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In wake of Buccaneers latest loss, the first sign of dissension appears

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

ORCHARD PARK, NY – In the wake of two difficult losses, the latest a 30-27 set back at the hands of the Bills, it seems a bit of dissension may be setting in within the ranks of the Buccaneers.

A clearly disgruntled T.J. Ward said late Sunday that he’s not happy with the fact he’s being used as a part-time player inside a defense that has now surrendered 68 points the last two games alone.

“I mean, that’s not why I came here,” Ward told reporters. “I did not come here to rotate. I did not come here to be a part-time player.

 “I came here to make this defense better, be on the field 100 percent of the time. I destruct offenses. That’s what I do. I need to be out there. You got me in one minute, one minute. Last week, I didn’t even play the first half.’’

On Sunday night, shortly after the team flight from Buffalo landed, defensive tackle Chris Baker, who signed as a free agent in March, sounded off on Twitter agreeing with Ward and implying that he’s not being used enough either:

Ward, who only came to the Bucs after he was let go by the Broncos at the end of the preseason, has spent the season so far serving as the third safety in what has largely been a three-man rotation at the position.

Going into Sunday he had played 110 snaps, which was three less than fellow safety Keith Tandy, who had missed each of the Bucs previous two games with a hip injury.

A lack of playing time isn’t the only thing upsetting Ward. The failure of the Bucs defense to close out a game it led 27-20 with 3:14 to play didn’t make him happy either.

“We are not a good football team right now,’’ Ward said. “Good football teams close those wins out. We have to find a way to close these games out.’’

The Bucs lost their 27-20 lead in a matter of 46 seconds when the Bills put together a three-play drive that culminated in quarterback Tyrod Taylor throwing a 7-yard TD pass to LeSean McCoy.

The Bills later won the game on a 30-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal that came after Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries fumbled the ball away on the first play of the Bucs ensuing drive.

The turnover was the third of the day for the Bucs but on a day when the Bills converted 10 of 16 third-down tries, the Bucs biggest problem, Ward said, was their inability to get off the field when they needed to.

“We started out a little better than last week, but we’ve got to finish better,’’ Ward said. “It’s going to take a complete game for us to get a win. It’s not going to be easy but the prospects for this team are going to be based on that.’’

 Right now the prospects for the Bucs don’t seem very good. They now stand at 2-4, two full games behind the Saints, who took over the lead in the NFC South on Sunday when they beat Green Bay 26-17.

“We’ve just got to find a way to put a good game together, and be consistent throughout,’’ Ward said.

But, clearly there are two disgruntled new Bucs, who are airing their gripes publicly, and that can’t make coach Dirk Koetter or the front office very pleased.

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.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Mike

    October 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Most times it’s about rhythm and reps. You learn a little more about your opponent each snap. If you’re being rotated at a dismal rate, your swag and what makes you a good player is stifling. Competitors want to impact games. Why sign a guy and place him out there but yet not allow for you better guys to contribute. If it’s scheme, make adjustments. If it’s personnel chemistry then coaches have to do their due diligence and make adjustments. Or. More of the same occurs

  2. Matt

    October 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    well they havent shown any damn reason to keep them on the field i havent seen baker do a damn thing he shouldnt even talk

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