Remember all the good stuff I wrote about this team in my entry last week?
WELL, FORGET IT!
These 2019 Buccaneers found a way to lose yet another game here at home after having a 28-10 halftime lead. A must-win game, against the 0-2 Giants, led by a rookie quarterback seems like a slam dunk win to me, but not for the Bucs. Nope, these guys took an 18-point lead, wiped their ass and flushed it down the toilet basically giving the finger to the few Buccaneers fans that actually showed up to watch them lose again. However, the thousands of Giants fans who blanketed Raymond James Stadium with blue jerseys were quite pleased with the outcome.
Despite the need to win this game. Despite going against a rookie quarterback. Despite knocking superstar running back Saquon Barkley out of this game in the first half. And despite building the big halftime lead, the Buccaneers once again let down the few loyal fans, they have left by losing their second straight home game of this season.
Why do I do this to myself every year? Why? Why can’t I be a Patriots fan? Oh, what it must feel like to know your team is going to win every week and probably end up in the Super Bowl at the end of the season. Can you imagine? All we know as Bucs fans are misery, depression, devastation, disappointment, embarrassment, and losing. Sure we have one Super Bowl ring which is more than eight other teams in the league can say, but we’ve still sat through 29 losing seasons in 43 years. How much more can we endure as Bucs fans? It doesn’t matter what coaches they bring in. It doesn’t matter what players they bring in. It doesn’t matter who they draft. IT NEVER HELPS! Why is that? What did we do to deserve this as fans? Will it ever stop?
Don’t get this twisted I’m not “jumping ship”. I’m being REAL. Since I became an “official” season ticket member, I’ve walked out of Ray Jay as a winner just 15 times out of 31 home games, and it sucks, and I’m sick of it. I really thought that Bruce Arians and this staff were going to be the difference-makers that we’ve all been waiting on for so long to turn this team around, but it turns out I was wrong.
I know what you’re thinking right now. It’s only Week 3, right?
Now, instead of going to L.A. to play the 4-0 Rams at 2-1, they’re going there 1-2, and they will probably lose. I’m not being negative, just realistic. If they can’t beat two crappy teams like the Niners and Giants here at home, then what chance do they have against a good team like the Rams on the road?
Now they’re 1-3 heading to New Orleans for their Week 5 matchup with the Saints. Probably another loss there too. I thought their chances were better when Drew Brees went down, but the Saints just went to Seattle and beat the Seahawks with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback so that theory went out the window.
Now they’re 1-4 heading to London to play the Panthers, and we all know how hard it is to beat any NFL team twice in one season. Can the Bucs do it here? I say no, it’s another loss in the books.
Now they’re 1-5 heading into their Week 7 bye. When they come out of that, they have road games against Tennessee and Seattle. I’ll be optimistic here and say they’ll split those games. A win in Tennessee and a loss in Seattle puts them at 2-6 when they come back home to play the Arizona Cardinals.
Maybe they win, maybe they don’t. Who knows. My point is this thing could snowball out of control real quick if Arians doesn’t do something soon. This team could easily be 2-6 or even 1-7 by the time they return to the “friendly” confines of Raymond James Stadium. Will Bucs fans show up? I’m sure some will. I’m sure I will. Why? I have no clue. Maybe I get off on torturing myself. Maybe I enjoy the pain and suffering that comes along with watching this team TRY to play football. Maybe we’re all sick in the head. We’d almost have to be to bring this upon ourselves on a weekly basis. We could all be living the good life of a Patriots fan right now, but instead, we’ve chosen to love the Buccaneers. Why? No clue. Maybe just because they’re our home team. Maybe we like the cool logo. Maybe it’s the awesome uniforms. Okay, probably not the uniforms. I don’t know what it is about this team that keeps us coming back for more. Every season ends in disappointment, yet we’re longing for Buccaneer football to return just a few weeks after the Super Bowl. Why?
Anyway, back to this debacle. No matter what the outcome, I try to find the “GOOD” in all of them. Most of the time it’s easy to find the “BAD” and the “UGLY” every week, but there’s usually some “GOOD” in there somewhere as well. So here’s what I came up with for this Bucs vs Giants game.
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
The QB – Jameis Winston had his most productive game of the season, finishing 23 of 37 (62%) for 380 yards with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Notice that I didn’t say his best game, which I thought was last week against Carolina. This week, there were plenty of mistakes. The interception was just a poor throw. He held the ball too long on a few occasions which led to sacks. He didn’t throw the ball away a couple of times when he got out of the pocket. But he had a solid day, and his long ball was on point for a change.
