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 blew an 18-point halftime lead to lose to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and the New York Giants, who were without star running back Saquon Barkley in the second half. Rookie kicker Matt Gay accounted for 18 points, but missed two extra points and a last-second potential game-winning field goal as Tampa Bay fell to 1-2 on the year in a 32-31 loss.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Winston-To-Evans Connection All For Naught In Loss

Quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans had monster games for Tampa Bay, but in the end, it didn’t matter as the New York Giants stunned the Bucs with an amazing second-half comeback in a 32-31 win.

Winston completed 23-of-37 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns – all to Evans – with one interception. One of Winston’s biggest throws of the game was a 44-yard strike to Evans downfield to the Giants’ 9-yard with just 13 seconds left. That set the Bucs up for a potential 34-yard game-winning field goal from Matt Gay – only to see the rookie miss it to the right by inches.

Gay’s 34-yard field goal attempt should have been from 29 yards, but head coach Bruce Arians inexplicably took a delay of game to back the field goal up.

“I just took it on purpose,” Arians said. “That field goal is easier back five yards, no sense hurrying. We wanted to move the ball over, put in the middle and make it an easy field goal.”

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

Wow. I don’t understand the logic there – at all.

If Gay had attempted it from 29 yards it would have been good. Gay had missed an extra point from that distance and had one blocked in the first quarter. So Arians wanted to replicate a kick from that distance? To be fair to Gay, he did make his last two extra points and four straight field goals before his critical miss as time expired.

But back to Winston and Evans and the Bucs offense, which finally came to life after two lackluster games to start the season. Tampa Bay produced 499 yards, including an eight-catch, 190-yard, three-touchdown day from Evans. The Bucs will need a similar type of offensive production next week as the team travels to Los Angeles to play the Rams.

Winston started the game 3-of-4 for 53 yards with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans on third-and-6. That score capped off a 10-play, 75-yard drive to give the Bucs an early 6-0 lead after Gay missed the extra point, which would prove to be costly

On the Bucs’ next drive, Winston hit Ronald Jones with a 41-yard screen pass, then found tight end O.J. Howard with a 21-yard strike down the middle of the field before tossing his second touchdown to Evans to give Tampa Bay a 12-3 lead after Gay’s extra point was blocked, which also proved to be costly. In the first quarter, Winston completed 7-of-10 passing for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

On Tampa Bay’s third drive, Winston hit Evans with a 55-yard pass to set up a 47-yard Gay field goal to give the Bucs a 15-10 lead. With that catch Evans went over the century mark for the first time in 2019 with five catches for 111 yards.

Winston remained hot on the Bucs’ fourth scoring drive, throwing a bullet to Howard to pick up 30 yards down to the Giants’ 12. Gay’s field goal increased Tampa Bay’s lead to 18-10.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But Winston wasn’t done. He hit Evans with a 20-yard touchdown strike – their third scoring connection of the first half – on the next series and Tampa Bay added another field goal to increase its lead to 28-10 at halftime. Winston was 14-of-22 for 263 yards and three touchdowns at halftime, while Evans had seven catches for 146 yards and three scores – after coming in to Sunday’s game with six receptions for 89 yards in the first two games.

Sunday’s game was a tale of two halves, and as the old adage goes, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish” that mattered. The Bucs offense scored just three points in the second half, while Tampa Bay’s defense allowed New York to score 22.

Winston significantly cooled off in the second half, completing just 9-of-15 passes for only 117 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. The Bucs were running the ball well, rushing for 144 yards while averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but it was as if Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich were playing around Winston after his interception, not fully trusting their QB.

Winston had just 73 yards passing until his 44-yard strike to Evans with 13 seconds left – and that was Evans’ lone catch of the second half.

Unbelievable.

Bucs WR Mike Evans
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Evans’ big day marks the third time in Tampa Bay history that a Buccaneer has caught three touchdowns in one game. Bucs Ring of Honor tight end Jimmie Giles had four in a 1985 loss to Miami. Morris Owens had three scores in a 1976 loss to Miami.

Winston and Evans have now combined for 26 touchdowns, which is the most in Tampa Bay history, surpassing Josh Freeman and Mike Williams, who had 24 together.

But in the end, the big days from Winston, Evans – and even from the Bucs’ running game, which was led by Ronald Jones II’s 80 yards rushing – were all for naught as Tampa Bay fell to 1-2 in heartbreaking fashion.

