It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. The Bucs squandered the chance to take an early lead in the NFC South after Sunday losses by Atlanta and Carolina, losing to San Francisco, 31-17. Once again, the Bucs were their own worst enemy, losing the turnover battle four to two, with quarterback Jameis Winston accounting for three interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Winston And The Same Ol’ Bucs

We’ve seen this before haven’t we? The Bucs find ways to beat themselves – over and over again. That’s why Tampa Bay endured back-to-back 5-11 seasons because of self-inflicted wounds with too many penalties and too many turnovers. It’s a new year with a new coach and yet it’s the same result. It’s the same ol’ Bucs, and it’s frustrating. This team finds ways to beat itself in new ways – different ways, maddening ways.

“I don’t think there is any doubt about it,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said. “That’s what we talked about it at the half even and before the game. Right now; that was the message. When we stop beating ourselves, we’ll be pretty good.”

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

Like Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston not throwing one pick-six, but two. That’s new. Winston, who has yet to shed his label of being a walking turnover, has never thrown two pick-sixes in a game before until Sunday. By the way, the difference in Tampa Bay’s 31-17 loss to San Francisco in the 2019 season opener was 14 points – as in Winston’s 14 points he gave to the 49ers.

We’ve seen this from Winston before – the poor decision-making. That’s been a negative trait that he’s been unable to shake his entire career, and that’s ultimately what’s negated a lot of the good stuff he’s done and kept the Bucs from winning enough games to make it to the playoffs. When it comes to the Bucs beating themselves Winston is the star of the show. Tampa Bay is one of the best teams in the league at beating itself and Winston is a Pro Bowl-caliber self-destructor, and he is approaching Hall of Fame status as a turnover machine.

Winston was erratic with his passing and never got into any kind of rhythm until the second half. Winston started the game completing 4-of-9 for 28 yards in the first quarter, and was 8-of-16 for 72 yards and an interception by halftime. Winston’s first interception wasn’t necessarily his fault as it ricocheted off the hands of O.J. Howard.

But his second pick, which came in the third quarter, was a pass that was thrown behind running back Peyton Barber near the sidelines and returned 31 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Richard Sherman, who had a bead on the misfired throw. It was a bad match-up from the start and Winston should have never looked Barber’s way.

Winston also had two near-miss interceptions in the game, with the first coming in the first quarter when his errant throw was right to former Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who just simply dropped it. Winston almost threw another pick-six as his pass on fourth-and-goal at the San Francisco 2-yard line was almost intercepted by defensive back Tarvarius Moore. Had Moore hauled in that pass in stride it could have been a 101-yard interception return for a touchdown that could have put the game away.

Winston wound up with three interceptions against the 49ers, and he fumbled a snap and fumbled when hit on a sack – yet the Bucs recovered those two loose balls. Arians has a reputation for being “the quarterback whisperer” and he’s only worked with Winston for one game, but so far we haven’t seen any progress.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And unless Arians can successfully whisper to Winston in a hurry, “Throwing to Barber on a hook route against Sherman is a bad idea” and “Just wildly throwing the ball in the vicinity of a running back who is covered up on a screen pass and it gets pick-sixed is a bad idea,” then Winston will join the ranks of Vinny Testaverde, Trent Dilfer and Josh Freeman as former first-round quarterback drafted by the Bucs that didn’t get a second contract in Tampa Bay.

For most of the game Winston looked like Testaverde or Dilfer or Freeman, unfortunately, and we know how their stories ended in Tampa Bay. Speaking of Testaverde, Winston passed him for the Bucs’ all-time passing yards on Sunday on his final throw of the game. That gave Winston 14,821 yards and puts him just ahead of Testaverde’s previous record of 14,820 yards.

But in a loss as bad as the Bucs suffered on Sunday, who cares?

STATEMENT 2: Rough Day For Bucs’ Tight Ends

As poorly as he played, Winston wasn’t the only culprit in the Bucs’ most recent self-destruction. Howard contributed to Winston’s first interception and then fumbled inside the San Francisco red zone in the first half. Not only that, he allowed a sack and only had four catches for 32 yards. Not a sterling start to what many believe could be a Pro Bowl year for Howard.

