It really astounds me to see the lengths the Tampa Bay Buccaneers go to lose football games. You expect your rookie QB to throw games away. See turnovers cost you. Sometimes the other guys are just better than you. The way the Bucs lost on Sunday...I've got to say its a new one. It really is. The sad thing is, we all felt it coming, didn't we?
This was a Lovie Smith loss with all the trappings. It was everything we've come to expect each and every week. No one is as good at beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- What really hurts is for a quarter and a half you saw the team Lovie Smith has been trying to build. Jameis on fire throwing strikes to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Doug Martin and Charles Sims churning up the run game. A stifling defense that sacks the quarterback, forces turnovers and returns them for touchdowns. It was a thing of beauty wasn't it Bucs fans? Perhaps that may be the team we see week in and week out when they get their heads out of their collective colons. Funny thing about football though, its a 60 minute game, not a 25 minute game.
- Why did the Bucs lose this game? Certainly coaching. Its the only way I can explain Kirk Cousins, one of the worst quarterbacks in the league, carving up the Bucs defense for 317 yds and three touchdowns. But its more than that, isn't it? I knew the Bucs were in trouble when I heard Jeff Triplette was refereeing this game. Yes, indeed, the worst ref in the league has never been a friend to Tampa Bay and Sunday was no different. The problem is? I couldn't argue with any of the 16 penalties for 142 yds.
Were some ticky tack? Sure. Did the Redskins provoke some of the Bucs personal foul penalties, absolutely. But you can't be that stupid. You can't have that much of a lack of discipline and accountability to your teammates and your coaches. You can't get yourself out of position where you need to hold. You can't hit a quarterback late in this league anymore. You simply can't have seven personal foul penalties. You can't push off in the end zone when you already have developed the rep for doing so. The Bucs lost this game because they can't stop committing penalties. It's been a problem all season and now its cost them a football game.
- Our friends at Pewter Report are calling for Lovie's head again. Its not going to happen. The Glazers don't make changes mid-season. They never have, probably never will. But I'll tell you this much - you can't continue to lose games to inferior competition. The Washington franchise is a horrible football team. Horrible. And you just blew a 24 point lead against Kirk Cousins of all people. The Titans haven't won a game since beating the Bucs in the opener. The Texans are 2-5. If you can't beat these teams, who are you going to beat? Surely not Atlanta - a team that actually knows how to win. They've already shown they can't stay on the field against Carolina. The Cowboys? The Giants? The Rams? You can't beat the awful dysfunctional Washington franchise after your rookie QB has the best game of his career, the offense puts up the fifth most yards in franchise history, puts 30 points on the board and held a 24 point lead. Who the hell are you going to beat?
- The statistics say the Bucs are the 5th best in the league in Total defense and 5th best in pass defense. To hell with statistics. The Bucs defense sucks. Its embarrassingly terrible. It was better under Greg Schiano, whose defenses could at least keep opponents under 20. Where are the leaders on defense? It's certainly not Gerald McCoy, who did his best Michael Johnson impersonation in the game. Lavonte David was a beast under Schiano. Under Lovie? He's a shell of his former self. Then there's Lovie's Bears and Cowboys rejects stinking up the secondary. Alterraun Verner was a Pro Bowl corner before Lovie got his hands on him. Darrelle Revis wasn't good enough to play in Lovie's defense - but Mike Jenkins is? How many points is enough? Do we truly have to expect a rookie quarterback to have to put 32 points a game up for Tampa Bay to have a chance to win?
We all thought under Lovie we'd see a resurgence of the Tampa Two. We thought McCoy would be Sapp. David would be Brooks and Goldson would be Lynch. Somewhere along the way we'd find a Simeon to complete the recipe but it was all supposed to be right there for the taking. Lovie would bring his magic wand and poof, the Bucs would be one of the best defenses in the league. Instead, the Bucs are on track to giving up the most points in franchise history. They run mostly man for a team that can't play man coverage. They are the worst red zone defense I've ever seen.
If teams are running the same play over and over (the slant route) to score touchdowns how the hell can the coaches not devise a play to stop it? Or are the Bucs players just not talented or smart enough to execute it? And if that's the case - then how about we find a play they CAN execute?
Here's the truth about the Bucs' 5th ranked defense...teams don't have to churn up yards against them to score when they commit personal fouls, defensive holding and pass interference penalties to move the football down the field. Its nigh impossible to win when you beat yourself down the field and then can't stop anything in the red zone.
Funny that under Lesley Frazier, the Bucs defense seemed to get a bit better as the season went along. Since Lovie neutered Frazier and took over play calling, its gotten so much worse.
- If there is any silver lining, it was Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Doug Martin - all who had tremendous games. Jameis had his best day a pro quarterback, completing 21 of 29 passes for 297 yards and 2 touchdowns. He would have had three touchdown passes had Mike Evans not given an arm bar to a defender. Winston was at his best when the Bucs were clinging to the lead and needed to kill clock, converting big third down after big third down keeping the chains moving and getting the Bucs into scoring position - which makes it highly curious why Dirk Koetter (or was it Lovie Smith?) decided to take the ball out of his hands when the Bucs had first and goal at the 5 and a chance to put Washington away. Mike Evans looked like the Mike Evans we remembered, snagging 8 of his 12 targets for 164 yards and a touchdown.
Doug Martin continued to look like the Dougernaut of old, churning out 136 yds on the ground including a 49 yarder that should have been the back breaker for Washington.
That last offensive drive has me perplexed. How do you not attempt one pass into the end zone? How do you not try a jump ball to Mike Evans? How do you not give it to Doug Martin on the goal line or for heaven's sake, have Jameis sneak it into the end zone or have him roll out for a run/pass option? How do you call the one play that could possibly lose yards in a pitch to Charles Sims?
- After re-watching the game, I've changed my mind on the 4th and goal at the 3. At first, I agreed with Lovie's decision to kick the field goal. On second thought, I think I would have gone for it. The way Jameis and Evans were connecting, I'd have given the young QB the shot to close out the game. Either way, the Washington franchise had to score a touchdown to beat you. If you fail, they have to go 97 yards to do it. Granted, against the Bucs' horrid defense, that probably would have happened anyway. Or maybe Washington settles for getting into field goal range and your still playing football. Or maybe...just maybe, your on fire quarterback fires the game clinching touchdown and you head home 3-3 instead of 2-4.
- It truly was sickening to watch that final drive wasn't it Bucs fans? We all knew Washington was going to score. We've seen it so many times - the Buccaneers snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Sure enough, a blown coverage by a former Bear or Cowboy here, a missed tackle by a supposed superstar there and there's Kirk Cousins looking like Joe Freaking Montana against a prevent defense. Of course it ended with Bradley McDougald doing the one thing you can't do in that situation - get beat inside on a slant route.
In the end, it was the Bucs being the Bucs and crapping all over any positive thoughts we might have about this football game. 479 yds of offense to Washington's 355? Pfft. Win the turnover battle? Pfft. Put 30 points on the board on the road? Pfft. You can't stop the Bucs from being Lovie's losers. A team that can't figure out how to win a game.