Bucs QB Jameis Winston had 5 turnovers vs. the Cardinals - Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay fell to 1-1 on the season after suffering a nasty defeat in the desert at the hands of Arizona, 40-7. PewterReport.com is debuting a new 2-Point Conversion post-game column this year, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game.
TWO BIG STATEMENTS
STATEMENT 1: Winston Was Off – Way Off
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston came back down to Earth after winning the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award from last week’s 31-24 win at Atlanta. For the second straight game, Winston started off slow again in the first quarter, but this time it was costly as there wasn’t a second quarter rally.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
In the first two games of the season, Winston completed 7-of-15 for 56 yards and two interceptions in first quarter, including one against Arizona. Unlike the Bucs’ victory over the Falcons last week, Winston didn’t heat up in the second quarter.
Instead, he threw another interception and fumbled inside the red zone. As a result, the Bucs were out-gained 175-36 in the second quarter and fell behind 24-0 at halftime.
With running back Doug Martin and blocking back Luke Stocker out of the game with hamstring and ankle injuries in the first quarter, Tampa Bay’s ground game grinded to a halt in the second quarter. That severely limited the Bucs’ play-action passing game and forced Tampa Bay to be one-dimensional throughout the game as Winston threw 52 passes against the Cardinals.
Winston had 77 yards passing in the first half, but was 6-of-8 for 75 yards on a drive that was capped off with a 19-yard touchdown to Mike Evans to start the third quarter. But it proved to be too little, too late as he finished the game completing 27-of-52 passes for 243 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, which tied a career high. Winston threw interception that was returned 60 yards for a touchdown by Marcus Cooper, who finished with two INTs on the day, in the third quarter to push Arizona’s lead to 33-7.
STATMENT 2: Koetter Was Wrong To Keep Winston In
As much as I admire and respect Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – after all I suggested he be the one to replace Lovie Smith – he was wrong to keep Winston in the game once he threw a pick-six on a tipped pass to Cardinals defensive back Marcus Cooper. That play occurred with 5:03 left in the third quarter, and with the game out of hand at 33-7, it didn’t make sense to keep Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback in there and subject him to needless hits.
“I don’t think Jameis would have come out,” Koetter said. “He struggled. A lot of guys were finishing the game for both teams. We could have taken him out but he would have wanted to finish. Some of you may not understand this, but the captain always wants to go down with the ship and that’s how it is and Jameis is that kind of guy.
“You can criticize me all you want. He stayed in the game. Say what you want. He stayed in the game. You can get as mad at me as you want. He stayed in. Write what you’re going to write.”
Ok, Coach. This is where you and I will respectfully disagree. If the Bucs lose Winston to an ankle or knee injury, they can kiss any hope of a playoff season goodbye. It took Tampa Bay 40 years to find a playmaking quarterback like Winston. Losing him in a game that was at an unwinnable stage would have been a travesty.
TWO PROBING QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1: Is Grimes Past His Prime?
Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes, who was picked on and targeted in the preseason and in the Week 1 opener at Atlanta last week, was victimized by Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday, especially in the first half. Fitzgerald had five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown against the 33-year old Grimes on Sunday.
Bucs CB Brent Grimes struggled against Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald – Photo by: Getty Images
It’s not like Grimes got torched, but at 5-foot-10, he simply couldn’t hang with the 6-foot-3 Fitzgerald. In two games, Grimes has given up more plays than he’s made, and he dropped an easy interception in the third quarter. The best cornerback on the field for Tampa Bay was Alterraun Verner, who did a good job on Malcolm Floyd and had two pass breakups to lead the Buccaneers.
Floyd finished with two catches for eight yards and a 1-yard touchdown, but that score came against safety Chris Conte, who was late on a zone switch in the end zone. Floyd is not the same type of receiver that Fitzgerald is, and Grimes definitely drew the tougher assignment, but will Vernon Hargreaves eventually replace him in the starting lineup this year?
QUESTION 2: When Will The Turnovers Come?
