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Still reeling after Buccaneers loss to the Rams

Soft coverage and offensive line struggles

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin makes a leaping stretch for a touchdown in week 11 against the Rams.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to keep my reactions short and sweet this week.

It was a disappointing loss for sure. We all hung our heads after the Saints took it to the Bucs only two short weeks ago. Perhaps the wound was still too fresh for the Bucs to rebound against another playoff caliber team like the Rams. Who knows?

The first half was actually well played. All except for the unnecessary mistakes which led to the Rams second touchdown. The offense was doing what it needed to do. But then, it was almost like a light switch, the offense turned off and the defense had to turn on.

NFL: NOV 23 Rams at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Just as Evan Winter had said in our Instant Reactions on the Bucs Nation Podcast, there is an apparent prime time bug that keeps biting the Buccaneers. One could speculate that Bruce Arians is the reason, or is it the lack of preparation or perhaps it’s the misguided preparation.

I’m glad to see Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay times reporting that Tom Brady is the apparent reason for many of the issues. Brady blames himself and BA expects more from him as the leader of this football team.

Rick Stroud asked Arians during the after-game press conference about a possibility in changing play callers, and if that’s a possibly flaw in the issues Brady has experienced this season.

I personally think Brady should be given the map, and he drive himself. He’s so much more effective when he’s driving the offenses and not relying on the call from the sidelines. His dependency on Byron Leftwich may be an issue, and should definitely be addressed.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Two other critical areas that warrant discussion are the Bucs secondary and the offensive line. It’s painful to even think of the magnitude of issues that this team is experiencing in those areas. There is absolutely no doubt that the passing and running game can be fixed, and it will with plenty of practice and the right play calling. However, I legitimately don’t think there is any chance to fix those two areas of the Buccaneer’s game. It’s going to take a lot of band-aids.

I keep saying it, and will continue saying it. The soft coverage, missed coverage, and blown coverage are killing this team’s chances to making it to the playoff let alone go beyond. Jamel Dean is constantly getting beat, and Sean Murphy-Bunting does not cover the receiver he’s covering.

Murphy-Bunting ended up with the most tackles in week 11 (10). I hope you all realize that’s not a good stat to have for a DB. He was being thrown on all night, and Cooper Kupp had his number dialed in. You can’t wait for the receiver to get the ball, and then stop him. Your job is to prevent the receiver from receiving!

The Bucs offensive line struggles continue. I remain optimistic though, because five out of the potential six linemen (including A.Q. Shipley) are actually really good. I just don’t think Donovan Smith is a good lineman at all. That’s the bottom line. The line is getting beat on the blind side, and it’s preventing Brady from performing his progressions. It’s becoming chronic at this point.

It all rests on Ali Marpet’s return to the field. I said before that you don’t want to mess with concussions, but I don’t see any other option at this point. I did like seeing Aaron Stinnie get some snaps last week after Shipley went out with the stinger, so maybe they should consider Stinnie at tackle instead of Smith. See how that shakes out.

My light at the end of the tunnel is Ryan Jensen. He is by far the best lineman the Bucs have, and remains the only reason why any plays are happening. He may have to work on helping Smith out a little more just as Marpet was previously doing. I totally agree that Jensen is having a pro-bowl worthy year though.

Keys down the stretch:

  • Protect Tom Brady
  • Secondary needs to play tighter coverage
  • D-line shouldn’t get too aggressive allowing gaps
  • Stop turning the ball over
  • Continue to get the running game going

I’m putting the Bucs down for another loss against the Chiefs. They won’t be able to put it all together quick enough for this game, but they can come back stronger than ever after the week 13 bye and march themselves right into the playoffs.

If this Bucs team can contend with this high powered Chiefs team in week 12, then I may be convinced that they could be ready to make a playoffs run. Until then......they’re too far from being ready. Just simply too inconsistent regardless of who’s throwing or running the ball.