Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Win Over the Eagles

Here are my takeaways from the Bucs’ 28-22 win over the Eagles on Thursday night.

“Playoff Lenny” is coming back into postseason form.  Leonard Fournette had his second big game in a row.  He had 127 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.  He is the #1 running back without question right now, to go along with Tampa Bay’s tremendous passing attack.  Tom Brady threw for nearly 300 yards, two TD’s and one INT.

What a defense the Buccaneers have.  They’re the best against the run, but worst against the pass.  Against Philly, the run defense was again terrific, save for a couple of runs late in the fourth quarter.  The pass defense held Jalen Hurts to just 115 yards through the air, but…

Can the Bucs please cut down on all those penalties?  Most of the Eagles’ “offense” last night came from pass interference calls against the Bucs’ banged-up secondary, which also lost Richard Sherman to injury.  Tampa Bay was penalized seven times for 120 yards.  A couple of times, a Buccaneer defensive lineman jumped offsides.  This has to stop.  And what was Bruce Arians thinking on that 4th down call in the 4th quarter?  It was a lousy play call, it didn’t work, and the Eagles cashed in to make it a one-score game.

And yet, the Bucs are 5-1.  This was another game where they did not turn the ball over.  They’ll host the Bears a week from Sunday.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Win Over the Dolphins

Here are some quick takeaways on the Buccaneers’ 45-17 win over the Dolphins on Sunday at Ray-Jay.

Tom Brady went two straight games without throwing a touchdown pass.  So much for that streak.  TB12 threw five TD passes against Miami – two to Mike Evans, two to Antonio Brown, and one to Giovani Bernard.  And he didn’t throw an interception.  It’s just amazing how he’s still putting up these numbers at age 44.  Brady threw for 411 yards in this one.  You think he’s happy to have the Pats’ game behind him?

Tampa Bay is still struggling to defend the pass.  It’s no wonder teams are throwing a lot more than running.  Yes, injuries in the secondary are a problem.  But part of it is also Todd Bowles’ unit allowing receivers to run wide open routes.  Thankfully the Bucs clamped down on the Dolphins in the second half, because the first half was more of what we’ve seen all year.

Oh, and Lavonte David is the latest injured Buccaneer.  Let’s hope his injury is not too serious.

And yet, for all of the talk about the bad pass defense, the Bucs are still 4-1.  They’ll face the Eagles on Thursday night in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ win over the Patriots

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  And for a change, I was right.

A lot of people felt Tom Brady was going to walk into Foxboro on Sunday night and light up the Patriots.  Not me.  I felt Bill Belichick would have something up his sleeve, and he did.  It took a “doink” on Nick Folk’s 56-yard field goal attempt that allowed Tampa Bay to secure the victory, 19-17.

For all the talk about Brady returning to Gillette Stadium, this wasn’t his best performance.  He missed some throws.  He had some drops.  But he did not turn the ball over, and led the Bucs into field goal range in the closing minutes.

Another bright spot: Leonard Fournette.  This was by far his best performance of the season, with 91 yards on the ground and 47 receiving.  It is for this reason that I’ve chosen to feature his photo this week.

As for the pass defense: yikes.  I figured this would be the Patriots’ best chance to win, and Mac Jones completed a high percentage of his passes.  No improvement in this unit at all.  And not only that, Carlton Davis got hurt again (on special teams no less) and Antoine Winfield Jr. suffered a concussion.  These Buccaneers are extremely banged up in the secondary, so expect Bruce Arians to address that this week.

All said, a gutsy win on the road.  And with the other three teams in the division losing, the Bucs moved into a first-place tie with the Panthers atop the NFC South.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Heading West

Hello all. A quick note to my readers:

I will not be writing about the Bucs/Rams game after it’s over on Sunday because, I’ll be there. Yes, I’m taking in two Buccaneers’ games in-person this year: Sunday in L.A. and mid-December against the Saints in Tampa. Anyway, Sunday’s game is part of a much-needed vacation, so I’ll be quiet here for the next week and a half or so. I will resume coverage after Tampa Bay’s game against the Patriots.

Until then, be well, stay safe, and go Bucs.

Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Season Opener

You can file this under the category of ‘it wasn’t perfect, but we’ll take it.’  The Buccaneers began their title defense with a 31-29 victory over the Cowboys.  Ryan Succop kicked the game-winning field goal with :02 left.  Here are some thoughts from the season opener:

Tom Brady still has it, at age 44.  He threw for 379 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  One interception was a screen pass that Leonard Fournette dropped, and the other was a hail mary at the end of the half, which nearly turned into a disastrous return.  But when Brady got the ball back with about 1:30 to play, needing a field goal to win, you had that expectation that he was going to get it done.  And he did.

The secondary looked like the early 2020 Bucs instead of the team that finished on an 8-game winning streak.  They were torched early and often by Dak Prescott, who had a big game.  They lost Sean Murphy-Bunting to an elbow injury after he got burned for a touchdown.  Then Dallas went after Jamel Dean with a great deal of success.  The run defense looked strong, but the Cowboys mostly abandoned the running game.

Tampa Bay turned it over four times, and still won.  That doesn’t happen very often.  Two of them are blamed on Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.  Then there was Chris Godwin’s critical fumble down by the goal line.  The Cowboys turned those miscues into points.

Penalties were a big problem.  The Bucs had 11 of them for 106 yards.  They need to clean that up.  And they perhaps got lucky with a couple of non-calls: Lavonte David taking off his helmet after a play and Chris Godwin possibly getting away with a push-off on the game-winning drive.  Dallas fans can complain about the latter all they want.  I say: keep crying.

