Smith’s Bucs Defense Is Absolute Garbage
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 got eaten alive by the Monsters of the Midway as Mitchell Trubisky, Doug Gabriel, Tarek Cohen and Khalil Mack had their way with Tampa Bay in a 48-10 beat-down that sends the Bucs into a bye week with a 2-2 record and back-to-back losses.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Smith’s Bucs Defense Is Absolute Garbage
I’ve covered the Buccaneers for over two decades and I’ve never seen a defense that was absolute garbage. Until now.

I’ve seen some really bad defensive performances before. Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders destroyed the Bucs, 45-0, in 1999. But that game was an aberration as the ’99 defense was one of the best ever in Tampa Bay.

I remember the Bucs giving up 38 points in a 38-23 loss at Carolina on Monday Night Football, and then surrendering 34 to San Diego in a 41-24 debacle two weeks later that helped cost Gruden his job in 2008.

I remember a 56-14 thrashing by Atlanta against Lovie Smith’s defense in 2014, and a 48-17 destruction at the hands of Baltimore later that year.

Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But I’ve never seen anything like this. The Bucs defense has surrendered 132 points in four games, an average of 33 points per game. Tampa Bay cannot continue to do this or it won’t win another game this season.

No more excuses. No more saying, “Well, the Bucs played two future Hall of Famers in Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger and a Super Bowl MVP in Nick Foles.”

This was Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky.

Yes, he was a former Top 5 draft pick, but Trubisky also had thrown a total of nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his previous NFL 15 starts prior to Sunday. Against the worst pass defense in the NFL – and perhaps of all-time (it’s still early and the Bucs are definitely in the running for that dubious distinction) – Trubisky looked like a future Hall of Famer. Thanks to Smith’s horrendous defense.

Sunday’s loss will bring intense pressure to Smith and place him squarely on the hot seat.

“We were horrific in all aspects of football today,” Koetter said. “All aspects. Based on that game today, we couldn’t make enough changes. We should fire every person that was on that field today. Starting with me. That was horrific.”

By halftime, Trubisky was 14-of-18 for 289 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He finished the game completing 19-of-26 passes (73.1 percent) for 354 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bucs defense had one sack, no turnovers and no answer for Trubisky and the Bears offensive weapons – none of which are Pro Bowl-caliber.

My prediction for the coming weeks? Atlanta’s Matt Ryan throws for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns against the Bucs in the next game after the bye week.

The following week, the Bucs defense shows some improvement and holds Cleveland rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield to just 600 yards and six touchdowns.

Tampa Bay’s defensive woes won’t get fixed in a week’s time. If I’m Dirk Koetter I’m petitioning the league to give the Bucs another bye week to help fix the defensive woes. There is plenty of video evidence to submit to the league to back up his request, unfortunately.

Bucs CB Brent Grimes - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs CB Brent Grimes – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

The Bucs defenders clearly weren’t prepared for the Bears’ offensive onslaught. They had no answer for tight end Trey Burton, wide receivers Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson and running back Tarek Cohen – all of whom were running wide open at times in the first half.

Last year it was different. The Bucs didn’t have much talent or experience in the secondary and no pass rush up front. This year, the pass rush has improved. It’s not great, but Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry have been upgrades over what they had last year at defensive end and have 5.5 sacks between them. There is more talent in the secondary with the selection of cornerback Carlton Davis and players like Justin Evans and Ryan Smith are better and more experienced.

Yes, the Bucs started Isaiah Johnson and two other rookies – Davis and cornerback M.J. Stewart – on Sunday. Having a more experienced secondary wouldn’t hurt, but this isn’t about a lack of experience. The team’s most experienced defender – cornerback Brent Grimes – hasn’t played well since his return from a groin injury and seems to be going through the motions at age 35. He was benched in the second half for Smith, and rightfully so.

The Bucs have several talented defensive players in McCoy, Pierre-Paul, Curry, Evans and linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. On Sunday they were often out of position and the back seven looked lost in coverage. That’s because they were poorly prepared and Smith failed to make the appropriate adjustments to slow down a Bears offense that rolled up 400 yards at halftime.

