The Buccaneers really got into the Christmas spirit on Saturday, giving the Houston Texans gift after gift. The Bucs would turn the ball over five times en route to a 23-20 loss at Raymond James Stadium.
As a result, the Texans won the AFC South and the Bucs fell to 7-8, needing a win over the Falcons to avoid their third straight losing season and their eighth since 2011.
Kick back, pour some egg nog, and let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. After having a run of about a month of some stellar play, Jameis Winston took a giant leap in the wrong direction. Winston threw a pick six on his first pass attempt then threw yet another interception on the Bucs’ second possession. All in all, Winston would have four interceptions. Spotting the Texans a 10-0 lead wasn’t exactly ideal, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Ian Rapoport had reported earlier in the day that his sources said Winston would be back with the Bucs in 2020 but Bruce Arians refuted that, maintaining they would wait until after the season to make that decision. Saturday certainly didn’t help his case.
2.) No Quit In This Team. Even though they fell behind 10-0, then 17-3, the Bucs had the game tied 17-17 at halftime. They fought, clawed, and kept themselves in this game. Overcoming obstacles and mistakes hasn’t exactly been this team’s forte. We can’t say that anymore. Despite the final score, the Bucs outplayed the Texans all day long. In fact, the Buccaneers looked to be the superior team had they not kept shooting themselves in the foot. A lot of that can be attributed to the leadership this coaching staff brought and implemented upon the roster. Could mean good - maybe even great - things are on the horizon.
3.) I’m So Sick Of This. But we’re gonna complain about the officiating. A blatant missed pass interference - even after review - is inexcusable. A blatant missed facemask right in from of an official is inexcusable. Blowing a play dead because “forward progress is stopped” while a player’s feet are still churning, costing the opposition the potential for a fumble recovery and return for a touchdown is inexcusable. These damn referees are inexcusable. I’m tired of it. You’re tired of it. The players and coaches are tired of it. GET IT RIGHT! I don’t care what you do. Fire EVERYONE and start from scratch. These refs are destroying games, destroying this sport, week after week after week. Why can’t anyone fix this? It starts at the top and Goodell better have answers and solutions in a real quick hurry.
4.) This Defense. They get better and better by the week. Four sacks, key takeaways, and stifling the Texans’ offense as best they could - given some of the situations they were put in - deserves commendation. Jason Licht and Mike Greenberg need to do everything in their power to keep these players and this corps together. Shaquil Barrett will be back, but the Bucs have to keep Jason Pierre-Paul as well. He’s too good and too vital to the success and the growth of the locker room to let walk. The secondary continues to grow and build together. Both Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis are in the top five in the NFL in forced incompletions by opposing quarterbacks. Looks like that side of the ball is finally turning around.
5.) Tight End Time. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate combined for five receptions on twelve targets, which isn’t exactly ideal as far as catch percentage goes. In fact, Brate dropped a key fourth down pass that could have led to the Buccaneers tying the game or even taking a lead during the fourth quarter. The bright spot - if you’re looking for one - is that they were more involved in the game plan. Sure, it may have been by necessity, but it’s a positive sign moving forward. The level of the tight ends is too high to be cast aside. Yes, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are an elite duo, possibly the best in the NFL, but that doesn’t mean Howard and Brate should be ignored. Let’s hope they continue to get more targets moving forward and into next season when the dynamic duo are back and healthy. It’s only going to make the offense more dangerous and more unpredictable.
6.) One More. Only one game left this season. This is it. After Sunday, there is no more Buccaneers football until August. Draft position be damned, it’ll be nice to see them go out with a win and avoid that losing record. Not only that, but to beat a division rival and two former Bucs coaches is just icing on the cake. Not only that, but to do it without your two biggest weapons is a statement that the Falcons are just flat out not on Tampa Bay’s level. In fact, the Falcons and Panthers should both be put in that category. It doesn’t matter what number the Bucs are in the draft. Honestly, it doesn’t. They could draft a future multi-time All Pro or a complete bust no matter what. That’s what many tend to forget - the draft is a crap shoot no matter how much you study or scout, you just don’t know. There’s been “can’t miss” and “sure fire” prospects every single year that have busted. I’d rather have a win now than a random chance in April.
Six Numbers To Consider
6 - Number of pick sixes Winston has thrown this season
17 - Points by the Texans scored off turnovers
1 - NFL teams that have two or more rookies with multiple interceptions this season - the Buccaneers (Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting)
92 - Yards Jameis Winston needs to eclipse 5,000 this season
51 - Total touchdowns scored by the Bucs this season, most in team history
611 - Total yards needed in week seventeen to tie the team record for most in a single season
Six Things To Ask Santa For
What should the Buccaneers be hoping to see under their tree this week?
