TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston saved his best for last on Sunday.
After throwing three interceptions, two of which resulted in scores for the Saints, Winston hit rookie Chris Godwin with a 39-yard yard touchdown pass with :09 remaining and then, Mike Evans with a 2-point conversion to rally the Bucs to a 31-24 victory over the Saints.
The rally, which culminated with Winston hitting Godwin with nine seconds left on the clock, started with Winston hitting Cameron Brate with a 12-yard pass on fourth-and-10 from his own 5-yard line. It continued with Winston hitting on passes of 9, 9 and 16 yards to Evans.
Those passes allowed Evans to finish the season with 1,001 receiving yards, making him only the third player in NFL history (Randy Moss and A.J. Green are the others) to catch more than 1,000 yards worth of passes in his first four seasons in the NFL.
The victory was only the fifth of the season for the Bucs, who broke a five-game losing streak.
Given that they gave up a 106-yard kick return for a touchdown, turned the ball over twice and missed a PAT, the Bucs probably considered themselves lucky to be down only 14-13 at the half of this one.
On the other hand, they had every reason to believe they should have been ahead at the half.
While the Bucs defense was limiting the Saints to 125 total yards and allowing just one on four third-down conversions, their offense racked up 233 total yards while converting 10-of-11 third downs.
The issue was the two turnovers, both of which came on poorly thrown or ill-advised passes by Winston, who was relatively strong otherwise, producing 171 total yards of offense.
Winston finished with his third straight 300 yard passing game finishing 28-51 for 363 yards and the game winning TD. He also ran for 32 yards and a touchdown, that coming on a 1-yard extra effort stretch across the goal line with 5:50 left in the second quarter.
That gave the Bucs a chance to tie the game but that opportunity sailed wide of the right goal post when kicker Patrick Murray sliced his PAT attempt.
It was the second special teams miscue of the game, the first coming when Alvin Kamara erased the 7-0 lead the Bucs built on Peyton Barber’s 1-yard TD run by returning the ensuing kick 106 yards for his own score.
The kick return for a TD was the second the Bucs have allowed in the past two weeks. A week ago, during their 22-19 loss at Carolina, the Bucs allowed Damiere Byrd to return a kick 103 yards for a score.
The first of Winston’s three interceptions helped set up the Saints next score, which came on a 7-yard Kamara run on their first offensive series of the game.
The Bucs responded with Winston’s touchdown run, but a 48-yard Wil Lutz field goal allowed the Saints to extend their lead to 17-13 before the Bucs regained the lead on a 7-yard Isaiah Johnson fumble return for a TD.
Johnson’s score came after Josh Robinson forced Tommy Lee Lewis to fumble his punt return, but the lead was short-lived as the Saints regained the lead on 3-yard Drew Brees touchdown pass to fullback Zach Line.
Even, with the loss, the Saints still clinched the NFC South, when Atlanta defeated Carolina 22-10 Sunday. The win got the Falcons the final NFC Wildcard and means that the Saints will host Carolina in the playoff game next Sunday.
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.