We’ve seen this defense for three years now and the type of quarters coverage and zone schemes that Smith deploys just aren’t working. Like Lovie Smith’s Tampa 2 defense pitifully demonstrated in 2014-15, Mike Smith’s defensive scheme – whatever it is – no longer works in the NFL. I’m not going to insult Mike Smith by saying that the game has passed him by because he’s forgotten more about football than I’ll ever know, but this Bucs defense has become too easy to prepare for and too easy to exploit – and it’s been happening for years now.

You know it’s true, the Bucs players know it’s true – and Tampa Bay’s opponents certainly know it’s true.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I doubt that Koetter will do what he should do – which is to fire Smith – during the season. But if I were Koetter I would pull the trigger and turn the defensive play-calling duties over to linebackers coach Mark Duffner or defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.

“This is 100 percent on us,” Koetter said. “Give Chicago credit for making plays, but we were not good in any aspects. We can talk about what plays are called on both sides – we could have coached better today, there’s no question about that – but Mike Smith didn’t [miss] any tackles or turn any guys loose in coverage. You guys (the media) can make those innuendos all you want, but we got beat in all aspects of football today – and coaching as well.”

I’ve seen enough of quarterbacks completing over 75 percent of their passes. I’ve seen enough garbage, period. Something has to change.

STATEMENT 2: Winston Will Take Over At QB, But Expect A Slow Start
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter did the right thing in starting Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday in Chicago and replacing him at halftime with Jameis Winston. Fitzpatrick had to fail on the field so that Koetter could justify making a switch – a permanent switch – at the quarterback position moving forward. Fitzpatrick obliged, completing just 9-of-18 passes for 126 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

Winston came in during the second half and led the Bucs on their only touchdown drive, and completed 16-of-20 passes (80 percent) for 145 yards with one TD and two interceptions – one of which came when his arm was hit by Khalil Mack in the act of throwing. He certainly wasn’t great, but Winston hadn’t thrown a pass in a real game in six weeks as he missed the first three games of the season due to his NFL suspension.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

As long as he’s healthy, Winston will continue to start at quarterback, as he should. The Bucs have lost back-to-back games with Fitzpatrick as a starter, and he’s thrown four interceptions in those two defeats. That’s all I would need to see before turning the offense back over to Winston.

“Towards the end of the half I told the coaches that we were going to switch to Jameis,” Koetter said. “I talked to Jameis and Fitz both in the locker room at halftime and it was a chance to get Jameis some real football. We put Jameis in a terrible situation today. I told him that. I told him that right off the bat at halftime. I knew Jameis would go out and give us everything he had – and he did.”

The timing is good, as Winston and the Bucs offense will get the bye week to get back on track and for Winston to improve his timing with his receivers. It was obvious that Winston still has a rapport with Mike Evans (six catches for 59 yards), Adam Humphries (six catches for 36 yards) and Cameron Brate (three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown), but he still needs to work with DeSean Jackson (five catches for 112 yards) and Chris Godwin (two catches for 22 yards). Jackson had four catches for 104 yards with Fitzpatrick at quarterback in the first half, and just one grab for eight yards in the second with Winston in. Godwin rarely saw the ball.

Winston struggled with some of his progressions on Sunday and stared down Evans on his fourth interception against zone coverage. He still has some things to work on and some rust to shake off, as he didn’t throw the ball far downfield, but it was a decent debut for Winston, especially the 80 percent completion percentage, and something to build on. He just has to focus on making the big throws downfield that this offense calls for – that Fitzpatrick hit – and avoid turnovers.

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Does Stewart Have The Athleticism To Play In The Slot?
Through the first three games of the year, it’s become apparent that cornerback M.J. Stewart, one of the team’s second-round picks, has been picked on over and over and over again. That continued on Sunday, and it’s not just because he’s a rookie and lacks experience. It’s because Stewart lacks the speed to keep up with NFL receivers, especially those in the slot.

Stewart was timed at 4.54 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and according to MockDraftable.com, his arm length was in the 40th percentile, his 40-yard dash time was in the 29th percentile, his broad jump was in the 27th percentile and his 20-yard shuttle was only in the 22nd percentile. The higher the number the better, so those measurables aren’t that good. Stewart was drafted due to his toughness and intellect, and that’s fine if he can develop into the next Ronde Barber, who epitomized those traits.