STATEMENT 2: Bucs Defense Fails To Stop Rookie QB

Gay’s missed field goal provided some cover for Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, whose unit allowed the Giants to mount a second-half comeback and win the game.

After rushing for 142 yards and scoring three touchdowns in last year’s 38-35 Giants win against the Bucs in New York, Tampa Bay was determined to stop Pro Bowl running back Saquon Barkley. And the Bucs defense did just that.

RB Saquon Barkley – Photo by: Getty Images

How did Tampa Bay do it? Sure tackling at the line of scrimmage and in space. The Bucs were determined not to let Barkley beat them and force rookie quarterback Daniel Jones to do that instead, which he did – unfortunately.

Barkley was held to 10 yards rushing on eight carries and four catches for 27 yards in the first half before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Barkley was hit hard by rookie safety Mike Edwards right before halftime on a 6-yard reception and injured his ankle. He did not return to action and was on crutches and in a walking boot in the second half.

Ironically, the Giants didn’t seem to miss him too much because they scored 10 points at halftime and trailed 28-10. New York rallied in the third quarter without him, scoring 15 points to cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 28-25 before ultimately winning, 32-31, on Jones’ 7-yard touchdown on fourth-and-5.

A stop on that play wins the game for Tampa Bay, but Jones played with remarkable poise, rushing for two touchdowns and passing for two more scores while completing 23-of-36 passing for 336 yards and just shredding the Bucs defense in the second half. Jones even weathered five sacks from Tampa Bay, including four from outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who forced two fumbles on strip-sacks.

Giants QB Daniel Jones
Giants QB Daniel Jones – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs’ young secondary played well during the first two weeks of the season but had several communication errors on Sunday that led to several wide-open receivers, especially in the second half. In the end, the Giants had three receivers with at least 80 yards, including tight end Evan Engram, who had six catches for 113 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half to give New York a spark.

To update the stat in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5 column, rookie quarterbacks in their first career start are now 5-1 against the Bucs since 2007, with Tampa Bay losing to Jones, New York’s Geno Smith, St. Louis’ Austin Davis, Jacksonville’s Quinn Gray and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota.

Unreal.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Can The Bucs Still Count On Gay?

Yes – for now. Despite a missed extra point, a blocked extra point and a missed 34-yard field goal, I’m not giving up on Gay just yet, and neither are the Bucs.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Arians said after the gut-wrenching loss following Gay’s miss.
Gay entered the Giants game connecting on all four extra points and 3-of-4 field goals (75 percent), and he did make his last two extra points and four consecutive field goals before his last-second miss.

“I had some good warm-up kicks on the side, kicking into the net,” Gay said. “I was super confident going on the field. I felt really good about it. I went out there, still felt really good and took my steps, went through my whole process, got back there, had my line, and just didn’t hit it clean. I’ve got to make that every single time. Again, I’ve got to make my extra points as well – we’re not in that situation if I put those first two through. So, yeah, this loss is 100 percent on me. I’ve got to be a lot better than I was tonight.”

Bucs K Matt Gay – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Gay, Tampa Bay’s fifth-round pick, is now 7-of-9 on field goals (77.7 percent), and his field goal percentage actually increased on Sunday despite his missed 34-yarder. Of course his extra point percentage declined from 100 percent to 75 percent, and in a one-point loss, those two missed extra points loomed large.

“I’m going to definitely go back and look at the kick and see what went wrong on that,” Gay said. “I know I didn’t hit the ball clean – it felt like I got a little ground before I took the ball. I didn’t allow my leg swing to come through. But again, in those moments, it’s no excuses – you’ve got to put it through – so that’s just 100 percent on me. I’ve got to make it.

“I bounced back. I felt really good. I made my field goals, I made my extra points through the rest of the game and was really confident going into that kick, like I said. I was confident kicking on the sideline, confident when I walked on the field all the way through until I actually made contact with the ball, so nothing different on that kick. I just didn’t hit it clean and it didn’t go in.”

I don’t think Gay is the second coming of Roberto Aguayo, but we’ll see. Arians didn’t do Gay any favors – that’s for sure. And Gay is right, he has to make that kick.

QUESTION 2: How Good Is Barrett At Rushing The Passer?

Really, really good. In fact, he’s excellent.

