The Buccaneers sunk to 2-11 on the season with a 19-17 loss at Carolina. The latest defeat has brought some good news and some bad news to Tampa Bay. What’s going right with the Buccaneers and what is going wrong in Tampa Bay? Find out in this week’s edition of The State of the Buccaneers.
WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Bucs On The Verge Of Double 1,000-Yard Receivers For First Time
For the first time in franchise history, the Buccaneers could have a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers as both Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are closing in on that achievement. Jackson leads Tampa Bay with 66 catches for 931 yards and two touchdowns, and Evans leads the Bucs with 948 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 59 catches. Jackson and Evans have a chance to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier together this Sunday against Green Bay. Jackson needs 69 receiving yards, while Evans needs 52 yards. Tampa Bay receivers have had 1,000-yard seasons 14 times, but there has never been two different receivers hitting that mark in the same year before.
Could The Bucs Have Found A Left Tackle In Dotson?
Credit Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht for having the foresight to look ahead to 2015 and start Demar Dotson at left tackle to see if he could be a fixture there next year. Free agent import Anthony Collins hasn’t worked out as planned and was benched last week. He may not play again this year or be back in 2015, so it was wise to give the big, long, athletic Dotson a look at left tackle. He performed well in his first start there and will get an extended look at left tackle for the last two games of the season. If Dotson can improve the play at left tackle for Tampa Bay that’s a huge relief heading into the offseason.
Tampa Bay Is Playing Competitive Football
Since Tampa Bay’s 48-17 loss at home to Baltimore in Week 6, the Buccaneers haven’t been blown out in any game since the bye week. Tampa Bay’s largest margin of defeat was 17 points in a 34-17 loss at Detroit two weeks ago. The Bucs won at Washington by the score of 27-7, and had four losses by less than a touchdown (Minnesota by six, Cleveland by five, Cincinnati by one and Carolina by two). The other defeat was a 10-point home loss to Atlanta. That’s sure better than 31-point shellacking at the hands of the Ravens or a 42-point stomping by the Falcons in Week 3. The Bucs are indeed playing more competitive football.
McCoy’s Knee Injury Isn’t Serious
PewterReport.com was imploring the Buccaneers to put defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on injured reserve after he sustained a knee injury in Detroit so he wouldn’t risk further injury in a wasted season. What happened? McCoy injured the same right knee again in the first half of the team’s loss at Carolina and is out for the season with a knee sprain. Thankfully for McCoy and the Buccaneers that the injury isn’t serious and won’t require surgery. He should be back healthy and ready to go for the 2015 offseason workouts next April.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay Once Again The NFC South Cellar Dweller
The Buccaneers’ 19-17 loss at Carolina not only kept the Panthers’ hopes of winning the downtrodden NFC South division alive, but it also ensured that Tampa Bay would finish in the bottom of the division in back-to-back years following a 4-12 finish to the 2014 season. The Buccaneers were swept by both Atlanta and Carolina this year, and New Orleans could make it a clean sweep as the Saints come to town in the 2015 season finale at Raymond James Stadium in two weeks. The Bucs have never gone winless in the division before.
Evans Has Been Held In Check Over The Last Month
After three straight games in which Mike Evans had over 100 receiving yards in the month of November, December has proven to be chilly for the team’s rookie wide receiver. Evans has not posted 50 yards or more as a receiver in the past four games, and has no more than four receptions in any of those contests as opposing defenses have really been keying on him. His production has dropped so much that there is now a slight chance that getting a 1,000-yard season. If there has been a silver lining in Evans’ lack of production it’s the fact that he has at least caught four touchdowns over the last four games.