Bucs CB MJ Stewart - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs CB MJ Stewart – Photo by: Getty Images

But right now, Stewart and his lack of quickness is a weekly mismatch in the slot in favor of the offense. Stewart could not keep up with Allen Robinson, who scored a touchdown against him in the first half, or Taylor Gabriel. Stewart was again in the trail position on a deep pass for Robinson in the third quarter and was able to break it up, but only because it was underthrown. A throw on the money could have resulted in a 76-yard touchdown for Robinson against Stewart.

The loss of starting nickel cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is really hurting the Bucs because they don’t have a starting-caliber replacement that can hang with opposing slot receivers. Perhaps it’s time to start the quicker, faster Javien Elliott, who has 4.41 speed, in the slot to see what he can do. Elliott played well there as a rookie in 2016.

QUESTION 2: Will The Bucs O-Line Ever Be Good?
Can the Buccaneers find five capable, competent offensive linemen? It hasn’t happened yet despite the fact that Bucs general manager Jason Licht has spent six draft picks on offensive linemen – Kareem Edwards, Kevin Pamphile, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Caleb Benenoch and Alex Cappa – since 2014, and went through veterans Anthony Collins, Logan Mankins, Evan Smith, J.R. Sweezy and Ryan Jensen over the years, in addition to re-signing right tackle Demar Dotson.

After all that, the left side of the line appears solidified with Jensen, Marpet and Smith, but the right side of the line continued to be exposed in Chicago. Dotson is not playing anywhere close to the level he played at last year and his surgically repaired knee appears to still be an issue as Dotson hasn’t had the power he normally has in the run game.

Dotson gave up a sack to Khalil Mack on Sunday in addition to several pressures. Tampa Bay will need to invest an early-round draft pick next year on a right tackle to eventually replace Dotson, who turns 33 next month.

Bucs G Caleb Benenoch - Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs G Caleb Benenoch – Photo by: Getty Images

The Bucs hoped Benenoch would develop into a quality starter at right guard, but the transition hasn’t gone smoothly. He’s been driven back into the pocket in all four games this year, and has given up the most sacks this season in Tampa Bay. On Sunday in Chicago, Benenoch gave up two more sacks to defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Ray Robertson-Harris.

Koetter has been rotating Evan Smith, the veteran, in with Benenoch to provide some stability while Benenoch continues to gain experience and develop. But that rotation is becoming a detriment to the offense. It may be time to go with Smith at right guard for an entire game to see if any stability can be achieved.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Smith Takes Over For Grimes At Cornerback
Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes has done nothing but get targeted in the run game and in the pass game, and has gotten beat like a drum since returning from a groin injury that caused him to miss the first two games. Grimes had an awful training camp, and you have to think he is more of a liability right now because he isn’t covering well, which was his forte when in his prime.

Grimes was benched at halftime, and his replacement, Ryan Smith, played well in his place. Smith, who played great defense against Philadelphia in Week 2, needs to be given a chance to start after the bye week, as this is likely Grimes’ last season in the NFL at age 35, and he isn’t part of Tampa Bay’s future. Grimes isn’t the sole reason for the Bucs’ woes on defense, but he certainly isn’t part of the solution with the way he’s playing.

PREDICTION 2: Bucs’ Losing Streak Continues
In my original Bucs season predictions I had Tampa Bay entering the bye week with a 2-2 record, followed by a loss at Atlanta that would drop the Bucs to 2-3. Like an idiot, I bought into the hype about the Bucs offense – an offense that was non-existent against a real defense in Chicago – and upped my 8-8 prediction to a 10-6 forecast, revising my Bucs vs. Steelers pick and changing it from a loss to a Tampa Bay win.

It should have been a win on Monday night, but it goes down as a loss because that’s what the scoreboard said. Nevertheless, I held firm in my pick of the Bears over the Bucs, and I’m holding firm in my pick of the Falcons over the Bucs after the bye week.

Tampa Bay will drop to 2-3 on the season after they bye week and won’t have a chance of getting 10 wins – or possibly even eight – unless its defense can get fixed in a hurry.

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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]

50 COMMENTS

  1. I know money is tight because we have some players to Re-sign soon but can we possibly look into trading for Earl Thomas? Our secondary is atrocious and we really could use the help..man..if only the bucs drafted some
    Safety like the guy the Chargers have…

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    • Nevermind about Earl Thomas, just saw that he got carted off the field..

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  2. Fire Smith. This defense is so poorly coached, so yes the missed assignments and poor technique IS on him. Get your head around and look for the ball MJ! Grimes is DONE. Huge liability. Blitz the LBs. Might as well, they can’t cover ANYONE.

