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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gameday – Buccaneers in December spoiler role starting today

Roy Cummings

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-8) vs. Detroit Lions (6-6)

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

When: 1 p.m.

Latest line/Over-under: N/A

 

Why you should watch

This is another chance for the Bucs to prove they were worthy of all that preseason hype they received and that they really are a better team than their record indicates. Much like the Packers a week ago, the Lions are still in the playoff hunt, though just barely. They are currently seeded eighth behind the Falcons, so this is a must-win game for Detroit. That means it will be good test for the Bucs, who might have passed a similar test a week ago against the Packers were it not for a blocked punt and a boneheaded giveaway by quarterback Jameis Winston. Of course, it’s little things like that that have derailed the Bucs all season long. If they can figure out a way to avoid or just bounce back better from critical mistakes like that the Bucs could still put together a strong finish that will at least provide some promise for 2018.

 

Key on: Buccaneers RB Doug Martin

 Martin is having yet another disappointing season, his fourth in six years with the Bucs. With a 3.2-yards-per-carry average he’s got a lot of people thinking the Bucs made a mistake re-signing him two years ago and that his time in Tampa Bay may be nearing an end. That may indeed be the case, especially with the way Peyton Barber ran last week, but it must be noted that Martin hasn’t received a lot of support from his offensive line, which has done a grossly inadequate job of run-blocking this year. No matter, if Martin wants to remain a part of this team he’s going forward he is going to have to prove over the course of the last four weeks that he is indeed the team’s best back. Few in the Bucs inner circle doubt Martin’s talent, but sooner rather than later, that talent is going to have to lead to better production.

 

Statistically speaking

 The Buccaneers will go into today’s game ranked 31st in the league in total defense, where they are allowing an average of 385.6 yards per game. Were it not for their play at home, they’d be dead last in the league in that category and by a wide margin. For reasons that neither coordinator Mike Smith nor coach Dirk Koetter can explain, the Bucs have been a far better team defensively at home this year. They’re allowing an average of 324 yards per game there, which isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. That number leaves them 17th overall in the category,. Still, that’s a far cry from where they rank in total road defense, where their per-game allowance of 429.6 yards per game is the league’s worst average. This is just further proof that the Bucs probably are a better team than their record suggests but for whatever reason, they just can’t seem to find a way to play at that higher level every week.

 

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.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs got good injury news Thursday starting with rookie DT Vea

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their 2 – 0 start, the Buccaneers have been battling early-season injuries, but they got good news on Thursday. In particular, mammoth rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea returned to the practice field for the first time, since injuring his calf in the first week of training camp in late July.

The former number 1 pick out of Washington was on the practice field with a helmet and shoulder pads during the time period that the media was allowed to view and film practice. There is eager anticipation on Vea being able to get in the lineup and be paired next to Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy on the Bucs defensive why.

Tampa Bay officially listed Vea as “limited” in Thursday’s workout, as they prepare for Monday night’s match-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The good news on the defensive side of the ball, has lockdown defensive back Brent Grimes also returned to practice for the Bucs Thursday. Grimes has missed the last two weeks after injuring his groin just before the opening game at New Orleans. He was also officially listed as limited by the team on their injury report.

Grimes will be counted on even more heavily now that the Bucs have lost another starting Corner in Vernon Hargreaves, who’s out for the season with a shoulder injury. Last week, Tampa Bay played a mix of rookies and a veteran, whom they had just picked up during the week.

Second round picks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis played significantly in last Sunday’s 27 – 21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Tampa Bay was also forced to use veteran free agent Marcus Williams for a couple of series, who they had picked up off of waivers during the game onSunday. Third-year veteran Ryan Smith played significantly, as well in the game and will also be counted on moving forward.

The Bucs also listed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week back to back to start the season, is also on the injury report with a knee, but he was able to practice.

Also, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is battling a knee injury and was not able to work out on Thursday. Pierre-Paul hurt the knee in New Orleans, but played that entire game and all of the Philadelphia game.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s cool to be a Bucs fan, again

Jeff Pantridge

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

(Please welcome a new contributor to F.F.I. Jeff Pantridge is a long time resident of the Tampa Bay area who has formerly hosted on the Tampa Bay sports radio scene, and also most recently in Virginia Beach, VA. He will be giving us his unique humor and insight into everything involving Florida’s college and NFL teams. Welcome “Pants!”)

In a country that’s as divided as ever; we don’t have many things that we agree on in 2018. Despite all of our differences though, there is one thing that we share. We all want to be cool.

This is how life works. You’re born. You learn how to walk. You learn how to talk. You run around the playground for a few years and once you hit 8 years old or so; you figure things out. You want to be cool. You realize that the cute sweater with the sailboat on it that mom got you when you were 7 sucks and you want to start picking your own clothes. From that point on, pretty much until we die, while we may have a few more meaningful purposes; we’ll always on some level, just want to be cool.

