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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers pass rush better than most perceive it to be

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire
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TAMPA – There weren’t a lot of off-season to do lists written up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past offseason that didn’t have a pass rusher either at or near the top of it.

Though the Bucs actually tied two other teams (Pittsburgh and Washington) for ninth overall in the league in sacks with 38 last year, they were and still are considered a little thin in that area.

They may not be as thin a lot of people in and outside of the casual fan base believe, though, and they have more than just that technical top 10 finish from a year ago to prove it.

In their last eight games last year the Bucs recorded 21 sacks. That was the fifth most in the league over that span, and you can argue they picked up right where they left off during their season-opening win on Sunday.

The Bucs only recorded one sack in that game – that very impactful second-quarter sack-fumble that Noah Spence created that set up their second touchdown – but they also recorded eight quarterback hits.

And that’s just the official count. When the Bucs coaches broke down the film of their 29-7 victory on Monday they found two more quarterback hits for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy that he didn’t get credit for in the official stat sheet.

That would bring the Bucs quarterback hit count to 10 for the game, including six for McCoy, and the impact of all those hits on Bears quarterback Mike Glennon was not lost on Bucs coach Dirk Koetter.

“Quarterback hits are good,’’ Koetter said. “They’re a good thing. I mean, you’ve got to believe that those had some impact on (those (two Glennon interceptions).

 “But our goal is to get one sack in every 14 (pass) attempts and we were nowhere close to that yesterday. But I don’t think anybody that watched that game would say that our rush didn’t affect the game.’’

 Koetter went on to say that sack numbers can be a bit deceiving at times and he’s right, but it’s obvious the Bucs find those numbers important or they wouldn’t set a goal of recording one every 14 pass attempts.

By the way, some quick match shows that the Bucs more or less hit that mark a year ago when their 38 sacks came against 548 pass attempts. That works out to one sack every 14.4 pass attempts.

Oh, and down the stretch, when they were among the top five in the league in total sacks through the last eight games, the Bucs reached their goal of recording one sack every 14 pass attempts six times.

Not bad for a team that’s believed by so many to have a rather weak pass rush.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs win fourth straight whipping hapless Lions Sunday

Florida Football Insiders

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
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For the fourth consecutive game, the Tampa Bay Bucs put together four full quarters and this time, beat a struggling Detroit team 38-17 in the Motor City Sunday.

Quarterback Jameis Winston once again through an early interception, but then, also once again, played brilliantly afterwards, throwing for 458 yards and four touchdowns as the Bucs led 21 – 0 in the first half.

Showing no ill effects from a tiny thumb fracture on his throwing hand, Winston hooked up with Breshad Perriman (above) on the first of two first half scores for a 7 – 0 lead.  Then, after a franchise record 99-yard drive, found rookie Scottie Miller on an 33 yard touchdown and it was 14 – 0.

Winston’s third score of the first half was also to Perriman wide open from 25 yards and he topped 300 yards in passing in half number one.

Tampa Bay took a 24 – 3 early in the third, but then the Lions behind rookie free agent quarterback David Blough made a bit of a rally. Blough led two scoring drives that were capped by fellow rookie Wes Hills taking them in from a yard out for TDs and it was 24 – 17 early in the fourth quarter

The Lions actually got the ball back and looked like they might have a chance to go tie the game but that’s when, Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting jumped in front of a Blough pass on the Lions sideline and raced 70 yards untouched for what turned out to be the clinching score. Winston added a third touchdown pass to Perriman in the final three minutes to provide the final margin.

In the win Winston made NFL history, as the first quarterback to ever throw for 450 yards or more in back-to-back games. And, he has all but solidified that he will be brought back as the quarterback for 2020 with the way that he has played down the stretch the season.

Despite throwing his lead reading 24th interception in the first quarter, Winston is in the top free in touchdown passes and yardage, and the Bucs are coming on strong late.

It’s the first time they’ve won four times in a row, since the end of the 2016 season, when they won five straight games. And, Tampa Bay has now levelled their record to 7 – 7. It is only the second time in the last 7 seasons the Bucs have won at least seven games. The Lions loss is their seventh straight and 10th in 11 games.

The Buccaneers will come back home for a special Saturday afternoon game with the AFC South leading Houston Texans. Houston was victorious in Nashville Sunday and will be looking for a win trying to secure a playoff spot.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs in Detroit leads our NFL primer

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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Three weeks to go in the NFL regular season and all three state NFL teams are in action in winnable situations.

First, the Buccaneers try to level their record at 7 – 7 and win their fourth game in a row, as they travel to take on the lowly Detroit Lions. All eyes will be on quarterback Jameis Winston, who suffered a tiny fracture in his throwing thumb late in the first half of last week’s 38-35 win over the Colts.

After initially missing the first series of the second half while having a thumb x-rayed, Winston came back and led the Buccaneers to a 17-point rally, including throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman the final 5 minutes. Coach Bruce Arians declared Winston ready to go after he was able to throw the ball in Friday practice.

Tampa Bay will be without star wide receiver Mike Evans with a pulled hamstring suffered in the win last week and maybe, without starting left tackle Donovan Smith, who suffered a knee injury Sunday and could not practice this week. Smith is listed as doubtful for the game.

Meanwhile, the Lions are struggling mightily having lost six games in a row and are down to 3rd string quarterback David Blough and backup running backs. This is a very winnable game for the Buccaneers inside of Ford Field.

As for the Dolphins, they’re back in the Meadowlands for the second consecutive week in a scheduling quirk. Seven days after losing in heartbreaking fashion 22 – 21 to the Jets on a last-second field goal, they will play MetLife Stadium’s other tenant, the New York Giants.

The Dolphins have played much better football down the stretch of the season and had they taken advantage of the five red-zone opportunities last week with something other than Jason Sanders field goals, we would probably be talking about a fourth win in five games for them.

Miami gave wide receiver DeVante Parker a lucrative contract extension on Friday, but he is questionable to play after suffering a concussion last week and will be a game-time decision. As for the Giants, they have gone back to veteran QB Eli Manning, who was benched earlier in the year in favor of rookie QB Daniel Jones.

Manning lead the Giants out to a 17 – 3 lead in Philadelphia on Monday Night Football only to see the offense stall and the Eagles rally to win in overtime.

This is also one of several teams that Miami is competing with for a better draft position next April, but you get the sense that Brian Flores’ team is not worried about that right now.

Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars stumble into Oakland for an historic final game for the Raiders at their home for the last 60 years.

The Jags have lost five straight games and Coach Doug Marrone acknowledged this week that he and everyone in the front office and on the field is on notice that they may be out of a job. The Jaguars benched Nick Foles after the first half of the loss two weeks ago to Tampa Bay, but QB Gardner Minshew got very little going on offense last week in their blowout loss at home to the Chargers.

It would not be surprising if Minshew struggles again this afternoon, that Marrone turns back to Foles try to spark the team.

As for the Raiders that they were looking good in the AFC playoff picture at 6 – 4, but have now lost three straight games including a blowout loss to Tennessee at home last week, which has all but eliminated them

Derek Carr and the Raider offense will look to take advantage of a poor and banged up Jacksonville defense that has been surrendering over 25 points a game each of the last five weeks.

The Raiders will be moving to Las Vegas next year and this is their final scheduled game to be played in the nostalgic Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. So the Jags will be the answer to a trivia question, as well.

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