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  3. So Winston was staring down Brate for the second pick, not Evans. The point is the same. The linebacker bumped Brate and let him go and stayed in the lane. Jameis pass went directly to the guy.

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  4. Also, Dontae Jackson is a player we passed on to pick mj Stewart, still early but dontae is looking good with the panthers.

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    • The Bucs have passed on more losers than winners. You can quit commenting about nonsense that doesn’t matter. Those players play for other teams. Deal with it.

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      • I have to keep dealing with the fact that our Coach and GM keeps passing on players who they should have drafted? ok guy..

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  5. Back to rebuilding

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  6. If he doesn’t fire smith Koetter is an idiot. He will be fired years end if he stays with him for sure. Rightfully so. He should been fired last year.

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    • Lets just be happy the Bucs didn’t sign Gruden. He would have pulled the same old crap he did here in the past, and with Oakland now, by getting rid of your young up and coming talent to bring in older vets on their way out. Then he will put your best players in the back seat for his guys he brings in.

      Koetter on the other hand, I think he is doing good a job with everything except taking responsibility for the defense and firing his buddy Smith. He needs to realize that Smith needs to go immediately, or it will be him by the years end. I get it, it’s a tough thing to do and a tough situation to be in, but nobody said it was going to be easy. Sometimes we have to make decisions that makes us feel uncomfortable to have the success we desire. Especially if your comfort zone is the reason for your stumbling. That’s what a good coach will do. Koetter needs to wake up, cut bait, or lose it all.

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      • i guess winning a super bowl with a back up qb wasn’t enough for you..

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        • Yeah with Dungy’s defense. Then Dungy went on to win a Superbowl elsewhere.

          Gruden won the Superbowl because he wasn’t allowed to touch the defense, and he knew the Raiders roster like the back of his hand. So what did Gruden do after the Superbowl? Especially after he started tinkering with the roster. And don’t forget how he pretty much ended Alstot’s career by trying to make him be a blocking FB.

          When Gruden finally started changing out the roster for his older preferred vets, ‘his guys’ that’s when the Bucs took a nose dive and hasn’t recovered since.

          For as long as Gruden was doing MNF in the box for ESPN, watching film 8 hours a day, he should have a profile on every player thicker than what Hoover had on the New York mob bosses. He’s turned Oakland’s up and coming team into the oldest team in the league, and got rid of Mack, a superstar defensive player. Sound familiar?

          I’m just glad the Bucs didn’t take the bait.

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          • Dude ignores a lot of points including:

            Gruden built the Raiders team that went to the Super Bowl, and nearly did prior to that absent the infamous tuck rule game;

            Gruden turned over the offensive roster bringing in key players we could not have made it to the Super Bowl with. Look it up player by player and list them to show you did your homework or don’t bother responding;

            Dungy was taken to the Super Bowl by Manning whose talent was sufficient to offset Dungy’s complete ineptitude on offensive side of ball. His record is crystal clear on this point, the man defines one dimensional coaching;

            Gruden was forced to construct a team during period Glazers borrowed a fortune including high cost debt from hedge funds to buy Manchester United which constrained spending for years;

            Gruden inherited a Raiders team that was underperforming. Instead of doing the crowd pleasing thing of paying Mack >$20 mill while also paying Carr $20 mill (teams don’t do that for a reason, it’s called math but like interest on hedge fund debt, some of which may have been PIK, you probably don’t care to consider) he traded Mack for picks to fill holes in roster building to win for the long term;

            Unlike our idiot GM who blew up the OL and never fixed it, never investing top picks on either side of the line, Gruden spent the high picks in his first Raiders draft this yr on the OL & DL because unlike Idiot Licht he knows you build and win from the inside out.

            Your argument (such that it is) is symptomatic of what’s wrong with this country today, a bunch of whiny b——es with opinions based on emotion and feelings instead of objective analysis of the facts. Try thinking for a change, you might find that you like it.

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          • My reply to you matador, what did Gruden do after the Superbowl besides dismantle a Superbowl winning team? At least Dungy was smart enough to keep his roster intact year after year while building towards the ultimate goal, here and in Indy. Which allowed Gruden to ride it to the Superbowl. We will never know if Dungy would have taken this team to the Superbowl that following year, it would be rhetorical to question it.

