TAMPA – Here’s something few Buccaneers fans saw coming:
After one game, the aspect of the Tampa Bay team generating the most discussion across the NFL is not their much-ballyhooed offense. It’s their oft-forgotten and clearly underrated defense.
Hard to believe, right? Well, yes. In fact that is why the Bucs defense was the subject of an NFL Network Tuesday night segment featuring former NFL linebacker Willie McGinnest that was entitled “Believe it or Not.’’
In their wake of the Bucs domination of the Bears in their 29-7 opening-day victory last Sunday, McGinnest says he has become “a believer,’’ in the Bucs defense.
He adds that he has been trending in that direction ever since Week 8 of last season, when the Bucs began one of the more dramatic transformations we’ve seen in a long time.
Bucs fans surely remember how suspect and out of sync the Tampa Bay defense was the first half of last year. Confusion reigned and it showed up on the scoreboard as the Bucs allowed an average of 29 points per game.
Beginning in Week 9, though, the Bucs began to figure out what it was that coordinator Mike Smith wanted from them, the began to communicate better and, voila!
Competency soon turned to dominance as the Bucs dropped that points-per-game average down to 17.1 and went on a takeaway tear, forcing 13 interceptions, the most in the league through the final eight games.
They also allowed just six touchdowns durign the second half of the season, a trend that continued into their opener this year, and recorded 21 sacks, the fifth most in the league across the final eight games.
And, as Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said in the wake of his team’s opening-day manhandling of the Bears last Sunday, the defense seems to have picked up right where it left off.
The Bucs had four takeaways in their victory over the Bears, allowed only 20 yards rushing and the only touchdown they gave up was surrendered by a crew made up largely of backups in garbage time.
It was quite a stunning effort, and if the Bucs can keep playing at that level consistently, they’ll make believers out of everyone, not just McGinnest.
Fantasy Football “Start/Sit” for Florida players Week 14
Everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, that is if you had a good season. The fantasy playoffs are here, and if you made it, chances are some Florida players helped get there.
This week the Buccaneers will host the reeling Colts. The Jaguars will host the under-performing Chargers, and the Dolphins travel to play the ever-disappointing Jets.
The Buccaneers will entertain the Colts, who have the 13th overall defense. The Colts are 1-4 in their last five games and desperately need a win. Last week, they were torched on the ground by Titans RB Derick Henry. However, this was the first 100-yard rusher against the Colts this season.
The Bucs again surprised fantasy players last week, when Ronald Jones was benched in the first half for not picking up a blitz. This led to Peyton Barber scoring two touchdowns, while Jones had zero points. The Colts have surrendered two passing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Last week the Tampa Bay offense didn’t have to do nearly as much as usual.
This week, expect the Bucs vertical passing to be back throwing the ball at least 35 times. With a stout run defense, Jameis Winston will need to be at the top of his game in a big test for this Bucs team.
The Jaguars offense has been rough through the air with Nick Foles back. Now, Foles is back on the bench in favor of rookie, Gardner Minshew. The Chargers come into town with the 4th ranked pass defense, but let Drew Lock and Cortland Sutton connect for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers own the 18th ranked rush defense, and that is music to the ears of Leonard Fournette.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the running back facing some stout run defenses. This weekend look for Fournette to get back on track. With the return of Minshew means the D.J. Chark becomes even more attractive. Chark was still the top guy with Foles in, but he and Minshew have a good connection.
The Dolphins are coming off one of the stunners of the year beating the Eagles in a 37-31 shootout. This week they set their sights on the Jets, who just gave the Bengals their first win. The Jets have the leagues’ best-run defense, which is usually significant. However, the Dolphins can’t run the ball effectively at all.
That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing a lot against the 19th ranked pass defense.
Last week Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker destroyed the Eagles secondary. This week they will have all the opportunities to do the same thing to the Jets. With the tight end position a mess, Mike Gesicki is an option again, who has scored in two straight games.
Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game
The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.
Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:
Per Coach Reich, RB Marlon Mack and WR Parris Campbell are expected to play Sunday.
More on who's in and who's out for #INDvsTB:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 6, 2019
Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.
Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.
“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”
Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.
The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.
Jacksonville Jaguars1 week ago
Mystery surrounds retired Jaguars LB Smith Wednesday night
Florida State Seminoles1 day ago
Why hasn’t Florida State named their new coach?
CFB4 hours ago
Report- Ole Miss on verge of hiring FAU coach Lane Kiffin
USF Bulls6 days ago
Zemek- sad If Charlie Strong’s head coaching career is done