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Yarcho’s Pick Six: Bucs’ Downward Spiral Continues

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The Bucs fall to the Panthers 42-28, making them 3-5 on the season and 1-2 in the division

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This Buccaneers team is completely mind numbing. They have the number one offense in the NFL, yet couldn’t get their top three receivers involved throughout the entire first half. The defense dug another insurmountable hole in the first half, only to play extraordinary football in the second half.

They can’t seem to ever put it all together at once.

The offense is clicking, the defense is atrocious. The offense is turning the ball over, the defense is getting three-and-outs. The team is awful in the first half, nails in the second.

Mind. Numbingly. Frustrating.

The Bucs are now 3-5 on the season and 1-2 in the NFC South. This is after starting 2-0 and 1-0 in the division. For you math majors out there, that means the Bucs have lost five of their last six games. They haven’t gotten a defensive turnover since the Monday night loss against Pittsburgh.

Since apparently the Bucs’ defense can’t do it, we’ll go ahead and pick six;

Six Topics Suitable For Conversation

1.) No, Winston Wouldn’t Have Fared Any Better. For those out there complaining or mocking the quarterback situation, no - I don’t believe for one minute that Jameis Winston would have been any better on Sunday against that Panthers defense than Fitzpatrick was. There is absolutely zero evidence this season that Winston could have played better or turned the ball over less. Something is off with Winston. Whether it’s mental, mechanical, or a combination of the two, Winston needs to get himself figured out first. Maybe then he can go back to helping this team. Some time on the bench may be what he needs. Don’t get it twisted, I’m rooting for #3’s triumphant return. The last thing we need is to see the Bucs have to start over again at the quarterback position. However, right now, Winston hurts more than he helps.

2.) Caleb Benenoch Is Not Good. I know, shocking news. Benenoch has no business playing with the starting offensive line. He’s been a turnstile all season long and his tag team partner Evan Smith - who was inactive Sunday - is no better. I find it hard to believe that Alex Cappa hasn’t done enough to warrant a try at guard for this team. There’s no way he’s worse than Benenoch has been.

3.) Have A Day, Adam Humphries! Humphries was shockingly the Bucs’ leading receiver on Sunday. Close to his alma mater Clemson, Humphries went off for 82 yards on eight receptions and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin were held to a combined five receptions for 88 yards and zero scores. If you’re going to go into a division rival’s house and upset them, you can’t have your top three receivers finish with a game like that. No, Fitz wasn’t magical but the big three left some catchable balls on the turf at Bank of America Stadium.

4.) This Defense Is Still Bad. Despite the second half changes we’ve seen since Mark Duffner took over, this defense is still bad. They allowed over 400 yards of total offense again, 179 of them on the ground. They haven’t forced a turnover in five straight games, they had no answer for the misdirection plays run by the Panthers. They’re still just flat out bad. Yes, Duffner has helped a little, but if your dog poops on the floor and you just spray it with Febreeze rather than clean it up, it doesn’t really fix the problem - it just masks it. This defense needs fixing, not masking.

5.) Carl Nassib Continues To Be Worth Every Penny. In the only game this season where Jason Pierre-Paul was a ghost, Nassib continues to show he was one of the best acquisitions of the off-season. Nassib had a key sack on Newton as the Bucs were mounting their comeback, forcing the Panthers to punt. Gotta love that kid.

6.) Season Is All But Shot. The Bucs desperately needed this win to keep postseason hopes alive. Instead, they’re two games below .500, 1-2 in the division - of which they are now in last place - and 2-3 in the conference. The Redskins are on the horizon, which is another winnable contest, but the hourglass is just about out of sand on this 2018 team - and staff.

Six Numbers To Consider

21 - Number of Bucs turnovers this season, most in the NFL

-15 - Bucs turnover differential, worst in the NFL

1 - Number of receptions by Mike Evans after having a monster game in Cincinnati last week

17 - Touchdown passes by Fitzpatrick this season, ten more than he has interceptions

2 - Number of games this season that JPP doesn’t have a sack - still on pace for 16 on the season

35 - Points by Carolina in the first half, the most in their franchise’s history for a half

Six Hot Takes

1.) Fitzpatrick Won’t Be Benched Again This Season - It’s time for Jameis to sit back on game day while he figures out what is wrong with him. Right now, Fitz gives the team the best chance to win. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Winston’s footwork is bad, his decision making is the worst it has ever been, and he’s hurting the team. Hopefully, this benching will light the fire under him that makes him the quarterback he has the talent to be.

2.) The Staff Is Gone - Koetter and his crew are likely out of here. Barring a massive, miracle turnaround, the Glazers gave Koetter their vote of confidence after a terrible season last year. It’s been more of the same in 2018 and they’re likely going to have a quick trigger finger. No, they won’t fire him in season. That’s not their style. But I believe they clean house, except for...

3.) Jason Licht Is Staying - Licht, overall, has done a good job. He’s brought in solid pieces, drafted well overall (I swear, the next time I hear the name Aguayo, I’m gonna snap. No GM bats 1.000 in the draft. It was a dumb move. They cut him. Move on and get over it.) Not only that, but there’s a very intriguing coach on the open market that Licht has a relationship with - Bruce Arians. Arians has worked wonders with quarterbacks and he loves Jameis. Licht could put it all on the line, saying “Let me get Bruce. If that doesn’t work, I’m gone.”

4.) Cameron Brate, DeSean Jackson, and Adam Humphries Will Be Gone After The Season - If Winston’s fifth year option is indeed kept, the Bucs will need to clear some cap space. He and DJax obviously have problems - whether that’s strictly on the field or not - and cutting him saves the Bucs’ $10 million. All of Brate’s guaranteed money is in this season and O.J. Howard has clearly asserted himself as this team’s full time tight end. As for Humph, it’s hard to see them re-signing him. JPP has to stay and he will cost some serious cash. With as deep as the Bucs are at receiver, they could let those two walk and draft another to keep the cap a little more flexible.

5.) The Bucs Will Have To Draft O-Line In The First Round - As bad as the defense has been, the offensive line is every bit as bad, if not worse. You can’t invest in a quarterback or a running back when there’s no time and no lanes. Demar Dotson is nearing the end of his career, Benenoch/Smith is a disaster. The whole right side is a mess. The Bucs will have to invest a top pick - or spend big money in free agency - to try and get that right.

6.) Kwon Alexander Will Still Get His Big Extension - Forget the franchise tag, Kwon will still get his contract. The injury sucks and it puts his future a bit in question, but torn ACL’s aren’t what they used to be. Guys come back stronger than ever. For Kwon, you see every snap he’s not on the field just how important he is. The Bucs are going to want to get it done and they’ll find a way to get him extended before free agency begins in March.

Six Best Tweets (In No Particular Order)

Six Super Bowl Bets

(As always, the Sunday Night game has not finished upon compiling this list)

1.) Los Angeles Rams - Struggled in New Orleans, but still the best team in football

2.) New Orleans Saints - Gave the best team in football all they wanted and then some. Nothing but fire since losing week one

3.) New England Patriots - No team in the AFC I trust more when push comes to shove

4.) Kansas City Chiefs - Mahomes is so much fun to watch

5.) Carolina Panthers - They find a way to win - week in, week out

25.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - This is just a bad team. No more sugar coating it.

Six Final Words

Playoff Hopes Have All But Evaporated