TAMPA – A battered defense made just enough plays to give the Buccaneers a chance to beat the Patriots at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday night but the Tampa Bay offense failed repeatedly to take advantage in what proved to be a 19-14 Patriots victory.
The Bucs won the takeaway battle, getting a first-quarter interception from rookie safety Justin Evans and a fumble recovery from reserve defensive tackle Will Clarke, but they failed to turn either into points on a night when the Bucs kicking woes only got worse.
Less than a year removed from the nightmare that was Roberto Aguayo, the Bucs continued to get similar results from veteran replacement Nick Folk, who missed field goal tries of 31, 49 and 55 yards just three days after he left seven points on the field during a 25-23 victory over the Giants.
The Bucs offense got a boost from the return of running back Doug Martin, who ran 13 times for 74 yards and the team’s lone touchdown, but the Bucs were just 2-for-11 on third down and struggled throughout the night to maintain continuity and move the ball.
Against a Patriots defense that came into the game allowing 457 yards per game, the Bucs didn’t surpass the 200-yard marker until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Jameis Winston connected on a 41-yard pass to DeSean Jackson.
That gain helped the Bucs move deep into Patriots territory while trailing 16-7 but Folk’s third miss of the night prevented the Bucs from cutting their deficit to one score and may have spelled the end of Folk’s tenure with the team.
The Bucs eventually cut the deficit back to one score one possession later on an 18-yard Jameis Winston touchdown pass to tight end Cameron Brate but the Bucs failed to cover the on-side kick and the Patriots ran down the clock.
Martin did early on in his comeback exactly what the Bucs hoped he would. He gave their offense a boost, particularly during the Bucs first drive of the second quarter.
Martin ran six times for 48 yards during that drive, including twice for the final 10 yards of the drive to give the Bucs a 7-3 lead on a 1-yard dive into the end for his first touchdown.
The Bucs gave that lead up on the Patriots next possession, which ended with Brady hitting Chris Hogan with this 7-yard touchdown pass in front of Vernon Hargreaves with 3:42 left in the half:
— NFL (@NFL) October 6, 2017
The Patriots tacked on a field goal to finish the first-half scoring, but the Bucs no doubt considered that a win after a 40-yard Danny Amendola punt return and a penalty set the Patriots up at the Bucs 27-yard line.
That win was part of a solid defensive effort overall in which the Bucs recorded a pair of sacks and scored a key pressure on a third-and-5 play at their own 9 to force a field goal late in the first quarter.
The Bucs strong defensive effort continued into the second half when two straight pass breakups, one by rookie Justin Evans and one by defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, forced the Patriots to settle for 45-yard field goal at the end of their first possession.
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.