Relax, everyone. Just relax.
What happened to the Buccaneers on Monday happens to every team in every sport at some point: players jumping ship for more money to play elsewhere.
For those who haven’t heard the news, here are the big headlines: Kwon Alexander struck gold in San Francisco. DeSean Jackson is going back to Philadelphia. And Adam Humphries is trading in red and pewter for Titan Blue.
Judging by my social media feeds, you’d think the world is about to end. Well, D-Jax turned back into a crybaby when he stopped getting the ball thrown to him. People loved Kwon’s passion but I read today that he missed a lot of tackles – a big problem for this defense over the past couple of years. Humphries is the loss that hurts me the most. Here’s a guy coming off a career year. But hey – money talks, and Tennessee offered more than Tampa. End of story.
Everyone is replaceable, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s see who the Bucs get in the draft, and more importantly, what Bruce Arians does with the players they acquire.
Photo courtesy: USA Today
Here are some quick thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason victory over the Titans Saturday night.
On the plus side, the headline is Jameis Winston. He played the entire second quarter, and was sizzling. He even showed an ability to connect on the deep ball, something that was sorely missing last year. He is still making a couple of “what the heck were you thinking?” throws, but overall there was more good than bad in Nashville.
Staying with the passing game, the Buccaneers appear to have a formidable group of wide receivers. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, etc. all look strong in the early going.
Chandler Catanzaro was perfect on all of his kicks. Amen.
Now for the negative: the penalties, oh those penalties. Tampa Bay was sloppy in this department, and many of the flags were thrown while the first-teamers were on the field. Hey coach: clean this up immediately.
After playing well against Miami, Ryan Fitzpatrick was…well, “meh.” Lest we forget….he’s the starter for the first three games.
For all the hype surrounding the revamped defense, they didn’t put much pressure on the quarterback. They also missed some tackles. Sound familiar?
If you watch any preseason game, watch the next one against the Lions on Friday night. The third game is the so-called “dress rehearsal” in which the starters play the longest. Stay tuned.
Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At first glance, it’s easy to look at the numbers from Sunday’s embarrassing 42-14 loss to the Titans, and place blame accordingly.
Sure, Jameis Winston struggled mightily in the season opener. He completed less than 50% of passes while throwing two ugly interceptions, the first of which was returned for a touchdown. His quarterback rating was a measly 6.7. I don’t know a lot about that stat, except to say that 6.7 is probably very bad.
I’m not letting Winston off the hook here, not in the least. But as a rookie quarterback, I’m willing to bet he’s going to have a lot more days like he had on Sunday. Even the great QB’s in the game today struggled in their first season. All I’m looking for from him is improvement as the season progresses.
No, there’s one guy who deserves the bulk of the blame: head coach Lovie Smith.
The short version is this: he did not have his team ready to play, in a much-anticipated opener, in front of a (briefly) energized fan base. When the Buccaneers walked off the field at halftime, that fan base was booing his players – loudly. I was listening to the radio broadcast; I heard it loud and clear.
For those who don’t know, Smith is now calling the plays on defense. So he deserves to be slammed for allowing Marcus Mariota to find wide open receivers, playing pitch and catch with them for three quarters before sitting out the fourth. Smith has known for five months that he’d be facing the Titans in the opener, and that was his game plan? His “Tampa 2” defense has not worked well from the minute he stepped foot at One Buc Place.
Smith deserves to be slammed for all of those penalties – 12 of them in all – and that doesn’t count the ones that Tennessee declined. Penalties=lack of discipline. Lack of discipline=bad coaching. Heck, the Bucs were the most penalized team in the league last year. Based on what we saw in the opener, they’re going to do it again in 2015 unless something changes in a hurry.
Is Lovie on the hot seat, just one game into his second season? If not yet, it won’t be long before he is. He has coached nine regular-season games at Ray-Jay, and is 0-9. Based on reading social media after Sunday’s debacle, most of the fans are irate with the head coach right now.
Count me as one of them.
Photo Courtesy: PewterReport.com
Earlier in the day, I wrote about how important it was for the Bucs to make a good first impression – in the season opener – in front of the home crowd. Well, my first impression is: this season could end up being a lot like the last one.
OK – it’s only one game. But geez, that 42-14 shellacking at the hands of the Titans was downright awful.
Let’s focus on the quarterbacks, since that was the headline coming into the game. Jameis Winston struggled in his professional debut. You knew it was going to be a bad day when his first pass turned into an ugly interception that was run back for a touchdown. He later threw another pick, and also fumbled twice (but recovered both.) He was sacked four times. He did throw two TD passes to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but one of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was far out of reach.
On the other hand, the defense made Marcus Mariota look like a superstar. They let him throw four touchdowns…in the first half. Naturally, a lot of casual fans are already saying Mariota is a better quarterback than Winston. After one game, that is 100% true. Let’s see what happens when he goes up against a bunch of defenders that will allow the other team’s receivers to get wide open in the middle of the field.
I’ll have more to say about this debacle in the Monday column, including perhaps a few harsh words for Lovie Smith.
Photo Courtesy: Tampa Tribune
It’s time to get this party started.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kick off their 2015 season today at home against the Tennessee Titans. And based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, Ray-Jay will be very close to packed. It’s not every day we can say that.
First impressions are worth a lot. Tampa Bay needs to make one by coming out strong and winning the opener.
We’ll all have something to say about the game after it ends, so check back here this evening to get my take.
Enjoy the game, and go Bucs!
The calendar has flipped to August. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp is now a couple of days old. And Buccaneer Bri is back for my third season of writing about Bucs’ football.
We can only hope that this season will be better than last. Heck, it can’t get any worse, can it? OK, so it can: 0-16 or 1-15. But there is a buzz surrounding the team, thanks to the drafting of some guy named Jameis.
But we’ll see how it all plays out – in training camp, the preseason, and most importantly starting on September 13 against the Titans. As for the blog, I am grateful to all of you who read it. I plan to add some new features as the season gets closer, so stay tuned for that.
For now, enjoy the return of football, and go Bucs!
Photo Courtesy: USA Today
If you’re an out-of-town fan like me, you live for the day when the NFL schedule is released. Now we can all start planning trips to Tampa et al.
Without further commentary, here is the 2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers schedule:
9/20 @ New Orleans
9/27 @ Houston
10/25 @ Washington
11/1 @ Atlanta
11/8 NY Giants
11/22 @ Philadelphia
11/29 @ Indianapolis
12/13 New Orleans
12/17 @ St. Louis (Thurs.)
1/3 @ Carolina
A note to my readers: now the draft is over (and you all know who the Bucs picked, from Jameis Winston on down) I will be going into hibernation for a little while until training camp/the preseason gets going. I am grateful to everyone who reads this blog, and I look forward to reconnecting with you for the 2015 season!