The day was just as rough for Bucs tight end Cameron Brate, but not because he did anything wrong. Brate had not one touchdown – but two TDs – wiped out due to penalties on Tampa Bay’s first drive in the second quarter – both holding calls by right tackle Demar Dotson. Brate scored on a tight end screen to the right flank and a really bad, phantom holding call on Dotson took that score away. A few plays later, a scrambling Winston threw the ball up in the back of the end zone and Brate came down with it, just getting his toes down in bounds – only to have that dramatic catch get nullified by Dotson’s second holding call.

“It’s just turnovers, man, and penalties,” Dotson said. “We had too many turnovers and we had too many penalties, and that messed us up. And we got into the red zone and didn’t come up with touchdowns. That hurt too – we had it right there on the 2-yard line and we should’ve got seven but we walked away with nothing. Things like that – we’ve got to come away with touchdowns and we didn’t. We did a bad job of beating ourselves and we’ve got to go back and stop that. If we do a better job of not beating ourselves, then we can beat somebody else.”

To make matters worse for the Bucs’ tight end room, Howard’s fumble came at the San Francisco 8-yard line on third-and-19 following Dotson’s second holding penalty. The Bucs finished the game with eight penalties for 87 yards.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Were There Any Bright Spots For The Bucs?

Yes there were a few. I’ve written about Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in two SR’s Fab 5 columns this summer, the most recent of which was this past Friday. The reason why Hargreaves was written about so much is because he’s a new man in Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme, which features aggressive, press-man coverage – the type of defense VH3 thrived in at Florida.

Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Bucs CB Vernon Hargreaves III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

That was on display in the second quarter when Hargreaves stepped in front of a 49ers receiver and picked off Jimmy Garoppolo, returning the interception 15 yards for a touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 7-3 lead. That interception was the second of Hargreaves’ four-year career and it couldn’t have come at a better time as he is in a big contract year. The team picked up Hargreaves’ fifth-year option next year worth upwards of $9 million, but it’s not guaranteed unless he plays well.

“It definitely feels good to play,” Hargreaves said. “I played okay today, but the goal is to win, so it doesn’t matter how well I play personally. It’s about the team and we’ve got another game Thursday and we’re going to be ready to go.”

Hargreaves only gave up one catch on Sunday and played very well in pass coverage. It’s so far, so good for Hargreaves’ start to the 2019 season.

The other bright spot was the running of second-year running back Ronald Jones II, who had a career-high 75 yards rushing on 13 carries (5.8 avg.), in addition to one catch for 18 yards. On Sunday against San Francisco, Jones eclipsed last year’s rushing total of 48 yards on 23 carries, so he’s off to a good start. A lot of Jones’ runs came right up the middle and center Ryan Jensen had a really good game run blocking as Tampa Bay rushed for 121 yards while averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

“I thought he had a lot of energy and he was hitting it,” Arians said of Jones. “That’s something we can really build off of. I was really happy with the running game.”

Bucs nose tackle Vita Vea was only credited with three tackles against the 49ers but I think he was shorted at least three or four more assists. Vea, along with defensive linemen Will Gholston and Ndamukong Suh, who each had four tackles, was very active upfront in helping hold the 49ers to under 100 yards and just 3.1 yards per carry.

QUESTION 2: What’s Up With The Bucs’ Special Teams?

New Bucs punter Bradley Pinion did not have a great preseason punting the ball, and it went from bad to worse in the 2019 regular season opener against San Francisco, his former team. Pinion’s first official punt in red and pewter was a disaster, as it was deflected by the 49ers and traveled just three yards. Special teams captain Dare Ogunbowale was overwhelmed as a blocker and allowed the deflection to occur. Pinion had two punts and averaged 21 yards with his other punt traveling 39 yards.

Tampa Bay’s special teams also didn’t fare well in the return game. Bobo Wilson’s first punt return went for no gain as he was hit and tackled immediately. Tampa Bay’s kick return wasn’t any better.

T.J. Logan’s first kick return was just 18 yards out to the 18-yard line. The Bucs’ return game struggled mightily in the preseason, so this isn’t much of a surprise – even with a new returner. It’s not just the returner – it’s the other 10 guys blocking for him and Tampa Bay’s personnel or its blocking scheme that is really suspect. Logan averaged 20 yards per kick return on three run backs with a long of just 21 yards.

