302 days. That’s how long it has been since I wrote a Pick Six to recap a loss. That, of course, was the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs back in November of last season. Well, all good things must come to an end and the Buccaneers’ winning streak did exactly that.
The Bucs lost to the Rams in SoFi Stadium 34-24 on Sunday as the defense couldn’t find an answer to Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, DeSean Jackson, or third downs.
Enough preamble, let’s Pick Six.
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Stop Panicking. There is no reason for it. Yes, it was a rough game. It got ugly, but consider this - the Bucs went in without Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jason Pierre-Paul, Antonio Brown, and Kevin Minter. During the game they lost Jamel Dean - who didn’t return - and Rob Gronkowski who was clearly less than 100% for the second half. If a team loses two of their top three corners, their top tight end, their top pass rusher, and an elite receiver it’s going to be an uphill battle. They had severe issues on third down getting off the field and couldn’t get much going offensively yet they lost by ten points. Yeah, the Gio Bernard touchdown could be considered “garbage time,” but the final score is the final score. They also had multiple opportunities to recover the onside kick which could have made the game even closer. They played poorly in all three phases of the game and lost to a Super Bowl contender by ten points. They’re going to be just fine. Also, you can take solace in knowing that in the three previous seasons Brady faced Matthew Stafford, Brady went on to win the Super Bowl regardless of the outcome of that head to head match-up...so there's that.
2.) Paging Richard Sherman. I talked about this last week and despite Bruce Arians being coy about a signing in his post game presser by saying the Bucs just brought in two corners this week, Pierre Desir and Richard Robinson are not Richard Sherman. Even Sherman at this stage in his career can be a contributing member of this defense. Desir and Robinson? Not so much. The Bucs don’t know when SMB will be back and now we have no idea the extent of Dean’s injury. They cleared up some cap space by restructuring Ali Marpet’s deal - time to go sign some reinforcements in the form of a three time All-Pro.
3.) This running game is laughably bad. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette continue to struggle. In fact, Tom Brady was the team’s leading rusher on Sunday. Yes - 44 year old Tom Brady who runs at half the speed of smell had the most rushing yards on this team against the Rams. I don’t know what they need to do to get Fournette and RoJo going, but they need to figure it out quickly. You can’t expect Brady to throw the ball 55 times a game for fourteen more games. It doesn’t matter how good of shape he’s in or how much he defies the aging process, it’s not sustainable. Part of it was the game script, having fallen behind by two scores shortly into the second half, but this team is far more dangerous and effective when they can run the ball. And after RoJo went on a social media crusade against his “haters,” I certainly expected more than eleven yards on five carries.
4.) Bucs beating Bucs. More self-inflicted wounds as the Buccaneers are on track to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. Too many stupid mistakes, too much pre-snap movement. It has to stop. The “accountability board” is not working and players are killing drives with inexcusable mental mistakes. The Bucs finished with seven penalties for 41 yards. The Rams? One penalty for four yards. That was a huge difference in the game. One was playing like a championship caliber squad while the other was consistently smacking their own head into a wall. You expect better from this team and maybe this week was the kick in the keister they needed.
5.) C’mon Todd - get creative. Opposing teams have figured out the best way to stop the Bucs’ pass rush is get the ball out as fast as possible. If they don’t have time to get to your quarterback, you don’t have a problem right? It’s been this way for three straight games so you know that’s what Bill Belichick is looking at heading into next Sunday. The Rams also did a good job of getting those quick passes out then running a no huddle to wear out the front four before taking shots down the field. With the Bucs unable to substitute, the pass rushers were gassed and the Rams’ offensive line could protect Stafford long enough to let him look deep down the field. Bowles is incredibly smart and creative but he hasn’t found a way to answer the other teams’ fast-paced offensive attacks yet. That has to change. Maybe they’ll have better luck against the rookie Mac Jones next week, but we know Belichick and Josh McDaniels will have that offense ready to avoid the big guys up front.
6.) This is why it’s so difficult to repeat. The Bucs are getting everyone’s hardest hit each and every week. They’re the measuring stick and each team so far has gone toe-to-toe with the Buccaneers. Next week won’t be any different as Brady and Gronk return to Foxboro. Then the Bucs get a Tua-less Dolphins, the Eagles, the Bears, and the Winston led Saints. No gimmes, nothing easy. There are a lot of internal questions about the Bucs’ performances up to this point as they haven’t looked like the well oiled machine we expected to see out of the gates. Again, no panic - lots of season left. However, we need to start seeing some improvements and that hasn’t happened yet. Other teams have figured out how to play the Bucs - how are the Bucs going to adjust what they do to regain the advantage?
Six Numbers To Consider
68 - Yards Tom Brady needs to break Drew Brees’ all-time passing yards record - with a chance to do it in Foxboro
29 - Number of 100+ yard games for Mike Evans in his career
28 - Games since 2019 that the Bucs have allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing
8 - Passing touchdowns by Brady needed to reach 600 for his career
7 - Losses to the Rams in their last eight meetings, dating back to 2012
1 - Career rushing touchdown by Chris Godwin
Six Best Tweets
First loss in 10 months is it? No need to hit the panic button my friends.— Jill Beckman (@_jillbeckman) September 26, 2021
Bucs defense - think you can get a turnover? pic.twitter.com/ZKtuFzNMqR— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) September 26, 2021
If you didn't realize the Bucs would lose to the Rams today only to beat them in January when it really matters I can't help you.— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) September 26, 2021
THE ENTIRE CAST OF TED LASSO IS HERE AND I AM UNWELL— Carmen Vitali (@CarmieV) September 26, 2021
Just like we all predicted, right...?— Locked On Podcasts (@LockedOnNetwork) September 27, 2021
Panthers 1st in NFC South
Bengals T-1st in AFC North
Chiefs LAST in AFC West pic.twitter.com/VlCX6loAdO
Six Ways To Prepare For Week Four
6.) Buy a case of Sam Adams...and dump it down the drain. No one needs to drink that toilet water
5.) Get a dozen Dunkin Donuts Sunday morning, open the box, and stare at it telling you all the touchdown passes Mac Jones is going to get that night - a big, fat, sprinkley, delicious 0
4.) Take a deep breath, relax, and remember that Tom Brady is gonna go off
3.) Watch “The Departed” and just imagine that the Bucs are Mark Wahlberg and the Pats are Matt Damon
2.) Lobster rolls for everyone!!!
1.) Whatever the over/under is for Gronk touchdowns is, bet heavy on the over and then do snow angels on all your winnings
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) Los Angeles Rams - They’re red hot and just beat the defending champs. They deserve the top spot
2.) Buffalo Bills - Week one makes even less sense after seeing Pittsburgh absolutely stink the last two weeks. Bills are all the way back
3.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - One game does not a season make. Back on track in week four
4.) Las Vegas Raiders - They are rolling - and Derek Carr is still good
5.) Arizona Cardinals - They just keep winning
6.) Kansas City Chiefs - 1-2 is not the start anyone expected, but that doesn’t mean things will stay that way