The Man – Mike Evans finally got involved in the offense, finishing this game with 8 catches for 190 yards and 3 touchdowns. Unfortunately, the only other receiver to have more than 50 yards in this game was tight end OJ Howard, who finished with 3 catches for 66 yards. It was nice to see both of these guys more involved since they were both no-shows in the first two games.
The Run Game – Another strong showing for this Buccaneers run game. They finished with 32 rushes for 144 yards and a 4.5 yards per carry average. Peyton Barber had 13 carries for 48 yards and averaged nearly 4 yards per carry. Ronald Jones had 14 carries for 80 yards and nearly 6 yards per carry. The Bucs two-headed rushing attack is working well so far this season. It appears that Arians’ game plan is to alternate series with these two until one of them gets hot. In Week 1, it was Jones. In Week 2, it was Barber. Against the Giants, both guys were rolling so Arians continued the alternating with Dare Ogunbowale filling in as the third-down back on occasion. Their run game is producing right now. Let’s just hope they can keep it up.
The First Half – The Bucs had an impressive first half where they produced 28 points and held the Giants to just 10 points. They only allowed Saquon Barkley to gain 37 total yards on 12 touches, including 8 carries for 10 yards for a 1.3 yards per carry average. Unfortunately, they still had another half to play, and that one didn’t go as well.
The Sacks – The Bucs defense finished with 5 sacks, including four from linebacker Shaq Barrett, who now has 8 sacks on the season. That ties him with the Jets Mark Gastineau for the most sacks through the first 3 games set back in 1984. The other sack was by Carl Nassib.
The Rookie – The Bucs game plan on defense for this game was to shut down Saquon Barkley and make the rookie QB Daniel Jones beat them. Unfortunately, that’s EXACTLY what happened. They were able to hold Barkley to just 37 total yards in the first half before he left the game with an ankle injury. All rookie Daniel Jones did was complete 23 of 36 passes (64%) for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for two more touchdowns in his first career start. He also led the Giants to their biggest come-from-behind win in 49 years.
The Secondary – I just touched on the rookie quarterback’s performance. There were at least four explosive plays allowed by the Bucs defense that I can recall without watching the game film. They looked like they can be blamed on blown coverages, missed assignments or miscommunications in the secondary. Either way, it was unacceptable and a bit surprising after the way this group has played so far this season. They allowed two 100-yard receivers in this game. Evan Engram had 6 catches for 113 yards, but that did include the 75-yard touchdown catch on the first play of the second half. Sterling Shepard had 7 catches for 100 yards, and Darrius Slayton added 3 catches for 82 yards for a 27-yards per catch average. As I said before, most of these big chunk plays appeared to blown coverages at first glance. This group had better get it corrected, or they’re going to have a long day against a really good Rams receiving corps.
The Redzone – The Bucs offense produced a ton of points in the first half, but for the game, they were only 1 of 5 scoring touchdowns in the Red Zone. That is mind-boggling to me. With Evans (6’5″), Godwin (6’2″), Brate (6’4″) and Howard (6’6″) there should be no excuse why this team should not be coming away with six every time they get inside the 20-yard line. The play calling needs to be better. The execution needs to be better. The Red Zone offense must be better. Especially if the rookie kicker Matt Gay continues to struggle.
The Second Half – The Buccaneers were outscored 22-3 in the second half after leading 28-10 at halftime. Despite Saquon Barkley not playing at all, the Giants offense was able to get things rolling with the arm of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. I knew the Bucs were in trouble when they allowed a 75-yard touchdown catch to tight end Evan Engram on the first play of the second half. Things just snowballed out of control from there.
The End – Last week, I said that this team may have finally learned how to close out games. Well, apparently not. After building a 28-10 halftime lead, they couldn’t slam the door shut (like good teams do) on the Giants and get the win. They allowed the biggest come-from-behind win by New York in 49 years orchestrated by a rookie quarterback from Duke who was without his biggest offensive weapon. The defense didn’t adjust. The offense didn’t keep the pedal to the floor. And the team choked. Proving once again that the Buccaneers don’t know how to win yet continue to find new ways to lose.
The Right Tackle – I love Demar Dotson. He’s a super nice guy. Maybe too nice. So nice, in fact, that he was letting Giants defenders get around him this entire game. He’s the longest-tenured Buccaneer player with this being his 11th season in Tampa. However, he’s 33 years old, and his 6’9″/315lb body is letting him down. As much as I like him, he’s almost becoming a liability at right tackle. It may be time for the Bucs to find his replacement.