At what point in time does Arians just tell his returner to not bring the ball out of the end zone and just start at the 25?

The lone bright spot on special teams was the kicker in Tampa Bay for a change. How about that? Rookie Matt Gay made both of his extra point attempts and connected on his first NFL field goal, a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Bucs’ O-Line Will Get Eaten Alive By The Panthers

Tampa Bay’s offensive line has always struggled against Carolina’s pass rush. Two years ago, the Bucs surrendered nine sacks in two meetings against the Panthers, including six at Carolina. Last year, Carolina sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick three times at home and dropped Winston four times in Tampa Bay.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs offensive line struggled in the preseason game against the Browns, giving up five sacks in a half. Against San Francisco, Tampa Bay allowed Winston to be sacked three times, and coming off a short week where the 0-1 Panthers will be waiting on Thursday night, I sense Carolina getting to Winston at least five times.

The Panthers only had one sack in Sunday’s 30-27 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams, and that came from cornerback James Bradberry. Carolina’s vaunted defensive front didn’t get any sacks and will be on the prowl on Thursday night when Tampa Bay comes to town. Defensive end Mario Addison has been Donovan Smith’s personal tormentor with 5.5 sacks in the last four meetings. Look for him and rookie Brian Burns, the Panthers’ first-round draft pick, to have a big night, in addition to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy going up against right guard Alex Cappa and getting some revenge on the Buccaneers with a sack or two.

PREDICTION 2: Tampa Bay’s Pass Rush Will Continue To Struggle

While I expect the Panthers’ pass rush to get revved up, I wish I could say the same about the Bucs’ efforts to get to the quarterback, but Sunday’s game against the 49ers was a little disheartening. Tampa Bay had one sack from outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett and one QB hit from Barrett – and that was it.

No sacks or pressures from outside linebacker Carl Nassib and no sacks or pressures from a blitzing Lavonte David. Neither Vea nor Suh got close to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, either.

The Bucs have had some success getting to Cam Newton in the past, so it’s not out of the question that Tampa Bay can record some sacks on Thursday night. Barrett might get another one, and David might get home on a blitz against Newton, as he’s done in the past. I just didn’t see too many promising signs on Sunday that a sudden sack attack from the Bucs will be coming in Carolina.

Previous articleBucs’ Arians: “There’s A Lot Of Good Things We’ll Build Off Of”
Next articleBucs Monday Mailbag: Wondering About Winston
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

24 COMMENTS

  1. No Jason Licht is the Bucs fans worst enemy……………………………………………………………………

    +11
    -10
    Rating: +1. From 21 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Licht and those that have supported him, including Arians and SR.

      +3
      -14
      Rating: -11. From 17 votes.
      Please wait...
  2. Well. Looks like we suck again.

    +11
    -1
    Rating: +10. From 12 votes.
    Please wait...
  3. We’ve Got a Running Game Now. This will pay off in the long run because everything is not on the QB making plays. RoJo will have a big game on Thursday Night!

    +11
    -2
    Rating: +9. From 13 votes.
    Please wait...
  4. I remember the first day they hired Bruce Arians I watched the film on him were they said he’s a no bullsh— guy he tells it exactly the way he sees it and I was kind of excited for the Bucs
    Then I watch the YouTube him coming in on the airplane with all his swagger gets up on the podium and the first words out of his mouth how much respect he had for the glaziers at that moment I knew the whole thing was bullsh— now we see it

    +4
    -16
    Rating: -12. From 20 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Man, I like to have some drinks too but you might need to ease off. Either that or stop typing with your elbows.

      +8
      -1
      Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
      Please wait...
  5. Same ol Bucs huh SR? It seems it was the talent and not the coaching for Winston. Unless Arians can’t coach either? Which is it? Ready to make Leftwich the scapegoat already? That should buy you another year with Winston on a franchise tag.

    The excuses PR and some fans come up with on this site have become somewhat of a comic relief for me after gut wrenching losses like this so let’s hear ‘em.

