Observations of the "Now I Am Dead" Bucs/Packers 9/25/22 Nightmare

1) This wasn't going to be an easy game. We can at least comfort ourselves with that thought. Green Bay Packers are a constant postseason presence, led by an all-pro QB in Aaron Rodgers, staffed with decent defensive talent up front. They were projected to contend for the NFC North title and even a chance at the Super Bowl, so by no means was this an easy game at all.

Tampa Bay was also facing issues, the loss of Mike Evans to a suspension, the injuries to other receivers and to our offensive line. But the Buccaneers had loaded up on talent, decent free agent signings here and there, and were expected to contend well this season in spite of the IR. Bucs had survived rough road games to Dallas and New Orleans, where defensive successes augured well for our fortunes. And they were at home in front of a favorable crowd.

1a) So it all came down to a last-minute touchdown drive and a screwed-up two-point conversion try that failed to leave the Bucs reeling as the Packers won 14-12 in a defensive struggle that brought the Bucs' offensive woes into the harsh light of day.

1b) We can argue the statistics - and there are numbers to review - we can argue the play-calling - which truly became maddening during the first half - and we can argue the injury woes that disrupted any consistency between our QB and his playmakers.

1c) Two years ago, we had an offense on paper that could score at least four touchdowns on you at will, and in half the games we did. Last year, the Bucs averaged 30 points a game. This year, three games in, the Bucs are scoring only one touchdown a game and averaging about 17 points a game. We are off by two touchdowns at least per game, and in a high-scoring modern-era football league, that's not going to win a lot of games because our defense isn't going to be able to keep teams down for long.

Something is seriously off. While injuries to the likes of our OT Donovan Smith and WRs like Chris Godwin and Julio Jones may be hurting us, there's something more than just injuries slowing our offense down.

2) The weird thing is, on paper today, our passing offense didn't do THAT poorly. Brady connected to eight different receivers and most of them caught their throws. The only one who didn't was Scotty Miller, who whiffed on 4 out of 5 targets. Russell Gage, brought in as a safety net backup to our starting trio of Evans/Godwin/Julio, had a good outing with 12 catches on 13 targets, and a potentially game-tying touchdown at the end of regulation. Tom Brady overall went 31/42 for 271 yards and no INTs, not a shabby day. If anything did kill the passing game, it was our OLine giving up 3 sacks, one of them AGAIN in the Red Zone forcing us to end up with 3 points instead of 7.

2a) The running game, which the Bucs relied on heavily the first two games, failed us this week. Fournette only carrying 12 times for 2.4 yards average, which arguably forced the playcalling more to throw (especially as the game dragged into the Fourth Quarter struggling to reach the end zone by any means). Oddly enough, almost nobody else carried: Rashaad White disappeared, never saw a snap by the looks of it, and there wasn't any report of injury that I'm aware of.

2b) It could be that Brady simply missed having Evans as a safety valve type target for his passing attack, but we have other reliable targets: Brady is used to Breshad Perriman and Cameron Brate, after all. But I'm wondering if Brady is also missing Gronk at tight end. The Bucs had brought in veteran TE Kyle Rudolph to replace Gronk's experience, yet Brady only targeted him once, and I'm just wondering if Brady is outside his comfort zone again like he was in 2019 when Gronk had retired rather than get traded to Detroit, and Brady wasn't comfortable with any of the rookie/young receivers the Patriots brought in.

2c) Thing is, the Bucs offense is clearly out of sorts. It could be the play-calling from OC Leftwich (but could it be any different from the first two years when everything worked?), it could be getting all the injured starters back being the key to recovery. But we've had three games to notice how bad the downward trends are: This is the time to start panicking about how the rest of the season is going to play out. Right now, Bucs can't afford to be a V8 engine stuck in second gear.

3) Statistics of the game. Third down conversion rate for the Bucs were miserable this game. Only 2-out-of-11. There was no way the Buccaneers could sustain many drives. Given how the Bucs passing game was mostly connecting, it's looking like the catches did NOT go for many yards...

3a) Turnovers: On paper, the turnovers balanced out with both the Bucs and Packers coughing it up twice apiece. It's partly why the Bucs couldn't sustain drives and why the Packers couldn't either (one five-drive series for them was punt-punt-INT-punt-punt).

3b) Red Zone offense: Packers reached the red zone three times and got 2 TDs out of them. Buccaneers reached the red zone twice but only one TD scored. I noted this earlier: Bucs can't afford so few Red Zone visits, we need to be making 3 to 5 visits like that each game...

