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. Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak and won its first home game by beating Arizona, 30-27, on Sunday. It was a redemption game for rookie cornerback Jamel Dean, who had a fourth quarter interception that got the ball back for the offense after surrendering three touchdowns in pass coverage last week in the team’s 40-34 overtime loss at Seattle.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: David, Dean Get Two Big Takeaways For Bucs Defense

If you’ve watched Bucs linebacker Lavonte David during his seven-year Tampa Bay career, you’ve seen him come up with some timely forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. David’s strip of running back David Johnson at the Tampa Bay 11-yard and subsequent recovery was one of the biggest plays during his tenure in red and pewter with the score tied 20-20 late in the third quarter.

David now has an astounding 19 forced fumbles and 14 fumble recoveries in his illustrious Bucs career and it couldn’t have come at a better time as quarterback Jameis Winston had just thrown his second interception of the game two plays earlier.

“It was huge, huge,” said Bucs head coach Bruce Arians. “To turn it over and to take it right back – and that’s Lavonte. If there is one guy we can count on to go out and make a play when it’s crunch time, it’s him.”

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

In the fourth quarter, the lead went back and forth between the Bucs and the Cardinals and it looked like Arizona was going to put the game away with under four minutes left. The Cardinals had a 27-23 lead and were driving when rookie cornerback Jamel Dean stepped in front of receiver Trent Sherfield and picked off rookie quarterback Kyler Murray at the Tampa Bay 8.

“Can’t be happier for anybody than Jamel Dean – wins the game,” Arians said. “Last week, he’s the goat. He’s going to be a hell of a player. All those young kids in the secondary are getting better and better. … Confidence, practice. He practiced as a starter and did really well.”

Making his first NFL start last week in Seattle in Tampa Bay’s 40-34 overtime loss when cornerback Carlton Dean was injured in pre-game warm-ups, Dean surrendered nearly 200 passing yards and three touchdowns between receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Dean wasn’t prepared, and it showed.

“After last week, I realized I had to prepare differently,” Dean said. “The whole week, I’m watching extra film, I’m going up to Coach [Todd] Bowles’ office, just going over film and letting him teach me the game, because honestly, I didn’t want to have that feeling I did last week.”

The interception was the first of Dean’s career and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Bucs seized momentum and drove the ball 92 yards for the game-winning touchdown to prevail 30-27.

“I feel like I really had a chip on my shoulder because I knew last week, that was not me, because I knew I was better than that,” Dean said. “So, once I got the opportunity to go back there and redeem myself, I had to make sure I took that opportunity and had to seize the moment.”

In limited playing time on Sunday, Dean recorded four pass breakups, which is how many passes he defended in Seattle. In just two games, Dean leads the Bucs with eight pass breakups and is tied for the team lead with one interception.

The Bucs couldn’t cover Christian Kirk on Sunday, but that wasn’t on Dean this week. The Cardinals’ second-round pick from a year ago came into Sunday’s game with 34 catches for 329 yards and no touchdowns, but by the end, Kirk had six catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns and almost single-handedly beat the Bucs.

Bucs CB Ryan Smith and Cardinals WR Christian Kirk
Bucs CB Ryan Smith and Cardinals WR Christian Kirk – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

His first score, a 33-yard touchdown, came against rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting in the first half. His second score came on a 69-yard strike when he got behind Ryan Smith in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Kirk found a hole in the middle of the Bucs defense, and even though rookie middle linebacker Devin White got a finger on the pass, Kirk was still able to haul it in for his third score of the day.

Murray failed to hit Kirk with two deep passes on the Cardinals’ final drive as Dean and the Bucs secondary stepped up as Murray’s last four passes fell incomplete and time expired, giving Tampa Bay a much-needed and hard-fought victory to break a four-game losing streak.

STATEMENT 2: RoJo, Barber Power Bucs Offense

Tampa Bay’s passing attack usually goes through wide receivers Mike Evans or Chris Godwin, but quarterback Jameis Winston, who passed for 358 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, found another leading receiver – and an unlikely one – in running back Ronald Jones II. Evans led the Bucs with 82 receiving yards on four catches, while Godwin added six receptions for 74 yards, including a key 49-yard run-and-catch on Tampa Bay’s final drive, but it was Jones who led the team with a career-high eight catches for 77 yards.

Not only did Jones get the job done on the ground by scoring the Bucs’ first touchdown, he was also a real weapon in the passing game as a receiver with several screen passes. Jones had four catches for 55 yards at half time, setting personal bests in both receptions and yardage. The most receiving yardage Jones has produced in any previous game was 41 yards on a screen pass against the Giants in Week 3. The most passes Jones had caught in any game in his career was two.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In fact, Jones had caught eight passes during his rookie season and matched that total on Sunday alone.