    +9
    -10
    Rating: -1. From 19 votes.
    Please wait...
    • What’s comical is grenade in mouth fans like you who only comment when our team has played poorly. You never have anything positive to say about our team. What will you say when we start winning and Winston turns it around and leads us to the Playoffs. What will you say when we come out and RoJo goes for over 100yds and we dominate the Panthers on Thursday Night. Crickets!!!!

      +12
      -9
      Rating: +3. From 21 votes.
      Please wait...
      • When this team does something positive you’ll hear from me like always. You just haven’t been paying attention. In case you haven’t noticed the team has gone 5-11 the last two seasons and is now 0-1. Not much positive to talk about.

        But if you want positive read my comments on the “Most Impressive” article PR put out last night. Those comments were of course posted prior to your comments since they were made last night.

        +5
        -1
        Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
        Please wait...
  6. On that day Bruce Arians was on the podium talking about how much respect he has for the glaziers I cough the BS and Fredster and spitball went G he loves the glazes too

    +1
    -13
    Rating: -12. From 14 votes.
    Please wait...
  7. Licht is responsible for this roster and it sucks! They just extended him. What a dumb move! Thursday night we are going to get lit up. Just like what has happened years past on national television. Winston right now is a basket case. Bundle of nerves. Someone said on here with no deep threat like Desean Jackson they crowd everything. True! The season is over folks. This team has no shot. McCoy can’t wait to crush Winston Thursday and he will. Bad times continue.

    +15
    -10
    Rating: +5. From 25 votes.
    Please wait...
  8. With Devin White having very little impact and Bunting and Dean not even in the game, I am wondering who from this last draft will be visible besides Gay? Edwards was passable, but this is looking like another weak draft for the Bucs.

    +17
    -4
    Rating: +13. From 21 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Can’t call it another weak draft just yet (although it may certainly end up that way). Vea looked good. ROJO looked good. Whitehead looked good. Those are 3 players from last year’s draft class that many labeled as busts immediately. So there’s still plenty of time for White, Dean, Bunting, et al, to change the narrative. One of our issues is every year we have to rely on 3 or 4 draft picks to be Pro Bowlers right away or we’re sunk, and that’s just not a winning strategy. That being said, we have made a few head scratchers in the draft, esp. round 2 (kicker or otherwise).

      We did look pretty rough yesterday against what was (probably) one of our easiest opponents of the year. We won the opener our last 2 years and we saw how that turned out, so 1 game does not a season make. Panthers on a short week on the road not an easy draw for licking these wounds. We gotta play em all though. If we look like this against NYG in week 3, it might be panic time

      +18
      0
      Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
      Please wait...
  9. Enough with Winston, he is unable to make the correct in game decisions. The young man panics in the face of pressure that has become painfully obvious as we have watched his career over the last 5 years. I would rather see if the Griffen kid out there and see if he has anything.

    2020 Mock draft…
    The next quarterback in this mock doesn’t come off the board until No. 6 overall (seeing the Cincinnati Bengals pass at No. 5 overall was a surprise), where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers end the Jameis Winston era by selecting Oregon’s Justin Herbert

    https://draftwire.usatoday.com/2019/09/06/2020-nfl-mock-draft-tua-tagovailoa-jalen-hurts-justin-herbert/

    +6
    -7
    Rating: -1. From 13 votes.
    Please wait...
  10. Scott, saying our O line will struggle against Carolina, is that really a bold prediction? I predict they’ll struggle against every D line they play this year. We all gave credit to Clevelands D line in that third preseason game, but the Titans didn’t seem to have a problem with them yesterday did they? Scott your truest statement was the same old Bucs. Exactly! Didn’t draft a RT to replace old man holding penalty Dotson, didn’t bring in any legit guards to compete with Cappa, and we believed Winston would stop turning the ball over with better coaching. Same old Bucs, should we really expect different results?

    +19
    -1
    Rating: +18. From 20 votes.
    Please wait...
  11. The media can talk about all the problems, but the glaring one is the decision making of J. Winston. Unless that changes – and soon – this season is lost.

    +16
    -1
    Rating: +15. From 17 votes.
    Please wait...
  12. You Buc ass Clones can “Down Vote” me all you want, but yesterday’s game only proved one thing we’re not Perfect. Who didn’t know that the oline sucks.
    1)Winston ain’t going anywhere
    2) Defense is solid and only getting better
    3) RoJo looks like a Stud
    4) We have a Kicker
    5) This Coaching Staff is Competent
    My Bucs will be Fine!!