            As far as what’s wrong with this country, I think I could say the same about your comment, as you seem pretty whinny and caught up with emotion in protecting Gruden without looking at all of the facts yourself. Including how Gruden made the worst draft picks during his tenure here. This year in Oakland is yet to be determined, but I wouldn’t check it off as being a great draft from what I’ve seen so far.

            Only time will tell. But what we do know is that Gruden has already made one of the dumbest roster moves in the history of the NFL! You say he did it to fill holes? Like the giant hole that was left void of a pass rusher and a defensive team leader? Is that the hole your referring to? The one Gruden has referred to in press conferences, “it’s hard to find a great pass rusher.” Then when asked about a pass rusher, Gruden replies; “It’s hard to find a great one. It’s hard to find a good one. It’s hard to find one” Is this guy serious?

            Oh, wait… Is this you Jon? Are you trying to trick us? Still following the Bucs, wishing you were here?

            Sorry, but glad you wanted too much money! Thank you for applying.

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          • Oh and one more thing matador, I forgot your ignorant comment here, “Instead of doing the crowd pleasing thing of paying Mack >$20 mill while also paying Carr $20 mill (teams don’t do that for a reason, it’s called math but like interest on hedge fund debt, some of which may have been PIK, you probably don’t care to consider)”

            You do know the Bucs are pretty much doing that right now with Jameis and Gerald McCoy don’t you? All be it, minus a couple Million, but pretty much what you say teams do not do. In fact, you would be surprised at how many teams have two players making $20 Million a year on them. You need to do your research that you claim you do, because you have completely contradicted yourself.

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          • Dude can’t do math, or hails from the party of alternative facts. McCoy’s cap # is 12.75 mill. Winston’s is just $7.9 mill so together they’re barely >$20 mill this year. Since you’re either still spouting uninformed opinions or making things up (R) here’s the link –
            https://overthecap.com/player/gerald-mccoy/1811

            It’s next year that Winston’s contract (assuming we extend him for the first such QB deal in franchise history) will start forcing us to get rid of good players. Especially given how many roster holes Licht has left us with, requiring still more FA spending despite the low yield on the $.

            We eagerly await your player by player analysis of Gruden’s changes to One-D Dungy’s roster and how none of them made a difference. Why don’t you look up the terms of the Man U financing and report on that as well. Fake news, indeed…

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    • If Koetter doesn’t want to do it, I would think Licht would out of concern for his own job.

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  7. Correction:

    Licht’s horrible defense. He picked the coaches, and he picked the players.

    Under Licht, the defense just gets worse and worse, every year since he got here.

    Fire Licht. Let his successor hire the right coaches, and pick the right players.

    No. More. Excuses.

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    • Agreed.

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  8. “Kareem Edwards, Kevin Pamphile, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Caleb Benenoch and Alex Cappa… Anthony Collins, Logan Mankins, Evan Smith, J.R. Sweezy and Ryan Jensen”. I think that’s the problem the Scott…rather than going seriously after OLIne upgrades (with plausible moves) like Quentin Nelson (1 pick ahead of us), Jack Conklin, Ryan Ramczyk, Gabe Jackson, etc…we settle for a couple of second rounders, a bunch of later rounders, meh FAs, and think the gaggle will suffice. You get what pay for!

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    • Quenntin Nelson is NFL Average guard. Several mid to late rounders are better than he is. Careful what you wish for.

      BTW Will Hernandez was the best guard in this past draft. Draftin QNelson would have been a huge disaster

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      • The Nelson debate for us is moot now. But just to set the record straight, his grading from pff is Above Average. Not only is that superior to Benenoch’s grading but if this kid is Above Average already, after 4 NFL games, then I tend to believe the prognosis of him becoming a perennial All Pro.

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  9. This coaching staff sticking with Fitz after Winston came back was a mistake. If they would have put time in with the TRUE starting QB all week and not tried to perpetuate some Fitzmagic trick of a dumb secret about the starter at QB, it might have made a difference. Idiotic to stick with a back up when you have a 100% HEALTHY starter available. These guys deserve all the negative pub and fan vitriol they can handle now. Good thing they have 2 weeks to listen to it until they go to Atlanta to face another good team. SMH

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    • The defense gave up 5 TDs in the first half. There QB was never under pressure. Fitz could do nothing. Winston could do nothing except a TD in garbage time. Both had interceptions. Fitz was the right choice to start and Winston needed the “game time”. Smith needs to go. Smith reminds me of Lovie. Both in over their heads.

