Issues With the Bucs

I’m not apologising for this catharsis

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this week. There were a lot of options to choose from. Should I rank the back up quarterbacks who played in week three? Should I write about possible weaknesses in all the 3-0 teams? Should I write about Gardner Minshew’s moustache just to annoy Dan? Well I can’t really do any of those because I’ve got this burning desire to get something off my chest. On Sunday I watch a typical Buccaneers game, a game I’ve seen many times before (I didn’t like that, I didn’t like that). However, this time we’ve got Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles, so why has it happened again? I need to get this off my chest so I’m going to break down the anatomy of a Buccaneers loss.

So, where do I start. The Giants had no business winning this game. They were essentially dead and buried at the half. Daniel Jones is going to get a lot of the plaudits for his performance in this game, and rightly so. Jones survived an onslaught brought on by the Buccaneers defensive front line. 5 sacks and 13 QB hits meant the young signal caller was pulling himself up off the turf time and again. Jones was unflappable, standing tall in the pocket delivering pass after pass. It was truly impressive as many other rookie quarterbacks would have crumbled under such pressure. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers defensive front, the defensive backfield was not holding up its end of the bargain. Time and again receivers for the Giants ran free in the defensive backfield with nary a buccaneer in sight.

Last week against the Panthers, the defensive backs played a much better game. Although passes were completed usually a DB was right there to make the tackle for minimum yards after catch. Not fantastic coverage however compared to what Buccaneers fans have put up with for the past few years, despite a spending a treasure trove of draft picks on DBs, it was a vast improvement. However, against the Giants all the improvements we’d seen over the last two games seemed to disappear. It’s completely frustrating to watch a Todd Bowles defence get zero interceptions while applying as much pressure as they did against the Giants.

On top of the poor coaching on the defensive side of the ball, we got some poor decision-making on the offensive side of the ball. For a pleasant change Jameis Winston was not responsible for this loss. In fact Jameis played superbly well and should have led a great last-minute comeback from his own 25 yard line for the victory, but more on Matt Gay later. What sunk the offense was taking to boot off the Giants neck in the second half. In the first half the offense was aggressive, pushing the ball downfield and scoring on every single offensive possession. In the second half this dried up. The lack of aggressions was epitomized by the only scoring drive of the second half for the Bucs. The Bucs had recovered the ball after a Jones fumble and ran the ball 6 consecutive times to get the ball down to the Giants 5-yard line. Facing 3rd and 2 what do you do? Play action pass? Give the ball to your running back who had just churned up 37 yards? No, what you do is pull your running back who was clearly ‘in the groove’ and don’t run any sort of fake off your run. You pound the ball into the back of your left tackle for no gain and kick a field goal. That’s playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

On top of the poor play-calling in the second half we’ve got the absolutely baffling decision at the end of the game. After a heroic 55-yard pass to Mike Evans to put the ball on the Giants 9-yard line, the Bucs intentionally took a delay of game penalty. A somewhat baffling call, compounded by what Bruce Arians said later in his press conference. Arians said that he internationally took the delay of game to move the kicker further back as he ‘was better from a longer distance’. Read that again. Better from longer distance. Absolutely baffling.

And finally, we need to talk about the kicker. In a game lost by a single point, Matt Gay left 5 points on the field. All of those kicks were from completely makeable distances. Ultimately, I don’t blame Matt Gay, I blame Jason Licht for drafting 2 kickers in 3 drafts. For some reason, ever since the Buccaneers let Matt Bryant go in 2009 the kicking position appears to be cursed. High draft picks and large contracts have been handed out to kickers ever since and game after game has been lost because kickers can’t make simple kicks. I almost want the Bucs to go full Pulaski Academy and stop kicking altogether. Go for 2 every time, 4 downs from inside the 50 yard line, its got to be better than watching game winning kicks sail outside the posts.

I’m looking forward to what wonderful way we can lose to the Rams this weekend.

Like the article? Hit Will up on twitter (@WClaringbold) or the gents (@gridirongents). Don’t forget to listen to this week’s pod where we take a look at all some of the QBs in the league.