Tampa Bay’s defense has now gone eight quarters without a takeaway. That’s two games for those of you counting at home. Tampa Bay was able to record five interceptions in the preseason and two forced fumbles, but the Bucs have not been to take the ball away during the regular season, and that was a huge reason why Tampa Bay lost at Arizona.
It’s hard to win when the offense – most notably Winston – is turning the ball over five times. But when the defense isn’t getting any takeaways to help the turnover margin it’s impossible to come away victorious. To make matters worse, the Bucs couldn’t muster a pass rush and didn’t record a sack in the first half. With defensive end Jacquies Smith out for the year with a torn ACL, Robert Ayers suffered a sprained ankle in the second quarter, which limited the Bucs’ pass rush and the pressure applied to Carson Palmer.
Rookie defensive end Noah Spence had his first career sack, but it wasn’t enough. Palmer had all day to throw the ball and threw three touchdowns as a result. Mike Smith’s defense is all about pressuring quarterbacks and forcing errant throws that lead to interceptions. The only pass that came close to getting picked off was a ball Grimes should have intercepted in the end zone in the second half.
Tampa Bay absolutely needs to come up with a few takeaways on defense against St. Louis to have a chance to move to 2-1 on the season and get the Bucs’ first win at home of the 2016 campaign. Bucs linebacker Lavonte David was nowhere to be found on Sunday. He didn’t record a single tackle nor a takeaway. David needs to come up big against the Rams.
TWO BOLD PREDICTIONS
PREDICTION 1: This is Jackson’s last year in the NFL
I love Vincent Jackson. He’s a great guy, a great role model and a great community ambassador for the Buccaneers. But he’s an average receiver at this stage of his career, and at age 33, I predict this is his last year in the NFL. Jackson is in the final year of his contract and that’s a good thing for Tampa Bay with his unspectacular start to 2016.
Bucs WR Vincent Jackson – Photo by: Getty Images
I thought he would at least be a good, complimentary possession receiver this year, but Jackson looks like he has lost a step and is no longer a big threat in the passing game. To make matters worse, Jackson, who is earning $9.77 million this year, has just six catches for 62 yards in two games despite being targeted 17 times by Winston. The chemistry between Jackson and Winston is clearly off this year.
Two of Winston’s five interceptions this year came on passes intended for Jackson, who doesn’t look like his usual self on the field. Near the end of the third quarter, Jackson dropped a catchable pass at the 5-yard line on third down. That forced the Bucs to attempt a 45-yard field goal, which Roberto Aguayo missed wide right. That was Aguayo’s first miss in the regular season.
The Bucs thought they could squeeze one more productive year out of Jackson and didn’t do anything at the receiver position in free agency or the draft this offseason. Cecil Shorts was signed last week, and unless things change with Jackson, I wouldn’t be surprised if he works his way into the starting lineup and replaces him at some point this season as long as Shorts’ hamstring injury isn’t too serious.
PREDICTION 2: The Bucs rebound this week and beat the Rams at Ray-Jay
The Cardinals got their butt-chewing, wake-up call last week from head coach Bruce Arians and responded favorably on Sunday with a 40-7 beatdown of the Buccaneers. Now it’s Tampa Bay’s turn, and you can expect Koetter to do plenty of butt-chewing in the meeting rooms and on the practice field this week at One Buccaneer Place.
Los Angeles is coming off an inspiring home win over Seattle, 9-3, but the Rams offense is almost as anemic as the Seahawks’. Los Angeles was shutout by San Francisco in a 28-0 loss in Week 1, but managed enough movement to get three field goals against the Seahawks.
Starting quarterback Case Keenum has been sacked five times, thrown two interceptions and no touchdowns, while running back Todd Gurley only has 36 carries for 98 yards this year (2.7 avg.) and looks anything like a Pro Bowler. On defense, the Rams have no interceptions and just two sacks on the year, but with players like Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree, Robert Quinn and T.J. McDonald, Los Angeles has the potential to be formidable against careless teams.