Pass Rush Will Struggle Without McCoy
Believe it or not, Tampa Bay has registered 33 sacks this season despite bouts of inconsistency along the defensive line. To put that number in perspective, the Bucs recorded 35 sacks last year, which matched the total of the 2005 Tampa Bay defense, which was one of the best in the league. Thirty-five sacks is the most by any Bucs team since the Super Bowl champion squad had 42 during the 2002 season. But the loss of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy will make it difficult to get to the quarterback – even with blitzes. Tampa Bay’s linebacking corps hasn’t been able to get home all year with the exception of last week’s game in which Lavonte David recorded his first sack of the season and Danny Lansanah recorded his first 1.5 career sacks. Without an interior pass rush from McCoy – or even injured nose tackle Clinton McDonald – sacking Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers or New Orleans’ Drew Brees will prove to be quite challenging.
No Improvement From Last Year
Tampa Bay fired head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik after a disappointing 4-12 season in 2013. New head coach Lovie Smith was hired to bring credibility and a winning edge to the Buccaneers. All offseason he repeated the mantra “We’re a 4-12 football team” referencing last year and completely overhauled the roster, especially on offense. Unfortunately for Smith and the Bucs, last week’s loss at Carolina guaranteed Tampa Bay will finish with no better a 4-12 record again – and that’s only if the team prevails against Green Bay and New Orleans. A loss to either one of those teams or both ensures that the Bucs will finish with a worse record than a year ago, which is a huge disappointment for the Glazers and the Tampa Bay fan base.
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
At this point it’s important for the coaching staff to play other guys and see what they have. The Packers and Saints have something to play for so it will be a test for the new guys. In doing so though, the Bucs probably don’t win the games, but in this case, that’s a good thing. The Bucs need a franchise QB and it can be argued that Mariota or Winston could be that guy. I prefer Mariota by a large margin, but both are excellent QB’ – one just happens to be a knucklehead off the field. All that said, if a team has the #1 pick and feels there is a franchise QB to be had, you HAVE to take him…and we don’t have one. The other obvious option is trading back, provided you have a partner and load up on picks andor players. I prefer the QB route and I hope the Bucs have the #1 pick and take Mariota. I’m all in on that kid.
Nice review Scott – agree with all your points. I would sum-up “what’s right” by saying we have hope…that’s what’s right. Hope in the form of Evans, Jackson, ASJ, Dotson, McCoy, LvD, McDonald, Verner, Banks, Lansannah, Murray (why not), AND most importantly the #1 pick (a.k.a. Marcus Mariota) – that’s half of a team. “What’s wrong”…the other half.
The Bears got clobbered by the Saints and seemed to have played without passion or the desire to win. HC Marc Trestman is on the hot seat again. In fact PFT is reporting the McCaskey family has met and it is very likely that Trestman will be released. The Bears have to play the Lions next, ending their season at the Vikings. I wish no man misfortune, but one team’s loss is another team’s fortune.There are lots of positives, but the one best thing the Bucs could do is fix the offense. And it starts with an Offensive Coordinator – the one area that in my opinion hurt the Bucs more than anything else.
Talk as we might about a new QB, the first thing the Bucs will do is to adopt an offensive philosophy and scheme. Then they will hire an OC to put an offensive organization together that will make the philosophy a reality. If the Bucs decide on a more traditional offense, and I believe they will, they should not rest until Trestman is comfortable in the Florida sun. The man is a virtual QB Whisperer and is known as one of the best offensive minds in the business. Some guys make great OCs, but lousy coaches. Marc Trestman and Norv Turner stand alone in this regard.
With the state of the QB situation at the Bucs, this is not the time to give a deserving guy an opportunity or grow someone in the position. The Bucs need a CEO for the offense – an area where Lovie has the least experience to offer. Trestman is well suited to prepare a new QB for the NFL and work with the existing talent to put a competent and competitive offense on the field. This is especially true if McCown is retained as the back-up QB. The pieces immediately fall into place.
