There’s no question that October was unkind to all three State NFL teams. Consider that the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars only won one game each last month and all now have .500 or worse records, and all three are searching for who and how to help rebound in 2018.
The Jaguars have a bye week after being beaten for the fourth straight time, last Sunday in London. So, for the moment will give them a pass on trying to regroup for the future.
For the Dolphins, as we’ve documented, their tailspin has coincided with quarterback Ryan Tannehill shoulder injury and overall underachieving play from their defense and their 3 – o start is a distant memory. Now at 4 – 4 facing a difficult stretch of games, you have to be concerned that backup quarterback Brock Osweiler and a depleted receiving corps can lead them back into contention.
Further, former pro bowl veteran defensive end Robert Quinn, who the Dolphins were hot after when they traded for him in March, has not delivered. Only one sack on the season and in the last four games only one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit. Yes he’s had some injury, but that was a knock on him with the Rams, too
You couple this with underachieving and also now injured second-year defensive end and former number 1 pick Charles Harris, and the Dolphins have lacked any punch pass rushing off the end consistently.
They have veteran players like Frank Gore, Danny Amendola and Cam Wake that can help lead them back with some wins. But it’s probably 50-50 at best that happens at this stage.
Meanwhile, there is returning optimism for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and specifically their offense. As 14-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick takes back over the helm for the benched Jameis Winston.
Fitzpatrick was spectacular in the 4th quarter rally last week in Cincinnati throwing for nearly 200 yards in the final quarter with two touchdowns and got the game tied after the Bucs trailed 34 – 16. You couple what “Fitzmagic” brought the first two weeks with 400 or more yards and four more touchdowns in each of the Bucs wins over the Saints and the Eagles, and there is great optimism that things will turn around immediately in Charlotte this week.
Tampa Bay may have the deepest most talented receiving Corps in all of football. Names like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard have been killing the opposition weekly. And that gives further optimism that Fitzpatrick will be able to succeed.
Clearly, the Bucs defense has not been good and defensive coordinator Mike Smith was sacrificed a couple of weeks ago because of it. It hurts big time that middle linebacker and leader Kwon Alexander is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. However, another one of the Bucs leaders, Gerald McCoy may be back this week from a calf injury that has cost him the last two games.
If the Buccaneers can upset the Panthers Sunday and even their record at 4 and 4, their next three games are Washington at home, at the awful Giants and even though they won Thursday night, the floundering 49ers, both at home. It is conceivable that the Bucs could be 3 – 1 or 4-0 in this November stretch, because of the schedule and Fitzpatrick getting them back on track.
However, just like in the cases of the Jaguars, who will play in Indianapolis next week and Dolphins who host the Jets this week, the Bucs have to get started winning and do it now.
Or, the season will be lost.
Fantasy Football “Start/Sit” for Florida players Week 14
Everyone’s favorite time of year has arrived, that is if you had a good season. The fantasy playoffs are here, and if you made it, chances are some Florida players helped get there.
This week the Buccaneers will host the reeling Colts. The Jaguars will host the under-performing Chargers, and the Dolphins travel to play the ever-disappointing Jets.
The Buccaneers will entertain the Colts, who have the 13th overall defense. The Colts are 1-4 in their last five games and desperately need a win. Last week, they were torched on the ground by Titans RB Derick Henry. However, this was the first 100-yard rusher against the Colts this season.
The Bucs again surprised fantasy players last week, when Ronald Jones was benched in the first half for not picking up a blitz. This led to Peyton Barber scoring two touchdowns, while Jones had zero points. The Colts have surrendered two passing touchdowns in each of their last three games. Last week the Tampa Bay offense didn’t have to do nearly as much as usual.
This week, expect the Bucs vertical passing to be back throwing the ball at least 35 times. With a stout run defense, Jameis Winston will need to be at the top of his game in a big test for this Bucs team.
The Jaguars offense has been rough through the air with Nick Foles back. Now, Foles is back on the bench in favor of rookie, Gardner Minshew. The Chargers come into town with the 4th ranked pass defense, but let Drew Lock and Cortland Sutton connect for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The Chargers own the 18th ranked rush defense, and that is music to the ears of Leonard Fournette.
It has been a rough couple of weeks for the running back facing some stout run defenses. This weekend look for Fournette to get back on track. With the return of Minshew means the D.J. Chark becomes even more attractive. Chark was still the top guy with Foles in, but he and Minshew have a good connection.
The Dolphins are coming off one of the stunners of the year beating the Eagles in a 37-31 shootout. This week they set their sights on the Jets, who just gave the Bengals their first win. The Jets have the leagues’ best-run defense, which is usually significant. However, the Dolphins can’t run the ball effectively at all.
That means Ryan Fitzpatrick will be throwing a lot against the 19th ranked pass defense.
Last week Fitzpatrick and Devante Parker destroyed the Eagles secondary. This week they will have all the opportunities to do the same thing to the Jets. With the tight end position a mess, Mike Gesicki is an option again, who has scored in two straight games.
Colts Kicker Adam Vinateri out for Bucs game
The Colts are traveling to Tampa Bay but will likely take on the Bucs without their future Hall of Fame Kicker, Adam Vinatieri.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Before the matchup last week against the Titans, Vinatieri had began to experience a bit of pain in his left knee, the leg he plants to kick with his right leg. He told reporters that the pain began to increase through the week which led him to be placed on the Colt’s injury report for the first time this season.
Later Friday afternoon, Indy made Vinatieri’s “out” status official:
Per Coach Reich, RB Marlon Mack and WR Parris Campbell are expected to play Sunday.
More on who's in and who's out for #INDvsTB:
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 6, 2019
Vinatieri who is currently the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, has struggled to be consistent this season and has made a career-low 68% of his field goal attempts. He’s cost the Colt’s a couple of games in his missed eight field goals and six extra points.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Vinatieri saw some doctors and got scans to figure out the severity of the problem. From there, they’ll consult with doctors and make a decision, which could potentially end his career. He’s currently sitting at 599 made FGs in his 24 seasons, just one shy of the 600 mark.
Earlier this week, Indianapolis secured rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers and the 45 year old Pro Bowler had said on Thursday that if he got the go ahead from everyone, he’d take the field on Sunday.
“Docs and trainers and everybody will put their two cents in and we’ll see if we can go,” Vinatieri said. “If I can go, I’ll go.”
Obviously, he did not get good news, and that means the rookie McLaughlin is in to kick at Raymond James Stadium.
The Colts are looking to stay in the race for the AFC wild card spot, in a similar situation as the Bucs, so this Sunday (and really every Sunday from here on out) is a do or die for both teams.