Two Steps Forward, Ten Steps Back: Buccaneers vs. Ravens Review

In week six of Wacky Lovie’s Football Extravaganza, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep finding new ways to lose games. This team is as baffling as they come. I’m waiting for Lovie Smith to rip his face off and reveal it was a mask and he’s really Josh Freeman. That would seem logical based on the way this season has progressed. This team has fluctuated violently from being a playoff contender, on the cusp of winning, being curb stomped, back on the rise, on the cusp of winning, and now back to being curb stomped in a dumpster fire.

Two major issues in recent games had been penalties and turnovers. The nightmare against Atlanta had the highest total turnovers between two teams in a single game at that point in the season. The victory against Pittsburgh seemed to be largely because they got even more penalties than we did. Then against New Orleans, 15 penalties for over 100 yards didn’t do us any favors en route to an overtime loss. The Buccaneers have been shaky. Costly turnovers and a rising influx of penalties at critical moments have stalled any chances at momentum.

Believe it or not, the Buccaneers fixed both of those things against the Ravens. Two huge problems were solved, yet the Bucs still finished with a humiliating 48-17 home loss to Baltimore. How is it that the same team that upset Pittsburgh and nearly upset New Orleans, despite Drew Brees doing his best Drew Brees impression, finishes a half against the Ravens down 38-0? Rather than fixing their mistakes, it seems the Bucs just traded them in for new ones, and boy did they get gypped.

The Buccaneers seem to have learned how to protect the ball and keep from committing penalties, but subsequently forgot how to correctly play the game of football. The offensive line played as if they weren’t even there. During the brief moments that they actually executed their jobs, they suddenly looked like The Great Wall of Dallas from the early nineties in comparison. For most of the game, Mike Glennon was being hassled as soon as he snapped the ball. He threw a single interception due to getting hit while throwing. Giving up five sacks in a single game to a team that had only seven in their first five games combined is inexcusable.

Meanwhile, the defense was on vacation for the first half. In the second half, the Buccaneers outscored the Ravens 17-10. That sounds about like the game I expected. Except, it doesn’t really matter when you get disgraced to the tune of 38-0 in the first half. Joe Flacco is a very solid quarterback, but not the kind who should be throwing five touchdown passes in a half against a defense that boasts Clinton McDonald, Michael Johnson, Gerald McCoy, Alterraun Verner, and Lavonte David. Anyone remember we have all of them? It sure didn’t seem like it in the first half against Baltimore.

If the play of the offense and defense wasn’t bad enough, Michael Koenen managing an average of only 37.2 yards on five total punts put the nail in the coffin. Lovie Smith said after the game that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers “are not a good football team.” Anyone watching this game saw that. In some ways, this loss is worse to me than the loss in Atlanta. While the Thursday Night Football incident was a nationally televised train wreck, this was simply a clinic on bad football.

Against Atlanta, the Buccaneers seemed shaken and had mistakes start piling up. Ball security issues and penalties seem like basic simple mistakes that can be fixed. This loss was scary on an entirely different level. The Buccaneers don’t know how to play football. That’s exactly what it looked like. It’s not that the scheme is broken, but that they don’t seem to know what a scheme is. There are some immensely talented players on this team, and they’re working their asses off trying to make up for a majority of lost sheep bouncing around like pinballs.

This team has plenty of options for a shepherd, but they have to actually listen to the shepherd and do their jobs. From Lovie Smith, Leslie Frazier, and Marcus Arroyo, down to Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, and Mike Glennon, the team has to follow. Right now, it looks like the only thing they’re doing is following in the footsteps of an ultimately 4-12 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team from 2013. Can things be turned around? Yes. The bye week will be critical, but this was a scary loss. The problems look so deeply rooted that it may take more than a bye week to fix them. Here’s hoping the Vikings don’t get any better between now and October 26th.