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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs turn back to “Fitz-magic,” but rally comes up short

Roy Cummings

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday started with the news breaking that Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson had not just asked for a trade, he’d demanded one. By the end of the day, Jackson had reason to rescind that request.

It’s uncertain what was behind Jackson’s original request, but if it had anything to do with the fact the Bucs had moved on from his preference of Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, well, that may no longer be an issue.

Largely on the arm of Fitzpatrick, the Bucs rallied from 21-points down in the first half to tie the Bengals before losing 37-34 on a last-second 44-yard Randy Bullock field goal.

The loss left the Bucs at 3-4 on the year, which does nothing for their fast fading playoff hopes, but Fitzpatrick’s play should earn him the opportunity to lead this team back into the race.

So, let’s break this one down:

This game was lost in the first half, when the Bengals built a 27-9 halftime edge and the Bucs played the kind of ball that gets coaches and general manager fired.

The Bucs did nothing in that half to suggest they’re getting better. Once again, their defense was porous and mistake-prone; they struggled to move the ball on offense and gave it away too often, and the kicking game was inconsistent. This team looked like it was regressing at that point.

That they rallied will probably save jobs, but the regression that was evident throughout the first half is just the kind of thing the Glazer family looks at when it contemplates making major changes.

He who hesitates is lost, and the Bucs lost on Sunday because coach Dirk Koetter hesitated to bring Ryan Fitzpatrick into the game. Koetter said after the game that he thought about bringing Fitzpatrick in after starter Jameis Winston threw his second interception. He waited, however, until after Winston threw two more picks, including a pick-six that gave the Bengals a 34-16 lead.

Koetter continued that he isn’t ready to make a decision regarding who his quarterback will be next week, but it seems obvious that if he wants to keep this season from going completely off the rails, he’ll start Fitzpatrick.

The biggest reason Winston needs to take a seat is because he is clearly regressing. Winston made big strides in his last five games last year and for what it’s worth he carried that over into the preseason this year.

Overall, however, he hasn’t been the same since returning from his three-game suspension at the start of the season. If Winston doesn’t pick his game back up soon the Bucs may have little choice but to permanently move on from out of fear that, much like Sunday, he will become more of a liability than an asset.

So, does anyone miss Mike Smith yet?

Oct 28, 2018; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans react in the stands during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

OK, no one is going to go that far. But the fact of the matter is, the Bucs defense doesn’t look all that better under new coordinator Mark Duffner than it did under Smith.

Granted, it’s only been a couple of games but the Bengals are ordinary at best offensively and the Bucs allowed them to look special at times on Sunday.

Sure, the Bucs forced a string of three-and-outs in the second half, but so what?

They couldn’t keep the Bengals from moving into field goal position when they needed to at the end, so really, little has changed here

It’s hard to win football games when you’re penalized as much as the Bucs were on Sunday. The Bucs were flagged 11 times for 75 yards, and the biggest culprits were defensive and offensive linemen. Bucs D-linemen were flagged five times for offsides or encroachment Sunday, with four of those being accepted.

The offensive line wasn’t any better.

That unit was called four times for penalties that wiped out sizeable gains. The Bucs were even called for delay of game on the play in which the Bengals finally moved into field-goal position at the end of the game. It’s hard to know for sure, but on a wind day, those extra 5 yards may have been the difference between Bullock making and missing that game-winning kick.

The problems with the offensive line go far deeper than the penalties they earned on Sunday. That unit allowed six sacks, nine QB hits and constantly forced the quarterback it’s supposed to be protecting to scramble out of trouble on Sunday. This O-line was supposed to be a Bucs strength this year. It has been anything but so far, and that has to change

Peyton Barber ran once again on Sunday with the authority that earned him the starting running back job in the first place. Good thing, too, because it looks like the Bucs may have to lean on him even more going forward.

Rookie Ronald Jones left the game early with a sore hamstring and injuries of that sort tend to take a while to heal. Depending on the severity of it, Jones’ sore hammy could bring a premature end to what has been a very disappointing season.

Jason Pierre-Paul had two more sacks on Sunday and now has eight on the year. He’s almost certain to become the first Buccaneer since Simeone Rice in 2005 to record 10 or more sacks. That will no doubt satisfy a lot of fans who have eagerly awaited the addition of anyone capable of recording sacks in that fashion but JPP’s likely accomplishment just goes to show that individual sack totals really don’t matter. If JPP gets 15 sacks and the Bucs finish the year with the most forgiving defense in the NFL, what will have been gained?

We’ve said this before but it bears repeating yet again: the Bucs are no better off with Chandler Catanzaro as their kicker than they were with Roberto Aguayo or Nick Folk. Catanzaro missed yet another PAT on Sunday – his third in 20 tries – and the Bucs never really recovered.

Oh, sure, they rallied to tie the game late, but the Bucs wound up chasing that point all day, and who knows how the game would have turned out had he made it.

The trade deadline is Tuesday. The Bucs said Sunday they have no plans to move Jackson, but at 3-4 they may have no choice but to change their minds. There are sure to be a lot of internal discussions over the course of the next 48 hours about where this season is headed, so don’t be surprised if the Bucs ship out not only Jackson but a few other players worthy of a draft pick.

The Bucs are at a crossroads and based on their incredible lack of consistency on the field, it may be time to look further into the future.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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?

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 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.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020

Florida Football Insiders

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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?

First, the team released another video with clues about them intending to change their uniform and potentially alter their logo:

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.

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