The day the NFL schedule comes out is sort of like Christmas in April for us football fans. It’s time to look over the schedule, think which games are winnable/not winnable, only to be proven wrong in five months, etc. And for own-of-town fans like me, it’s time to start thinking about when to take a road trip to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs.
Here’s the schedule:
Sept. 8 – SAN FRANCISCO
Sept. 12 – at Carolina (Thursday night)
Sept. 22 – NEW YORK GIANTS
Sept. 29 – at L.A. Rams
Oct. 6 – at New Orleans
Oct. 13 – CAROLINA (in London)
Oct. 27 – at Tennessee
Nov. 3 – at Seattle
Nov. 10 – ARIZONA
Nov. 17 – NEW ORLEANS
Nov. 24 – at Atlanta
Dec. 1 – at Jacksonville
Dec. 8 – INDIANAPOLIS
Dec. 15 – at Detroit
Dec. 22 – HOUSTON
Dec. 29 – ATLANTA
Tampa Bay has historically gotten rough stretches, and this year is no different. After hosting the Giants in Week 3, the Bucs don’t play another home game until… Week TEN?! The Bucs will be the “home” team for the game in London, but it’s ridiculous that they have to go nearly two months between “real” home games.
‘Tis the season for giving. So, it seems only appropriate that the Buccaneers gift-wrapped a win for the Cowboys today.
There were two key plays that stood out. First, there was Jameis Winston getting blindsided, fumbling, and Jaylon Smith running it all the way back for a touchdown in the first quarter. Then, it was another fumble by Winston in the third quarter on a botched handoff that Dallas recovered at the Tampa Bay 4. Two plays later, the Cowboys were up by 14.
But there’s more. On the ensuing drive, the Bucs had the ball for over nine minutes, ran 17 plays, and ended up with zero points. On the second-to-last play of the drive, Tampa Bay had fourth down on the Cowboys 2-yard line, and got hit with a delay of game penalty. How the heck does that happen in a situation like that?
These are the Bucs; anything’s possible.
Tampa Bay had nine penalties in all. That’s coaching. I’ve blasted previous head coaches for lack of discipline, and I won’t hold back this time, either. I’m looking squarely at you, Dirk Koetter. I hope you have only one game left as head coach in Tampa, despite an NFL Network report saying the opposite may be true. Yes, Dallas was matching the Bucs penalty-for-penalty, but that’s not what I’m getting at.
And don’t give me any of this baloney about how the Bucs outgained the Cowboys in total yards. You can put up 600 yards of offense every week, but it you keep self-destructing, it makes no difference.
So, we have ourselves another 10-loss season. The season finale is next Sunday at Ray-Jay against the Falcons. One more week of this torture. Drink heavily, Bucs fans.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
So yet again, the Buccaneers are playing out the string at the end of a season. They will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
This brings up the debate that I always see: should the team just keep losing to get a better draft pick, or try to (gasp) win these last two games for a sense of pride?
Look – it’s pretty much a given that Dirk Koetter will be fired at the end of the season. GM Jason Licht may walk the plank with him. Then there’s the future of Jameis Winston. And today brought the news that DeSean Jackson sold his house in Tampa. All of that said, will a couple of losses – and moving a couple of spots in next year’s draft – really have that much of a difference?
I say no. I want to see wins.
I’m a diehard fan of this team. I have been for over 30 years. I want them to win every single week. Nearly three weeks ago, I was at Ray-Jay to see Tampa Bay beat Carolina. The Bucs haven’t won another game since. They’ll be in Dallas on Sunday, then host Atlanta (another disappointing team) in the finale. It’s a losing season no matter what. But I’d rather have 7-9 instead of 5-11.
So, my message to the Bucs is this: don’t just roll over and play dead in AT&T Stadium on Sunday. There are fans who want you to ‘tank.’ I’m not one of them. There will be plenty of time to talk about the future direction of this team. That can wait. Until then, a chance to play ‘spoiler’ against the Cowboys awaits.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
OK, so the headline of this blog post isn’t exactly earth-shattering news. But it didn’t become official until now.
With today’s loss to the Ravens in dreary Baltimore, there will be no playoffs for the Buccaneers for the eleventh consecutive year.
Maybe we should’ve known it wasn’t going to be a good day when, on the opening drive, Chris Godwin dropped a pass that could’ve gone the distance.
Maybe we should’ve known it wasn’t going to be a good day when they flubbed up the extra point on the game’s first touchdown.
Maybe we should’ve known it was going to be a good day when they recovered a muffed punt inside the Baltimore red zone, only to come away with three point.
The Bucs only scored three points in the second half. This is a troubling trend over the past three games, starting with the Carolina game when they only scored seven points after halftime (and they won that game.)
Or maybe, just the thought of chasing Lamar Jackson and company all over the field was too much to comprehend.
No matter how you slice it, the final two games against the Cowboys and Falcons will amount to nothing more than ‘playing out the string,’ though Dallas will certainly have something to play for.
Dirk Koetter’s grave has been dug. It’s only a matter of time before we put him in it. Jason Licht may end up in the ground next to him. We’ll see.
Photo Courtesy: Baltimore Ravens
Well, you can drop all that talk of, “what if the Bucs run the table and make the playoffs…”
There was no repeat of the magic in the Superdome from the opener. Tampa Bay played well in the first half against New Orleans. But then, just like last week when I was at Ray-Jay, the offense went to bed in the second half (for what it’s worth, I also went to bed before the Saints mounted their comeback, but anyway…)
The game turned in the third quarter when the Saints blocked a punt, and turned it into the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans scored 25 straight points. The Bucs couldn’t muster any offense after the Saints took the lead. Most of the yards they got were in “garbage time” at the very end.
The end result: Saints 28, Bucs 14.
Cairo Santos missed two field goals. He hadn’t missed since joining the Bucs a fee weeks ago. Yes, we’re back to this problem again.
The Buccaneers had 10 penalties in this game. That, too, is a problem. So is the offensive line and the lack of running game. That’s been an issue all year.
Well, it was a fun two-game streak while it lasted. The best the Bucs can do now is finish at .500, and that would mean beating Baltimore, Dallas and Atlanta. Dirk Koetter’s grave is already dug.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times
On Sunday, I made my annual trip down to Ray-Jay to see the Bucs play in person. I left the stadium with a big smile on my face, as Tampa Bay knocked off Carolina.
This one went according to script (you will smell the sarcasm shortly.) The Bucs’ defense came into this game with three interceptions all year. Well, some guy named Andrew Adams doubled that total, in just this game alone. Throw in a fourth pick by Javien Elliot, four sacks, and you’ve got yourself a 24-17 upset.
I, and other Bucs fans, have been bashing this defense all year. Well, over the past few games, we’ve seen some improvement, so I am more than happy to give credit where credit is due. It was the defense that won this game.
Jameis Winston did not throw a pick, though he did have a couple of passes that made me say, “ay ay ay.” Chris Godwin a had a big game, catching a key TD just before the half that I had a good look at.
This team is far from perfect. The Bucs needed every one of those interceptions to win this game, because after they went ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter, the offense went to bed. It felt like Carolina had a zillion chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but the defense stepped up, even with so many starters injured. Whatever Mark Duffner is doing with this group, it’s working.
Dear Bucs: see what happens when you don’t turn the ball over as often as the opponent? You usually win.
The Saints come to Ray-Jay next Sunday. We all remember that tremendous opener in the Superdome. I’ll bet New Orleans hasn’t forgotten, either.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers