Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has been reminded fans, players and the media that his football team, despite having just two wins on the season, is still in the NFC South playoff race.
Despite the loss to the Bears on Sunday, the Buccaneers lost no ground as the division-leading Atlanta Falcons lost to the Cleveland Browns 26-24.
The Saints (4-6) will host the Ravens on Monday night and could take the division lead with a win. Carolina had a bye week on Sunday.
Tampa Bay (2-9) has Detroit, and Carolina on the road and home games against Cincinnati, Green Bay and New Orleans to finish the season.
The division-leading Falcons (4-7) have road games left at New Orleans and Green Bay along with home games against Arizona, Pittsburgh and Carolina to close out the season.
Second place New Orleans (4-6) will travel to Pittsburgh, Chicago and Tampa Bay and home games against Baltimore, Carolina and Atlanta.
Carolina (3-7-1) still must to travel to Minnesota, New Orleans and Atlanta while still hosting Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
The task of winning their second game in a row just got a bit more difficult for the Buccaneers with star linebacker set to miss his first game of his career with a hamstring injury.
David originally suffered an injury in last week’s 27-7 win at Washington but was able to continue to play in the game. On Wednesday David was on the practice field for the Bucs but did not participate on Thursday or Friday.
With David out the Bucs may turn to Brandon Magee who is listed as David’s backup on the team’s depth chart, or they could slide SLB Danny Lansanah over to the weakside position with Dane Fletcher replacing Lansanah on the strong side.
UPDATE: Lansanah will get the start at weakside linebacker for David and Orie Lemon will start at the strongside spot for Lansanah the Bucs announced. Alterraun Verner will be active and start for Tampa Bay and Jacquies Smith will start in place of Will Gholston at left defensive end.
Bucs inactives for Sunday: WR Robert Herron, RB Mike James, CB Crezdon Butler, CB C.J. Wilson. LB Lavonte David, T Kevin Pamphile and DL Da’Quan Bowers
Time to get your score prediction in for Sunday’s Bucs-Bears game on Sunday. Place your prediction in the comment section and the person who comes closest will win a PewterReport.com t-shirt and earn bragging rights.
Every Thursday, Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds joins Kirk & Kage to get everyone caught up on the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news. This week, Reynolds discussed the multiple reports that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford would not return to the Bucs due to his health issues, reiterating that the team will search for a “proven” offensive coordinator in the offseason.
Take a listen as Reynolds also discusses whether or not the Bucs will be able to use last Sunday’s win as a catalyst for the rest of the season gives his prediction for this Sunday’s game at Chicago.
To hear the full interview, click here.
Bucs starting quarterback Josh McCown easily had his best day of the season in last Sunday’s 27-7 win over the Redskins in Washington, going 15-of-23 for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Just as impressive – and maybe even more so – was no turnovers, something that has plagued the 12-year veteran in his previous four starts.
“That is how I felt in Atlanta, until the red zone, that last interception,” McCown said. “I felt like that the whole game, felt just like I did this past Sunday. I don’t know that I felt that way the first few games. So yes that is how I envisioned and how I felt when I was playing last year. I felt (calmer) and understood. I think Marcus (Arroyo) and I are on the same page with the plan and just where he is at as a playcaller. That brought me a lot of peace. And yes that is obviously more of what I envisioned and what everybody did.”
Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo also talked out the McCown that was on display last week in Washington and said he expected McCown to play well.
“No, not surprised,” Arroyo said. “If you look at last year and what he did, that body of work when he was given a chance, that was pretty impressive. Really impressive when you break it down. Again, we’ve talked about it before, I think he’s capable of doing that game and that was a great game last week. We’re going to try to find away to do that again and again. Not turn the ball over, take care of it – and this is for all of us, whoever is at quarterback – take care of the ball, manage situations, manage the edges and flows of the game and put us in position to be successful. And then go out there, play fast and not have to think and he did a great job obviously.