If the Bucs handle business by not turning the ball over and start fast and build a double-digit lead, the Rams don’t have the firepower to play catch-up. Tampa Bay’s defense needs to get after Keenum and force takeaways. Stuffing Gurley and making the Rams one-dimensional will go a long way to making that happen. The Rams will have to travel across the country and the angry Bucs will be hostile hosts on Sunday.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If this is Jackson’s last year, we are really in trouble. I was thinking DL would be our first place to retool, but if we are just left with Evans and the other back ups, We will have to go receiver in the first or second round.
About the only good thing I can say about the game today is thank God it only counts as 1 loss! Today our “premier players” played uncharacteristically including: Jameis, Alexander, David at times, Grimes, Jackson. We are still 1-1 so lets see how this team reacts to this a$$ beating! I would, definitely start Hargreaves over Conte as well. much better athlete. I gotta tell ya, Carolina looked tough to beat today. We better clean up our assignments or it will get ugly quickly. Go BUCS!
How can you start Hargreaves over Conte? They play 2 different positions. Hargreaves is a corner and Conte is a safety.
Statement # 1: It was pretty clear that Jameis was pressing after that first INT when Evans had alligator arms in the end zone. Big confidence boost if #13 catches it. Big downer when it went the other way. The whole mentality of each team flipped. Then when Martin went down the game plan was out the window.
Statement # 2: I only had a bit of an issue with keeping Winston in the game. Glennon was hiding behind the big sideline fan with a towel over his head. Seriously, I’m sure Jameis wanted to finish the game. Good experience to throw when the opponent knows you’re throwing.
Question # 1: Of course Grimes is past his prime. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still be pretty good. I’m willing to let it play out when we’re not going up against two of the best receivers in the league. All CB’s get beat.
Question # 2: Turnovers seem to come in bunches and even out over the course of the season. I expect we’ll get some real soon.
Prediction # 1: I know you can’t fill every need in two or three Drafts. I’m sure Jason Licht sees that Jackson’s play has taken a serious nosedive. While many of us hoped/thought we could squeeze another year out of # 83; so far he looks like a below average receiver at best. If Sheppard was more than a Special Teams ace, he might be seeing more playing time. Need to incorporate the TE’s more. Sadly, this is the end for VJ.
Prediction # 2: Funny, I was worried that if the Bucs defeated the Cardinals they would suffer a let down against what they and we fans would see as an easy victory against the Rams. Now, with the Rams pulling out a field goal fest against the Seahawks, the Bucs just might come out with some better focus.
Statement 2: I disagree with SR that Winston should come out in the 3rd quarter; but midway through the 4th he must come out even if he didn’t want to. Who’s the coach and who’s the player.
Question 1: Maybe we can blame it on Miko?
I guess some have come back to earth after seeing how good we looked in week one. I still predict we will achieve 9 and 7. I expected a loss this week, only not this bad. Fortunately it still counts the same as if we had lost by 1 point.
Jameis is till a very young NFL quarterback. I believe he got overconfident after all the attention from last week. I expect to see him grow and mature this year. (It will be very interesting see how many turnovers Jameis will have in his first three games next season. This would tell me a lot.)
We have a team struggling to escape from the bottom tier in the NFL. This is a year of development.
Arizona and New England are in the top tier. That is why they could go toe to toe in week one. We can now see where we are, realistically.
If we were to come out of our first five games 2 and 3, I would be quite happy. 1 and 4 would not be shocking. It is where we come out in the end of the season that will tell the story of our growth. Should we somehow get into the playoffs and win the first game that would be significant. I would give our coaching staff an A or A+ for that.
My expectations are still that if we will go 9 and 7 or 10 and 6. Odds are we still won’t make it to the playoffs.
I am going to enjoy this season unless we end below 8 and 8. Then I would be very disappointed.
I think we will beat the Rams. I expect no less than having us beat the teams we “should” beat. This is the difference I am expecting in contrast to to what has happened in the past ten years or so. I really think the coaching staff we have now is much better than what we have had for years.
