The Bucs put together a third win in four games primarily with their defense stuffing the Jaguars on their way to a 28 – 11 victory Sunday. Meanwhile, there’s a larger question looming for the Jags. Will they turn back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew?
More on that in moment.
First, Tampa Bay forced four turnovers and turned the first three of them into touchdowns building a 22-0 lead and never looked back.
The first one was by rookie first-round pick linebacker Devin White, who jumped in front of a Nick Foles pass and the Bucs promptly marched 69 yards in eight plays for their first points, as Peyton Barber capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run and 7 – 0 lead.
The Buccaneers wasted no time in getting their second turnover and immediately, got back in the end zone. This as, just 10 seconds later Shaq Barrett blindsided Foles for a sack/fumble that was picked up by White.
Shaq Barrett gets the sack fumble on Nick Foles, Devin White scoops it up and returns it for a TD. Barrett is now up to 13.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles on the season.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 1, 2019
He ran it in for his first NFL score, and Barber added a two-point conversion on a run and the lead grew to 15-0.
Foles, making his third start since returning from a broken collarbone in week one, and the Jaguars were actually moving the ball later in the second quarter. They got into the Red Zone, but he was sacked, again, this time by Carl Nassib and fumbled again. That was recovered by Ndamukong Suh, and Tampa Bay proceeded to drive 85 yards with Barber scoring again on a 1-yard run for the three touchdown cushion.
Down 25 – 0 starting the second half, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone went back to his starter earlier in the year- rookie sixth round pick Gardner Minshew. Minshew, who won four games in Foles’ absence, led Jacksonville on two scoring drives, including throwing a three yard TD to Dede Westbrook early in the fourth quarter. Minshew also scrambled and found Westbrook for the two-point conversion to trim the lead to 25 – 11.
It looked as though “Minshew Mania” was going to bite the Buccaneers, as the Jags drove inside the Tampa Bay 10-yard line with plenty of time remaining, but on a third-down and goal play, Minshew was intercepted by Buccaneers rookie defensive back Sean Murphy-Bunting which basically ended their comeback.
The Bucs added a Matt Gay field goal late in the fourth quarter for the final margin of 17 points.
Tampa Bay won back-to-back games for the first time this season and now will get three of the final four games of the year at home.
Meanwhile for Jaguars brass and Marrone, they definitely have a controversy on their hands, as the Jags have dropped four straight games. And, Foles has played poorly in his two-and-a-half game since being reinstated as the starter.
The crowd was booing and chanting “Minshew, Minshew” loudly from the middle of the second quarter on.
But, it’s also not an easy decision from a financial standpoint, as Foles is still owed more is $30 million over the next couple of years in guaranteed money.
For his part, Marrone said that he would make the decision and inform the QBs about who will start against the Chargers at home this Sunday. And that could come, as soon as Monday.
Bucs QB Winston still not throwing football Thursday
All eyes continue to be on Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston’s injured thumb and while for the second straight day at practice he was unable to throw a football, he was seen at least throwing a ball of some kind.
First, Winston injured the thumb late in the first half of Sunday’s wild 38 – 35 win over the Colts and after having two opinions on what to do, was once again on Thursday, at least in the portion open to the media, he was going through reps without holding or throwing the ball.
Some good news on the Jameis Winston injury front: He's not throwing a football yet but he has progressed to throwing a tennis ball. Here’s some video of today’s practice… https://t.co/ymMDtFXTUg pic.twitter.com/2OOGhNKvAg
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) December 12, 2019
Coach Bruce Arians admitted after the game Sunday that Winston had suffered what he termed “a slight slight fracture of the thumb” on his throwing hand just before halftime. When the team came out to warmup for the second half, Winston was unable to grip the football and went back inside for an x ray.
Backup quarterback Ryan Griffin worked the first series of the second half and the Buccaneers got one first down before punting. Griffin is in his sixth season, but Sunday was his first action for the Bucs in a regular season game.
Winston came back and threw for over 200 yards and two more touchdowns, as the Bucs put on a rally after trailing 35 – 21. He threw the game winning TD pass to WR Breshad Perriman with under five minutes remaining.
Wednesday, Winston met with the media at his usual news conference, and repeated twice that he is “day by day” with the thumb.
Arians said he believes the 5th year quarterback will play Sunday at the Lions. And more than likely, Friday’s practice will be the critical day to see if Winston can grip the ball and throw it, especially with some velocity down the field.
The Bucs still have to decide whether they will get a third quarterback to have, just in case Winston cannot play, to be Griffin’s backup?
Winston has been a lightning rod of both praise and criticism, as he currently leads the NFL with 23 interceptions, including three more Sunday. However, he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes (26) and total passing yards going into play in week 15.
Tampa Bay is on a three game winning streak and gets to play two-win Detroit Sunday.
Bucs moving up in our latest power rankings
With conference championships now over, all focus will shift to bowl games in college. Florida Atlantic was the lone state team playing for a title last week, defeating the UAB Blazers in blowout fashion. In the NFL, the Bucs made it three straight victories.
The Dolphins almost made it two in a row before the late-game drama. The Jacksonville Jaguars offense fell flat at home in a blowout defeat. That all leads into how our top 5 looks heading into this weekend:
Florida Gators- The Gators stay on top despite not participating in the SEC title game. They may not have played a game, but they still got a win by being selected to the Orange Bowl. Dan Mullen is now two for two in his Gators career in gaining entry into the “New Years Six.” Two seasons of a row with a big bowl win can only help the gators getting back to where they want to be, and that is competing for championships.
Florida Atlantic- The Owls were able to win the C-USA championship destroying UAB 49-6. This was the second title in three years for the Owls, and their great success under Lane Kiffin. All good things come to an end in this day and age in college football for non-power five schools. And so, Kiffin is now on his way to “the Grove” and will be the head coach of Ole Miss. The Owls reward is to play host to SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs are riding a hot streak right now. They are now on a three-game winning streak. The offense continues to put up big numbers behind QB Jameis Winston. Winston, who threw for a career hight 456 yards Sunday, has the second-most yards and touchdowns, but leads the league in INTs by a large margin.
The defense has been playing very well during this winning streak. Next, the Bucs will go on the road to face a struggling Detroit Lions team.
UCF Knights- The Knights had a rare off week during the AAC Title game. They had won the previous two and Saturday the Memphis Tigers won this one, avoiding the Knights. UCF, however, still won 9 games and will look to make it 10 in the bowl game. They will head an hour south to play Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa.
Many wanted the Knights to draw an in-state team like FSU or Miami; instead, it will be Marshall. It is important for UCF to end the year strong with a decisive victory.
Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins didn’t win this past weekend over the New York Jets. They did, though, show a lot in this contest. For a team that looked down and out the whole first half of the season, they have completely turned it around.
If it wasn’t for a late review on pass interference, the Dolphins likely would have won their fourth game in their last six. Head coach Brian Flores was livid after the game, and that heart and passion has put his name in the running for coach of the year.
No, he won’t win the award, but what he and this team have done has been impressive with the lack of talent on the roster.