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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Why the loss to the Cardinals did not doom the Buccaneers

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire

TAMPA – The Buccaneers fans who haven’t jumped ship already woke up on Monday morning looking for something, anything positive to take away from that disturbing 38-33 loss to the Cardinals the Bucs subjected them to in the desert on Sunday.

Well, as positives go, this one’s not much but it’s something: Right along with the Bucs, the Falcons and Panthers both lost this past week as well. Not as badly as the Bucs but hey, a loss is a loss and in this case, those were important losses.

While the Bucs loss dropped them to the bottom of the NFC South standings with a 2-3 record the Falcons fell to 3-2, same as the Saints, and the Panthers fell to 4-2.

That means the Bucs are just 1.5 games out of first place in the division with a game in hand as they say in the NHL against the division-leading Panthers, so all is not as lost.

That doesn’t mean the Bucs’ situation isn’t dire. It is. We’ve yet to see the offense rev its engines the way we thought it would and now it may have to play a game or two without quarterback Jameis Winston.

Cynics might consider that a positive given the way Winston has played at times this year, but let’s keep in mind that Winston is one of the biggest reasons the Bucs have two wins to their credit.

He’s only thrown an interception in one game so far, that in the loss to the Vikings, and when he went down on Sunday he was coming off three consecutive 300-plus-yard passing games.

The only other quarterbacks to have had three 300-yard passing games this year prior to Sunday were Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, who somehow managed to fall short of that number while helping the Cardinals rack up 38 points against the Bucs this past weekend.

One of the reasons for that, of course, is that the Bucs were unable to stop running back Adrian Peterson or the Cardinals running game, but prior to that the Bucs were allowing an average of just 87.3 rushing yards per game, eighth-best in the NFL.

So which is the anomaly? Peterson running for 134 yards and two touchdowns or the Bucs suddenly surrendering nearly twice as many rushing yards in one game than they previously had in two.

Look, we’re not trying to gloss over the fact the Bucs stunk up the field on Sunday. Coach Dirk Koetter called their first half the worst first half of football he’s seen in his life and he’s lived a long football life.

For whatever reason the Bucs came out listless and ill-prepared for that game. As inexcusable as that is, it happens and it usually happens to just about every team in the league at least once a season.

What the Bucs have to do is make sure this loss doesn’t define them or, worse define their season. If it does, then all will indeed be lost. That’s the kind of hole the Bucs have dug for themselves.

But keep in mind that the Bucs have yet to play their first division rival, and that’s a trio of teams that the Bucs went 4-2 against a year ago, including 2-1 on the road with wins at Atlanta and Carolina.

And as for the rest of the schedule, look at it objectively and find the game there that doesn’t look like a winnable for the Bucs, at least at this stage of the season.

Granted, the Bucs will have to play a lot better than they did against the Cardinals to win any game but that should be expected. After all, it’s doubtful that Cardinals game will become the norm for this squad.

It may not seem like it to some but there’s too much talent here for that to happen and while they have yet to show it, there’s a reason this team was pegged by so many to be a playoff contender before the season started.

The talent that made the Bucs such a chic playoff pick back then is still intact, and in an NFC seemingly devoid of an elite-level team there is still time for the Bucs to get back into the playoff race.

So there it is, Bucs fans, a positive culled from a negative, reason to believe. Granted, it’s much, but maybe we should all just let the season play out before we call it over after just five games.

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 DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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