I’ve been a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, since I was 7 years old. I started watching and listening to their games with my dad in 1984. I loved my Bucs and I would go to school every morning and let all of the other kids know it. They weren’t impressed. The Buccos finished 6-10 that year and 7 year old kids don’t like losers. Then 1985 hit. I ditched that stupid sweater and got me a brand new orange Tampa Bay Bucs shirt. I traded in my sailboat for a menacing pirate ship. I had to be cool at this point, right?

Nope. The Bucs went 2-14 that year. Unfortunately, 8-year old me had no idea that my football team hired a former used RV salesman (Leeman Bennett) to be their head coach. Meanwhile, the coolest team ever assembled shuffled their way to a Super Bowl by dismantling everyone in their path. They also danced, they rapped, they appeared on TV shows and redefined what cool was. Just about every 8-year old kid in my class and in every other class, was a Chicago Bears fan. After that 2-14 season, the Bucs had another 2-14 season. And then 10 more losing seasons after that. The Bears would go on to wear out their welcome at the cool kids table too.

The thing is; coolness is fleeting. Trends fade over time. For the rest of my youth, many teams sat at that cool kids table. The Giants were cool. Then the Redskins were cool. Then the 49ers were cool. Then the Cowboys were cool… It seemed like every team was getting to eat lunch at that table except my beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then it happened…

In 1997; everything changed. The Bucs had just hired a new Head Coach (Tony Dungy) in the previous year. (This guy didn’t sell RV’s.) They were led by Hardy Nickerson and 2 first round draft picks in their 3rd year who were destined to become first ballot Hall of Famers. They ditched those comically uncool creamsicle uniforms and they were off and running.

While most people will tell you that 2002 was their favorite Tampa Bay Buccaneers season for obvious reasons; I will always lean towards 1997, because that’s when my football team became cool. They started 5-0 that year, and to this day; I’ve never seen The Bay Area buzzing like that.

Not when the Lightning won The Cup. Not when The Rays got to the World Series. Not even when the Buccaneers themselves brought the Lomabardi trophy home 5 years later. EVERYBODY was talking about the Bucs!

21 years later; everybody is talking about these Tampa Bay Buccaneers once again. It might be a new cast of characters, but your Pewter Pirates are the coolest team in America, led by the coolest athlete in America; Ryan Fitzpatrick. Who would’ve thought that a guy like him would ever fit that title? He’s a 35-year old backup quarterback that went to Harvard. This is 2018 though. Nerds are cool now. Marc Zuckerberg (another Harvard nerd) is worth more than the entire NFL. LeBron James wears glasses, when he doesn’t need to wear glasses.

Heck, I just watched SportsCenter do 10 minutes on some dude that plays video games for a living. By the way, this nerd also hangs with Drake, Paul George and a bunch of other really cool people that don’t hang out with any of us.

Do we know how long this ride is going to last? No. Will it be a long ride? Probably not. Like I said… coolness is fleeting. I’m just happy to be sitting at that cool kids table once again.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Fitzpatrick repeats as NFC Player of the Week

Florida Football Insiders

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Sep 16, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a touchdown pass in the first quarter in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The role continues for “Fitzmagic” in Tampa Bay. As for the second straight week, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, off of yet another 400 yard, four touchdown performance Sunday against the Eagles.

The NFL made it official earlier on Wednesday:

As we have been writing, Fitzpatrick has had two record-breaking weeks at the Helm of the Buccaneers. He has become the only quarterback in the 99 year history of the NFL to throw for at least 400 yards and four or more touchdowns in the first two games of any season.

And, those outstanding numbers have led Tampa Bay to a surprising 2- 0 start against a schedule that most believed would be very difficult at New Orleans and against the champion Eagles.

Fitzpatrick was great on the very first play of the game Sunday, hitting DeSean Jackson with a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown. That is the longest play in Buccaneers history on the opening play of any game. He went on to spread the ball around throwing another 75 yard TD to tight end O.J. Howard in the first half, and then TD passes to receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans in the red zone.

Fitzpatrick is also the first Buccaneer player in history to garner player of the week honors in back-to-back weeks. He also is now tied with Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger for third place for most player of the week honors since the start of the 2014 season with six.

Aaron Rodgers has eight and Cam Newton has seven in that same time frame.

The voting is significant again this week, as Fitzpatrick could have easily lost out to Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins, who also threw for over 400 yards at Lambeau Field against the Packers in a wild 29-29 tie.

However, the “Fitzmagic” is just too much, apparently, at the moment.

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