“He’s still a work in progress,” Arians said. “He made a great run for the touchdown, he’s out there catching balls and making people miss. But then, he still misses a blitz pickup that he shouldn’t miss. And we get a penalty because he’s supposed to be running a screen and he picks up a blitzer. He’s still a work in progress, but it’s a hell of a good work.”

Bucs running backs coach Todd McNair has done a phenomenal job of rapidly developing Jones into a credible and dynamic running back and receiver this year. While Jones had a great start to the game, and finished with 29 yards on 11 carries, backup Peyton Barber came off the bench in the fourth quarter and powered the Bucs to victory. Barber was Tampa Bay’s leading rusher with 43 yards on 11 carries, including a 17-yard run on the team’s final scoring drive, capping it off with a game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 1:47 remaining.

“Peyton has been playing good all year,” Arians said. “RoJo earned [the start], but [Barber has] got a little extra in his tank right now and he was nice and fresh. That’s when it’s nice to have him, fresh in the fourth quarter when we’re going north and south.”

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Did The Bucs’ Pass Rush Do Enough On Sunday?

Yes, despite the fact that Tampa Bay only recorded two sacks. Murray is one of the fastest, most elusive quarterbacks in the NFL, but Bucs leading sacker Shaquil Barrett was able to corral him for a sack, as did defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

Barrett has recorded at least half a sack in seven of the team’s nine games this year. Barrett, who entered Sunday’s game as the NFL’s leading sacker with 10.5, now has 2.5 quarterback captures in the last three games. Barrett is now on pace to record 20 sacks this season, which would break Warren Sapp’s franchise record of 16.5 set in 2000.

While Murray wasn’t sacked in the fourth quarter, the Bucs pass rush did enough to harass him and force some errant throws with the game on the line. Murray’s last four passes fell incomplete when the Cardinals were driving for either a game-tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown.

“I thought the pass rush really showed up in the fourth quarter and it’s what we needed,” Arians said.

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

Bucs outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t have a sack, but had one of five QB hits on Murray and played well.

“Before the game, I told everybody, ‘This is our win or lose [game],’” Pierre-Paul said. “If we lose this game, it’s over, it’s done with. There isn’t any more coming to work and trying to – if we lose this game, it’s over and done with. You might as well just come in and do your job – [because there] isn’t any playoffs [or anything]. I’ve been here and I’ve seen it, and guys responded well. That’s the way to finish a game. We should’ve been finishing like that, but guys responded to Bruce and everything, and we’re just rolling.”

An angry New Orleans team comes to town on Sunday after being upset by the previously 1-7 Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Drew Brees was sacked six times in the loss and Barrett is excited to get after a less mobile pocket passer after chasing the likes of Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Murray over the last two weeks.

“I can’t wait to get back to the normal quarterback,” Barrett said. “I would’ve had like five sacks today if it was a normal quarterback. Whatever the next one is scheduled, I’m ready to play.”

QUESTION 2: Should The Bucs Have Cut Perriman For A Comp Pick?

Absolutely, Tampa Bay should have cut wide receiver Breshad Perriman by Saturday in order to gain an additional compensatory draft pick in 2020, but the team didn’t. So why? The Bucs were desperate to win on Sunday – and desperate to win down the stretch – so much so that the team felt like Perriman, who only has nine catches for 75 yards and one fluky touchdown on the year gives them a better option as the team’s third receiver. Not only does Arians want to win as many games as he can down the stretch to help the young Bucs learn how to win, general manager Jason Licht really needs to win to get off the hot seat.

Bucs WR Breshad Perriman – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The fact that the Bucs kept Perriman, who isn’t a very good third receiver, is ahead of rookie Scotty Miller and second-year receiver Justin Watson on the depth chart is an indictment of the young receivers in terms of their lack of development and play-making ability. Miller has been force-fed into the game plan because of his speed and rookie status. Miller has five catches for 72 yards, including two for 33 yards on Sunday, while Watson has one reception for 13 yards this year.

Perriman had two catches for 17 yards against the Cardinals, but also had a costly holding penalty that negated a 29-yard catch-and-run on a wide receiver screen by Godwin down to the Arizona 39-yard line. The Bucs would punt three plays later.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Gay Will Be A Very Good Kicker For Tampa Bay

Don’t look now, but the Bucs have (finally) found a kicker. Rookie Matt Gay, the team’s fifth-round pick, came into Sunday’s game connecting on 84.2 percent of his field goals, which ranked 14th in the league. Gay was perfect on Sunday, connecting on all three of his kicks, although he missed a 46-yarder and was bailed out when Arizona jumped offsides. After moving the ball up five yards, Gay connected on a 41-yarder to help the Bucs beat the Cardinals.