With the Bucs leading 18-10 before halftime, Bucs outside linebacker Shaq Barrett pushed his sack streak to three consecutive games as he recorded four more sacks on Sunday against New York.

Incredible.

Barrett now has eight sacks in three games to lead the Tampa Bay – and the NFL.

Barrett, who was named the NFC Defensive Player of Week for his three-sack performance in Carolina in Week 2, established a new career-high with four more sacks versus the Giants. Barrett entered the game with four sacks, which ranked second in the league.

For Barrett’s fifth sack of the season, he stripped rookie quarterback Daniel Jones of the ball right before halftime. Outside linebacker Carl Nassib fell on the loose ball near midfield to help set up a Matt Gay field goal.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In the second half, Barrett had two more sacks on the same drive that forced a Giants punt, and added another sack-fumble in the fourth quarter. Barrett, who was signed to a one-year, $4-million contract in this offseason hit a $250,000 performance bonus for reaching eight sacks. Barrett will collect another $250,000 bonus if he reaches 10 sacks this year.

Tampa Bay finished the game with five sacks, which was a season-high for the team, as Nassib also recorded his first QB capture of the season.

Barrett has recorded the most sacks in Bucs history through three games and tied New Yorks Jets legend Mark Gastineau (1984) for the most in NFL history. Barrett was just the third player in team history to record four sacks in a game, joining Marcus Jones (October 19, 2000) and Simeon Rice (October 12, 2003).

Barrett broke Warren Sapp’s Bucs record of 5.5 sacks through three games and became the first player in franchise history with three or more sacks in back-to-back games. The last player in the NFL to do that was Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah in 2017. The last Buccaneers defender to record a sack in three-straight games was Jason Pierre-Paul, when he recorded a sack in six-straight games in 2018.

Barrett had 14.5 sacks in five seasons in Denver before coming to Tampa Bay this offseason. Meanwhile in Denver, the Broncos don’t have any sacks this season. That’s zero for Pro Bowler Von Miller, who had 14.5 sacks in 2018, and zero for 2018 first-round pick Bradley Chubb, who had 12 as a rookie last year.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Bucs Will Focus On Red Zone/Third Down Woes

The emphasis this week at the AdventHealth Training Center will be fixing Tampa Bay’s problems on offense on third down and in the red zone. The Bucs entered Sunday’s game ranked 29th in offensive red zone efficiency (2-of-6) and finished 1-of-5 against the Giants. That’s too many field goals, not enough touchdowns for Tampa Bay’s offense.

A week after converting 3-of-14 (21.4 percent) third downs in Carolina, Tampa Bay’s offense continued to struggle on third down, converting just 4-of-14 (29 percent) against New York. For the season, the Bucs are a woeful 14-of-40 (35 percent) on third down. That has to get fixed in a hurry for Tampa Bay’s offense to produce more scoring drives that end in touchdowns.

“That’s one of the things you look at each week,” Arians said. “Different coverages, different down-and-distances. These were short, other than a couple penalties where we were in third-and-long.”

PREDICTION 2: Bucs Might Pull Off An Upset In L.A.

I’m not forecasting a Tampa Bay win out in Los Angeles.

Not yet.

But this is a very, very strange start for the Buccaneers thus far. In fact, this is Bizzaro World for Tampa Bay.

I’m 0-for-3 on my Bucs predictions thus far. The entire PewterReport.com staff is – predicting home wins against San Francisco and New York and a loss at Carolina in Week 2.

Everything is pointing to a Bucs’ loss in L.A., but the same could have been said about the Bucs losing in Week 2 on the road against the Panthers on Thursday Night Football.

Bucs P Bradley Pinion and K Matt Gay
Bucs P Bradley Pinion and K Matt Gay – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs are healthy, and the silver lining in Sunday’s loss was that the offense came to life. That’s a must for Tampa Bay, which will have to match points with the Rams’ high-powered offense. Can the offense put up 31 points and nearly 500 yards again? Perhaps more importantly, can the offense fix its issues on third down and in the red zone this week in practice?

Can Gay rebound and nail all of his kicks? Can the Bucs secondary work out the communication kinks and cover better? Can Barrett keep up his pass-rushing tour de force for a fourth straight week?

If so, these Bucs might just be 2-2 next Sunday evening … in a way no one saw coming with two home losses and two upsets on the road. We’ll see if I make this bold prediction in this week’s Pewter Preview and Predictions on Friday. I’m considering it.

