TAMPA – All that weaponry on offense is the reason the Buccaneers have become one of the chic picks to make the playoffs this year, but it was their defense that led the way during a 29-7 victory over the Bears in their season opener on Sunday.
Despite most of their starters and regulars playing for the first time in more than three weeks, the Bucs forced four takeaways, including three that resulted in scores, in the first half alone in building up a 26-0 first-half lead they never lost.
It wasn’t until 1:43 was left in the game that the Bears finally scored as Deonte Thompson hauled in a 14-yard pass from Mike Glennon to avoid the shutout.
Veteran slot cornerback Robert McClain had what was arguably the biggest play of the day for the defense as he picked off a Mike Glennon pass and returned it 47-yards for a touchdown.
]\Linebacker Kwon Alexander had a pick as well while Noah Spence and gunner Ryan Smith each forced fumbles that eventually led to scores for the Bucs, whose first game a week ago against Miami was postponed by Hurricane Irma.
The offense did its part by turning two of the takeaways into scores, including a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jameis Winston to Mike Evans that came after what may have been the pivotal play of the game.
That play came late in the first quarter when Bears rookie running back Tarik Cohen tried to field a dying fumble at his own 11-yard line while surrounded by two Bucs defenders.
Cohen never got his hands on the ball as Smith slapped it away and into the hands of Cameron Lynch, whose recovery set the stage for the Bucs first touchdown.
It was all Bucs from there as Spence’s sack-fumble killed the next Bears drive and set up a penalty-aided Bucs touchdown drive that culminated with Jacquizz Rodgers running in from a yard out for the score.
The Bucs defense came up big again one series later, when McClain picked off a pass for Josh Bellamy and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown to give the Bucs a 23-0 lead.
Nick Folk, who missed the PAT after McClain’s TD, tacked on a 50-yard field goal at the end of the half to give the Bucs a 26-0 lead going into the break.
The Bucs came into the game fearing they might be a little rusty as a result of their long layoff, but the Bucs looked sharp for the most part on both sides of the ball.
Winston and Evans looked particularly sharp as Evans caught seven of the eight passes for 93 yards, including receptions of 10, 16 and 18 yards as well as the 13-yarder for a touchdown.
Winston, by the way, turned the offense over to Nick Folk late in the fourth quarter after completing 18 of 30 passes for 204 yards, the one touchdown and no intercpetions for a 91.5 passer rating.
The one concern the Bucs might have coming out of the game regards the health of Alexander, who left the game before the end of the first half with a hamstring injury and did not return.
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.
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