31 points. Five sacks. 144 yards on the ground. 6.8 yards per play. Four penalties for 30 yards. Over 33 minutes in time of possession. Eight plays of (20+) yards.
Sounds like the recipe for a Bucs’ win, right?
Ha. Actually, it’s not.
Especially when you combine those numbers with the following:
- 4 of 14 on third down for the Bucs (29%)
- Three missed kicks (two PATs and the game-winning field goal attempt)
- 1 for 2 in goal-to-go situations
- 6.4 yards per play allowed
- Four sacks allowed
- 6 for 13 on third down for the Giants (46%)
- Five plays of (20+) yards for the Giants
For everything the Bucs did right, they did something wrong. That’s what happens with inconsistent teams. We’ve already seen it through three weeks this season. In fact, we’ve seen it for the last four years, if we’re being honest.
A lot of blame for the franchise’s recent inconsistencies was thrown upon Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter. Poor play calling, questionable schemes, and a lack of accountability were just a few of the many struggles that surrounded the previous regimes.
Bruce Arians and this coaching staff were supposed to fix these inconsistencies. They were supposed to put these guys in the best position to win and maximize their talent(s). They were supposed to help this team win games.
Instead, it’s been pretty close to the opposite.
Let’s go back to Week 2. The Bucs were trying to hold on to a six-point lead as the Panthers drove down the field in an attempt to score the go-ahead touchdown. With precious little time left on the clock, Arians called a timeout. Little did he know, Bowles had already called one. The result was a penalty that put the Panthers at the Tampa Bay 1-yard line, which gave them a better chance to score than from the previous distance.
Arians even said after the game that the Bucs won in spite of him. You’d think a two-time NFL Coach of the Year would learn his lesson and move on, but that doesn’t seem to be the case after the loss to the Giants.
The Bucs, down by a point, were able to drive down the field thanks to a 44-yard bomb from Jameis Winston to Mike Evans, who landed at the Giants’ 9-yard line.
According to Arians, the Bucs didn’t want to “waste a timeout” and they let the clock run out, which in turn caused the delay of game penalty to be called. Matt Gay’s kick sailed just to the right, and the Bucs lost the game.
More clarity on the end-game sequence: The Bucs didn’t take delay penalty to purposely make the FG 5 yards farther. Bruce Arians saw they wouldn’t get the snap off and decided to take the penalty as opposed to using last timeout. Believed the kick would be made either way.— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) September 23, 2019
But after the game, Arians said they intentionally took the penalty because he felt Gay was more accurate from long range.
"I just took it on purpose"— SNY (@SNYtv) September 23, 2019
Bruce Arians on the Bucs taking a delay of game penalty before the missed FG (via @gregauman) pic.twitter.com/DNpIEssWqi
This right here is the definition of inconsistency. This is just the latest bundle of confusion from what is supposed to be one of the better coaching staffs in the league.
This, in a sense, is not good.
The confusion trickled onto the field, as well. The offense showed an odd dedication to running the ball in the second half after it nearly passed for 300 yards in the first half. The defense looked as if no adjustments were made and the end result was 18 points and 252 yards of total offense.
In Leftwich’s defense, Arians did say that the questionable run call on the 3rd-and-2 from the Giants’ 5 was a RPO that just wasn’t executed properly up front. Apparently, Winston made the correct read handing the ball of to Barber. But at the same time, you have a vast selection of pass-catchers and a quarterback that had played well up until that point. Why try to get cute with it?
Maybe I’m cherry-picking and being unreasonable, but this can’t continue if the Bucs want any chance at a successful season. For all the good that was supposed to come with this staff, it’s been much of the other end of the spectrum so far.
Now, the Bucs are 1-2 and have to travel across the country to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. They were able to bounce back from a tough loss at home with a nice road win a couple of weeks ago. Can they do it again?
If they want to be able to start winning on a consistent basis, they better find a way to win against the Rams.
And they better do it fast.