Previous articleBucs Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 147: Kick In The Gut With Steven Cheah
Next articleBucs Monday Mailbag: Arians Criticism, Kicking Curse Continues
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]

44 COMMENTS

  1. The inconsistency with the team is a result of a team that still hasn’t found its footing. To me week 8 is when the grading of this team should truly begin.

    The offense is starting to grasp the concepts of the scheme while the defense is still trying to figure out how to play clean consistent football.

    It is a process and something as fans we have to watch unfold as the season progresses.

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  2. The inability of this team to find a decent kicker is mind blowing. Year after year it’s the same thing.

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    Rating: +3. From 13 votes.
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    • That’s on the GM and not the team.

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  3. we fucking suck again. I’ve never been so disappointed in a bucs loss and thats a positive cause i dont have to worry about soul crushing losses in the playoffs cause we never get there.

    A rookie Qb making his first start.
    No impact from arguably the most dynamic running back since Barry Sanders.
    The same old shitty story with our kicker missing kicks.
    No home game until week 10.

    And we blow it. We had the lead, we were dominating at home and we blew it.

    We suck. Its embarrassing, its frustrating and it sucks. I live in Colorado and feel like the only bucs fan in the country and i get countless shit for it because of performances like this. We are a curse thats all i can figure. Doesnt matter if belichick is coaching and justin tucker is kicking for us. We would still lose.

    React to this comment however you want. I know you can understand where im coming from regardless.

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    • This is how it feels to be a Bucs fan a lot of the time.

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      Rating: +19. From 19 votes.
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    • It’s not much better here in Tampa. Hang in there, be a Die Hard Fan. It will pay off sooner or later.

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  4. Yet another opportunity for a statement game to punch a big market team right in the mouth with everyone’s eyes on some rookie qb and you give them EXACTLY what they want and lose it all in spectacular fashion. A phenomenal performance by Winston that was squandered because Daniel Jones was made to look like Fran Tarkenton.

    On a positive note the run defense is f***ing stunning. And of course Winston & Evans, which I predicted would happen. But that’s about it. Playcalling was suspect and scared when it wasn’t scripted and the defense is getting straight exposed against Tight Ends.

    Oh yeah and there’s the 5 year long never ending painful sorrow and slow death of constantly losing games due to the worst kicking situation maybe in NFL history.

    I had a better time at work today than watching this. Sigh… I never think they can find a new way to lose but this is a tough one.

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    Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
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  5. I do wonder that if Vea hadn’t stunted on that 4th down run play whether Jones makes a play. Our D might’ve stopped them but we go too aggressive with the pass rush. Bowles got to think about contain.

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    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
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    • Agreed, this was a total hack job by our DC. Everyone knew that Daniel Jones would use his legs when in trouble except Bowles. No matter what they should have kept a spy back there and forced Jones to beat us from the pocket, however Bowles got caught trying to promote his defense and got exposed by a rookie. I like the aggressive nature but too many blitzes leaves your CB’s on a island and you risk the big plays. Too Cocky!!

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      Rating: +11. From 13 votes.
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  6. I’m expecting a carload of kickers in for tryouts this week, maybe a couple left tackles too.

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  7. Basically a chip shot cost us a must win game. Ohio States’ mascot could make that kick 10 out of 10 times. Evans, Howard, Winston, Jones, David, Shaq et.al played their asses off yet we can’t put a kicker on the field and give him not a 50+ yard kick but a 34 yard kick. That miss could cost us a winning season, playoffs, and insure us of another miserable week. I am tired of defending this clown show

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    Rating: +5. From 9 votes.
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    • PS If I were BA. Gay would never put on a Buc’s Uniform again.

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      • Jason Licht is the one who needs to go.

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  8. I got killed for putting Winston on the disappointing list, but look at those second half numbers. 9-15 115 yards, NO TD’s, and one costly pick. Friends that’s not how a franchise QB plays. Scott said what I said, the coaching staff didn’t trust him after that costly pick. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but a rookie QB did enough to bring his team from behind for the win, and Jameis couldn’t muster one TD drive in the second half to ice the game. He did manage a where the F did that pick come from moment like he always seems to do. Is he worth a new contract paying him 30 plus million a year? He wasn’t playing against the 85 bears, those were the lowly Giants he couldn’t manage to score on in the second half. Yes he did enough in the first half to help us win, but he didn’t do enough in the second half to put the game away. That’s what frachise QB’s do, he’s not one of them, and will never be one.

