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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fitzpatrick and the Bucs stun the Saints in 2018 opener

Roy Cummings

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Sep 9, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to throw against the New Orleans Saints in the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A few quick observations on the Buccaneers stunning season-opening 48-40 victory over the Saints while fantasy football fans everywhere scramble to add Ryan Fitzpatrick to their roster.

A lot is going to be made of the Bucs decision to change offensive play callers in the wake of this massive upset, but the Bucs won on Sunday because they EXECUTED the plays that were called to near perfection.

That’s not to take anything away from the play calls that coordinator Todd Monken made in place of head coach Dirk Koetter. But we simply have no way of knowing what plays Koetter would have called.

For that reason, there is no way to know if he would have called a significant number of plays differently than Monken. After all, it’s not like they would have been working off different play sheets.

There’s one game plan per game, it’s all produced by a committee of coaches and the small handful of plays that go on the play sheet are the plays that are called and often in conjunction with the quarterback’s wishes.

Whether the plays work or not usually comes down to execution, and on Sunday, the Bucs did an exquisite job of executing almost every play, whether it was in the pass game or the run game.

Fitzpatrick, for example, was about as close to perfect as a quarterback can be in helping the Bucs build a 31-24 first-half lead, completing 11 of 14 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and a 158.3 passer rating.

Sep 9, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) scores past New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 9, 2018; New Orleans, LA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) scores past New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams (43) during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Fitzpatrick wasn’t quite as sharp in the second half, but he was on the mark when he had to be, hitting Mike Evans for 50 yards for one score and DeSean Jackson (again) for 58 more and another.

And let’s not forget what Peyton Barber did to help set up all those deep throws. Barber ran 19 times for 69 yards, and was strong almost from the outset, running 23 yards on a first-down to ignite the Bucs first scoring drive.

Something else to keep in mind is that the Bucs offensive line was superb. Fitzpatrick was hit a few times but for the most part the line gave him plenty of time to go through his progressions and find open receivers.

That’s a point that cannot be understated. Though he did a great job of making decisions, including when he was under pressure and had to run, Fitzpatrick under pressure is not a good option for the Bucs.

And while we’re on the subject of pressure, the Bucs defensive front didn’t provide a lot of it. They recorded just one sack and three QB hits, allowing Saints quarterback Drew Brees to pass for 439 yards.

But the line did apply enough pressure at key moments Sunday to force Brees into a few throwaways that proved critical when the game was still a tossup late in the first half and early in the second.

And kudos to the Bucs secondary. They spent most of the day playing off coverage, which is tough against a surgeon such as Brees, but they largely kept the ball in front of them and didn’t allow a lot of yards after the catch.

Even better was the fact the Bucs twice took the ball away. Few things matter more in a game of football than the takeaway margin and the Bucs won there as well Sunday, forcing and taking away two fumbles, including one for a touchdown, while never giving it away.

Again, that’s execution.

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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