Okay, we can stop kidding ourselves. This isn’t a playoff team. I know we’re just 5 games into the season and there’s a lot of football left to be played. I know the Bucs lost a close game. No, the season isn’t over at all. But we need to reset our expectations, folks. Barring a huge miracle or Mike Smith suddenly finding his spine, this franchise will suffer through their 11th consecutive season without postseason play.
1) We talked about it over and over. Can Jameis replicate the success that Ryan Fitzpatrick had with the Bucs offense? The answer was yes – Week 3 FitzTragic, not Week 1-2 Fitzmagic. The offense put up 29 points. They gained over 500 yds, Winston threw 4 touchdown passes – but it wasn’t enough to win. With this sieve of a defense, the only way the Buccaneers can win is if Jameis can be perfect. He can’t throw red zone interceptions, he can’t miss a wide open Desean Jackson deep. His first interception ended a promising drive. His second interception was a gut punch to the entire team. The Bucs offense put up 29 points but left another 5 to 9 on the field. With this defense, you simply can’t do that.
2) Another 31 points. Another 416 yds surrendered. Another game where they managed just 1 sack and no turnovers. In other words, a typical day at the office for the worst defense in the NFL. It really is unbelievable that after all the draft picks, free agent signings and other resources put into this defense, they still suck this badly. It’s hard to understand how it’s possible. I can’t pretend to tell what’s wrong with this defense. What I can tell you is that whatever they’re doing – stinks. It’s not working a single bit. Here’s where I’m troubled. It’s year three of this system and the guys making the mistakes – the Kwon Alexanders, Lavonte Davids, and Brent Grimes? They’re veterans. They’re not rookies. It’s one thing if Jordan Whitehead or M.J. Stewart miscommunicate on a play – but if guys that have been here for the past three years your defense was installed are the ones screwing up – your defensive scheme is crap. I can’t believe collectively they’re all stupid. So your scheme is either too complicated or just not very good. When the Bucs miss the playoffs in 2018, they’ll look at that record-setting offense that was just wasted because their defense can’t keep anyone under 30 points.
I thought, hell, I hoped, that the Bucs defense would figure stuff up during the bye and be much better. It’s one thing when Matt Ryan beats you on a good throw or Julio Jones just gets on a circus catch. It’s another to have “miscommunication” and leave Atlanta’s best frigging football player all by himself in your secondary. That can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen. Yet it does. Six weeks into the season, these dudes still don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. That’s piss-poor coaching, ladies and gentlemen.
3) Another thing the Bucs can’t have – their idiot kicker missing extra points. Thanks to Chandler Catanzaro missing yet another extra point, the Bucs were chasing points the entire game. If Catanzaro simply makes the kick all NFL kickers should make, the Bucs don’t go for two down 24-22. They kick the extra point to tie. Their not down 5 points at the end of the ball game, having to resort to a ridiculous trick play to try to steal the win, they’re down 3 and Catanzaro is lining up for a makeable game-tying field goal. This kicker curse has to end. Matt Bryant’s out here drilling 58 yard field goals at 42 yrs old while Catanzaro can’t make extra points.
4) The Bucs running game finally showed up, despite being down early in the game, they pounded out 123 yds, with Peyton Barber leading the way with some big splash runs on his way to a season-high 82 yds on 13 carries. Barber also caught a touchdown pass from Winston. If the Bucs can get a sustained rushing attack the rest of the way, it might help extend drives and limit opportunities against the Tampa Bay defense.
5) In the last three games – all defeats – the Bucs have been outscored 92-26 in the first half of games. That’s an average score of 30-9, folks. Want to know why the Bucs are careening off a cliff on this 3 game losing streak – it’s the terrible starts in the first half of games. Tampa Bay’s historically abysmal defense has surrendered 173 points. 123 of those points have come in the first half. The Bucs can’t win like this, folks. No one can. You can’t run your full offense when you’re chasing the game like that. In their two victories, Tampa Bay outscored their opponents 51-31 in the first half and had leads at halftime. The Bucs have to start better to win. If you’re wondering, the Bucs are outscoring their opponents 64-50 in the second half.
6) We all understand what’s at stake this season. If this team isn’t greatly improved – I mean – playoff level improved, regime change is coming. It could be the coaching staff, the front office or the Glazers could decide to scrap this whole thing and start over again. After all, they nearly fired Koetter for Jon Gruden last year (thank God that didn’t happen). I know the defensive staff should all be shown the door. Buckner’s defensive line hasn’t impressed. Duffner’s linebackers take bad angles and miss tackles. Jon Hoke and Brent Maxie’s secondary can’t communicate and have no flipping clue what they’re doing. Top it off with Mike Smith’s passive scheme and it’s the shitshow we have. I, for one, want an aggressive defensive coach. A Greg Williams type. A Rex Ryan. Someone who’s going to bring everybody to the quarterback and punish that dude. Sure, there may be broken coverages and big plays – but hows that any different than what they have today? Make these quarterbacks feel your presence. That’s what I want to see. The old days of Cover 2 are dead. The rules favor the offenses now and the only defenses having any success effect the quarterback.
Is it too early to start thinking about a replacement for Koetter? I think it is, the season isn’t that far gone yet. Even if he survives, his defensive staff cannot or I’d fire the lot. I don’t say that lightly, because I know what that means to the families of these coaches. However, if you’re not getting the job done, you got to go.
7) The Bucs defense has managed to force just 5 turnovers all season. That’s tied for 28th in the league. Yet another thing the Bucs defense sucks at.
8) I hope you’re not thinking the Bucs have a pushover against the Cleveland Browns next week. Yes, Cleveland still hasn’t won a road game in over three years (Oct. 11, 2015), but these Browns play with heart, desire, and surprising confidence – things that you don’t see from the Bucs defense. Their young QB Baker Mayfield is a hell of a leader and we all know he’s going to throw up big numbers on the Bucs, of course, it will happen. The Browns put up 42 points in a road loss at Oakland, so don’t think they can’t do it here in Tampa Bay. Cleveland, by the way, leads the league in forced turnovers with 15.
DLT’s Emotional Game Tweet of the Week
— 👽🎃JC De La TERROR ☠️🎃 (@jcdelatorre) October 14, 2018