The Tampa Bay Buccaneers basically did what they always do, lost a game of any significance. They have been doing it since 2008, so by now we as Bucs fans should be used to it.
I think the disturbing thing about Thursday night's game wasn't the fact that the Bucs lost again. It's really how it happened. Jameis played a very good game, the offense put up 28 points, yet they still had their doors blown off at home (again).
1. Sometimes the football gods just have it in for you. Some years, you can go through an entire season without sustaining an injury to a position, other years, you're down to your third string running back. This season, the Bucs are down to their fifth string RB.
With Antone Smith lost for the season, it adds to the list of the gone, but not forgotten - Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers and now Smith.
2. Jameis continued his stellar play against the Falcons, turning in one of his best performances of the season. While he would still have his occasional Jameis erratic shot, he was mostly accurate, a playmaker and kept his football team in the ball game until the bottom fell out of the defense.
Yes, he fumbled once, but that turnover was a bit more on the offensive line, who failed to get surge on a quarterback sneak play and left Jameis trying to get that first down the Bucs desperately needed.
The truth is Tampa Bay cannot win by putting everything on Winston, but without him, this is a 2-14 team. The image of him taking that hit on the 2 point try and hobbling around on the sideline should have been terrifying for any Bucs fan.
You'll see some fans who saw Mike Glennon's garbage time drive start to call for him to start. Jameis isn't the issue here. The lack of development around him is.
3. Yes, of course we're disappointed this is yet another year the Bucs are out of it by the start of November. I know there might be some out there hoping for a miraculous turnaround, but it's time we faced it.
Tampa Bay is not a playoff team this year. If you can't win at home, you can't make the post season. So honestly, Buc fans will need to focus their gaze on lower goals. Let's see the Bucs win against Chicago on Sunday and finally send the Ray Jay faithful home with a smile on their faces.
Let's see the Bucs continue to play strong against the rest of the division. A 5-1 division record would be something to be encouraged about.
The playoffs are out but maybe the Bucs (for once) can have a strong finish and get to 7 or 8 wins. Now, of course, you're going to have the crowd that says they hope the Bucs tank the rest of the season to get a higher draft pick. How has that worked out thus far?
I'd rather have this team show us they're getting closer. going 4-12 or 5-11 won't do that. Get to 7 or 8 wins and if you squint, you can see the progress. Do you really want to see the Bucs in the NFC South cellar for a sixth consecutive season?
I don't. Progress would at least save us from yet another purge and we start all over again.
4. The most stunning aspect of the demise of the Bucs this season is the awful collapse of the defense. Tampa Bay has surrendered 73 points and over 1,000 yards to opposing offenses the last two weeks. The improvement we thought we saw in weeks 6 and 7 were a product of the opponents the Bucs were playing, more than solid, genuine progress on the defensive side of the ball.
You can say the offense wasn't playing complimentary football as the defense was on the field for 160 plays in the last two weeks, but the defense has a say in that number. Score a few 3-and-outs of their own or a couple more turnovers and that number decreases. Instead, long passing plays abound, running back charge through the center of the defense like a knife through hot butter.
The Bucs have one elite player on defense in Gerald McCoy. They have some good guys like Ayers and Lavonte David. They have some up-and-coming young guys who aren't there yet in Kwon Alexander and Vernon Hargreaves. The rest of the starting 11 is a collection of guys who wouldn't start for most other teams, who have reached their highest level and that's pretty average or are veterans collecting their last paycheck on their way to retirement.
Three years Bucs GM Jason Licht has had opportunities to improve this defense and in three years we're still seeing a defense surrendering over 1000 yds and 73 points in two weeks.
In front a collection of former Bucs stars like Ring of Honor inductee John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, its downright embarrassing to see the Bucs defense play like that.
5. I don't know what to make of Atlanta. Are they an elite team? Are they the class of the division? Or are they just the better of a collection of bad football teams in a mediocre division? Offensively, Matt Ryan really is looking fantastic. The offense under the much maligned Kyle Shannahan is humming. Defensively, they're still the Falcons, but they're better than Tampa Bay.
I don't see another epic Falcons collapse in the offing. Their offense is deadly enough to keep them on the winning track. I think when the playoffs start, they're probably one-and-done. So, typical Falcons.
Of course, as Bucs fans, we'd love to at least get THERE.
6. Mike Evans showed the world what we all already know. He's Godzilla. He's one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Of course, with a couple more drops he also showed why he can sometimes be maddening for the Bucs. Still, the dynamic Tampa Bay wide out saved his best game of the season for National television.
That's how you make a Pro Bowl, folks. Lavonte David, no whining from you this year. You had two prime time performances and didn't come up with a memorable play.
7. I really hope Doug Martin can return this season. Without him, the Bucs offense hasn't made the leap in year two we all expected it to make. As the M*A*S*H unit in the running back room just continued to grow, the Bucs frankly don't have the running game to keep up with the NFL's top offenses.
8. We've talked about Jameis' progression this season. Some would say regression or stagnation. However, consider this - He's lost his number two wide out (again). The tight end who was supposed to be a playmaker is now injured and on the bench with the Jets. Four running backs are injured. His LT is giving up more pressures this season than any other tackle in the NFL and he has a defense that can't keep an opponent under 30 points consistently.
Despite all that, Winston is on pace for another 4,000 yard season, 34 touchdown passes and 18 ints. If you would have given me those numbers at the beginning of the season, I'd say there was significant progress.
Progress though is measured in victories and as we all know, Winston is now 9-15 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Until that number starts to get better, people are going to ask what's wrong. Why isn't he getting better?
Perception sometimes becomes reality. As the pressure builds on Winston, he will do things like he did on that two point conversion try of a lost football game, risking himself and his team's future on a meaningless play in a blowout loss.
9. Next up, another team that has its own share of problems in the Chicago Bears. Unlike the Bucs, the Bears found a way to pull an upset of their division leading rival. Depending on what happens today, they'll head to Tampa with a little bit more confidence. Thankfully, the Bucs will get a bit of a mini-bye to lick their wounds and maybe give Martin a few more extra days to get himself ready. I wouldn't bet on it though. Peyton Barber may be carrying the load again for the Bucs.
Just for fan psyche, the Bucs really need to win this game. It's ridiculous they can't win home games. That trend needs to stop.
10. DLT's Game Tweet of the Week
Bonus: Apologies for the delay in delivering you this article. It just so happens I was traveling to Atlanta the morning after the game and I've been unavailable to get to a computer to get this one banged out. Of course, the censor editing Sander would have had to do with that next day article would have been extraordinary, so maybe it was a good thing. Never fear though, I'm back to my regularly scheduled diatribes next week.