Shorts played 5 minutes, and he’s hurt already. I hope J Rogers fairs better if Martin misses time. Look we have a young team, let them grow together. Cut Shorts, get Spencer up so he and Winston can get game snaps. Like a bad act, I’d have a hook ready for V Jax, and Conte. We did draft a safety, Smith should play. Grimes is a liability. Maybe he could move to the slot. Teams half been matching their 6ft plus receivers against him with great results. We have an experienced 6ft2 corner sitting on the bench, a second round pick. Maybe Banks should match up on the Jones, Benj, Floyds, could it hurt?
Nonsense about Winston play those last few minutes; he a competitor. Lets get this straight Scott, Winston was chased out of the pocket many times. Humphries was the only guy getting consistently open. Evans for some reason was stretching out to catch the ball on a couple passes where he could have used that extra effort. Jackson played old. No pass rush is what did it for us. Did we blitz at all? Time to pull a couple players off our PS or someone elses and dump some of these old injured players. meanwhile, we’re on to the Rams and we have to beat them! Go Bucs!
I like this new article Scott.
S#1: Yes – but his WRs mailed-it-in on the first three INTs. He gave them a chance and they said “no thank you”…perhaps not great throws, but it took two to tango on those INTs IMO.
S#2: Yes – I happen to be one of those fans that cheers as much for our guys not getting injured as anything else these days.
Q#1: Yes – he is, and yes VHIII will replace him. I still think Verner is quality too…I know I’m in the minority there.
Q#2: I think this is a bit of ‘how the ball bounces’, but the ball seems to bounce better with a pass rush…and us sending the 4 linemen we have is not going to be enough I’m afraid.
P#1: that sounds right, unfortunately. Last thing we need is another hole to fill, but we seem to have it.
P#2: if we stick with the slow developing deep WR passing plays, then I am concerned…their DLine is ferocious. If we bring ASJ into the game A LOT more, then I think we’ll be on to something.
Rough outing. but agree on a couple of fronts.
Statement 1. Agreed, winston was off today, but the receivers weren’t helping. Heck one pick was a heave at the end and the other was tipped at the line. The pick to VJ looked like him and Jameis were again on the wrong page. I think James was going back shoulder and VJ just overran it. I’ll get to VJ in a minute. Winston was going high on his throws and I think even he was a little rattled after that second pick. He was pressing and it showed.
Statement 2. I say Jameis should’ve been pulled in the 4th. I don’;t doubt for a minute he wouldn’t have put up a fight to stay in here, that’s the kind of guy he is. But that is the franchise, no need to take hits when the defense knows you’re throwing.
Question 1. I do think that it has been very tough match up these past two weeks for Grimes and let’s not forget, week one, he allowed a total of 5 yards on 1 completion against Atlanta. Fitz is just an incredibly tough match up for anyone. The guy is simply defying age at this point. I mean the dudes making diving catches between two defenders yesterday. We let this ride for a few more games and see where it goes. If he gets smoked next week by….. anyone on the rams roster, then it might be time for a change.
Question 2. This is a good one, and I expected us to be a little more forceful in this area, especially after the pre-season. It kind of goes hand in hand with pressure thought right? And pressure we aren’t getting at all.
Prediction 1. VJ is done. He has no speed out of his breaks and zero separation when running routes. Love the guy for what he has meant to this young team as a mentor and player, but he’s done. Wr will be something we absolutely have to address next off season.
Prediction 2. I’d be inclined to agree with this, this young team has shown the ability to bounce back and it’s one of those games we “should” win. 2-1 is much better than 1-2. Especially with some of those bears we have left on our schedule.
On a side note, our running game has to get going. The first two weeks it’s been paltry at best. Can’t have Jameis sitting back there winging it 40 times a gain. He thrives from play action.
I agree the Bucs should go to a two tight end set. That would give them better blocking…the O-line isn’t opening any holes. Further, VJax hasn’t lost a step…he never had a step! Ariz. speed was greater at every position than the Bucs, their DBs had our receivers in their back pockets the whole game. The Bucs have a long way to go, but I’m hoping for an 8-8 season.
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