A BAD Loss For the Bucs

Remember what happened before the Bucs even ran a play on offense?  They were called for a false start.  That should’ve been a sign that this was not going to be a good day.

Tampa Bay was upset by Washington, 29-19.  The blame goes on the usual culprits: turnovers and penalties.  Tom Brady threw two more interceptions; one bounced right off his receiver’s hands, the other is squarely on TB12.  But that’s not all: Ryan Succop missed an extra point in the fourth quarter that would’ve made it a 3-point game.  But in the end, it didn’t matter, because when the Bucs’ defense needed a stop, they couldn’t get off the field.  Washington marched 80 yards for a clinching score, taking more than ten minutes off the clock.

Washington came into this game with the worst pass defense in the NFL.  The Bucs made them look like one of the best.

So, the Buccaneers have lost two straight, yet remarkably are still in first place in the NFC South (thank you, Tennessee.)  Still, they’ve got to be more disciplined.  And that starts with you, Coach Arians.  Yes, I know there are injuries.  But other players need to step up, and over the last two games, they haven’t.  Sunday’s loss was arguably the worst since that game in Chicago last year.

Photo courtesy: Washington Football Team

No Treat: Bucs Doomed By Mistakes in New Orleans

Here are my thoughts on the Bucs’ 36-27 loss to the Saints in New Orleans:

You cannot turn the ball over three times – all of them by Tom Brady at that – and expect to win.  You cannot commit nearly 100 yards worth of penalties and expect to win.  The Buccaneers beat the Buccaneers in the Superdome.  Yes, the Saints made enough plays to win.  But it was Tampa Bay’s mistakes that really hurt them in this one.

Yes, the officiating was questionable at best.  But in my opinion, the turnovers and the penalties are the far bigger problem.

Oh well.  The Bucs are 6-2 and heading into a bye week.  They are clinging to a half-game lead now in the NFC South.  I will be in Tampa for the rematch between these two teams. I was telling people all week that the Bucs had to beat the Saints if they want to take the NFC South. They didn’t get it done tonight.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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 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

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

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

SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS!!!!

They did it!

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, beating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9. It’s the Bucs’ second championship, and first in 18 years.

Tom Brady is your MVP. He still has it at age 43.

But to me, the real MVP is Todd Bowles. The defense played the game of its life, keeping Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense out of the end zone.

Go crazy, Bucs fans. Enjoy this for awhile!

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

THE BUCS ARE IN THE SUPER BOWL!

It’s been a little more than 24 hours since the Buccaneers punched their ticket to Super Bowl LV.  I admit: it still doesn’t seem real yet.  It still hasn’t sunk in.

When Tom Brady came to Tampa during the offseason, we all knew this was the goal.  But much impact could a 43-year-old quarterback possibly have on a team that hadn’t even made the playoffs in 13 years?

Well, now we know.  An 11-5 record.  A wild card berth.  Three straight playoff wins on the road against three division champions, including the top-seeded Packers on Sunday.  And now, a Super Bowl on their home field against the defending champs, the Chiefs.

The NFC Championship game in Green Bay was, in many ways, a typical 2020 game for the Bucs.  They looked outstanding for 30 minutes, then hung on for dear life in the second half.  Heck, Brady threw three interceptions on three straight possessions.  But the Packers converted those miscued into just six points.  And who know what would’ve happened if Green Bay had not decided to kick a field goal with just over two minutes remaining, trailing by eight, with the ball inside the Bucs’ 10-yard line.

But none of that matters now.  Our Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be making just their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.  We all remember the last one; in 2002, they went to San Diego and blew out the Raiders.  Now, they face superstar Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.

But we’ll dive more into the matchup later on.  For now, let’s just cherish the moment.  It is no longer a dream; the Bucs are in the Super Bowl.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Countdown to the NFC Championship Game

Here we stand, about 48 hours from the NFC Championship game between the Buccaneers and the Packers in Green Bay.  Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers.  Around 6:30 Sunday night, we should know whether the Bucs will be playing in Super Bowl XV, in their home stadium.

The Bucs got some good news and bad news on Friday.  First, the good news: nose tackle Vita Vea, who was thought to be out for the season, has been activated for the game.  This will give a big (literally) boost to Tampa Bay’s defense as they face a potent Green Bay offense.

On the downside, Antonio Brown has been ruled out.  Fortunately, the Bucs still have plenty of weapons in the passing game to make up for his absence.

This is only the fourth time ever that Tampa Bay has made it to the NFC title game.  The Bucs are 1-2 all time, with the last one being the victory over the Eagles in the 2002 season that sent the Buccaneers on their way to becoming Super Bowl champs.  They lost their other two appearances – in 1979 and 1999.

These two teams have only met one other time in the postseason.  In January 1998, the Bucs went to Lambeau Field and lost, 21-7, in the divisional round.

Never before has there been a ‘Battle of the Bays’ with so much at stake.  These two teams used play each other twice a year, back in the old NFC Central days.  I expect a terrific ballgame in Green Bay on Sunday.