Folks, I’m shook. I am. This isn’t going to be a pleasant Doubloons segment. The Bucs sucked yesterday and I’m going to have them on full blast. They deserve it. I normally don’t like to go full emotional in these things, it’s not very dignified. You know what else isn’t dignified? Getting your ass handed to you by Mitchell Trubisky.
Pieces of Eight
1) To describe the suck that the Bucs exhibited on Sunday, one has to go back to what we talked about before the game. Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky had one 300-yd passing day in his 15 NFL starts. In games Trubisky started, the Bears averaged 17.7 points per game. Trubisky himself came into this game with 9 career touchdown passes. Nine. Look, any NFL quarterback can hurt you. If you don’t get consistent pressure or leave guys wide open, even the bums can throw all over you. This isn’t to say Trubisky is a bum. He’s a top 5 draft pick. But up to this point, he had never shown himself worthy of the selection. There were whispers of him being a bust all around Chicago. As other young starters lit it up, the Bears fans looked at their QB with wonder – why is Mitch not doing what Carson is? Or Goff? Or Deshaun Watson?
Well, Mitch hadn’t faced a Mike Smith defense.
2) You could understand the offense struggling against the Bears defense. Hell, who hasn’t? The Bears are an elite defense, near the top of the league. Many times, great defense trumps great offense and yesterday that was certainly the case. For the second week in a row, the offensive line got their ass handed to them. Each linemen took turns allowing free runs at their quarterback. In fact, if not for some Fran Tarkenton-esque scrambling by Jameis Winston, Chicago’s four sacks would have been six or seven. If you’re wondering why Tampa Bay struggled this week on offense, it starts up front, folks. Not Fitz or Jameis or the receivers or backs. It was the offensive line that short-circuited the Bucs in the Windy City.
3) Speaking of Fitz and Jameis, I think we can stop with the Fitzmagic nonsense now, right? Fitzpatrick, after a couple brilliant weeks, has returned to being what he was and the reason why 6 other teams decided to go with another quarterback. No disrespect to Fitz, he did an outstanding job getting the Bucs 2 wins out of 4 against a daunting schedule. Tampa Bay still has playoff hopes thanks to Fitzpatrick. But it’s time to end the craziness. Jameis Winston is the present and the future of this football team. For better or worse, he needs to take the field and be the man. If the Bucs are going to the playoffs in 2018, it’s Jameis Winston that needs to guide them there. The only good thing about this mauling by the Bears is Jameis got some good NFL in-game action that dusts the rust off. No, I don’t really give a rat’s ass he threw two picks. Even Koetter admitted he thrust Winston into an impossible situation and Jameis actually played really well until that second interception that ended the game.
4) Dirk Koetter told reporters that everyone deserved to be fired after Sunday’s shibacle. Well, Coach, let me just tell you. If you don’t fire your buddy Mike Smith during the bye week, you all will be at season’s end. Two and a quarter years of Mike Smith defenses and the Bucs have surrendered nearly 24.7 pts a game in 36 games. This season, Tampa Bay is giving up a simply shocking 34.7 pts per game. Under Smith, the Bucs have given up over 30 points a mind-blowing 13 times. The Bucs defense is broken. It has been for a long time and Smith isn’t the guy to fix it.
You can blame the players, sure. Father time has finally caught Brent Grimes, and the rest of the secondary are a bunch of rookies and 2nd-year players. Jason Licht spent big bucks in the off-season on pass rushers who can’t consistently get to the quarterback. The Bucs vaunted linebacking core is often out of position, blowing coverages or missing tackles.
Miscommunication is all over the football field, not just from the rookies, but guys that have been in this defense from day one.
Here’s the thing though. There have been different players on this roster. Different assistant coaches. One thing has remained constant – Mike Smith’s passive, outdated scheme. Another thing has remained constant – the Bucs sucking on defense. How is this possible with a defense that has Jason Pierre-Paul, Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, and Kwon Alexander? A defense that spent multiple high draft picks on their secondary and millions of dollars on their defensive line?
This can’t go on. Someone must be held accountable. You can’t fire all the players during the season, but you can sure as hell send Mike Smith and his sorry scheme packing. I don’t know who should take over. Some say Buckner or Mark Duffner. I don’t think it matters at this point. They’ll still be calling Smith’s plays. We can only hope they do a better job (read: stop playing corners 10 yds off the line of scrimmage) than what we’ve gotten from Smith himself.