“(He did a) really great job of seeing things. We had a good plan and he did a great job with protections. We spend a lot of time on protections. That’s the key in what we believe in. Protecting the quarterback at this level is huge and knowing how to pick that up. And when I day protection, you’re not blocking it, but you’re trying to do as much as you can scheme wise to figure out how to get it blocked up. They showed us everything. They showed us everything right out of the gate. From safeties to linebackers, every element of pressure, they threw the whole bag at us early. Everyone from offensive line to backs to quarterbacks to wideouts knowing where the ball’s going to go did a really nice job. We’ll continue to grow on that and he (McCown) did a really nice job.”
As the Buccaneers traveled to the Baltimore-Washington airport following Sunday’s victory against the Redskins, they encountered an unexpected visit from federal drug agents.
The DEA did not target specific teams, but were done to measure whether visiting NFL organizations were in compliance with federal law concerning the transportation and distribution of medications such as pain pills. The investigations were prompted by a class-action lawsuit brought against the NFL by a group of former players who stated that pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone and Torodal were routinely handed out by teams trainers and staff members, as opposed to physicians and physicians assistants as mandated by federal law.
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith was not aware of the investigation prior to the brief delay.
“No I was not aware of anything,” said Smith. “We were excited about a big win, driving to the airport. We were stopped. I was told, our team was stopped along with others. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were not targeted. They had some information they wanted to get from a part of our party, they were able to get that and we moved on from there.
“No distraction at all, at any level,” he continued. “I slept through a lot of it, like the rest of the team. It’s not an issue with us. I’m sure they had their reasons for carrying out those searches throughout the league, I might add. For us, it’s on to Chicago.”
Star players of yesterday’s game, Mike Evans and Danny Lansanah were also approached about the rare occurrence. While they we’re also unaware of the search, it didn’t seem to have any effect outside of postponing their trip home.
“I was trying to get off the bus and they wouldn’t let us get off the bus,” said Mike Evans. “I just thought it was random search or whatever.”
“I didn’t even know what was going on,” said Danny Lansanah. “I was just on the bus sitting there and sleeping. I didn’t know what was going on at all.”
Smith was more questions about the stop later during his Monday press conference.
“I assume that the DEA and everyone else are always investigating teams to make sure everybody is doing things the right way,” Smith said. “This is the first time this happened, so I assume that they’re just doing their job and hopefully they got all of their information that they want from all the teams in the league and you move on.
“We have a policy in place. Of course I’m not going to go over the policy right now, but we have a league policy in place that we feel pretty comfortable with and I’ll just leave it at that.”
The San Francisco 49ers went through the same process after leaving MetLife Stadium following their victory over the Giants.
The Buccaneers thoroughly dominated the Washington Redskins during the first half, but a late second quarter touchdown by the Redskins cut the Bucs lead to 13-7. Many Bucs fans wondered if the late TD was going to be a prelude of thing to come in the second half.
On Monday, during his day-after-game press conference, head coach Lovie Smith talked about the Washington score and how he felt it wouldn’t affect his team in the second half.
“I detected… not detected, I saw disappointment,” Smith said. “We had dominated the game for the most part and then for them to get that (touchdown). But then (we thought), ‘okay, we’re in great position still.’ We had a lead. We had the ball coming out of the second half, and I though we were a better football team; our guys felt that way. They were just disappointed in that series, there’s no way around that. We wanted all of us to be disappointed in that. And there were some things that happened. There was a bad call in there that really – I’m going to take the (blame). That screen for a touchdown, that was more on me. When guys realize that, it’s just about going out there and dominating the second half.”
Smith said the Bucs players never wavered in their optimism, despite having lost five games this season when leading in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know if they said, ‘here we go again,’” Smith said. “We’ve lost some games in the fourth quarter, but that’s not necessarily ‘here we go again.’ We’ve lost some games in the past but it was a new day. That wasn’t the mindset because of how we played the second half, we kept the pressure on throughout. Again, there was disappointment, but no more than that. I think the guys felt that they we’re the better team and that this time we would finish the job. We have our coach talk – bear with me through coach talk – but we had our best week of practice last week. We’re doing more things like ones-on-ones and really felt like we were in position to win the game.”
