Yes, I watched it again – so you don’t have to. It wasn’t pretty but as 33 point losses go, it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it was. Simply stated – it was one of those games that just seemed to get away from Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You’d think it was complete and utter domination from start to finish, but it truly wasn’t that. We’ll talk about that in a few paragraphs.
The bottom line is – the Bucs can’t continue to turn the ball over and not force any turnovers and expect to compete against mediocre teams, none-the-less a team that is one of the best in the league (and pissed off).
What I Got Right
It was certainly a struggle for Jameis and the offense. It was just bad Jameis, folks. It was one of those games where he simply wasn’t accurate with his ball placement or on the same page as his receivers. Now some arguments could be made that some routes weren’t run very well. On the Peterson pick, it seemed like Evans started to slow down and allowed Peterson to get position on the ball. I give that to a great corner who knows how to lean on a receiver and get the positioning he needs. On the second pick, Vincent Jackson wasn’t even looking for the ball (which was thrown behind him) and stumbled just as the ball got there.
The third pick was a ball thrown into traffic and deflected at the line. Sims didn’t need to be popping it up into the air like that, but really, Jameis should have never thrown it with that many red jerseys in the vicinity.
The third pick was the dagger that all but ended the game but I think the game was lost on the fumble. More on that in a moment.
What I Got Wrong
After the game, I thought this was a thorough can o’ whupass from start to finish. I was wrong. The Bucs were very much in this ball game in the first half. The defense actually played pretty darn well for the first quarter and a half. Jameis’ two picks had really only cost the Bucs 3 points.
With 3:06 left in the first half and trailing 10-0, Tampa Bay had moved the football to Arizona’s 29 yard line – in striking range for a score. Finish that drive effectively and you have a one score game (and likely run out most of the clock in the first half).
Unfortunately for the Bucs, Charles Sims went to block an Arizona blitzer and his forearm knocked the football out of Jameis’ hands. The Cardinals would take over, move it into scoring postion and after the two minute warning, cash in to make it 17-0. After another three-and-out by the Bucs, Chris Conte (who was beaten on the last touchdown) completely blows coverage in a prevent defense situation and lets a speedy receiver behind him, 51 yards later, the Bucs are down 24-0 and it’s essentially game over.
Think about that for a moment. If the Bucs score a touchdown on that drive deep in Arizona territory, your talking 10-7 and likely half-time. Don’t forget, the Bucs marched right down the field at the start of the second half and got a score…so conceivably, you’re talking a 14-10 lead instead of a 24-7 deficit.
That, folks, is how quickly fortunes can change in the NFL.
Thanks to the step up in weight class, the Bucs actually got one of the better Fox announcing crews. Thom Brennaman is a veteran play-by-play voice and rarely makes a mistake. He has just the right level of excitement without getting to overbearing and sets up their color analyst guys to do their thing.
I’m a big Charles Davis fan. I think he’s one of the most knowledable analysts in the game, does his research and can give you great insight. Yes, I know Buc fans are still ticked off at him for forgetting Kwon Alexander was a Buccaneer during a segment on NFL Network’s Path to the Draft, but it was a mid-summer oversight. It happens. Davis, for what its worth, didn’t blame it on anyone but himself. Anyway, I thought he called a good game and he definitely was speaking my thoughts when he sounded the alarm for Jameis still being in the ballgame down by 33 points midway through the fourth quarter.
Chris Spielman has some good moments but frankly, I find him harping a bit on the negatives. While Davis is definitely not a pom-pom waver, he tempers the negative comments with some positive superlatives here or there. Spielman just puts dudes on blast. Hey, I like that. More analysts need to be able to do that. Too much of it though makes you sound like your biased, especially when its going very wrong for one of the teams. I know Spielman didn’t care who won or lost that game, but his commentary would have you wonder.
The What the Buc Moment of the Game
That fumble. Oh that fumble changed everything. It’s pretty wild that you’d think it was the pick-six or one of the first two Jameis interceptions. Nope. It was that fumble that really let this game get out of hand. An unfortunate break for the Bucs that seemed to start an avalanche.
Around the Dirty South
Carolina got over a slow start to beat up on the hapless 49ers. Atlanta headed out to the west coast and shocked the suddenly not-as-good-as-advertised Raiders. The Saints did Saints things, losing to the Giants to start 0-2.
Were the Bucs as Bad as They Looked on Sunday?
No, they weren’t. As I discussed, there were some critical moments in the game that simply went Arizona’s way. Yes, Jameis was terrible. So was Chris Conte and there wasn’t much pass rush on Carson Palmer. There were weaknesses the Cardinals were able to exploit and it got really ugly. But not every team can play to the level of this team. The Cardinals may be the best team in the NFC this year. With the exception of the Panthers, Tampa Bay may not face another team Arizona’s caliber the rest of the season (and no, Denver isn’t at their level anymore despite their 2-0 start).
After playing two great offenses on the road, the Bucs open their home schedule against the Los Angeles Rams, who still haven’t scored a touchdown in over 20 years (well, they weren’t the LA Rams after 1994 so its a true statement). Of course, the Bucs are familiar with the Rams, who have owned them the last four years. If the Bucs hope to be a playoff contender in 2016, this is a game they have to win.
photo credit: Charlene Welch / Pewter Report