get this turned around in a hurry, or the high aspirations before the season will soon be just a bad dream.  And it starts with fixing this hole-filled defense.

At least they fixed the problem with the kicking game, for now.

By the way, Buccaneer Bri will not be blogging after next week’s game against Carolina.  Vegas is calling next week, and Bri will gladly favor a trip to southern Nevada any day of the year.

 

Photo courtesy: Buffalo Bills