The Buccaneers broke a four-game losing streak and won for only the second time in eight tries Sunday, beating the 49ers 27-9 in a game that played out the way the Bucs thought a lot of their games would play out this year.
The offense was efficient, the defense was solid and actually took the ball away a couple of times, and the special tams didn’t leave any points on the board. It was enough to make you wonder, what if all the Bucs games had been like this?
Alas, that is not the case, but this victory, coming even as it did against a struggling 49ers team, shows that the Bucs do have some pieces to work with as they start thinking ahead to 2019.
So, let’s dive a little deeper:
Quarterback Jameis Winston more than warranted the decision to go back to him as the starter. Despite being under siege most of the day, he had one of his best overall outings as an NFL quarterback.
He completed 29 of 38 passes for 312 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 117.4 and his decision making was seldom if ever an issue.
Oh sure, there were a few moments when Winston took a chance but he seemed to be in complete control and did an excellent job of throwing the ball on the run and finding targets.
This game alone won’t do it, but if Winton can produce games like this the rest of the way, the talk of him being let go at the end of the season will quietly die out, and rightfully so. This was the kind of game that suggests Winston can indeed be a franchise quarterback.
Solid overall, the Bucs defense was especially strong in eliminating tight end George Kittle from the attack. Prior to the final three minutes of the game, Kittel caught just two of the eight balls thrown his way for 16 yards. Kittle came into the game leading the 49ers in targets (71), catches (50) and receiving (775) and a lot of those yards came as a result of him gaining extra yards after the catch.
What the Bucs did in slowing Kittle down was pressure the passer, reduce the separation Kittle got from against his defenders and rally to the ball when he did catch it, which is kind of how they drew it up.
A lot of people bemoaned the loss of tight end O.J. Howard, who was placed on injured reserve last week, but if there is one place where the Bucs are truly deep it’s tight end. All the loss of Howard did was force the Bucs to go back to throwing the ball more to Cameron Brate, who caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown Sunday and is still as god a pass-catching tight end as there is in the league.
I’m becoming a Jordan Whitehead fan. The Bucs rookie safety has been thrust into action because of injuries and as his outing Sunday suggests, he is learning fast. Whitehead led the Bucs with 11 tackles and had two pass breakups Sunday. His effort was game-ball worthy, and you get the feeling there are a lot more of those to come.
While catching six passes for 116 yards on Sunday, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans passed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the fifth time in as many years as a pro during the 49ers game. That feat is remarkable in and of itself, but what makes it even more remarkable is that he reached the 1,000-yard mark with five games still to be played while playing for a team loaded with offensive weapons.
I’m not sure Bucs fans realize just what a weapon they have in Evans, who doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of publicity that a lot of other receivers do but is easily better than almost all of them.
As an in-season addition, Carl Nassib has done a great job for the Bucs. It’s hard to watch any Bucs game and not notice him, and then there are days like Sunday, when Nassib is arguably the Bucs best defender.
Nassib finished Sunday’s game with two tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits. It’s still too soon to know what their plans are, but it’s hard to imagine the Bucs not going into 2019 with plans to have Nassib patrol the left edge of the defensive line.
He hasn’t played much this year but when he has played, rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea has mostly struggled to shed blocks and make tackles. It was that way again on Sunday, but there were a couple of moments when Vea broke free and showed why it was the Bucs chose to spend their first-round draft pick on him last April. Vea had two tackles for loss and a sack on Sunday, which suggests Vea could still become the impact player the Bucs hope he’ll be.
Talk about an empty stat. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul became the first Bucs defender since Simeon Rice in 2005 (14) to record more at least 10 sacks in a season. A player capable of reaching that mark is something Bucs fans and some media members have been screaming for for years. Well, now they have it, I wonder if they realize just how little that single stat really means.
Sure, it’s nice to have a premier edge rusher. They’re needed. But the Bucs are proof that you can have a premier edge rusher and still not have a good defense if the play in the secondary and at linebacker if always lacking.
Brent Grimes has quit. He doesn’t seem to mind covering receivers, but he has no interest whatsoever in tackling anyone. On one play Sunday he literally jumped out of the way of a ball carrier instead of going after him. On others he simply watched as others rallied to the ball carrier. He spent his day mostly as a bystander.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.