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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs finalize coaching staff with prominent names

Florida Football Insiders

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
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The Bucs made it official on Wednesday afternoon with the announcement of 18 coaching hires for new head coach Bruce Arians. And, there are some familiar names, including most prominently Arians’ former Arizona defensive coordinator and recently, former Jets head coach, Todd Bowles.

However, there are also numerous other names that Buccaneer fans will likely know, and one, who will be in a very key position on the offensive side of the ball coming up.

That name is Byron Leftwich (above), who will be the offensive coordinator and calling the plays. More on him in a second.

Other names that are recognizable as former players include: former Steelers receiver Antwaan Randle-El, who will be an offensive assistant. Former Buccaneers draft pick safety Cody Grimm is back in Tampa Bay as a defensive/special teams assistant.

Former 13 year linebacker, including with the Cardinals having played for Arians, Larry Foote will coach the outside linebackers. And former Pro Bowl defensive back Kevin Ross from the 1990s will coach the corners.

Finally, former Dallas Cowboys kicker Chris Boniol will work with new special teams coach Keith Armstrong as a “specialists coach.”

There is no question that players who have actually played, especially recently, in the NFL will have an impact coming in as a new staff.

And, Arians mentioned at his opening news conference last week that he would use a lot of the younger staff members like some of the ones we listed above to work with his younger players that are reserves, on the practice squad, etc to help develop them.

Back to Leftwich, who is a former 10-year veteran in the NFL with the Jaguars the Falcons the Buccaneers and the Steelers. He had 50 starts in his career and threw for 10,000 yards with 58 touchdowns. He played in Tampa Bay for one season, 2009, starting the first three games.

Leftwich had joined Arians in 2017, as an offensive assistant. And, when Arians retired for the 2018 season, Leftwich stayed in that role for new head coach Steve Wilks. Next, when the Cardinals fired Mike McCoy as their offensive coordinator at midseason, Leftwich was elevated to the play-caller and got the experience with that role. Wilks and the entire staff were fired after his first season.

Leftwich now will be charged with helping former Bucs number one pick Jameis Winston develop into the quarterback that the owners, the Glazer family, GM Jason Licht and Bucs fans everywhere have hoped he will become.

At the same time, the Buccaneers currently have to determine, who the backup will be. And, whether that will include someone who was on the roster, like veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick or young but unproven quarterback Ryan Griffin? Or, will it be someone entirely new that that Arians-Leftwich favor?

Still it’s accurate to say that Arians entrusting Leftwich to help fix Winston and the buccaneer offense to succeed more consistently, without turning the ball over is as big a key component did the Buccaneers have for 2019.

Now, it’s time for Arians’ staff to get to work.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints bounce back for impressive win over Bucs

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs were hoping to make it back-to-back wins, as the first place Saints came limping to town Sunday. But in the end, the same mistakes that have plagued them throughout the first nine games of the season came to the forefront again, and New Orleans rebounded to beat them decisively 34 – 17.

Drew Brees (above) bounced back from a poor game last week in a 26-9 loss to Atlanta to throw for three touchdowns, and the Saints defense collected four interceptions on Bucs QB Jameis Winston in the victory.

New Orleans jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead on a pair of Will Lutz field goals, the second of which was set up when Winston passed to O.J. Howard and it bounced off of his hands deflecting into the air and was picked off by linebacker Demario Davis.

One play later, Brees found Michael Thomas, the league’s leading receiver in receptions and yards per game, but was somehow wide open with a 16 yard score and a 13-0 lead. The Saints, who had their six-game winning streak snapped a week ago, stayed on the gas and when Brees found tight end Jared Cook for a leaping 3 yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone, it was 20 – 0.

The Bucs 32nd ranked pass defense looked the part for a lot of Sunday, as well.

Meanwhile, Winston and the Tampa Bay offense finally got on the board, when RB Peyton Barber concluded a seven play 75 yard drive with a 6 yard touchdown to trim the lead to 20 – 7. Then, the Bucs were moving the ball late in the first half for another possible score, but Winston was intercepted on another deflected pass by DB Vaughn Bell. And, the Saints took a 13-point lead to the locker room.

In second half leading 20 – 10 New Orleans extended the lead with an 10 play 75 yard drive that culminated, when Brees found Ted Ginn wide open at the goal line from 6 yards out to make it a 17 point advantage.

The Bucs continue to fight, got a WR Chris Godwin 30 yard catch and run TD and got the ball back down 10 points.

Driving out to midfield, Tampa Bay looked like they had a 4th down conversion with 11 minutes to go in the game, when Winston completed a slant pass to Mike Evans. However, the referees called offensive pass interference and Coach Bruce Arians challenged the play. The New York replay command center agreed with the officials that it was interference and at the call stood.

So, that erased a Bucs first down and put the offense in a fourth and long. The Bucs decided to punt after the controversial penalty.

The Buccaneers defense held and got the ball back, but after getting a quick first down, Winston was picked off for the third time in the game. This time by Marcus Williams, who raced 55 yards for the pick six touchdown and basically, the clinching score.

Winston did finish with 313 yard passing, but with four more interceptions, he still leads the NFL with 18 picks through 10 games.

As for the Saints, they clearly got their swagger back on the road after scoring only nine points at a home last week. New Orleans completes the season sweep of Tampa Bay with the victory and looks to stay in the hunt for a first weekend bye in the NFL playoffs with a now 8 – 2 record.

The Buccaneers are now 3 – 7 and headed towards what is apparently going to be a fifth losing season in their last 6 years and their 10th in their last 12 seasons overall.

And, the questions will only continue to mount about the franchise keeping Winston beyond this season. He is not signed to a long-term deal and his record is now 7 – 22 in his last 29 games he’s started in last three seasons.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints bad injury news is good for Bucs- Evans matchup

Florida Football Insiders

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Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via USA TODAY NETWORK

As the Bucs get set the host of first place Saints Sunday, Tampa Bay has caught a break with a key injury in New Orleans secondary. This after the Saints have already ruled out defensive back Marshon Lattimore due to a hamstring injury.

Coach Sean Payton informed the media after Saints practice that Lattimore, who left last week’s game with Atlanta with the injury, will not be able to suit up, specifically to go one-on-one against Bucs WR Mike Evans.

And, former first round pick Lattimore has usually gotten the better of the head-to-head matchups over the past three seasons (above) with Evans. This would include the game in New Orleans earlier this year, when the Saints/Lattimore held Evans without a reception for the first time in over four seasons.

However, Evans has been coming on since then, including back-to-back games against the Titans and the Seahawks where he had over 175 five yards receiving and two touchdowns in each. A week ago, the former number one pick finished with four catches for 82 yards in the Bucs 30 – 27 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

New Orleans may likely put former #1 pick Eli Apple on Evans, now, for much of the game.

Payton also ruled out starting offensive guard Andrus Peat due to a fractured forearm, which further complicates a run game with Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray that has yet to get on track this season.

Meanwhile for Tampa Bay, they will be without pass rusher Carl Nassib for the second straight game due to a groin injury and Coach Bruce Arians also told the media that defensive back M.J. Stewart will not play due to an injured knee.

The Buccaneers secondary is in flux after releasing former number 1 pick Vernon Hargreaves earlier in the week but it is expected that rookies Sean Murphy Bunting and Jamel Dean will see action in Hargreaves is place against Drew Brees in the high-powered Saints offense. Dean had the critical interception of Kyler Murray late in the game last week, which led to the Bucs eventually game winning TD drive.

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