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    • The problem surfer is that the Leftwich turned into a scared ass hat and decided to run the whole second half. You can’t blame a quarterback for doing what he’s told. Plus Arians has been putting in Jameis’ head to stay in the pocket instead of running like he used to. It’s easy to see when he’s just sitting back there all day instead of running like he used to. This coaching staff is more to blame than Jameis. You need to take all of this into account. How about instead of running three straight plays inside the ten, you play action?

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      Rating: +17. From 19 votes.
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  9. This game is on the coaching staff. Bowles had no answer for the underneath passing game of the Giants and Leftwich went with a 1960’s playbook in the second half. We had multiple opportunities to close these guys out and let them hang around.

    We showed glimmers of hope at being a good team on both sides of the ball Sunday, but in crunch time, the TEAM choked.

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    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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  10. This guy Gay is done here. Its over. There is no way he gets it together to the level we need. YOU DO NOT START A ROOKIE at KICKER. The extra point transition is too much pressure coming straight out of college. Get him out now before its too late or get Santos here to kick extra points and inside 45. Let this guy kick off and try super long kicks that are 50/50 anyway. We cannot miss another kick inside 45 yards. This sucks!!! We needed that game badly!

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    Rating: -5. From 11 votes.
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    • You DO NOT START A ROOKIE at KICKER? Can you name a single kicker EVER who wasn’t a rookie? BAB would be proud of your post!

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  11. I mean… We did absolutely everything we needed to do except make those 3 missed kicks… the Defense gave up way too many points but they still wrecked havoc… I mean, aside from letting them march down field in a Minute to score the TD we came back exactly the way we needed to for the win…

    I was very proud of our guys for how hard they fought and the great things they did. The Offense can’t disappear in the 3rd quarter but overall they did great… except for the kicking game and the Special Teams line letting the Giants get in on the first 2 extra points…

    It honestly seems like the Football Gods Love to play this same sick joke on the Bucs year in and year out… But they still did great and the Offense found a groove I hope they continue to follow with… Either way they are still My Team and I still Love em and I hope they continue to learn and get better and better… Shaq Barrett ain’t gonna be cheap next year but we now have a successor for JPP!!!

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    Rating: +5. From 9 votes.
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  12. There is no way we win in LA. Something is going to go wrong. Critical Turnover or some dumb play. I don’t see how this team wins any of the next 5 games. I see 1-7 as a record unfortunately.

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  13. I’m looking ahead today. I saw enough good football to know we’re getting there. I saw enough bad football to know we’re not there yet. We need another Shaq Barrett and a shutdown CB. Easier said than done!

    After stopping RBs Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, nobody is going to run against us. Our DBs are young and inexperienced and only time can fix that. We must get experienced CB help or accept the consequences of developing young talent with OJT.

    We also need better playcalling. I like BA’s commitment to developing the next wave of NFL coaches, but I contend that throwing a kid into the deep end of the pool is not the best way to teach him how to swim. Perhaps BA should take more of an active role in playcalling to help Leftwich master the OC position.

    I’m PO’ed about losing a game yesterday that should have been won several ways. But I’m not panicked. Everybody had a hand in this loss. The Kicker was the biggest factor but perhaps we shouldn’t have needed that final FG to win (Todd Bowles).

    A 50 yard FG that goes thru the upright is on the same trajectory as a 25 yard FG. That suggests that our kicker has a mental problem with extra points or close FGs. Can that be fixed? I don’t know, but statistically we’re going see more extra points than FGs. Confidence is key. Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +16. From 16 votes.
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  14. We played “not to lose” in the 2nd half. Giants played to win. Simple as that. This team is same old garbage, from GM to coaching to QB. Time to start over.

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    Rating: +3. From 7 votes.
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  15. The Bucs shouldn’t count on Gay going forward, but I also think it’s too soon to cut him. When I say they should not count on him I mean they should not be calling plays before the end of the half or game assuming they will make the field goal. Gay seems to be more comfortable kicking long than short field goals but I would not assume he would make either. Call plays assuming Gay twisted his ankle in warmups and you only have your punter available to kick field goals.

    If his field goal percentage does not rise to 89% by the end of the season, then cut him.

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    Rating: +1. From 7 votes.
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    • So your standard of performance is to fire every kicker in the league who is not ranked no. 1 in the league on field goal percentage? Only one kicker in the league has exceeded 89% as a career field goal success rate – Justin Tuck.

