SUPER BOWL CONTENDER, MY ASS!
Until this team proves me wrong, I’m officially OFF of the Bucs Super Bowl repeat bandwagon. After the embarrassing effort in New Orleans, they had two weeks to get things back on track, and this is how they respond? With an even more humiliating loss to one of the worst teams in the league? This alleged “playoff team” just lost 29-19 to a nameless team, full of nameless players, with a nameless-starting QB coming off of a bye week. That’s ridiculous. That’s not what good teams do.
How has this team gone from beating Drew Brees and the Saints and Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on the road, then dismantling Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the Super Bowl to getting manhandled by Trevor Siemian and Taylor Heinicke? It makes no sense. Blame injuries all you want, it’s not an excuse for this one. There is no excuse for this one. It’s actually inexcusable. I don’t even know what to say after this game. I’m literally at a loss for words, and the words that I am coming up with are all four letters. For the second game in a row, there was nothing “good” about it. However, I had to come up with something for it. On the other hand, it was full of “bad” and “ugly“, so let’s sift through the sewage and put this pile of shit behind us.
The best thing about this game was that it ended. That’s it.
After being flagged with three personal fouls in New Orleans and a rather lackluster season so far, Devin White FINALLY had a game worthy of his abilities finishing with 18 tackles, including 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 3 QB hits. It’s the kind of game we’ve come to expect from White as one of the best young linebackers in football. Unfortunately, it came in an absurd loss.
This loss is on the coaching staff. There is NO REASON that a team this talented should come off of a bye week and play like this against a far more inferior team. None. I don’t care how “good” their week of practice was. I don’t care how prepared they thought they were for this game. I don’t care about how many injuries they have at cornerback and wide receiver. There’s NO EXCUSE you could give me to justify this loss.
Ali Marpet vs Jonathan Allen
This was one of my key matchups for this game, and Marpet got his ass handed to him. Even though Allen didn’t have a sack, he was harassing Tom Brady and wreaking havoc in the run game for most of the day. Marpet also got flagged for a holding penalty that helped kill a key drive late in the game. It was a very uncharacteristic game for Ali, who is typically the most reliable offensive lineman on this team. That was not the case today.
The NFL’s top-ranked passing offense versus the NFL’s last-ranked passing defense. On paper, it’s a clear mismatch with the huge advantage going to Tampa Bay. Especially when you consider Washington was missing one of their best pass rushers in Montez Sweat AND lost another one of their best defensive lineman Chase Young during the game. Instead, the top-scoring offense in the league averaging 32 points per game put up just 19 points, 273 total yards, 14 first downs, and less than 21 minutes in time of possession against a bad defense. The only game the Bucs have had the ball less under Bruce Arians was the 38-3 loss to the Saints last season. Tom Brady was 23 of 34 for 220 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions against a passing defense that had given up 290 passing yards per game, 20 passing touchdowns, and grabbed just 4 interceptions in their first 8 games. He only attempted eight passes over 10 yards, completing just three of them. Everything else was less than 7 yards, mostly check downs to running backs. It was not the offensive onslaught that everyone was expecting in this game.
You’d think the Bucs defense played pretty decent just by looking at the numbers. They only allowed Heinicke to throw for 256 passing yards and one touchdown while sacking him 5 times. Washington’s leading rusher was Antonio Gibson, with 64 yards on 24 carries for a 2.7 yards per carry average. They allowed just 320 total yards and only 4.5 yards per play.
The problem was on third down. The Bucs defense could not get off the field and let Washington run 71 offensive plays. They allowed one of the worst third-down offenses in the league to convert 11 of 19 third downs AND 2 of 2 fourth downs. In 140+ games this NFL season, only two teams have converted more third downs. Bucs opponents have only converted more, twice over the last 20 years.
The worst part of it was Washington’s final scoring drive. The Buccaneers’ defense had a chance to step up and give their team a chance to win this game. Instead, they allowed a 19 play, 80-yard drive that took 10 minutes and 26 seconds off the clock in the fourth quarter. Washington converted three 3rd downs and scored on 4th & 1 on their longest drive of the season. It was also the longest drive allowed by the Buccaneers defense in at least 20 years, according to Pro Football Reference. It was an embarrassing effort, even if you consider the secondary injuries. This team needs to get healthy for sure, but they need to get their heads out of their asses even more.
The Special Teams
Ryan Succop missed his second extra point of the season in this game. In the grand scheme, it didn’t matter since the Bucs lost by 10 points anyway. But it was just one of the many, many things that went wrong for the Buccaneers in this game. This was a total team loss.
I don’t know the “official” number yet, but I counted nine drops by Buccaneers players in this game. Some would’ve been tough catches, but I have always been told that if you can touch it, you should catch it. Jaelon Darden had a drop. Chris Godwin had a drop. Tyler Johnson had a drop. Leonard Fournette and Giovanni Bernard both dropped two balls each. Jordan Whitehead dropped an interception. And Ross Cockrell missed what could’ve been a pick-six. Dropped passes are mental errors, which seem to be plaguing this team this season for some reason.
