Observations of the "Nostalgia Doesn't Bring Us Wins" Bucs/Lions 10/15/23 Embarrassment

1) Yes, the creamsicle jerseys were nice to look at. Yes, they bring back memories. But we need to remember, those weren't good memories. We lost a ton of games in those bright orange unis, and losing again this past weekend to an old NFC Central opponent that never feared those colors should be a cold bucket of water to wake us up. Let us put away the creamsicles to the storage closets and never speak of them again (unless it's against a team we're going to lose to for certain).

1a) That the Buccaneers lost to the Detroit Lions should not be a shocker this season. Unlike previous decades where the Lions struggled to even be competitive, their upgrade to elite status under their coach Dan Campbell is legit. They are atop the NFC North, playing at a level equal to the other teams viewed as dominating the league, and a genuine candidate to cause serious damage in the postseason. Jared Goff is no longer a "bust," he's garnering 300 yd-plus games and tossing TDs like an All-Pro. That defense is built to eat kneecaps, uh to win championships. If the Bucs had won, it would have heralded OUR team to elite status as well.

2) Alas, the Bucs faltered offensively for much of the game. The running attack is not there. The passing game fell apart as receivers kept dropping the ball, including Mike Evans which hurt at key points. Baker Mayfield took the blame for the bad day, but Devan Thompkins and Trey Palmer were not helping. Only Chris Godwin was playing hot, and the team's failure to play to that led to zero TDs.

2a) Defensively, the Bucs brought the QB pressure but still allowed too many passing yards to get by them. While the front line resumed their run-stopping ways, the backfield blew coverages when the team needed to stop drives. It wasn't pretty, and it highlights the vulnerabilities we have even when there's good players like Jamal Deal and Carlton Davis back there.

2b) If anyone had a great day it was Lavonte David, the sole remaining player from the last time the Bucs brought out the retro jerseys in 2012. Racking up a sack and leading the team in tackles, the linebacker was playing like he was still 22 years old instead of the near-retiring veteran he is.

2c) Top rookie Calijah Kancey returned to the lineup after a long injury timeout, and showed why he was drafted to work on the edge by garnering a sack and enough QB pressure to make Goff sweat often. Stats had Kancey generating 19 percent of the pressure Goff saw all day.

2d) As mentioned earlier, Godwin was the sole offensive standout with 6 catches out of 7 throws and for 77 yards. It's maddening that he's not getting more looks and has yet to score a TD. The offensive coach and Mayfield need to rework the playbook to get Godwin more touches, and we should see the offense move and score more.

3) Statistics of the game: Absolute failure with third downs, both ways. Tampa Bay went 2-for-12 on third downs, essentially the Bucs could not sustain any offensive drives at all. Detroit meantime went 9-for-16, with most of them coming on third-and-long situations where our secondary played too soft and allowed the Lions to maintain drives.

3a) Penalties? Well, both teams evened out at 5 apiece. I still blame the refs.

3b) Turnovers: Bucs gave up an INT on a deflected pass, but thankfully limited the Lions to a field goal. Bucs failed to force a turnover for the first game all season, and look at the result.

3c) Dropped passes: Evans just was heartbreaking, catching only 4 out of 10 throws. Two of those drops came on needed third down attempts early in the game where the Bucs could have evened up the score. Rookie Trey Palmer was disappointing going 2-for-7. It was just a sloppy day.

4) If there was any good news, it's that Tampa Bay remains in control of the NFC South, with all the other teams losing as well. The bad news is that losing kept us from getting any early separation from Atlanta or New Orleans. The good news, the Falcons and the Saints still look wobbly and vulnerable, and the Panthers downright broken. The bad news, this Bucs offense is not dominant enough to guarantee easy wins. If we could score more than 30 points a game, then maybe. But not at the moment.

5) In professional football news: What did the 49ers do to upset the Football Gods this weekend? They lost. TO THE BROWNS. And the Browns were with their backup QB. TO THE BROWNS?!?! San Francisco did lose key players to injury during the game, granted, but still this loss exposes a weakness we haven't seen from them.

5a) What did the Eagles do to upset the Football Gods this weekend? They lost. TO THE JETS. To ZACH MILFHUNTER WILSON. What the hell? What the bloody hell? Granted, going into this game Philadelphia was playing reckless and loose, with QB Hurts giving up far too many turnovers to be helpful (shades of Jameis Winston here).

5b) The 1972 Miami Dolphins are going to be annoying as hell again.

5c) For a while there, Carolina was beating Miami. But then the Panthers realized they were supposed to be rebuilding as a bad team and went back to losing.

5d) We could be honestly looking at a Detroit Lions - Miami Dolphins Super Bowl at the moment. It's safer than a Lions - Browns, but we're still looking at the End Times if this happens.

5e) After a horrific-looking opening to their season, the Bengals are back in it at 3-3 and within range of fighting for the AFC North title. But they are still shockingly broken, and relying too much on a wounded Joe Burrow to get them to the postseason.

5f) If anyone's tanking for next year's draft other than the Chicago Bears, forget it. Their wounded hope Justin Fields just went out with a serious injury to his throwing hand, and so that's it, there's nothing else to play for but that top overall pick. Which they don't need to do anyway because the winless Panthers traded them their pick and it's currently the overall pick anyway. Did ANY team have the top two overall picks like this, ever???

6) In professional college football news: Washington beating Oregon in a close-fought matchup highlighted why the PAC-12 conference should stay together, except the damn money is still pulling that conference apart.

6a) The South Florida Bulls losing due to bad defense wasn't shocking. Losing in the Homecoming game? To a FAU squad?! I can remember how USF outranked the likes of FAU in terms of recruiting, of coaching, of winning. And now it's looking like FAU is doing better at recruiting and coaching and winning instead of the Bulls. USF hasn't recruited well since Willie Taggart, and they've been struggling ever since the Big East fell apart into the American which then fell apart to where the conference is as much a joke as Conference USA.

I hate the conference realignments happening in college football, partly because of the flagrant greed of the universities, but mostly because it killed my alma mater's chances of building a big program when they still could.

7) In professional baseball news: What the hell happened? The Rays fell to the Texas Rangers, who then swept out the AL leading Orioles, and two games into the ALCS against the Astros those Rangers are up 2-0 and threatening to make the World Series in another sweep. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Texas did have good hitting, I'll grant you, but their pitching was middling and their bullpen had fallen apart during the last month or so of the regular season. What the hell?

7a) The National League is crazier. The Phillies beat out the league-leading Braves! The D-Backs, the lowest seeded team, swept the goddamned Dodgers. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED???

7b) We're looking at a Philadelphia Phillies vs Texas Rangers World Series at the moment, which I guarantee you NOBODY saw coming. You know who wins in all this? My brother Phil, who roots for the Phillies (gee, wonder why).

8) In professional hockey news: The Tampa Bay Lightning are into the regular season now, and... doing terrible. They're giving up too many goals, the defense looks shot even in the one game they've won so far. I fear for this season.

9) In professional Taylor Swift news: Her concert movie won the box office weekend at $94 million, which will convince the major Hollywood studios to make more bad action movies to compete with a Marvel Universe film series that's starting to lose its appeal.

10) Next up: Tampa Bay is at home and back in the Red and Pewter to face the Atlanta Falcons for dominance of the NFC South. I hope to God the coaches figure out a new gameplan where Godwin gets 20 touches and 5 TDs out of it.


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