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  10. Spending six draft picks on the OL is not the same thing as investing multiple high draft picks to turn a critically important part of the team into a strength instead of a weakness.

    Many of us have said that over and over and over for literally years including Licht’s entire tenure. That way your QB stays healthy and has time to go through his progressions, the running game provides balance and keeps the defense off of the field.

    It’s not rocket science but year after year SR tells us what a great job Licht has done and how he and the coaches believe in the line.

    I’ve said it a bunch of times, Licht builds teams like he’s playing Fantasy Football chasing the crowd-pleasing skill players while neglecting the lines and trying to paper over his under-investment in both lines via free agency.

    There’s a reason top OL & DL talent doesn’t make it to FA often – most GMs understand their value. Licht does not and that’s why he needs to go.

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    • You can say all you want about Licht, but when you have DC that doesn’t prepare his teams, or make the proper adjustments, your not going to win with a defense full of All Pro’s. If our defense was playing up to par, with the Bucs beating the Bears after the Steelers loss, no one would be even mentioning Licht name. But after two losses everyone is just looking to point the finger.

      In all truth I thought the Bucs would be 1-4 right now. But they’re 2-2, and I’m sure have taken a lot of people by surprise. We have a ‘Ferrari’ of an offense, but an ‘Opel’ (anyone remember those cars?) of a defense.

      The Bucs have been focusing on offense over the past few years because I believe that is what the Glazers wanted. Offense sells tickets in today’s NFL, and the Bucs were not selling tickets until they started bringing in some offense star power. I think Licht is just doing what he has been told to do, and nothing else. No GM gets every draft pick right, and you can’t deny that Licht has brought in some very good talented players that will make the Bucs ring of honer one day.

      Our problems are not with Licht, but with our DC Smith, who is an absolute horrible DC, and his style of defense!

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    • I think Licht has definitely addressed both the OL and DL. Unfortunately, the defense was decimated by injuries before the Bears decimated the entire team yesterday. The OL definitely needs to address some issues it has had the past two games, but there is absolutely no reason why we couldn’t put up over 30 points on Atlanta in two weeks.

      My only beef with Licht will be if he doesn’t force Koetter to fire his friend, Coach Smith. In my opinion – and obviously, many many others – Smith has had this coming for the past 2 years. Smith is a coach who believes in forcing the players he helps draft to play his way, even if his way doesn’t play to his defensive personnel’s strengths (press vs zone coverage as an example).

      You can’t keep trying to do the same things week in and week out expecting your players to change, when they obviously are not grasping concepts like zone coverage and quarters coverage. This was what doomed Lovie, and has now doomed DC Smith. The players need to play to their strengths (athleticism), although they still wouldn’t have won yesterday regardless.

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  11. I didn’t understand why we played so much man defense with so many rookies in the secondary.I don’t remember the Bucs blitzing at all..no zone,no zone blitzing.We blitzed two Hall of Fame QB’s this year although we wasn’t getting there but the QB’s saw different looks.It seems like we played just one defense.

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  12. Dirk said after they tried zone.. tried man… nothing worked. Regardless, no one will ever call this scheme innovative. So predictable.

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  13. the offense is the only thing going good for this team through the first 3 weeks. In week 4 we saw what happens when the offense gets shut down. Our defense couldn’t stop a pop warner team! That said, I keep hearing people comment on the talent we have on defense using the term “on paper.” On paper we look good because our players are good, therefore the weakness is the scheme. With the variety of veteran and rookie talent we’ve seen rotate through this Mike Smith defense, we’ve seen that the scheme will not work no matter what players are on the field!

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    • Smith’s defensive schemes worked before the league changed so many rules in order to make the league more offense biased. Smith doesn’t seem to grasp that the game has already passed him by.

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  14. I’ve got to say SR from reading this article it does seem most of what you say needs to change in this article are things some of us have been saying for years. It takes you, Licht and Koetter months to figure out things some of the posters figure out in weeks, years to figure out things some posters figure out in months, etc.