1.) New contracts to sign. Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin, JPP and Jameis Winston are all hoping they’ve been good enough for Santa to have very important pieces of paper for them to sign and keep them in Tampa for the near future.
2.) An Encyclopedia of the human anatomy. Understanding the human body may help cut down on all the hamstring issues we’ve seen this year so that in 2020 - when the Bucs are in the playoff race, obviously - we won’t see them lose their best players to hamstring pulls.
3.) A new tackle. Nothing against Demar Dotson, but it’s better off he ride his sleigh off into the sunset. His time in the league has come to an end and the Buccaneers need to find a long term replacement to finish fortifying the line. This will obviously help protect Winston but it will also help open up that run game some more. And maybe - just, maybe - it’ll cut back on some of those holding penalties.
4.) A delivery from the West. I don’t think too many Bucs fans would be upset to discover that Bruce Arians woke up Christmas morning to find that Santa reunited him with one of his former red birds. Patrick Peterson and David Johnson’s names are sure to be hot topics all offseason as players that could come to Tampa and play for their former head coach again. David Johnson hasn’t been nearly as productive since Arians left and surely isn’t happy in Arizona. The Bucs could use a three down back with his skill set. I’m not sayin, I’m just sayin...
5.) A special ability. Jameis Winston has shown this year he is capable of greatness. He has also shown his inability to always make the best or smartest decision. This is something that must improve and if ol’ Saint Nick can help open his eyes a little bit, all the better.
6.) A new day. The best thing the Bucs - or any NFL team - can wish for is a new wave of competent officials. What we have now isn’t working and it’s ruining the games as well as the season. The current crop deserve coal and reindeer droppings while a new regime of intelligent humans would jump at the opportunity to right the wrongs that have gotten out of control.
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
I’ve ranked Thanksgiving foods, compared players to Star Wars films. Now, it’s time to do a rank of Christmas movies. Now, this is my own personal list and I encourage all of you to leave your favorites below.
6.) A Christmas Story - I get that a lot of people are sick of this, but it’s a classic. There’s a reason it runs for 24 hours straight through Christmas day. A boy’s desire to get that one thing he wants more than anything in the world is a feeling we can all relate to. All of us can go back to a point in our childhood where we begged and begged for one item in particular and if we got it, there was no better feeling.
5.) How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) - A movie that wasn’t critically acclaimed, but has grown in the hearts of people everywhere over time. Ron Howard expanding on a short book by Dr. Seuss and turning it in to a wonderful family movie was not an easy task. Jim Carrey nails the role and the innocence of Cindy Lou Who trying to open Grinch’s eyes to the magic and true meaning of Christmas makes for a wonderful must watch every year.
4.) Elf - Not gonna lie - this was a surprising one on my list. I wasn’t a huge fan of Elf when it came out or upon the first dozen viewings. I always felt it was very “meh,” but I came around seeing how much my kids enjoy it. Will Ferrell is one of few actors that can pull off something like this and Zooey Deschanel’s supporting role is wonderful. Lots of laughs, lots of moments that make you think. Elf just gets better the more I watch.
3.) The Santa Clause (Trilogy) - I’ve loved these movies for years. Tim Allen nailed it in all three, truly embodying Santa Claus. Though the second one wasn’t great, Martin Short’s Jack Frost makes the third one a must see. I watch these every year straight through and it doesn’t feel like Christmas time until I’ve done so.
2.) Scrooged - My must see. I watch Scrooged every year as I wrap presents and it doesn’t matter that this has been my tradition for over twenty years - I still laugh hysterically every time Bill Murray gets clocked in the face with a toaster. This is the best rendition of the classic Charles Dickens novel and no one can convince me otherwise.
1.) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation - It’s hard to top this one. From the perfect way they capture the stress and frustration of all the preparations or the way someone can maintain Christmas spirit throughout all the hurdles, Vacation gets it all dead on. With amazing lines and rants - “S*****r was full!”, “...Where’s the Tylenol?”, “Tap dancing...” - this movie doesn’t feel stuck in the 80’s. Instead, it has become a timeless classic because it doesn’t matter what decade we’re in - everyone can relate to this movie.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Baltimore Ravens - Top seed in the AFC and seemingly unbeatable
2.) New Orleans Saints - Might be the most unstoppable team in the NFC
3.) New England Patriots - Hit a rough patch, but playoff time is Brady/Belichick time
4.) Kansas City Chiefs - They can put up a fight against any team in the league if they can overcome Andy Reid’s postseason blunders
5.) San Francisco 49ers - All they do is win, win, win...
18.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Turned if over five times, missing two Pro Bowl players and still should’ve beaten the AFC South champions.