I really like Trestman as an OC in general, but I’m not sure just yet if we should bring in an OC that is so set in his ways he won’t adjust the offense to put the QB in the best position to succeed. Now maybe Trestman can do exactly that and if so I’m all for him. I want to wait until the season is over and see if we indeed get the #1 overall pick. Then we’ll know we’re getting Mariota and we can interview OC’s and say, “Okay, if we draft Mariota would try and mold him to fit your offense or build an offense you think will make him the most successful”? How the OC answers will dictate who we hire because Mariota will outlast the OC if things aren’t going well early in Mariota’s career.
I posted this on Oct.27, 2014 at 7:13pm. Not changed my mind. Just depends on which offensive philosopy and scheme Lovie chooses to run.
Let’s not just get Mariota, get the whole package. We will need a new OC and who would work better than Scott Frost at the University of Oregon. Frost, 39, is a young successful OC at who plays the up-tempo style of offense that resembles what I can make of what the Bucs wanted to do under Tedford.
Jeff Tedford, should he come back, could be given the old Jimmy Raye title of SR. Offensive Assistant and have him mentor the new young OC. Make the move transparent with the QB, OC, and the offense. Lessen the timeline to put your franchise QB on the field. The worst thing we could do is try to remake Mariota in a new system as the Bucs attempted to do with Freeman after the 2010 season.
Frost is a Chip Kelly protégé and is even a former Buc under Jon Gruden. He is ready to move to the next level and would make the perfect replacement for Tedford. The skill positions are already in place to bring that Oregon high octane offense to the Bucs. If we can’t stop other teams from scoring, then let’s outscore them. Let’s do something big and smart for a change! Go Bucs!
Macabee, as much as i would love to see Trestman in Tampa as our OC, I just dont know if he and Lovie would work together. There has to be some animosity there. How ironic would it be for Trestman to be working for the same guy whos job he took 2 years pryor. I am intrigued by Frost from Oregon though.
Nice article SR. The State of the Buccaneers has become my 2nd favorite article with the 1st being the Fab 5. It reminded me that I haven’t spent enough time talking about how great a job D. Lansanah and J. Smith are doing. They’re both going to be future starters at one position or another. Lansanah has played all 3 positions while getting a high number of tackles as well as sacks and INT’s. He hasn’t proven he can defend passes in the deep middle of the field any better than Foster, but maybe he just need more practice doing it. Hardy Nickerson has done an excellent job with him and that’s what good position coaches do; make their players play better than they have on any other team. As for Smith, I think he can play either side if need be given his speed and ability to play the run. That frees us up to be able to draft either LDE or RDE depending on the best player available. However, I think the emergence of Smith, the high salary of M. Johnson and the extreme needs at QB and the O-line move the priority of DE down to no earlier than the 4th round of the upcoming draft.
Don’t forget McDougal at safety – he replaced Lovie’s guy.
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The first thing I thout about when I read the Trestman article at 5 AM was if this guy is cut by the Bears would he fit in with Lovie and the Bucs. I didn’t know much about his coaching background so I Googled a few sights and to my surprise found he has strong OC credentials and can develope Qb’s . I am a little concerned about his work with Cutler, but other than that he may be just what the doctor ordered. He needs some sunshine and a top QB prospect.
The question to ask a prospective OC is NOT how he would handle Mariotta or Winston, but rather WHO he would pick and then mold.
I hear where you’re coming from ColoradoBuc. But if you’re the Bucs brass, why let some guy you just met/hired (OC) decide the fate of the franchise? It’s the GM’s job to bring in personnel and to a lesser extent the HC, Director of Player Personnel and the scouts. If the QB doesn’t work out he usually takes the HC and even GM down with him. Why would they give that kind of power to a new OC when they can change coordinators every year without too much backlash from the fans?
Are you forgetting, Lovie hired the GM, so we really don’t have an independent voice at GM.
So, in essence Lovie will pick the OC, again. Will the OC get to pick hos own or will we get shackled with more assistants like our present OL coach?
I don’t see any improvement with the same person doing all the picking of coaches and players like last year.
P.S. Looks like Zuttah may get to the pro bowl. So why was it we got rid of him?