3c) PENALTIES WILL BE THE DEATH OF US. Bucs only got penalized six times compared to the Packs' eight, and 3 of those GB penalties converted to first downs. HOWEVER, the last-second Delay of Game penalty on the Bucs' two-point conversion - if successful it would have meant overtime and a chance to win! - basically lost the game for us. AUGH!!!!

4) If there's any good news after this game, it's that Mike Evans is coming back. And there was much rejoicing. The coaches are saying Julio will be back as well but he's coming off a knee injury and that still worries me.

4a) However: With veteran Cole Beasley currently signed to the roster, and with the reality that our team is keeping Evans and Godwin and Julio and Gage and now likely Beasley (Brady loves veterans over rookies and younguns, alas) we are looking at one of the backup receivers getting the boot. With the likelihood that Jaelon Darden and Kaylon Geiger are set for our Special Teams, that means Scotty Miller is likely the goner. Considering that he was out for much of last year to injury, and that he's clearly not in-sync with Brady this year (he's been dropping too many passes the first three games), Miller doesn't have much hope to stick around. Any goodwill left from his epic NFC championship performance is gone...

5) In other NFL news: What the absolute frak happened this week? The Colts - who got BLANKED by the Jacksonville Jaguars last week - UPSET THE BLEEPING KANSAS CITY CHIEFS THIS WEEK!!! WHAT THE HELL?

5a) Speaking of the Jags, they beat the wounded San Diego Chargers this week. And they did it with an impressive offensive display that signals second-year franchise QB Trevor Lawrence is ready to roll.

5b) The biggest matchup this week was Super Bowl-projected Buffalo visiting Miami... and even with the Bills racking up 400 YARDS OF TOTAL OFFENSE, double the first downs, and almost dominating in most respects... the DOLPHINS pulled off an upset 21-19 win that puts MIAMI (3-0) at the top of the AFC East for the first time in... how many years???

5c) New Orleans Saints fans were so upset by the Bucs beating them last week they spent this weekend whining about it... meanwhile the Panthers dominated the Saints for much of today's game, capitalizing on Jameis Winston's bad habits with turnovers and highlighting how New Orleans is not as well-coached or rich with talent as the preseason experts thought. So now the Saints fans will whine about the Panthers too...

5d) ...Why did I have Kyler Murray as my fantasy QB this year? WHY??????

6) In professional college football news: UF QB OF THE FUTURE Anthony Richardson finally threw a touchdown pass this season. Hell, he threw a couple and racked up 453 passing yards (!!!) in a game vs. Tennessee... and still lost 38-33 all because the Gators defense fell apart at the worst possible time. Vols ran it for like 227 rushing yards with 3 TDs on the ground. This just isn't going to be the Gators' year.

6a) That said, nothing can stop the 4-0 Kentucky Wildcats.

...except maybe the 4-0 Georgia Bulldogs or 4-0 Alabama Assholes Crimson Tide.

6b) South Florida Bulls got beaten hard by Louisville (again), and I'm still wondering what the hell USF can do to honestly rebuild into a contender again.

7) In professional baseball news: The Tampa Bay Rays got slammed by Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, hurting the Rays' chances for a decent seeding, even though the Rays are pretty much 5 wins away from making the wild card anyway. Still and all, you WANT your team playing red-hot and winning heading into the postseason, and Gods help us the Rays are not playing well...

7a) Albert Pujols getting to 700 home runs is one of those magical moments in baseball where you're clearly watching history as it's happening... except all the disappointments from the steroids era of the late 1990s make me wonder "did Pujols get it without PED help?" This is what the damage of the steroids era did to the sport: We can't trust record-breaking moments anymore.

7b) Damn Yankees. Damn Aaron Judge. Damn this season. We're going to get an insufferably terrible Yankees - Dodgers World Series, aren't we?

8) In professional hockey news: DAMMIT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING, WILL YOU MAKE IT TO A FOURTH-STRAIGHT STANLEY CUP APPEARANCE?! We need another boat parade.

9) In professional storm tracking news: Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel is in Clearwater, FL now. WE GOT A FREAKING HURRICANE APPROACHING.

10) Next up: A reeling Kansas City Chiefs is visiting looking to rebound, but can the Bucs rebound themselves??? Also, will the field be clear of debris and dry enough to play on by next Sunday?

LEAVE COMMENTS AND LIKES. I have no idea if anybody is reading these observations anymore. /openly cries

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