I've thought about this article since the final seconds ticked off the clock with the Bucs five yards away from victory. Was I going to rant and rave? Was I going to blame Dirk Koetter or Jameis or Mike Smith's swiss cheese defense? Was it the kicker's fault? Or was I just going to be resigned to the fact that these are the Bucs, this is what they do - they find ways to break our hearts, frustrate us and make us question what the hell we're all doing here?
Of course, we know the answer. For all their faults, we love this team. Even when they burn us time and time again, we come back and say, "Sometimes love don't feel like it should, baby, it hurts so good."
1. 9 points in two games. Thats what this Rams offense had scored coming into Sunday's shibacle. 4 offensive touchdowns later, the Bucs defense is left in shambles, wondering what the hell hit them. Case Keenum is a below average backup in the NFL, but somehow the Buccaneers make him look like Joe-Friggin-Montana.
It is utterly ridiculous, folks. Just ridiculous that this defense allowed a punchless Rams offense to run up 30 points on them. The WORST offense in the NFL, folks.
So, we've had Mike Smith - defensive guru. We've had Lovie Smith - defensive guru. We've had Greg Schiano - defensive guru. I wonder if Belichick could get these guys to play a decent freaking brand of defense.
The old saying goes, "Sometimes it's not the X's and O's it's the Jimmy's and Joe's". The Bucs Jimmy's and Joe's aren't getting the job done. Neither are the Chris' (Conte's), Bradley's (McDougald), or the Brent's (Grimes).
Lavonte David predicted this defense would be the best in franchise history. Case Freaking Keenum dropped dimes on you. Not Carson Palmer. Not Drew Brees. Not even Matt Ryan. Case Freaking Keenum. Guess what the undefeated Broncos' rookie QB Trevor Siemian is superb at? Yeah. Lavonte, don't quit your day job.
2. There's a reason why Jameis Winston is 1-6 in his last 7 starts. His team is -12 in the turnover ration in those games. You see, you can throw for a billion yards and 500 touchdowns but if you give up the football - you're gonna lose. If your defense doesn't take the football away more than you give it away, you're gonna lose. Jameis and the offense hasn't had a clean game since the second New Orleans game last year (a loss).
That's just terrible, folks. Now, a lot of that is because Dirk Koetter is an aggressive coach. When you're aggressive, you're going to turn it over. But its the times when it happens that really changes the ball game.
Jameis' interception was an innacurrate throw that admittedly, Chuck Sims should have pulled in, but didn't. The pick gave the Rams a chance at point blank range, which they cashed in and cut into the Bucs' 10 point lead first half lead and stole momentum. The second turnover, the strip sack - was really the killer in this game. Trailing 24-20, the ball on Los Angeles' 13 yard line, a chance to retake the lead...and you see it go the other way for a dagger weilding score.
Sure, the Bucs scored on the next drive...but they were chasing the rest of the game and never caught up.
3. Jason Licht is feeling the heat today, too. His second round kicker shares responsibility in this loss. Beyond the 4 points that ANY NFL kicker should have on the board, Roberto Aguayo had his team chasing points the rest of the game to make up for his missed extra point. Then, clinging to a 20-17 lead, Aguayo had a chance to give the Bucs a little more cushion and again, missed. You could feel the air just slip out of Raymond James Stadium, the Bucs deflated worse that one of Tom Brady's balls. 8 plays later, the Rams would take the lead.
I honestly don't know what to do about Aguayo at this point. Some say he's scatterbrained because of the pressure of being a 2nd round pick. Frankly, I think the only reason he has a job right now is because of that draft status. Any other kicker in the NFL would have been sent packing.
Maybe Aguayo will suddenly develop mystery sore foot and get stashed on the IR while the Bucs search for a replacement kicker. Or maybe the Bucs will continue to trot him out there and continue to lose.
What I do know is this is already gone down as one of the worst draft picks in Buccaneer history - and considering Tampa Bay's history - that's saying a lot.
4. With the Bucs losing a winnable game, they're staring at 1-4 (and another lost season) dead in the face. The Super Bowl Champion Broncos are playing at an extremely high level. The Panthers are also 1-2, but who thinks the Bucs can go to Carolina and get a win? They will be heavy underdogs in both games.
For Tampa Bay to get back on track, they MUST win a game they shouldn't. The defense has to have a come-to-Spaghetti Monster meeting and figure out how to keep a team under 20 points. Jameis and the offense have to have a mistake free day and the football gods, who rained on Tampa Bay's comeback yesterday, need to be merciful.
Somehow, some way, the Bucs have to win one of these next two.
5. As ugly as it was to lose to the slapped around by your sister...sorry, the Rams, the Bucs did have a couple defensive highlights, including Kwon Alexander's pick six and Lavonte David played like a man who was shutout last week, delivering a team leading 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack, a QB hit and a forced fumble. McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Will Gholston were instrumental in limiting Todd Gurley to 3.1 a carry.
6. Yes, Dirk Koetter absolutely blew it by not using his timeouts in the waning moments of the ballgame. I understood why he did it, he felt the two minute offense was hot, the Rams were on roller skates and the Bucs had an opportunity to catch them reeling. He didn't expect Jameis and the offense to take that much time in getting lined up and the crucial seconds had bled off before he could realize it - by then the damage had been done.
It was a crucial mistake by a rookie head coach. It's not why the Bucs lost. It just completed the last component to making this a team loss. The Coach blew game management in the last few minutes, the kicker can't make it through the uprights, the offense turned the ball over and the defense couldn't stop the USF Bulls, none-the-less the Rams.
7. Lost in the disappointment of this loss was the play of three Bucs receivers - Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate - all who played exceptionally well against a stingy Rams defense. Evans caught 10 of his 13 targets for 132 yards and his third touchdown in as many games - becoming the first Bucs receiver in franchise history to do that. "Hump" as his teammates call him, caught 9 of his 12 targets for 100 yds. Cam Brate (hashtage #MakeAmericaBrateAgain) nabbed two touchdown receptions, one single handed.
8. Why does the Bucs' defense struggle? 3rd down efficiency. Before stopping the Rams on the final third down after that 69 minute rain delay, the Bucs were giving up 3rd down at 50% clip. When your opponent is facing 3rd and long, runs a give up draw to get field position, and the dude runs right through the middle of your defense to get a first down, you suck.
When you have a team 3rd and forever and you commit pass interference (which apparently broke the will of your defense), you suck.
Get off the freaking field, defense.
9. As Jason Licht's backside burns for a certain second round selection, we also have to call him out for leaving the Bucs with two terrible starting safeties - guys who wouldn't start on any other team in the NFL. Chris Conte makes a play here or there, but mostly is terrible. McDougald is invisible. It's almost like the Bucs are playing with 10 guys on the field.
Licht has had three seasons to find a decent NFL caliber safety.
10. DLT's Tweet of the Game: