First, apologies for the late start this week. I might be a columnist for BucsNation but it doesn't mean I'm impartial. While I try to keep things professional, I don't pretend that I don't care about the outcome of a game. I care...a lot. This one took an extra day to digest.
Of course, I could've begun with a quip about the Bucs offense getting the late start but nope, it's all on me and sometimes snarkyness can be over utilized. Again, sorry for the delay.
Anyway, lets see if we learned anything this week.
1. Lets start with the positive. The defense played a lot better this week. Sure, you can point to the Vikings not exactly being an offensive juggernaut but this is the same defense that let a back up QB and a backup to the backup QB carve them up like Thanksgiving turkey. The play was evident in the first half with the Bucs holding Minnesota to just 131 yds, 3 points and 1-for-6 on third downs. That's the type of defense you hoped to see from a Lovie Smith coached team.
The second half saw the defense begin to wear down as they surrendered 10 points, 201 yds and the Vikings were 5-for-9 on third down. Still, 13 points surrendered defensively is winning football on the defensive side of the ball.
Sure they could have used some turnovers, maybe another sack or two but the defense did its job on Sunday.
2. The unit that failed the Bucs yet again was the offense. I know, it's not some grand revelation. Waiting until there's 7 minutes left in the game before you start executing is not the way to play offense in the league. Five three-and-outs is ridiculous. Just ridiculous. It all begins upfront where yet again the offensive line simply cannot protect their quarterback or open running lanes for their rushers. It's pretty darned disturbing that they haven't gotten any better at this point. In fact, they're getting worse.
3. We've learned the Bucs need to stay the hell out of free agency. This year's free agent crop has been horrid. From Anthony Collins being abused by Everson Griffin, to Michael Johnson being manhandled by Matt Kalil (whose struggled all season), to Logan Mankins (acquired via trade), EDS, and Verner's inconsistent play - the 2014 veteran class has gone bust.
4. ASJ went from hero to goat in just a span of a few minutes. You gotta feel for the big guy. He made a sensational catch in the end zone to put Tampa Bay ahead. Then he watched the defense unable to slam the door shut against a rookie QB. Johnthan Banks dropping a sure INT that would have sealed the game and eventually surrendering the game tying field goal. Then on the Bucs' first series in OT, after they secured a first down, the worst thing you can do occurred.
Tough way to end the ballgame. Tough for the kid, who I hope can recover. The Bucs need ASJ to be a player for them to count on the rest of the season and going forward.
5. I've always believed you build your team for lines out. The Bucs are terrible on both lines of scrimmage and to me, that's why they are 1-6 right now. Tampa Bay has tried to improve those two areas with high priced free agents, high draft picks and trades but it just hasn't worked out. Out of the nine starters on the line of scrimmage, only one is currently a Pro Bowl player (unless Mankins gets in on name recognition), and that's McCoy.
That's not what the Bucs have paid for.
6. Mike Glennon is what we thought he was. No, Sunday wasn't all Glennon's fault. A running game and some line protection would have helped but let's face facts. While his personal numbers aren't bad, Mike Glennon is the quarterback for the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL. He was the QB for the 32nd ranked offense in the league last year, too. Whether it's making the right play at the right time to sustain a drive or being accurate on delivering the ball the Bucs just cannot sustain drives with him at quarterback. It puts a ton of pressure on your defense to be perfect and not make a single mistake, then recover when your offense turns it over.
I've got nothing against Glennon. I think he's an above average backup in the league. He won't win a game for you but most times he won't get you beat either. That's exactly what you want in a backup. He's not Matt Ryan (I don't know what Greg Cosell is smoking). He's not even Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Now, don't think I support the return of Josh McCown. No, I absolutely do not. Glennon is the best the Bucs have for now, but they should definitely be looking at QB early in the draft in 2015.
7. Trade deadline deals are rare in the league. As Sander has pointed out, there's a lot of smoke around some Bucs players. Here's the thing, fans are dreaming of 1st round draft picks and Hershel Walker deals for terrible players need that reality check. Right now, teams are circling the Bucs like vultures, looking to pick the little meat there is off the bones for that last push to the playoffs. The Bucs aren't getting 2nd round offers for Vincent Jackson, they're getting 6th round and 7th round offers. They're trying to fleece the Bucs right now, hoping they can catch Tampa Bay trying to dump salary and acquire cap space.
I'm not sure any deals will get done. If they do, I think if Vincent Jackson is traded for anything less than a 3rd round pick, Jason Licht has failed. Doug Martin's trade value can't be worse, so I'd be surprised if he's moved for anything higher than a 5th round pick. Dashon Goldson, I'd trade him for future considerations, just to get that albatross of a contract off the books. Mark Barron I think I'd need a quality pick, at least 3rd round. He's a former high first round draft pick and he's still young.
And hey, if anyone wants two former Cincinnati Bengals I'm open for business.
Truth be told, other than maybe Jackson, I don't expect much from the Bucs today.
8. Trinton Holliday doesn't look like a dynamic return guy to me.
9. I'm done with any talk of "still being in it". Give me a break. Yes, technically the Bucs are in the same spot they were last week, but with one less game to make up the margin. Let's face it though. To rise up, you have to win. If the Bucs at home can't beat a beaten up Minnesota team starting a rookie QB, who the heck are they going to beat?
10. I think the most disappointing thing about this season is the feeling of opportunities lost this year. In the opener, if Dashon Goldson pulls in that interception, he likely scores or at least puts the Bucs in point blank range for a game winning score. If Mike Evans doesn't get hurt on that catch in week 2, the Bucs kick a field goal to win that one. If they manage to hold on to an 11 point fourth quarter lead in New Orleans, there's another victory. And of course, yesterday, if Johnthan Banks simply holds on to that pick, they win.
That's the difference between 5-2 and first place in the NFC South and 1-6, the worst team in the league's worst division. The sad thing is we've seen this for years now, haven't we Bucs fans? Tampa Bay simply doesn't know how to win games. They make the crucial mistake at the critical moment or fail to make the play they need to make to seal the game away.
That's really been Lovie's greatest challenge. It's not getting a pass rush on defense, playing the Tampa Two, the offensive line or Mike Glennon. It's teaching this team how to win football games.
By the way folks, the 10 Things will be extremely late next week (if at all) as I'll be unable to watch the Bucs-Browns game until Thursday next week. The Bucs will probably win since I won't be watching live.