Who the hell is this team and what did you do with my Bucs? Nevermind, I don't want to know. I'll keep these guys.
If you felt the same as I Monday night then you too were a bit surprised by the Bucs' woodshed whuppin' of the perrenial playoff bound (and one-and-done) Cincinnati Bengals in front of a National Television audience.
Of course, it was only a pre-season game and for some reason Cincinnati was in playoff form, not looking like they gave a hoot. The Buccaneers played hard and well in front of the home fans for the first time in a long time. No team should go over a year without a home victory. That's just ridiculous.
Pre-season or not, it was a solid performance which is good to see and something to build on as we move toward the real deal.
Home Sweet Home
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to get out the cellar of the worst division in football, none-the-less return to the playoffs, they must find a way to make Raymond James Stadium a tough place for opponents to play. In the first five years of the stadium (1998-2002), the Bucs were 30-10 at the Pirate ship. For those not good at math, that's winning at a 75% clip. Of course, it certainly helped there were two hall of famers and a bevy of Pro Bowl players on the roster then, but they protected the ship. In fact, push it out further and the Bucs had only had two losing seasons at home in 11 years.
Then the purge of 2009 happened. Since jettisoning Gruden and company, the Bucs have been an embarrasment at home, posting a dismal 14-34 (including last year's shocking ohfer). That's the Bucs winning 29% of the time on home turf.
A team that once dominated at home suddenly can't buy a win. You want to get to the playoffs or just be relevant again? Protect this house. And that's exactly what the Bucs did on Monday night, jumping quickly on the Bengals and not letting up. Now if only they can manage it in games that count.
Oh My Gods, Jameis is Hurt, All is lost! All is Lost!
Was I the only one screaming at the top of my lungs to get Jameis out of the football game when he had obviously tweaked his ankle? I don't know what the hell they were thinking keeping him in there another couple plays. It was one scary sight seeing the Franchise's ankle bend in a way it shouldn't be bending. Thankfully, it appears Jameis will be fine and likely will play on Saturday night.
The injury put a damper on a rather solid performance to the future King of Tampa. Jameis was on target, moved the team and if not for pesky penalties (more on that in a bit) would have a had monster night.
Perhaps its just me, but I'd like to see Jameis make it to the Tennessee game and I'll be biting my nails for the entire time he's in there against the Cleveland Paul Browns. And if he's playing the last pre-season game, I'm calling for someone to get fired.
Is the Dougernaut back?
I'm very encouraged by the running of one Mr. Doug Martin. He's looked best he's been since his phenomenal rookie year when he took the league by storm. I need to see it in the regular season, but you have to be excited if you're a Bucs fan to see 22 looking like a weapon and not an afterthought.
Jekyll and Hyde Offensive Line
Well, I guess it beats being terrible all the time, right? The Bucs offensive line has certainly improved. Yet you still see those lapses when Geno Atkins makes Logan Mankins or Ali Marpet look like a Matador or Carlos Dunlap makes Donovan Smith or Some Dude Named Fragel look like Weeping Angels as they run past.
Then there's moments when Jameis can go throw every progression, not see anything, have a cup of coffee then decide to throw. Where in the run game they blow a hole open so big even I could run through it (okay, maybe not).
Its going to be like this I think for most of the year or at least until the younguns finally figure it out. For every solid pass pro or run block, they'll be the missed check or assignment; the missed adjustment on the defensive line stunt that will just drive us crazy and send Jameis looking for pain killers.
There's encouraging signs though and that in itself is an improvement. It beats our state of inevitable misery last season.
Welcome Back, Lovie's Defense
So this week, Lovie Smith took over play calling duties from defensive coordinator Lesley Frazier. Let's face it, Frazier's brand of Tampa Two is too passive for today's NFL and relies on the front four way too much (at least for this team). Lovie's defenses have always had a brand of maverick in it. He blitzed a little more than the usual Tampa Two. They play a bit more man, single high safety and Cover 3. There's more aggression in his defense.
Man, it showed up in spades against the Bengals. Three sacks and three turnovers in the first 30 minutes of play capped a furious flurry of swarming pewter clad band of pirates sieging the day.
That's the Bucs defense we were looking for and hoping to see against Minnesota in week 1 of the pre-season and the one we need to see throughout the 2015 season if the Bucs hope to be competitive.
Glennon Mob Be Happy
Yes mobsters can rejoice, ole Captain Checkdown took his Jameis pills on Monday night and looked like a starting caliber quarterback. It was a solid performance for Glennon, who continued what Jameis started by lighting up the Bengals defense.
Glennon was confident and threw with accuracy we hadn't previously seen him possess. He's obviously improved under the tutelage of Mike Bajakian and Dirk Koetter and is making a very attractive asset for the Bucs to have in their hip pocket.
Its Flag Day at Ray Jay
One of the big downers of the night was the ridiculous amount of flags on offense Monday night. It seemed like the Bucs couldn't execute a play without committing some sort of foul. On one play, there were three penalties on the Bucs. How do you get three penalties on the same play? Who knows, but the Bucs figured out a way to do it.
Obviously, getting over 150 yards in penalties isn't a recipe for success. The infractions derailed some potential scoring drives for Jameis and Glennon and could have made things even uglier for Cincinnati.
Can't have that.
Respect Our AuthoriTAH
I had to chuckle a little at the delusion of Bengals fans over at our sister SB Nation site Cincy Jungle. As I read their preview articles, they were so certain Cincinatti would come in and have their way with the Bucs, I figured it would be a shock to the system for them. I checked back after the Bucs' first 30 minutes of unleashing hell and found them ridiculously claiming the Bucs actually game planned for this game and were "treating this as their super bowl."
First, no one cares about the Bengals but you. No One. For one of the few teams who has made the playoffs four straight years, they are the most irrelevant playoff team in the league. They are nobody's "Super Bowl", especially in a pre-season game. The Bucs treated this game like any other pre-season game, they just came in ready to play and kicked your team all over the field.
Second, a team that was 2-14 came within a too many men on the field penalty from beating your juggernaut last year so let's not pretend you're the Patriots or the Seahawks. Props to Marvin Lewis for the save, though. It nearly cost Tampa Bay Jameis Winston.
Perhaps instead of looking down your nose at the downtrodden lowly Bucs you can tip your cap, say good show and good luck.
Number of Doctor Who references in this post: 1
Season Tally: 2