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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs and Jaguars on road in our Sunday primer

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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With the Miami Dolphins mercifully having the week off, which means they won’t lose 45th Street time, that means the other two State NFL teams are in action. And both the Bucs and the Jaguars are on the road against NFC South opponents.

The two franchises are in similar situations for now as they each have 2 – 2 records and are in the thick of things early on in their own division races.

Let’s begin with Tampa Bay, as they travel to the Bayou to play the Saints. Fresh off a franchise-record 55 points in a victory at the LA Coliseum over the Rams last Sunday, the Bucs have to have confidence.

Particularly Jameis Winston, who threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week has to be feeling good about his chances Sunday. Then again, the Saints made Dak Prescott and the Cowboys struggle for much of last Sunday night and won a 12 – 10 defensive battle.

For the Saints offensively, they’ve had to tailor things to backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, while they wait for Drew Brees’ injured thumb to heal. Bridgewater has been more of a game manager and the team is relying more on star running back Alvin Kamara.

However, the Buccaneers defense has been stingy against the run including completely shutting down Todd Gurley last week and Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers three weeks ago in their road wins.

For the Jaguars, they are riding high behind rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew who has played well in relief of the injured Nick Foles. Jacksonville has earned back-to-back wins over Tennessee and last week in the final seconds at Denver.

Minshew was bothered this week buy a slightly injured knee in practice but he is expected to be ready to go for the battle in Charlotte. If Minshew has problems during the game, the Jaguars will turn to newly-acquired former Steelers backup Joshua Dobbs, who also took some first-team reps in practice this week.

The bigger key early in the season for the Jaguars offense is Leonard Fournette appears back to his 2017 rookie season – self. Fournette rushed for a career-high 224 yards last week against Denver, including an 81-yard run which helped flip the momentum of the game. If he gets going against the Panthers D, then Jacksonville has another good chance to win.

For Carolina, they will go for the third straight game with backup quarterback Kyle Allen. He has won his two starts in Arizona and Houston and has shown to be much more mobile than what the injured star QB Cam Newton was in the first two games with his bad foot. Again, Carolina has to have a big game not only running but receiving from McCaffrey out of the backfield to have success.

But, the Jacksonville defense should be up to the task, even if they’re playing without star defensive back Jalen Ramsey, again this week. They still have a formidable defensive line led by Calais Campbell, Marcell Dareus, Yannick Ngakoue and rookie Josh Allen that should make life difficult for Carolina

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs aren’t trading tight end OJ Howard

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun to struggle with three losses in their last four games while on a bye week. However, a report Thursday says they’re not looking to sell off one of their premium young players before the trade deadline.

Despite inquiries from other teams, former first-round pick tight end O.J. Howard apparently will not be on the move.

That’s according to ESPN Buccaneers reporter, Jenna Laine, who went on Tampa Bay radio Thursday and said as much, and then repeated it on social media:

There have been numerous reports of teams inquiring about the third-year tight end from Alabama whose had a disappointing 2019 so far. Howard, known for his size and agility in the passing game, has only 13 catches for 176 yards and no TDs in the first six Tampa Bay games.

And in the last 2 weeks, Howard had only one catch in New Orleans and just two catches in London in the loss to the Panthers. In both games, he did not catch a pass in the second half.

Now, In fairness, Tampa Bay does have a lot of pass-catching weapons starting with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and Howard’s fellow tight end Cameron Brate. Brate is one of the personal favorite targets of quarterback Jameis Winston, especially on third down and in the redzone, where he caught a TD last week.

Howard, who was taken 19th overall in the 2017 draft, is in the third year of his deal that is paying him $1.5 million this season. He is slated to make $2 million next year and there is a fifth year option on his rookie deal, as well.

And while that makes him attractive to another team from a salary standpoint, it’s the same for the Bucs, their GM Jason Licht (who drafted Howard) and their long-term plans for the roster and the cap.

Howard has also finished his first two seasons on IR with ankle injuries near the end of them, as well.

The Bucs will come off the bye and play the Titans in Nashville, and a loss would drop them to 2-5 and only fuel speculation more that they might look to trade off a player or two before the end of the month.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat

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Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.

Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.

Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.

One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.

Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.

Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.

Then, after halftime,  the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.

Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone  twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.

Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.

However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.

Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.

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