The Kicks – Bucs rookie kicker Matt Gay didn’t have a bad day on Sunday. He was 4 for 5 on field goals with a long of 52 yards. But he missed his first extra-point attempt then his second extra-point attempt was blocked. And he missed a chip shot field goal from 34 yards that could’ve won the game. I was watching him in pregame warm-ups, and he didn’t look good then. He missed at least three kicks that I saw, but ended with a make from 60 yards. Even though I don’t put the blame on him, he took full credit for the loss in his post-game interview. He might have missed the game-winning kick, but this game NEVER should’ve been that close in the first place.
The “Home Crowd” – No matter how many times I see it, it never ceases to amaze me. The “home crowd” inside Raymond James Stadium was made up of about 40% Giants fans. It’s pathetic. It’s maddening. It’s embarrassing. And it’s sad. How can this team have a competitive edge at home when the visiting fans are louder than the home fans? It happens with most teams from up north. It’s the same when the Steelers, Patriots or Packers come to town. Sunday, nearly the entire east side of the stadium was filled with blue jerseys. Even the club seats! I saw people walking around wearing Giants jerseys with Bucs season passes around their necks. I don’t know or understand how it happens, but it needs to stop. Oh, and by the way, if you’re a season pass holder and you sell your tickets to an opposing team fan…you suck, and you should have your season tickets revoked!
The Coaching – For the second straight game, this highly experienced coaching staff made a questionable call at the end of a close game. This time it may have cost them the win. Last week, Bruce Arians called back-to-back timeouts which is a penalty, and it gave the Panthers the ball on the Bucs 2-yard line. Sunday, he “intentionally” took a delay-of-game penalty before Matt Gay’s kick because he claimed in his postgame press conference that Gay was better from further out. Turns out, he simply knew the Bucs weren’t going to get the kick-off before the play clock ran out so he took the delay thinking that the 5 yards wouldn’t matter. He was wrong. The kick ended up about a foot outside the right goal post so it probably would’ve been good from 5 yards closer.
The Schedule – As I referred to in my opening rant, the Bucs schedule doesn’t get any easier. They now sit at 1-2 and are headed out for a 7-week stint on the road. Week 4 is at the Rams. Week 5 is at the Saints. Week 6 is in London. Week 7 is a bye. Week 8 is at the Titans. And Week 9 is at the Seahawks. If they don’t get things corrected and right this ship, they could be staring at a 2-6 or 1-7 record when they finally return to their “home crowd” in Week 10 against the Cardinals. And if they couldn’t get fans to show up against the 0-2 Giants after the win in Carolina, what do you think the showing will be at home for that game with a record like that?
The Streaks – The loss by the Bucs on Sunday broke a 52-game winning streak for NFL teams who scored 28 points or more in the first half. Teams who scored at least 28 points in the first half were a combined 138-4 over the last 10 years. It was also the Bucs 8th loss in a row for Ring of Honor games dating back to the Derrick Brooks game in 2013. In fact, in the 13 games where the Buccaneers have put someone in the Ring, they have a 3-10 record. How’s that for honoring past players’ memories?
I said it after the Week 1 loss, and I’ll say it again, Bucs fans have a love/loathe relationship with this team. I could never see myself cheering for another team, but I’d rather be a fan of just about any other team than this one. I invest so much of my time, money and energy into being a Bucs fan. We all do. Where is the return on our investment? When does it pay off? When does all of the stress and suffering, the pain and heartbreak become worth it? Guess we’ll find out eventually, or not.
Something else that I said after the Week 1 loss, that I’ll say again, is that good teams win the games they’re supposed to win and are at least competitive in the games they’re not supposed to win. They should’ve won this game and they didn’t so what does that tell you about them? This is not a good team, yet. They haven’t played a complete game yet where all three phases have clicked. In Week 1, the defense played great, and the offense sputtered. In Week 2, the defense played well, but the offense didn’t produce enough. In Week 3, the offense produced, but the defense failed miserably. If this team can learn how to put it all together every week, then they’ll be tough to beat.
I think they’re in trouble. I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. I hope they go into Los Angeles, whip the Rams ass and hand them their first loss of the season. Do I think it will happen? Probably not. But we’ll see which Buccaneers team shows up on Sunday.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!