      Pretty much any season long FG average much over 80% is considered a success in the NFL. There is a handful that are still at 100% three weeks into the season, but those numbers will inevitably decline and approach the norm, which is well under 90%.

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  16. Am I the only one who thinks this team doesn’t have an identity yet? It’s like who don’t know who we are or how we’re supposed to do things the right way. That is inexcusable given the reputation our staff has. I can’t see us winning next week at all, short of Goff getting injured. Then we could make Blake freaking Bortles look as good as this rookie did yesterday.

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  17. I like reviewing the positives and negatives I see out of each game as I did last week for the first time.

    Positives
    – Arians and Licht were right to take a chance on outside linebacker Shaq Barrett. You have to realize where they got him from to see how right they were. He was not even a starter for Denver as they did not know what they had for five seasons. He sat on the bench and came in to fill in for a players, and did not really start ever over the five years in Denver. Licht plucked him out of free agency and for very little, signed him for a one year contract and the opportunity to start. He has taken advantage of that and wildly exceeded expectations around him. For all the boneheaded errors Licht has made, he continues to do fairly well picking up players from other teams or undrafted and they become good performers for Tampa.
    – Winston for the most part played well, but the team definitely lost trust in him after that INT. He was pressing again when that happened, and they ran the ball the next series exclusively. After that, Winston was allowed to pass in limited form for the rest of the game. He played well, and for a change, was not at fault for this loss. He even drove them down the field in under 30 seconds for a game winning field goal. There is little more you can ask of him.
    – Giants had no answer for Mike Evans most of the game. His height and speed was too much for their best coverage, and Winston went to town on him all day long. Again, Winston’s play – even on the long passes – for the most part was excellent. He had time and even when he didn’t, he managed to find the right player. Even Perriman finally got some catches yesterday.

    Negatives
    – Gay was not automatic at all this time. With an extra point blocked, an extra point missed, and the game winning field goal from close range missed, this loss is pretty much on him. Sure the offense could have played better the second half. Sure the defense could have done so as well. But those 5 points left off the board cost them this win.
    – Defense came apart the second half. The first half they played well. In the second half despite stopping the Giants after two quick scores they could not stop them when the game was on the line. Todd Bowles and the defense had no answer for the rookie QB. This is a worrying sign as up to then they have played pretty well. Yesterday, the wheels came off.

    So did the Bucs play well? Generally, yes. However, they still lost in a heartbreaking manner. These next five road games will be the tale of the season. Lose them all and it is “wait until next year.” At the end of this upcoming massive road trip we will know if there is anything to play for or if the season is over before the third home game.

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    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
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  18. Football fans are surely of the “what have you done for me lately?” types. Week 1 had fans decryng the early end of the season and the end of Winston’s carreer, week 2 had people fitting the Bucs out for their Super Bowl rings and proclaiming that Buc futility in selecting kickers was over, and through the first half yesterday fans were fitting Winston out for his yellow jacket.

    Then the second half happened .. and whiplash resulted yet again.

    The Bucs are now 1-2 and facing an extremely tough stretch of 5 road games against very tough opponents that by most expectations will leave the Bucs at 1-7 in the first half of the season. That of course will set the table for a string of home games that could prove to reverse the first half record.

    Take the long view, people. I think if the Bucs actually do finish up around 8-8 the majority of Bucs fans would consider that a turnaround from two straight 5-11 seasons, and given the Bucs schedule, it’s probably a “win”.

    Of course, we may still end up with another 5-11 season, or even worse too.

    But to quote one commenter above, suffering “soul crushing” losses as a Bucs fan is not a prescription for personal happiness or longevity. We’re not even 1/5 through the season yet … hand in there.

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    • I still think 8-8 would be a good season, not sure if the team can do that. I considered that a stretch goal when the season started. They don’t seem to have an answer for truly mobile quarterbacks on defense, and something seems to go wrong even when they play relatively well. Yesterday was the kicking game and I think Gay will be given a season to see how he does. If he keeps missing kicks when the game is on the line he won’t make it to season 2, no matter how good his leg is from distance.

