What the heck is it about Raymond James Stadium that gives the Bucs an allergic reaction to winning? It’s truly stunning that this Tampa Bay team simply cannot take advantage of home field.
Earlier in the week, Dirk Koetter wished aloud for the Buc fans come out and support their team. Tell you what, coach. You do better than a .288 winning percentage in the last 8 years, more fans will come to the ballgames. Look, we know from the WhatTheBuc tailgates that the Buccaneers have a solid group of dedicated fans who love this team to death. They would love nothing more than for Raymond James Stadium to become a place teams dreaded to enter but the Bucs have to help out a little bit here, too. Win a game, damn it.
What I Got Right
Explosives. Coach Koetter believes in explosive plays both for and against. He’s said on a number of occasions that he believes explosive plays were a direct correlation to winning and losing, even more important than time of possession or red zone efficiency. The more explosives you have, the more you put your team in position to score. The more explosives you have against you, the more your backs are against the wall.
To say the Bucs defense struggled with explosives this week is an understatement. You’d think Raymond James Stadium was smack dab in the middle of D-day. Tampa Bay surrendered 11 explosives according to the St. Pete Times’ stat guru Thomas Bassinger. That jived with what Coach Koetter saw on tape.
The Buccaneers got the better of the big plays early in the game and it helped them build a 10-0 advantage. However, as the game wore on, the Raiders seemed to make big play after big play and ultimately, the Bucs defense could not withstand the precision of Carr, the strength of Crabtree and Cooper and the running of Murray.
What I Got Wrong
I was a little hard on Mike Evans for not having his best of days. Evans was targeted 11 times but only came down with the ball 4 times for a very un-Evans like 50 yds. While Evans did let a ball or two slip through his mitts, Jameis was not accurate at all this week. Several times Evans cleanly beat his man, only to see Winston throw it over his head, or late or just off the mark.
I honestly don’t know what’s going on with Winston of late. His confidence seems to be as low as its been as a Buccaneer. The early season failures are haunting him a bit and he’s not throwing the ball with that reckless abandon we usually see. Now, that’s good in a way, because we want to see the turnovers down – but I honestly don’t believe Winston can be an effective game manager styled quarterback. He can’t be Mike “Captain Checkdown” Glennon.
He’s got to be out there slinging the rock and trying to make plays. Now, I’m not saying he needs to throw it into triple coverage but he doesn’t need to be double clutching, either.
There’s got to be a happy medium somewhere and Winston has yet to find it.
Ugh. It was a brutal week for the commentators, folks. I had to check my audio to make sure I wasn’t listening to the Raiders broadcast network. Look, I know CBS covers the Raiders and when the Raiders are good, CBS’ ratings go high. Still, if there was any more cheerleading that could by done by Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein and Steve Tasker, they’d be holding silver and black pom poms.
By far, the worst announcing crew we’ve had to endure this season. Yes, even worse than Spero Dedes.
The What the Buc Moment of the Game
Sebastian Janikowski, one of the top clutch kickers in the NFL and one of the few kickers who had been drafted higher than Roberto Aguayo was in this year’s draft missed not one, but two field goals that would have won the game for the Raiders.
With the Bucs offense stuck in neutral, it literally kept the game teetering perilously close to ending in a tie. You have to wonder if Seth Roberts hadn’t broken free for the game winning score if Janikowski would have gone 0-for-3 in chances to win it.
Around the Dirty South
While the Bucs lost, the rest of the division won. The Falcons rallied to save their season with a last second win over the Packers. Carolina shocked the Cardinals, proving that neither of the NFC finalists are likely to make the post season. New Orleans stunned the Seattle Seahawks in a win nobody saw coming.
Were the Bucs Really As Bad as They Looked?
Yes. Absolutely. In fact, you can say the only reason the Bucs were even in the ballgame was because of Oakland’s NFL record 23 penalties. The Raiders did themselves in most of the time, it wasn’t the Bucs stopping them. Any scoring drives the Bucs had were either short fields or penalty aided.
Frankly, Oakland was head-and-shoulders the better football team and it wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.
Are the Bucs going to contend in the NFC South? Thursday Night may be their last opportunity to prove that they can. Win and they are just 1/2 game out of first place with a 3-0 division record (the only team in the division that can say that). Lose and they are 2 1/2 games back with 8 games left to play and folks, at this point you’re talking draft because the NFC East is going to gobble up all the wild card spots.
Thursday Night is a season defining game. Expect most pundits to go with the Falcons, just as they did with the Panthers on Monday Night Football. Let’s hope the Bucs can make them all look bad again.