And how about Succop, who made all of his kicks?  Remember, the Bucs’ kicking game was in shambles until he came last year.  And with Greg Zuerlein missing two field goals and a PAT, this was also a key factor.

Up next: the Falcons come to Ray-Jay for the first divisional game of the season.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Ready To Go For Two

It’s almost time for the Super Bowl champs to start their title defense.  Now that the preseason is in the books, we can really start looking forward to opening night – September 9th – at Ray-Jay against the Cowboys.

I hadn’t been intentionally ignoring training camp or the preseason.  There just wasn’t a whole lot going on, since the starters barely saw any playing time.  Last night’s final preseason game against the Texans was the only time we saw the starters see nearly a half’s worth of action.  And the Bucs looked like they’re ready for Dallas on both sides of the ball.

All 22 starters are returning from last year’s Super Bowl team.  As long as Tampa Bay stays healthy, the Buccaneers should be in contention.

As Bruce Arians said, they’re going for two.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Champs Get Their Bling

I guess this is the preverbal icing on the cake, or in this case, the hands.

On Thursday night, the Super Bowl Champs got their Super Bowl LV rings.

What does the bling include?  Two Lombardi Trophies, 319 diamonds (the final score of the game was 31-9,) and the team logo.  But there’s more: the interior is a 3-D display of Ray-Jay.  According to the team’s official website, this is the first Super Bowl ring ever to feature a twist-off top, and the first to include the stadium the game was played in as its design.

Not too shabby.

The glory of last year is just about over.  Well, Bruce Arians would tell you that.  The Bucs begin training camp on Sunday, as they begin their journey toward ‘goin’ for two’.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Draft: Bucs Choose OLB Tryon

We’re not used to the Buccaneers picking at the very end of the first round of the draft.  But that’s what happens when you win the Super Bowl.  And with the 32nd overall pick, the Bucs went with a pass rusher: outside linebacker Joe Tryon from Washington.

Because I am not big on studying draftees, as usual, the first thing I said was “who’s he?”  Now that I’ve read up on him, I know that he didn’t play at all last year because he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.  In the previous year, he was a stud, with eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

I’m okay with this pick.  The Bucs brought back all of their stars from their Super Bowl team, so they’re adding depth on defense.  And if he can be as effective as fellow husky Vita Vea, then all the better.

Good News on Brady and Lavonte

This has been a big week for the Super Bowl champs, with news regarding three of their star players.

We’ll start with today’s news.  Tom Brady has extended his contract.  He’ll be playing with the Bucs beyond this upcoming season.  Second, Lavonte David signed a two-year contract extension that will ensure his career in Tampa will last more than a decade.  He and Devin White make up arguably the best linebacker duo in the league.  And earlier this week, the Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on Chris Godwin.

As Bruce Arians would say, they “ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

Yes, there are many more players that are set to become free agents.  Some of the biggest include Shaq Barrett, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette and Ryan Succop.  But this is at least a good start toward keeping the nucleus together.

Photo courtesy: @tombrady

Some Post-Super Bowl Thoughts on the Bucs

Now that I’ve had a chance to let the Super Bowl victory sink in, and watch the Buccaneers turn into big-time party animals during their boat parade, it’s time to hand out some postseason honors.  There is no rhyme or reason to any of these categories; I’m just going to do these at random.

Offensive MVP: Tom Brady

How could a 43-year old quarterback leave a team he’s been with for 20 years, join one that hadn’t been to the playoffs in over a decade, and end up winning a Super Bowl in his first year with his new team.  When your name is Tom Brady, of course.  Brady looks like he could play until he’s 50 (though he probably won’t.)  As you would expect with him, there was a lot more good than bad.  The number of turnovers from the quarterback position dropped off dramatically compared to his predecessor, Jameis Winston.  After going 7-5 through the first 12 games, Brady led the Bucs on an 8-game winning streak, and their second Super Bowl title.  And you’d be crazy to say he didn’t help others elevate their games.

Defensive MVP: Devin White

When the Bucs drafted this guy two years ago, we the fans said, ‘he’d better be the next Derrick Brooks.’  Well, he’s on his way.  White was sensational in his sophomore year in Tampa, leading the team in tackles.  And that’s with missing the regular season finale and the wild card game against Washington due to COVID.  White’s INT late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was the cherry on top of a tremendous season.  Or, maybe the official dessert was getting to ride his horse around Ray-Jay for a victory lap after the parade.  It was well-earned.

Best rookie: Tristan Wirfs

This is the guy the Buccaneers took in the first round of the 2020 draft.  What a pick this turned out to be.  One big question I had going into the season was, how well could the offensive line protect Tom Brady?  Wirfs got the job done, and then some.  You didn’t hear a lot about him during telecasts.  That’s because he was doing his job, and not committing penalties.  Antoine Winfield Jr. will get a lot of praise for his work in the secondary – and his little feud with Tyreek Hill – but I’m giving Wirfs the ever-so-slight edge.

Best special teams player: Ryan Succop

You all know how dreadful the Bucs’ kicking game has been over the years.  Succop is another player they picked up in free agency.  In 2020, he made 28-of-31 field goals during the regular season.  That’s 90%.  He was 9-for-9 in the playoffs.  He brought an enormous deal of comfort to a position that has been a weak spot for a long time.

There are many more honorable mentions, but these are just a few.  I’m sure you’re all aware of all the free agents the Bucs have to deal with.  But that’s for Jason Licht to handle in the coming months.  In the meantime, just keep reliving the moment, because who knows when this will ever happen again.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers