Sunday was yet another defensive disaster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, especially in the first half and when it was all said and done, it resulted in a fifth loss in eight games.
And as coach Dirk Koetter and his new interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner begin to assess things on Monday, it’s obvious what has to stop:
The Bucs have to figure out how to keep the opposing team from running off at least 21 straight points early on their defense.
By the time RB Christian McCaffrey was done catching and running early, WR Curtis Samuel was weaving through almost the entire defense on a double-reverse touchdown, and Cam Newton lasered a touchdown to his favorite target, tight end Greg Olsen, the Panthers had scored 28 points in a row before the break.
On their way to a franchise-record 35 first-half points, Carolina looked unstoppable. However, to Bucs fans, it looked a lot like the previous month and a half of defensive football.
Now, a lot of blame has been laid at the feet of former, now fired, defensive coordinator Mike Smith. But, the scheme and the personnel being used to play it these last two weeks against the Panthers and in Cincinnati, was up to Duffner. And frankly, the defense was no better than Smith’s in either game.
Recall that two weekends ago, Andy Dalton fired repeated opening half bullets for the Bengals at the Bucs secondary and Joe Mixon ran for over a hundred yards, as Cincinnati led 21-0 midway through the second quarter and then, 27 – 9 at the half.
Granted it was still Smith at the defensive play-calling controls three weeks ago in Atlanta. That’s when, after an early Jameis Winston touchdown pass had given Tampa Bay 6 – 0 lead, the defense promptly surrendered 21 immediate points to Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing attack.
The Bucs were able to battle back in the second half, but that’s not really the point.
Too big a hole in the first half has been “too big of a theme,” recently.
More awful reminders for the fans includes, when the Bears humiliated the Bucs with another franchise-record 38 points first half points, and 48-10 rout September 30th at Soldier Field.
That day, the Buccaneers made second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky look like a Hall of Famer, as he threw five touchdowns in the first half and the Bears took an insurmountable 35-point lead to the locker room.
So, if you weren’t keeping track of all of that above, in four of Tampa Bay’s last five games (all of them losses) they have given up at least 21 points in a row at some point in the opening stanza of all of them.
You can lament poor and or inexperienced personnel all you want, but you equally have to blame Dufner / Smith and the other defensive assistants for not being able to make adjustments, as the first half is going on.
Luckily, the Bucs have an explosive enough offense, especially behind QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, that they got back in the games with the Falcons (with Jameis Winston), the Bengals and Sunday in Carolina.”Fitzmagic” registered four TD passes Sunday to pull Tampa Bay withing 35-28 in the fourth quarter.
However, all three outcomes still ended up as losses, where the story was all too familiar:
Too big a defensive meltdown, digging too big of a deficit for the rest of the day.
And, if Koetter and staff don’t figure it out and put a stop to it starting this week with Washington, the Buccaneers won’t be playing relevant games down the stretch of the season.
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.