      See above for my overall thoughts. I think I am fair about them. They are not a great team. They may not even be a good team. This season is going to show how good the players Licht has collected over a five year period. While no one should question him on those not drafted by others and free agents he picks up, his draft is a question mark. Fortunately for him Vita Vea is playing better now as is Ronald Jones III. Rookie years were not great but Sophomore years look better. Vernon Hargraves has shown flashes of being a very good player and does make plays at critical moments, but he still misses reads and tackles an awful lot. His consistency is still lacking. No one forgives Licht for Aguayo’s drafting, but the verdict is still pending on the remainder of his drafts. Arians will prove one way of another if he should stay or go.

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  19. For those who are blaming the kicker for this loss, all I have to say on that point is if your team is totally dependent on your kicking making every single field goal attempt and every single extra point attempt, your team is bad. And not just due to the kicker.

    Take the Patriots, for instance, their kicker, Gostkowski, has been a steady producer for years, but yesterday against the Jets he missed an extra point, as he did the week before. Surely Bill Belichick was not happy with that. He was also not real happy that his offense didn’t produce much in the second half yesterday – just 10 points. But hey, his defense was great, and the overall result was surely a win by any measure. Missing an extra point doesn’t matter when you’re scoring touchdowns and playing great defense.

    If kickers matter that much, you’re already in deep do-do.

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  20. Chef, Leftwich is to blame for getting conservative in the second half, but can you blame him? He saw Jameis hold the ball to long, and take some bad sacks that killed our down, and distance. He saw Winston throw a costly pick. Winston lost his confidence in the second half, and Leftwich lost his confidence in him. Where was BA the QB whisperer when the collapse was happening? He’s still the HC, he could’ve stepped in, and said let’s put the foot to the pedal. No why he didn’t? He doesn’t believe Winston had it in him either. He saw what I saw, and what everyone on this site refuses to believe, Winston choked in the second half. No TD’s, one pick, 117 yards throwing. Jones the rookie threw for over 200 yards in the third quarter alone. Winston is not a franchise QB. Licht is the worst GM in the league, and the game has past BA by. The owners are clueless as to hiring. Add it all up, we’re one of the worst teams in the NFL, it’s not changing anytime soon. Here’s my bold prediction. We’ll be debating what QB with our top five pick to draft by Halloween.

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    • I don’t blame Leftwich as I agree with your analysis of his play calling. When Winston started unraveling in the second half, he put it to the running game and fortunately for the Bucs, for a while it worked. However they only got three points from that all run series because he did not trust the QB.

      As the game went on he did start calling passes again. And Winston did deliver in that final series with only 30 seconds. He actually put them in a place to win and not lose. Only Gay’s failure prevented the win in the end. He broke under the pressure, no other reason.

      I disagree about Licht and Arians however. One game does not mean that Arians has failed as a coach this season, and switching to the 3-4 defense for the first time and getting more aggressive has made the defense much better through three games. Are they perfect? Not even close. They still need to solve the mobile QB issue as they will face more of them this year.

      I assume you don’t know that Licht is responsible this year for the free agent pickup of backup in Denver outside linebacker Shaq Barrett? The one setting Buc and NFL records as a starter for the first time in his six year career? Licht has some doozies on his drafting record, and everyone point at the pick in the second round of Aguayo. Overall his draft is spotty but his free agency signings for the most part have worked out – some better than expected.

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      • Oh, and by the way, Winston finished with a QBR this week of just over 112. He is not why they lost this week, just like last week. Just the first week so far he was lousy. He keeps this up for the rest of the season and the Bucs will resign him. I admit that is a big question – can he keep playing at a high level. Three games in, the verdict is not in yet.

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    • Ok, then why tell Jameis to stay in the pocket instead of running like he always has? When your offensive line has been known to be offensive, why tell your quarterback to stand in there? Secondly you’re paying your QB $20 million to find out if he’s the guy or not. Why handcuff him? If you don’t believe in him then just trade him now. You Leftwich okayed not to lose and that plain and simple. Second halves are made for adjustments and this team on the offensive side and defensive side did none of that. That falls on coaching, not the players.

