Pack it in. Close it up. It’s a wrap. The slim postseason hopes the Buccaneers had kept alive with their back-to-back wins evaporated when the offense imploded in the second half, allowing the Saints to overcome a 14-3 halftime deficit in route to a 28-14 win, clinching the NFC South title.
The fact of the matter is, the Saints made halftime adjustments and the Bucs did not. The offense had less than 100 yards in the second half and couldn’t convert any points off of a Carl Nassib strip of Drew Brees on the opening drive of the third quarter.
Let’s pick six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Back Up The Uhaul. Dirk Koetter and his staff are out of here. There’s no salvaging anything now. The Bucs had arguably the best team in the NFL on the ropes, they were leading the turnover battle 2-0 (it ended up being 2-1 with Winston’s last second hail mary interception), and somehow found a way to completely shoot themselves in the foot. The asinine penalties (we’ll get to that in a minute), the inept play calling, all of it. For a team that started off hotter than Hades, to fall apart the way they did falls on the coaching, the leadership, and the horrendous lack of adjustments both at halftime and in game. Sorry, Dirk ol’ boy - you’re gone.
2.) Back Up Another One. For this whole freaking pathetic excuse for an offensive line. Donovan Smith is good for two things: penalties and missing blocks. Caleb Benenoch? Turnstile. Ryan Jensen? Overpaid, penalty prone hot head. Demar Dotson? Good for a long time, but too old and slow to keep pace anymore. The only one worth a damn is Ali Marpet. At one point, Jensen and Smith combined for thirty penalty yards ON ONE DRIVE. Jensen and Winston got into it on the sideline and - somehow the offensive line did worse afterwards. It’s actually borderline impressive how bad the line is at times. Start with Warhop and go down the line and throw all their crap in the truck and get them outta town.
3.) Santos Claus Did Not Come To Town. Rough day for the kicking game again. In nasty, wet conditions and with as windy as it was, I’m not going to crush Santos for that. Despite some troll trying to tell me on Twitter that those were “chip shots”, a 48-yarder and 40-yarder are no gimmies in the world of kicking. The 48-yarder doinked off the post while the 40-yarder got carried wide right by the wind. Those six points would have gone a long way in giving the Bucs a chance at the end of the game, but this loss certainly isn’t on Cairo.
4.) Jameis Winston Wasn’t Great. The pressure didn’t help matters, but Winston was off on a lot of his passes on Sunday. He and Chris Godwin couldn’t get on the same page, he was high on a lot of his passes, and Mike Evans didn’t get nearly enough targets. Winston’s use of his legs was spot on yet again, but the lack of connection in the passing game caused a lot of problems in the second half. The interception at the end of the game ended his turnover streak, but that pick falls in the same category as the one against the Giants. It was a last ditch effort in a low percentage situation - not really a poor decision. Visor Jameis is still the best Jameis, but he didn’t have a stellar day.
5.) Bucs Should Change Their Main Color To Yellow. Considering all the flags that get thrown against them, it would be like the referees are celebrating for the Bucs on what seems like every play. The Bucs finished with ten penalties for 84 yards. These penalties were drive killers and ultimately game killers. When you even get called on a kick return for double teaming one defender, there’s problems. Once again, it goes back to coaching. It goes back to leadership. It goes back to having a disciplined, intelligent football team. The Buccaneers are not that.
6.) Have The Bucs Won For The Last Time This Season? With as demoralizing and frustrating as the loss Sunday was, do the Bucs have another win left in them? With Baltimore, Dallas, and Atlanta left, the Bucs may finish out 5-11. Dallas is red hot, Baltimore took Kansas City to the wire, and the Falcons don’t seem to have too many problems against the Bucs. I guess it could be somewhat fitting to have Mike Smith fire after the first Falcons game to then see Koetter let go following the second...
Six Numbers To Consider
23 - Career touchdowns by Cam Brate, eighth most in team history
31 - Passing touchdowns by the Bucs this season - most in team history
9 - Seasons the Bucs will not be over .500 since their last playoff appearance (2007)
+7 - Bucs’ turnover differential the last three weeks. They are now 2-1 in those games
2 - Forced fumbles by Carl Nassib this season (PAY THE MAN)
3 - More weeks of this torturous season
Six Things To Ask Santa For - Bucs Edition
6.) A brand new left tackle, one that blocks with no flags
5.) A new starting corner who breaks up passes and brags
4.) How bout a right guard who’s so tough and so mean?
3.) Bring back Nassib and Humphries, yes show them the green!
2.) A back mate for Barber, as fast as can be
1.) A brand new coach staff, yes THAT is the key!
Six Things To Perk Up Your Monday
6.) Listen to Christmas music! ‘Tis the season and that’ll make anyone smile!
5.) Watch highlights of the Browns/Panthers game. Any time Cam Newton pouts, I know I get a big smile on my face
4.) Remind yourself that Tampa Bay is also the home of the Lightning - the best team in hockey
3.) Watch the Avengers: Endgame trailer on a loop
2.) Celebrate the reuniting of Hootie And The Blowfish by dusting off your old “Cracked Rear View” CD and blasting that thing all day long!
1.) Remind yourself that this is almost over. And this time it won’t be a full-fledged rebuilt. Most of the pieces are in place and with the right hires, this is a playoff team next year.
Six Super Bowl Bets
*As always, the list is compiled before the conclusion of Sunday Night Football*
1.) Los Angeles Rams - The class of the NFL
2.) New Orleans Saints - Already beat the Rams once and currently keeping pace
3.) Kansas City Chiefs - Pat Mahomes out there trying to ruin me in the first round of the fantasy playoffs...
4.) Dallas Cowboys - I don’t understand how this team is all of a sudden one of the hottest teams in football after adding...Amari Cooper?
5.) Los Angeles Chargers - With the Pats and Steelers faltering, this could finally be Philip Rivers’ chance
26.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Another losing season on the horizon and another off-season of questions, pursuits, and hopes gradually building