    The solution is straight-forward, you even said it in your article. No more excuses. Stop making excuses for what you see on the field and hold these players, coaches and the GM to the same standard that you see around the NFL. Stop expecting players to get better when other guys around the NFL at the same position are good right away. Baker Mayfield, Wentz and Goff are already better than Winston. That’s the standard. Da’Ron Payne is already better than V. Vea. That’s the standard. It doesn’t matter that other rookies around the league have not been as good as Mayfield and Payne at their positions. We want the Bucs to be the best and to be the best to have to have better players than the best players in the league. That’s the standard and nothing else will do.

    I only saw one training camp practice this year but the pass defense didn’t look any better that day than what I have seen in the first 4 games this season. I turned around in the stands and said the same thing to Scubog: “These CB’s are C players at best. Until we get A players it doesn’t matter what the offense does, we won’t win consistently”.

    In conclusion SR, stop making excuses for Licht, Winston and these players instead and focusing on the D-line and coaches. Set the standard at the best players at every position, the best coaching and the best GM. The very best. Not just the D-line and hope everything else falls in place.

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    • Well said, especially the first paragraph. I’ve seen this PREDICTABLE story play out before. The Bucs are pretenders not contenders. There is blame all around like there always is. Here is a bold prediction: SR has become a well informed blogger more than a well informed analyst. I hope you reflect on this moment because I can certainly attest that you were more critical all around in the past. It probably would make it more difficult to get Bucs access so I suppose it is a double edge sword. There is a difference between being critical and being negative; like this post on my opinion regarding your recent (2-3 year) analysis.

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  15. Jamesis had less than a full week to prepare for Bears. I wouldve put 3rd String QB Ryan in after half… u r already getting killed…see what the kid can do. Then u give Jamesis a bye week to install game plan for Falcons. More importantly… he wouldnt have got any of the stench from this game on him. This defense run by Smith is just awful… I’d fire him tomorrow… how much worst can it get?

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    • Griffin was on the inactive list. With the injuries we have you can’t justify having 3 QBs active, and there was no way in hell Jameis was gonna be inactive this week.

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  16. It’s time for Mike Smith to go. Dirk Koetter made one tough, but correct, decision by allowing Todd Monken to keep play-calling responsibilities; hopefully he knows that he needs to make another tough, but also correct, decision tomorrow to call Smith into his office and give him his walking papers. The offense effectively covered up the deficiencies of the defense for the past month until today – what is needed is a fresh voice with a different perspective leading the way, not more talk about execution, and the bye is the perfect time to implement it.

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  17. Mike Smith has gotta go. He’s had plenty of time to at least make us an average Defense but were like the worst in the league. Do we even have anybody that’s a Defensive Coach that’s even learning how to be a DC? If we don’t let someone else be the DC during the buy week and try to get something different going on D and just let Smith back and were terrible against the Falcons Offense (which is most likely) with M Smith a DC then were really screwed on defense. UGH!!!!!
    As far as not drafting O line men higher in the draft. If we would have done that we would just have less talent some where else. You cant draft every position high with only a couple high picks every year. You gotta have lower round picks starting at some positions on every team. Obviously they will try to sure up the right side of the O line next year. That’s not our biggest problem right now. It’s the Defense and M Smith right now. GO BUCS!!!

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  18. We can game plan or try different players on the O line or hopefully coach them up more but our Defense is gonna ruin our season if something isn’t done immediately. GO BUCS!!!

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  19. This is going to get ugly the league under estimated Fitz and he burned for two games until the film was collected. Winston will never place the ball as well as Fitz did because of his slow release combine that with the fact that any defense can read his eyes hurt all of our receivers.

    I said this before the season started we have to go balls out to win games because of the defense. That means playing super aggressive on offense until we have at least a 3 score lead just help the D out. Every game has to be a life is on the line shoot out or we are very likely to lose. It works in KC and can work for us as well. We wont have the same success because our couches aren’t nearly as good and neither are our QB’s.

    A good message for the locker room would be firing Smith in the morning.

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  20. No need to pile on at this point.
    Here’s my concerns:
    All I know is the defensive scheme that we have isn’t working with the players we have?
    What has confused me the most is the draft picks and free agent signings Licht has done; is it based on Coaches schemes or best available player?
    There was a lot of lead feet out there today on offense and defense. Players just weren’t ready to play and I don’t know why?