The Penalties; still
The Bucs only had six penalties for 43 yards in this game, which is pretty good for them, but they were costly; and they were dumb. In the first half alone, they had four penalties, and ALL four of them were pre-snap. The first play of the game was a false start on OJ Howard. Ndamukong Suh was called for a neutral zone infraction on third down that gave Washington a first. Will Gholston was called for a neutral zone infraction that took Washington from 3rd & 13 to 3rd & 8, which they converted. Ali Marpet was called for a hold. All pre-snap and all avoidable. Just another example of this team beating themselves with stupid mental errors. After the loss, Bruce Arians said that the Bucs are “a dumb football team right now“. I totally agree.
3rd Quarter Officiating
The officiating in Bucs games so far this season has been atrocious. This game wasn’t as bad, EXCEPT for the third quarter. First, Dee Delaney was called for pass interference in the back of the endzone on a ball that wasn’t even close to being catchable, giving Washington the ball on the 1-yard line. Then on the very next play, the officials called a touchdown on a run by Antonio Gibson where his forward progress was CLEARLY stopped short of the goal line, but the whistle never blew, and the play continued until he was finally pushed across the goal line. It was only two calls in the game, but they were costly and directly led to 7 points for Washington.
They have to stop at some point, don’t they? They just had two weeks to get healthy. Scotty Miller, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Richard Sherman, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown were all supposed to be back and ready to play after the bye. Instead, NONE of them played in this game.
Sherman hurt his calf in pre-game warm-ups and had to sit out, for God’s sake. Then during the game, they lose Dee Delaney with a concussion and Vita Vea with a knee injury that we can all only pray isn’t significant. This defense hasn’t played well WITH him this season. I’d hate to see how they’ll play WITHOUT him.
(*UPDATE: Vita Vea has been diagnosed with a bone bruise and MCL sprain, so no tear.*)
The First Half
The first half of this game was almost laughable. It started with the false start by Howard that led to a three and out by the Bucs against a team that’s given up the most points on opening drives in the league this season. Then the defense allows Washington to score on their first drive for just the second time this season. Then there was the turnover by Darden that went down as an interception for Brady and led to another score for Washington. It was Brady’s first “interception” in the first quarter in 25 games. Then came first-quarter interception #2, which was Brady’s fault when he overthrew Mike Evans. Pick number two led to a Washington touchdown making it 13-0, giving them their biggest lead in any game this season. If you’re counting, that’s two picks in the first quarter by a team that had four total in their first 8 games thrown by a QB with 5 total in his first 8 games.
Tampa Bay’s offense managed just 13 yards in their first three possessions and had just 139 total yards at the half. Meanwhile, Washington ran 15 of their 18 plays in the first quarter in Tampa Bay territory and scored on their first four possessions for the first time in 5 years, which led to a 16-6 halftime score. It was just the fifth time in 29 games that a Brady-led Bucs team has not scored a touchdown in the first half. It was as ugly a half as the Bucs have played all season, and it led to a lead that they couldn’t recover from.
I blame this one on the coaching staff. This team was unprepared and uninspired coming into this game. That’s inexcusable after a bye week. This staff had two weeks to game plan for one of the worst teams in the league and couldn’t get the job done. Byron Leftwich didn’t have an answer for the 2-shell defense that Washington was playing. Todd Bowles didn’t have an answer for Taylor Heinicke’s dink and dunk offense. And Bruce Arians didn’t have an answer for all the mental mistakes his team was making, except that he has a “dumb team” right now. I was hoping that the New Orleans loss would be a wake-up call for this team. Apparently, it wasn’t.
I don’t know what to think about this team anymore. Last year, the Bucs came out of their bye week on fire, winning eight straight games, including the Super Bowl. It appeared that they had finally figured out what they were doing, both offensively and defensively. Then they brought back all of their starters and appeared to be on their way to easily winning back-to-back championships.
Appearances can be deceiving
Since all of that, they are 6-3, and have now lost two in a row for the first time since losing those back-to-back 27-24 games against the Rams and Chiefs last season. They are not the same team. They are not a Super Bowl contender. I’m not even sure they are a playoff contender at this point. They are playing dumb, uninspired, lazy football right now. Until they show me something different, I’m officially OFF of the Super Bowl repeat bandwagon. Yes, injuries have been an issue, but they’re not an excuse. They are beating themselves with mental mistakes that they weren’t making last season. Until they stop doing that, this team won’t go anywhere. They have a chance to right the ship against a bad New York Giants team at home in front of a national Monday Night Football audience. We’ll see what this team is really made of then.
Until then, as always; GO BUCS!!!