TAMPA – One Buc Place was all abuzz on Saturday. The largest and loudest crowd the Buccaneers have drawn to training camp this year came out for what was also one of the more exciting workouts.
For one of the few times this year, the offense actually got the better of the defense, putting on a show that prompted NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger to say the buzz around the Bucs is “real.’’
“Bucs buzz is definitely real,’’ Balidinger told Florida Football Insiders. “I mean, show me an area of weakness with this team right now. I’m not sure there is one.’’
Baldinger’s comments came on a day when the Bucs showed off what many believe will be one of their greatest strengths – their newfound ability to make big plays in the passing game.
Quarterback Jameis Winston connected twice during a red-zone drill with new wideout DeSean Jackson and also hit Jackson in stride with a deep ball down the right sideline.
Baldinger says the strong emphasis the Bucs have placed on building their offense around Winston while also addressing some of their more glaring needs on defense is about to pay off in a big way.
“On defense, at safety and corner, they’ve got better depth there now,’’ Baldinger said. “And this (Kendell) Beckwith kid is going to help them and so is this (Chris) Godwin kid.
“I think they’re well-coached, the talent is there and the quarterback – I think Jameis Winston, took a step up last year and I think he’s going to take another step up this year.’’
Baldinger suggested that the key to Winston’s improvement is consistency. He specifically noted rectifying Winston’s penchant for throwing interceptions in bunches before correcting the problem.
“He just has to finish (drives) better, finish games better,’’ Baldinger said. “But I think he can do that now because he’s got so much good talent around him.
“I mean, sometimes last year Mike Evans was the only guy he had in the red zone. But now he’s got O.J. Howard and DeSean and Godwin. He’s got real pieces now and you’ve got depth at running back.
“(Jacquizz Rodgers) was a nice pickup there last year, so they can do it by committee depending on what happens with Doug (Martin). They’ve got three or four guys there now that can do the job, so I like what I see.’’
Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat
Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.
Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.
Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.
One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.
Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.
Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.
Christian McCaffery is the most athletic white man in the world pic.twitter.com/DfYk6bHDUN
— NFL Humor (@NFLHumor) October 13, 2019
Then, after halftime, the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.
Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.
Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.
The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.
However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.
Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.
Bucs in London leads our Sunday NFL primer
For one of the rare times this season, all three state NFL teams are in action on Sunday early and one of them very early.
First stop, the Buccaneers rematch the Panthers. This time in London at the newly rebuilt Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) October 13, 2019
The Bucs come off of a tough loss 31-24 in New Orleans last week, but do have a win in week two at Carolina 20-14.
In that game, Tampa Bay’s defense took advantage of an injured quarterback Cam Newton and also stuffed running back Christian McCaffrey on their way to a division road win. Newton has been replaced the last three weeks by backup Kyle Allen and he has lead them to three consecutive victories, including road wins at Arizona and Houston.
Meanwhile, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (photo above) will try to ignite his connection with receiver Mike Evans, the Pro Bowler was held without a catch in last week’s loss at the Superdome.
Next up, the Jaguars will host those Saints at TIAA Bank Field. Jacksonville has performed well with rookie 6th round pick quarterback Gardner Minshew leading them That includes a week ago in Charlotte, as Minshew threw for two more touchdowns in a narrow 34-27 loss to the Panthers. Minshew is 2-2 in his starts.
Also, third year running back Leonard Fournette has rounded into form with back-to-back good games including over 100 yards and his first touchdown of the season in a loss to the Panthers.
The Saints come in with three consecutive victories under backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who riddled the Buccaneers for four touchdowns last week. The Saints top target is wide receiver Michael Thomas and it’s unknown, whether Jaguars football defensive back Jalen Ramsey will be healthy enough/active to cover him in this game.
Finally, in Miami it’s a pair of winless teams, as the 0-5 Redskins visit the 0-4 Dolphins. Washington fired their coach Jay Gruden earlier in the week and replaced him with veteran assistant and former Raiders head coach, Bill Callahan.
Meanwhile, first-year coach Brian Flores and the Fins come out of a bye week with a chance at extra preparation in looking for their first win of the season. Flores maintained this week that second-year quarterback Josh Rosen has the starting job, not just for now, but for the foreseeable future.
In their last game two weeks ago, Rosen led a touchdown drive that actually gave Miami their first and only leader of the season at 10-6 against the Chargers However, L.A outplayed them in the second half to keep Miami without a victory.
Both of these teams have looked poor through much of the first part of the year, but one of them will get to celebrate, at least in the short term, with a Sunday win.
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