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  21. Not sure but I think Byron Glazer might have jumped the gun a little bit awarding Licht manager of the year award for 2019

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  22. surferdude is just another of the ones who want to blame Winston for everything but world famine.
    This isn’t the first time we have seen a coach around here take his foot off the gas and play not to lose. I didn’t think BA would be like that but here we go again.
    The play calling in the second half was absolutely abysmal.
    I didn’t mind the increased emphasis in the run game, but what got points on the board for you was Winston’s arm.
    And if we our going to go with the hot hand in the running game why did they take Jones out of the game and put in a slower Barber in the third and two situation near the goal line in the second half. Jones has the faster burst and might have made it to the hole before the calvery arrived. Even better would have been a QB roll out of any kind of pass.
    What we got instead was pathetic.
    And again in a third and two situation near the end of the fourth quarter we throw the ball to Brate coming out of the backfield behind the line of scrimmage.
    If your going to do that. just leave a RB in and throw it to someone who is faster.
    Gee whiz, I thought we were getting an improved coaching staff.
    We are lucky we aren’t 0-3 after that two time out blunder by the coaching staff last week.

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  23. If you want to improve your third down and red zone efficiency look at the play calling, don’t look at the players.
    No imagination and no designed plays except for the one where Evans caught the 2 yard TD.
    The answer lies within for the coaching staff, not on the outside with the players.

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    • Agreed on all fronts DrD.

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  24. You know, I went to bed blaming Gay for this loss.

    But then I woke up this morning and realized the real problems were with our coaching staff. BA, Leftwich, Bowles. They all made huge mistakes this game. I hope there is some serious reflection that comes out of this game and I’m basically not talking shit about anybody until we have at least 3 more wins than losses for the rest of the season.

    I think we can put this all together, but I have some serious doubts now.

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  25. When you say the defense couldn’t stop a rookie QB, I think you really mean the scheme of relying on our underperforming secondary couldn’t.

    Our defense is built to stop the run – Vea is a space eater but not much of a pass rusher; same really for Suh; same really for any DE not named Barrett. That’s the point I think, relying on a single pass rusher can work maybe even 10 times per game, but they typically drop back to pass 30-40 times per game. That leaves all of the emphasis on our secondary for 20-30 plays….and they simply aren’t good enough to handle that much work.

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  26. This loss is clearly on BA! By allowing Leftwich to call the plays, it was supposed to allow him to manage and keep and I out on all the other facets of the game, ie the defense, special teams, and the offense! Take the delay of game penalty was just stupid! Ask any kicker if he would rather back the ball up 5 yards or move it forward 5 yards before attempting a game winning kick and I am sure 100% of the time they choose the shorter kick! BA should have intervened with the defensive play calling and suggested we blitz the hell out of this rookie QB! We played not to lose in the 2nd half! No Manning, we knock out the premier RB in the NFL, going up against a rookie QB… we shit the bed in crunch time on offense and defense and this loss lies on the shoulder of BA for not managing the game like he should have… I’m just saying!

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  27. “But this is a very, very strange start for the Buccaneers thus far. In fact, this is Bizzaro World for Tampa Bay.” 

    How often do you come across a kicker who has problems with short kicks and consistently makes the long ones?  Maybe it’s just ignorance on my part.

    The early season Bucs are an enigma so far.  You are right, Alldaway, we will have to wait and see how we look after five more games.  Every unit is inconsistent from half to half so far. We are consistent in our run defense however.  Coaches and players are still suffering early season growing pains.

    It is still a one game at a time evaluation process.  Hang on fans the emotional roller coaster ride has a long way to go.
    ___________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  28. Winston, second half 9-15 117 yards no TD’s, one interception. I don’t hate Winston, don’t hate anybody, I just think Winston is not a good QB. I think Licht is a bad GM, you me think otherwise, but his record, and Winston’s record says I’m right. BA retired, and Bowles was fired. You dreamers can believe they’re going to turn our fortunes around, I don’t. We’ll see who’s right. Mark my words, we’ll be talking about who to draft, and who should be fired by the end of October.

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    • It is quite likely that by our 8th game, we’ll have a record of somewhere between 1-7 and 2-6, and it will look a lot like one of our last two seasons when we finished 5-11. Our schedule has a lot to do with that, along with our current team makeup too.

      We really have to wait for the end of the season to see what we really have, because we will have relatively more home games than road games. If by the end of the season, we’re still a 5-11 team, or even worse, then yes, there will have to be a housecleaning, notwithstanding the contract extension recently given to Light at Arians’ demand. Indeed, if we finish at less than 5-11, implying no recovery from the first half, then even Arians may end up being a one-year wonder – either getting fired, or re-retiring and not wanting to have to deal with a new GM.

      But we’ll simply have to wait and let it all play out.

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  29. For kickers, is it the field?

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