The bottom line is, if this defense can’t get right and soon, this will be yet another lost season and the Glazers will clean house again. Dirk, you’re coaching for your future here. It’s hard to fire a good friend, but this friend hasn’t gotten the job done and is letting you down. You’ll either do what’s best for the team or you’ll go down in flames with him.
5) Hey, we finally got to see Ronald Jones and Vita Vea, the team’s top two picks on the football field. Vea didn’t register any statistics in limited playing time. I didn’t notice him penetrating into the backfield or doing anything of note (although I found it interesting the Bears were doubling him). Jones, I thought, played okay. He had a really bad pass drop (what else is new), but found a couple of holes and had a few nice runs. There were a couple he narrowly missed breaking into the secondary. I think better blocking in front of him and some more reps, there may be hope for him.
6) Desean Jackson continued his torrid pace this season, with another 100+ day. It will be interesting to see if Winston can hit him as consistently as Fitz did in the first few weeks. He only caught 1 pass for 8 yds with Winston in the game. Hopefully, OJ Howard’s injury isn’t serious. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Howard will get an MRI on his knee but the Bucs don’t believe it’s serious. Let’s hope that’s the case as OJ has been terrific all season. Mike Evans has had a couple games in a row with bad drops. Gotta get it together, Mike. You’re better than that.
7) A week ago, Bucs fans were sky high about this team and their prospects. A week later, here we are again, the laughingstock of the league. Can the Bucs still be that team that beat two division champions and had a third on the ropes? Look, we knew this Chicago game was dangerous. Tampa Bay was coming off a tough, physical game against Pittsburgh on a short week with the bye looming. How many of these guys were thinking ahead of what they’ll be doing during their bye week instead of concentrating on the Bears? To a man, if you told Bucs defensive players that Mitch Trubisky would narrowly miss tying the NFL record for touchdown passes in a game against them, they would have laughed in your face. We’ve seen this team come in overconfident before. It typically ended poorly, and that was certainly the case yesterday. There is absolutely no excuse for what occurred on Sunday. None. But it’s one of sixteen. Burn this film. Set it on the pyre and never let it see the light of day. The Bucs coaches get a week to catch their breath and if any changes are to be made, they’ll have time to adjust to them.
I believe this offense, under Winston, can get back to scoring big. They only face two Top 10 defenses in their final 12 games. So the offense will be okay. It’s the defense that’s the biggest impediment to finding the victory column. That has to be figured out and the Bucs need to just be competent. I mean, Tampa Bay doesn’t even need a dominant defense to make the postseason, not with this offense. Hold a team to 20 points, Tampa Bay will win the majority of the time. Is that too much to ask for from a team that boasts multiple All-Pros and Pro Bowl players on that side of the ball?
8) Bucs GM Jason Licht has to be very nervous right now. With the exception of Jason Pierre-Paul, his investments in the defensive line (Allen, Unrein, Vea) haven’t really paid off. Curry’s been decent, not great and who the hell knows what’s going on with Noah Spence? Right now, Spence looks like a 2nd round bust. Vea may end up being this year’s Mark Barron. The Bucs could have gotten Luke Kuechly, but instead drafted Barron, who flamed out here in a few years. This year, the Bucs drafted Vea when they could have had safety Derwin James, who has been outstanding for the LA Chargers. Licht spent draft capital on Vernon Hargreaves, whose out for the season with an injury and before that wasn’t playing like a top pick, the two 2nd round corners have been toasted, as all rookies not named Marcus Lattimore typically are. He gave Brent Grimes big money to stave off retirement, only to see Grimes struggle to stay healthy and be a shell of the player he once was. He didn’t address safety, a major hole on the Buccaneers defense, keeping Chris Conte, then with Conte done for the season and rookie Jordan Whitehead nursing an injury he sat on his hands as he watched division rival Carolina snatch up veteran (but controversial) safety Eric Reid.
This debacle isn’t just on Smith, but Licht, too. If Smith is sacrificed for the greater good, Licht’s got to hope the guys he brought in start performing better under the new coordinator or the finger will start to point to talent acquisition.
DLT’s Emotional Game Tweet of the Week
It’s academic. Your defense gives up 48 pts and 6 passing touchdowns to a Mitch Trubisky led offense, you foreit your job as defensive coordinator. Period. If it doesn’t happen during the bye, I’m turning my attention to Koetter himself. #GoBucs #TBvsCHI pic.twitter.com/gjoXOALkP4
— 👽JC De La Torre ☠️ (@jcdelatorre) September 30, 2018