The Bucs are in great position (IF) they get the first pick. They have the opportunity to pick a OC and a QB that could compliment each other. You can match your OC’S scheme to your QB’S strengths. The big fear is Lovie having to much to say about the hire of OC and the draft selection. This is going to make or break LILO. They will become the HERO or the GOAT for years to come in Tampa if they pick the wrong QB. I believe the choice will be Mariota because I can’t see the Glazer boys signing off on Winston as the face of the franchise. I believe the PR would be to much to handle for a small market team.
Yup, over and over we heard St. Lovie repeat how the Bucs were a “4-12” football team before he got here. He then transformed the Bucs to a 2-14 football team with some of the WORST personnel changes and coaching we’ve EVER had to endure here. And this man is in charge going forward? As good as it may be to own the first pick in the draft, let’s not forget (as if I could) exactly HOW we’re getting that pick and who will make it and pick a new OC as well. THAT’S the State of the Buccaneers I’m concerned with….to type the least.
And IMO it’s one SORRY state.
Why give up on Collins completely? Why not move him to Guard where he has more experience instead of trying revamp the entire line once again?
Mariota- That is all
It will be interesting to see how the OC and draft play out. Likely we will like some things and not others, but only the future will hold the answers to whether the Bucs choose wisely. I really want Suh in FA, I think that would be awesome. Come on down and stomp some Panthers for us! (joking)
It’s not like Dotson just fell on the roster, he was already here when Lovie arrived. Maybe the time to experiment was March. Many on this site have wanted to see Demar get a shot on the left side. WTF took so long?
That’s it; everyone just throw in the negatives including Scott Reynolds! Just dandy! This team is competitive in most games and we are a much better team than last year. No one is going to change my position on this one. Guess what? We actually know we need a QB and 2-3 OL. That’s it! Definitely couldn’t say that last year at this time. Do you honestly believe Smith is worse than Schiano? Only thing I see is an improving team. Go Bucs!
I’m with you on that one surferdudes. Not that I’m a football genius, but I’ve been saying I thought Dotson was more suited for LT since he was first inserted into the lineup. Teammates and coaches kept raving about his athleticism which seemed ideal for the left side. Better late than never.
With this disastrous season and the pain we’ve all endured, ever think of changing your name to Sufferdudes?
Lovie certainly deserves some of the blame for what has gone wrong but so does Jason Licht and the rest of the personnel and coaching staff. I think they devised what they believed was a great plan to right the ship. But they miscalculated its’ seaworthiness. I take little issue with the Draft because I do see some positive signs. There were even a few roster moves after the season began that may turn out well. I can’t find fault with the health problem of the OC torpedoing that side of the ball. I think that greatly impacted the team more than they’ll ever say publicly. I see the defense starting to “get it” and beginning to show a little of the missing swagger. Lovie and Licht deserve some credit for the improvement while adding street players and inserting them in the lineup. Looks like they chose the best kicker.
Where I can place some blame at the feet or should I say de-feat, of our duo at the helm of this sinking ship, is the evaluation of the roster when they took over and the far too many players brought in that were thought to become the new foundation being marginal players at best.
I’m willing to let them have this off-season to patch the leaks, mend the tattered sails, find someone to take the helm who actually knows the right course, recruit a spirited crew that will take on all foes. Hopefully 2015 will be the year we Fire the Cannons!” If not Jason and Lovie will be walking the plank.
Scubog; totally agree. I hope you have some fun at the game. Don’t shave or shower until after the game; then you’ll blend in with the rest of the Pack or at least they’ll find someplace else to sit and you’ll have some space to enjoy. Go Bucs!
If Lovie even mentions Cutlers name in the building- he needs to be fired on the spot and drop kicked out of the building…hopefully we don’t take on a buncha Bear crap because our defensive coordinator is afraid of losing his head coaching job…there is little to nothing on that roster and I hope this feeble coach doesn’t just grasp at straws and goes for a bucha players he supposedly knows…
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