So much for running the table. And so much for the slipping into the playoffs.
Hey, it was always a bit of a pipe dream anyway but now, after losing 28-14 to the Saints and losing badly, well that dream is over. Bucs fans can now go back to griping, moaning and debating who their next coach will be, because this loss may spell the end for Dirk Koetter, who seemed to be rising from the dead just a week ago.
Oh sure, Koetter’s Bucs could still rally and win their last three to finish the season strong, but this game against what is arguably the NFC’s best team was their chance to prove their little was real and sustainable.
Not only did they fail, they failed badly, their offense failing yet again to drum up any semblance of a rushing attack, their defense suffering a relapse and their kicker failing to secure key points when they were needed.
Yes, this game looked a lot like the games we saw all of last season. There was little suggest this time around that the Bucs are getting better, so you have to wonder what that means for everyone’s future.
There’s still plenty of time to ponder that, though, so let’s look back at this one and see where it was exactly that the Bucs failed.
The Bucs were 6-for-14 on third down, which isn’t all that bad when you consider that they faced third-and-long (6 yards or more) on all but four of those third-down situations. Of course, that’s what happens when you running backs account for 58 yards on 18 carries (3.2 per carry).
You really have to give Jameis Winston credit for cutting back on the mistakes, because now more than ever it seems he really is the only thing the Bucs have on offense. He was on Sunday anyway.
This was the second week in a row that in addition to naturally accounting for all the passing yards the team accrued, he also led the team in rushing. That’s not good for a team that wants to build its attack around the run game and play-action fakes.
Where was Mike Evans?
He caught a 36-yard pass early on off a ball that Winston dropped into the bucket for him but disappeared after that. Evans is the Bucs best player, period. When he’s limited the way he was on Sunday the Bucs are going to struggle to move the ball and score points, just the way they did on Sunday.
The Bucs were on a roll defensively going into Sunday’s game. Prior to taking the field they ranked second in the NFL in sacks (24), third in third-down percentage (tied at 33.3) and 10th in passing yards allowed per game (216.3) over the course of the previous six games.
Despite some fine individual performances and some big plays, they didn’t play anywhere near that well against the Saints, who allowed just one sack, converted six of 11 third downs and completed all but seven of the passes they threw (24 of 31) for 201 very effective and important yards.
Contrary to popular belief, the free-agency signing period doesn’t end in late April or early May. It continues well into the season, which is why the Bucs signing of end Carl Nassib has to count as one of the best free agent signings of the year. Nassib has done nothing but impress since he was singed off the street early in the season. He continued to impress on Sunday by racking up a big tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
Rookie safety Jordan Whitehead might be the best hitter on this team. At a time when it’s hard to play an intimidating style of defense in the NFL, this kid plays likes he’s got a little John Lynch in him. He’s not at that level, obviously, but the will and want to are there and his hits are leaving an impression.
Cameron Brate quietly took over the team lead in touchdown receptions with his fifth and sixth of the year Sunday. Not bad for a guy who more or less started the season as a second-teamer behind O.J. Howard. Give Brate credit for working hard and making sure he was prepared when his opportunities came instead of griping and making a bunch of noise about a lack of targets and snaps.
Go ahead and laugh and chide, but the decision to draft Roberto Aguayo in the second round was aimed at ending what was already a longstanding kicking problem. Two years and four kickers later that problem still exists as the latest replacement, Cairo Santos, returned to earth Sunday and left six points on the board. Granted, Aguayo only fueled the slump, but I won’t blame a GM for trying to end it, especially when he was drafting the most accurate kicker in college history.
So, in addition to leaving six points on the field, the Bucs special teams also had a punt blocked on Sunday. That blocked punt was arguably the turning point in the game as it sparked the Saints comeback from a 14-3 deficit. Funny, but I doubt we’ll hear anyone screaming for the head of Bucs special teams coordinator Nate Kaczor.
I said a week ago that Brent Grimes has quit. He confirmed that for me on Sunday, when he most watched from his starting spot at left cornerback. Grimes had four tackles because he just happened to be the targeted corner on a few plays but he did little other than that. At this point, the Bucs would be better off giving some kid a look instead of playing Grimes.
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.