    +16
    -7
    Rating: +9. From 23 votes.
    Please wait...
  13. I predict that Winston has about two more game like this in him and the franchise can’t extend him. You can’t have a QB1 with more interceptions than millions made by year 5.

    +7
    -2
    Rating: +5. From 9 votes.
    Please wait...
  14. We need to switch the offense to a short passing game. Slants, seam routes, curls, crossing routes, backs over the middle and in the flat, etc., throw deep once in a while until we can gel somewhat, take pressure off the O line. Bench Howard, start Brate and Auclair. Run the ball – I liked Barber and RoJo both averaging over 4 yds. These guys can put together a Thunder and Lightning type of season.

    D played well and had us in position to win. They’ll get better and hope that Devin White gets over the flu and starts to play. Gotta love LeVante David – easily and still our best player either side of the ball.

    And someone please tell our kick return guys to just take a knee and give us the ball on the 25 – please.

    +14
    -3
    Rating: +11. From 17 votes.
    Please wait...
  15. Thats what i thought too,. Is this really the right kind of offense for Winston? it doesn’t seem like it.

    +2
    0
    Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
    Please wait...
  16. This is Jason Licht’s mess to own and it was nothing short of a mess. We ran the ball better yesterday but not effectively enough in the red zone to result in a score. The same penalties that nagged this team last year reappeared yesterday. Dotson holding, Cappa whipped when left 1 on 1 and Donovan Smith being Donovan Smith decent but always exposed each game for a sack or 3. I won’t absolve Jameis because he’s not taken the step forward Licht or Arians claimed he would and still makes terrible decisions. The defense looks better but we have that slow guy MJ playing nickel back who got exposed in coverage and faster players sitting on the bench which is odd. Vea is superb against the run but offers nothing more than a bull rush in pass rush and that means we have to blitz a lot which will break down in our division with more accurate QBs. I watched a whole game, some improved defense and didn’t see 1 play from our star ILB. I thought he would be unleashed this game and saw some decent play but nothing special for a guy that was soooo special we couldn’t pass on him at 5. Jameis doesn’t appear to be the guy, the defense improved in a more aggressive scheme but its amazing that it took Licht 5 years to figure that out. The Panthers will be upset after their opening day loss and will take it to these soft OL and make enough plays to win. The defense should play solid again bc Cam isn’t the most accurate QB and will make enough errant throws to keep us close but their defense is too good and our OL is not good enough. Jameis under pressure is a nightmare and so far Arians looks as clueless as Dirk on how to fix it.

    +9
    -5
    Rating: +4. From 14 votes.
    Please wait...
  17. As a long time fan, the play of Jameis was the most disappointing! BA expected more, fans expected more, hell, Even Jameis, himself, probably expected more. Very sad indeed. I know it’s just the first game, but it’s not. This is year 5 of the same sub level five hundred football in terms of wins and losses with Jameis. It really comes down to one very simple question Buc fans, Is Jameis a $100 million dollar QB? I, personally, think not! That’s what his next contract will be worth! It bothers me to see the spark that these newly drafted QBs bring to their team. I wish the same for our Bucs. A spark, something! I’m just not seeing it with Jameis. The stats don’t lie. He is a turn over machine! So why not let back up QB RG get some reps with the number ones? We need to see if this kid is a player! I think the problem is, what if RG comes in and leads team to a victory? U won’t be able to unring that bell. I’m just saying…

    +8
    -1
    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
    Please wait...
  18. WHo said this is a playoff team? Time to eat your words. How do you like your crow?

    +2
    -3
    Rating: -1. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...
  19. We definitely have one of the worst tackle combinations in the NFL at this point. Donovan Smith doesn’t even looks like he cares about his job at this point. I’m happy for VH3 though. Seems like the dude is back at it under Coach Bowles. But Devin White HAS TO SHOW UP and contribute to this pass rush…we need him. Winston keeps turning it over though, it won’t matter. Same ol Winston, what a loser.

    +5
    0
    Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
    Please wait...