After the Bucs beat the Steelers 27-24 back in September, noted Pittsburgh fan and rapper Snoop Dogg went on a viral rant about losing to Tampa Bay, saying, “We suck, can’t beat the weak ass Buccaneers.” His Instagram video also included several F-bombs. While not nearly as extreme, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was clearly disappointed with the loss to a Bucs team that had only notched one win so far before Sunday.
“It was a travesty,” Griffin told the media following the game. “It was a travesty out there today. We didn’t play well. I didn’t see the field as well as I would’ve liked to. We had turnovers. I can’t throw interceptions. We had false start penalties and holding penalties. It was just bad ball out there today. It’s not that we looked past Tampa Bay because we can’t afford to look past anybody. The fact of the matter is we’re not a very good football team right now.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft took the brunt of the blame.
“All of the sacks are on me,” Griffin continued. “Period. We’re 3-7, and everybody in this room knows that, and everybody in that locker room knows that. We can’t do what 3-7 football teams do. We can’t throw knives and stab each other in the back. I think we have good people in our locker room, men of God that are going to stick together and stay strong. So when you ask me that question, and I say all of the sacks are on me, it’s because I’m looking myself in the mirror and saying, I can do better. I have to do better. I need every man in that locker room, players and coaches, to look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’”
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was also upset after the loss on Sunday.
“I have no explanation right now,” Gruden said. “I just have to congratulate Lovie Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They came in and played with greater effort. They made plays in key situations and we didn’t. The turnover battle we lost significantly, again. We gave up six sacks and turned the ball over three times. It was a struggle today. It was a struggle all across the board.”
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has been reminded fans, players and the media that his football team, despite having just one win prior to Sunday, was still in the NFC South playoff race. Many scoffed at Smith’s glass-half-full perspective, but looking at the standings following Sunday’s 27-7 win at Washington, Smith’s optimism doesn’t seem nearly as crazy.
While the Bucs are two wins out of first place, it is essentially three by way of the Falcons two wins head-to-head over the Bucs earlier this season, yet with the way the division is playing, Tampa Bay is still technically in the thick of things.
Tampa Bay (2-8) has Chicago, Detroit, and Carolina on the road and home games against Cincinnati, Green Bay and New Orleans to finish the season.
The division-leading Falcons (4-6) have road games left at New Orleans and Green Bay along with home games against Cleveland, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Carolina to close out the season.
Second place New Orleans (4-6) will travel to Pittsburgh, Chicago and Tampa Bay and home games against Baltimore, Carolina and Atlanta.
Carolina (3-7-1) still have to travel to Minnesota, New Orleans and Atlanta while still hosting Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
While it still a far-fetched idea that Tampa Bay could possibly qualify for the playoffs it isn’t out of the question based on the way the defense played on Sunday in Washington. If the Buccaneers do get in the mix, but miss out, they will certainly look back to the five fourth-quarter leads they surrendered in their first 10 games of the year.
Through 10 games this season, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith has had little to smile about when facing reporters during his press conferences following games. On Sunday, for just the second time this year, Smith was actually able to enjoy standing in front of the media.
Smith, who has been preaching his football team is improving each game, was finally validated – even if for just one week.
“I feel like we’ve been getting better,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to finish games, but we’ve seen progress. At times we’ve looked like a pretty good football team. Breaks have gone against us. Coming in we saw an opportunity for us – we needed to finish the game and play 60 (minutes), and they did that.
“You keep preaching that guys are heading in the right direction, but you need some wins in there. This was just one step. It’s one game. We have two wins. Right now it’s about the moment. We have a win. We found a way to win in a tough environment and we’re heading in the right direction.”
While the offense played well in spurts, particularly QB Josh McCown and receiver Mike Evans, it was the other side of the ball that set the tone for Tampa Bay’s second win Smith said.
“There were a few situations where they had the momentum and our defense kind of stepped up and made plays,” Smith said. “That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s our kind of ball.”
The Bucs have a chance to win back-to-back games when they travel to Chicago next Sunday to take on a Bears team that has struggled mightily for much of the season.