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  21. With all the rookies we have in the secondary, there is still hope that with more experience their level of play with elevate. However, they’re already hamstrung by the scheme as it is so we need to give them a chance by changing up this soft scheme that hasn’t worked for years yet we stick with it.

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  22. Is it normal policy for coaches to tell untruths to players. At least get your reasons together before you step to a player. I want to speak my mind, but this is not the place. Pewter Report writes what they think, but they don’t have a clue. I can’t read this mess anymore, especially from the so called fans.

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  23. I have said those who don’t learn from history will be doomed to repeat it. Smitty has not learned a single thing from his last place scheme last year and he will drag Koetter and Licht with him if he isn’t fired NOW!!! Buckner needs to bring in the successful aggressive scheme he helped coach in Arizona over the break and get this defense turned around. As to the Offensive Line Fire Warflop!!! Bring back Logan Mankins to Coach your Offensive Line. Liedke was able to sub successfully for D. Smith but he is a Guard. If Evan Smith can’t stop sacks at RG, try Liedke. If Dotson has trouble stopping sacks because his knee is not 100 per cent put Auclair next to him who is a great blocker and let him chip their DE and then run out for a pass. There are solutions that will fix these problems but Koetter better pull his head out of the sand and take action tomorrow or he and Licht both will go down with Smitty!

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  24. Why does everyone think Buckner is the answer? What has he done to deserve these kind of accolades? The guy has only been a position coach for how many years, 5? I seriously doubt he is the answer at this time. Sure Buckner looked good yelling at guys during training camp, but there is a lot more to coaching the whole defense than just getting on players. But maybe there is someone else on staff who is more prepared to take the next step. I seriously doubt the Bucs would be ale to bring a guy in off the streets at this point in the season and have much success. It would be very difficult, and I doubt any worthy DC would consider it unless they were hurting for money. I could be wrong though, and often have been. But I don’t think it would take too much to raise the defense over Smith’s standards.

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  25. As I said earlier, we have seen this bandwagon before and the wheels will come off. Well they are off now big time. Steps to fix the problems. Fire DC Smith today. Bench Stewart at CB, maybe he can be converted to safety. Trade Vita Vea for Derwin James. (ok, I know that is not going to happen. But the guy I wanted in the draft is starring for the Chargers and what if anything has Vea done for us?) Get aggressive on defense. Trust players to make plays because that is the only way they will get better.

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  26. Kram0789 did you not watch Vea pushing their guard 10 yards straight ahead when he was in yesterday? I saw it over and over. He is a beast. Once he learns all the ropes at his position he will be exactly what we need. Don’t forget it took Sapp three years to become a star player. I saw Sapp play all those years and he never did when he started what Vea did yesterday.

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  27. Mr. Scott Reynolds, why don’t you sit down with Brent and tell him how you really feel 🤷‍♀️

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  28. Fine piece of analysis, Mr. Reynolds. It’s as obvious as the nose on my face that the defensive scheme has not been matched to either the opponents nor the defensive players abilities. No one is surprised by struggles in the secondary because of youth and depth. But the talent is there right now on the D-line and in the LB corps. Their failures are scheme and coaching failures. And the biggest evidence of coaching failure is the way that the D-line and LBs are giving up runs. Way too much talent on the field for that to happen if coaching was right. I looked at the off-season, and what Licht was doing and said, “Ok, the Bucs are going to end the run against them, force teams to become mono-dimensional, and headhunt QBs while accepting that the secondary is going to struggle.” You can’t fix everything at once, right? It was a sound strategy at the GM level. On the field, what we see is every part of the D is failing; nothing is a strength. Again, that is all coaching with the talent the Bucs have. Add to that your observations about some of the depth players being better starters or situational players than current deployed… A bye week can’t fix everything but if this coaching staff is worth a damn we should see an adjustment toward better.

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  29. Mike Smith for Coach of the Year !

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  30. Where oh where has the Dude disappeared to? His alternative fact argument about the cost of carrying Winston and GMC was off by 50/100% depending on whether you start with the truth or his ‘false statements’ as we’ve been required to call them after Trump has lied > 5,000 documented times (apologies for the truth telling SR).

    Unless/until he validates his emotionally based claim that Gruden won purely with Dungy’s team on a factual player by player basis, I hope to never hear from him again.

    Sorry about airing my frustrations about ignorant and uninformed voters, excuse me posters, bubble to the surface.

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