How? How does that even happen? How does a team that gains 501 yards of total offense finish with a putrid three points? How does a team that moved the ball at will falter in the red zone in all five trips? How does a kicker that misses his kicks and extra points on a weekly basis still have a job?
This Buccaneers team is so confusing, infuriating, and inept that it has the makings of a Netflix comedy special.
The Bucs have now dropped six of their last seven games and have yet to play a single week of complimentary football. You couldn’t have asked for much more out of the defense, but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s performance - 404 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a lost fumble - will once again raise the debate of whether or not Jameis Winston should get the starting job back.
Let’s double up the Bucs’ point total and pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Is This Team Headed For A Full Blown Rebuild...Again? There is no question that this team has been void of leadership for over a decade. Dirk Koetter has done what he felt he had to do to keep his job. He gave offensive play calling to Todd Monken (even though he admitted in his postgame presser that he was the offensive play caller against the Skins), he fired long time friend Mike Smith as defensive coordinator, he benched a struggling Jameis Winston in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick to try to win games. Ultimately, nothing has worked. There is little to no chance that this team can turn things around enough to save Koetter’s job. If Koetter goes, most likely the whole staff goes. Jason Licht has, overall, done a decent job. Certainly better than Dominik or Bruce Allen, but his failures in finding a kicker or enough defensive talent may do him in as well. Like it or not, it’s going to be another off-season of starting over.
2.) Why Did Koetter Take Back Play Calling? Koetter said he had “his own reasons” for taking play calling back, but when he was the play caller last season, the Bucs had the worst red zone offense in football. He takes play calling back and the team goes 0-for-5 in the red zone with two turnovers and two missed field goals. With as well as Fitz flourished under Monken, what possible reason would there be to take play calling away from him? Coming away with three points against a team that was giving up 21.5 per game is inexcusable. That decision might be the final straw for Koetter’s tenure.
3.) Why Does Catanzaro Still Have A Job? I know I’ve beaten this dead horse beyond recognition, but Sunday was just another prime example as to why I never wanted him on the team to begin with. If Cat does his job, the Bucs are marching down the field to tie the game. Instead, a one touchdown performance from Alex Smith was enough to ice the game. Simply mind boggling.
4.) Where Was O.J. Howard? For one of the best tight ends in football to get two targets - one was caught for fifteen yards, the other was intercepted - is simply inexcusable. There was a very clear mismatch in favor of the Bucs with Howard on the field, yet he didn’t see the field as often as Cameron Brate did. Simply astonishing.
5.) Bring On The Quarterback Conversation. It’s going to dominate the world of Buccaneers talk for the next week, so just prepare yourself. There are plenty of people out there that are still upset with Winston being benched to begin with, sarcastically commenting on any and everything with the #BlameJameis or #JameisFault hashtags. Look, there’s no question Fitz played better than Winston for most of the season. That said, and although there is something not clicking with Winston this season, the Bucs may need to go back to him. The season is officially lost. If you’re going to weigh your options at quarterback, with a $20.9 million dollar option looming for Winston, he has to play. If he’s not your guy, fine. You save the money and use it elsewhere. If he is your guy, fine. Figure out how you’re going to pay other guys with that cap hit coming. Either way, the Bucs officially have nothing to lose. If he continues to be a turnover machine, you only raise your draft position. If his head is straight, you know he’s the guy moving forward.
6.) The Defense Did Its Job. Say what you will about the pressure on Alex Smith - or lack thereof - but this defense did its job. Remember, Alex Smith may not be a great quarterback, but he is good and he’s a game manager. When the pressure starts to close, he gets rid of the ball. As was the case on Sunday. Of course, the McCoy haters aren’t going to mention the fact that he had a 4th quarter sack on a third down with the game still within reach, but I digress. This loss is solely on the hands of the offense and the play caller. You can’t put up 501 yards of offense and come away with three points and expect to win. In fact, if you put up 501 yards there is no excuse for you to not have double digit points. The red zone play calling was abysmal, they turned the ball over, Mike Evans dropped a touchdown pass. Pathetic all the way around. Anyone blaming the defense is just in default mode.
Six Numbers To Consider
14 - Difference in first downs in favor of the Bucs (Redskins had 15 first downs and were 5/13 on third down)
-19 - Bucs’ 2018 turnover differential. They got zero takeaways (again) and turned the ball over four times
6 - Red Zone turnovers this season, most in the NFL
-23 - Differential in first quarter scoring this season for the Buccaneers
286 - Total yards by the Redskins, the lowest of a Bucs’ opponent this season
8 - Kicks missed by Catanzaro this season (four field goals, four extra points)
Six Ways To Spend Next Sunday
With the way the Buccaneers are playing, you may be better off avoiding the game entirely. Here are some back up options for you that will likely be more enjoyable.
6.) Get your Thanksgiving grocery shopping done
5.) Yard work...for your entire neighborhood
4.) Watching everything saved on your DVR that you swear you’ll get to, but never do
3.) Preparing your mock draft
2.) Putting up Christmas decorations (and I say that as a huge proponent of no Christmas anything before Thanksgiving, but at this point it may just bring you a little cheer)
1.) Anything. Literally anything that doesn’t involve football.
Six Reasons For Optimism
Six Super Bowl Bets
(As always, the Sunday Night game was not completed at the time of compiling this list)
1.) Los Angeles Rams - Struggled the last two weeks, still the most dangerous team in football
2.) New Orleans Saints - Can anyone stop them? (Wait...how did the Bucs stop them?!)
3.) Pittsburgh Steelers - Hottest team in the AFC. No Bell needed.
4.) New England Patriots - Stunning loss to Tennessee, but they’ll bounce back
5.) Kansas City Chiefs - Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are a cheat code
30.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - At this point, they might even lose to the Raiders