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

After his perfect day against Arizona, Gay has now made 19-of-22 field goals, which is an 86.6 percent conversion rate. Gay’s 19 made field goals are tied for the fourth-most in the NFL, and his percentage is higher than that of established veterans like Kansas City’s Harrison Butker, Detroit’s Matt Prater and New Orleans’ Will Lutz.

Licht has spent years signing veteran kickers, trading for one and drafting two kickers, including Gay, to try to find the right guy to end the Bucs’ kicking woes that have plagued the franchise over the last decade. I think Gay is the guy to do just that.

PREDICTION 2: Hargreaves Won’t Be Back Next Year

It was stunning to see Arians bench veteran cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in the second half of the team’s 30-27 win over the Cardinals and put two rookies – Dean and Murphy-Bunting – on the field along with second-year cornerback M.J. Stewart to defend against Larry Fitzgerald and Kirk, who had already scored three touchdowns against the Bucs secondary. But when Hargreaves was caught loafing on And Isabella’s 55-yard catch-and-run to start the second half, Arians had seen enough.

Hargreaves hasn’t been nearly as stout in run support as the team would have liked him to be over the last couple of games, and he hasn’t run to the ball with enough urgency for the coaches’ liking.

“He was chasing somebody across the field and he wasn’t running fast enough,” Arians said. “He didn’t look like he was hustling to go make that tackle.”

Hargreaves took the benching in stride, but returned to the game late in the fourth quarter after Stewart injured his knee.

“I’m a vet, I’m a pro – if that’s what Coach saw, he saw,” Hargreaves said. “There’s no arguing. I need to hustle. Point blank – end of discussion. I’ll get better. I’m sure I’ll talk with him this week and we’ll get things straightened out and we’ll see where we go from here.”

Hargreaves has been a disappointment during his fourth season in Tampa Bay. The Bucs did pick up his fifth-year option for 2020 that will pay him over $9 million, but could rescind that offer at any time during the offseason before the league year starts in March and not owe Hargreaves anything. I think that happens and the Bucs move forward without him next year. To date, Hargreaves has not shown he’s worth $9 million.

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Dman

Once he’s healthy, I see Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean as starting CB’s outside, Murphy-Bunting in the slot. VHIII will move on after the season.

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awwdembucs

I AGREE Dman.

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Pete Wood

Extra picks are nice, but honestly what round pick could we have received for our wide receiver? I trust our coach. Winning now is important and boosts confidence for next year.
Could we get a pick if we cut VH? Asking for a friend.

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GrayBalls

I’m sure you asked in gest. But, just in case…. If the Bucs were to cut Hargreaves they would get nothing but the obligation to pay a player to not take the field and an open roster spot

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sunshineben

On nfl qb rating Winston is rated 20th while Fitz of the dolphins with a much worse offense is rated 10th..hum, Can someone please explain without the excuses .

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Captain Sly

I won’t make an excuse sunshineben I’ll just say go root for the Fins if you like Fitzpatrick… Winston’s our QB!!

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Pete Wood

I complain about Winston a lot, but he’s top four in yardage and top ten in TDs. He is near the bottom in completion percentage and last in turnovers. He’s not a bad QB by a long shot. Just imagine his numbers if he increased his completion percentage and stopped turning the ball over.
Fitz has shown he can outperform Winston, but Fitz is 37 and Winston is 25. And Winston has way more talent. Fitz has consistency.

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76Buc

Just imagine if her had OTs who could pass block for him and he wasn’t running for his life all the time.

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76Buc

He.

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EricNV

I agree. How many of those INTs were do to the pocket collapsing prematurely? He only has himself to blame when he keeps the ball in the pocket too long, and when he doesn’t dump it off. He’s been making some progress on dumping it off, but some of his INTs have been due to the pocket breaking down immediately after the ball gets into his hands. Dotson was very good, when healthy, for a long time, but he’s getting beat (it seems) on every other down. RT has to be addressed during the off season, and LT in 2021… Read more »

cgmaster27

Ahh sunshine still posting his stupid qbr facts. Do you ever post anything else? Still mad your boy mariota got benched?

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Captain Sly

Speaking about these young CB’s, yesterday’s Int by Dean was created by “Pressure”. I contend that the veteran Dline JPP, Suh, Nassib, Gholston have to step up and help this young secondary. This is the unit that has been paid their money and need to step up more consistently.

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EricNV

Dean is showing he just might be the next starting CB this team needs on the outside. That said, we need C Davis healthy again fast. I hope Jamal keeps studying film extra hard, because he’s going up against Mr. Brees next Sunday.

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Horse

Kind of surprised we haven’t picked up a wide receiver from somebody else’s practice squad to see if they are any better or at least have the potential to be better.

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wish-in-one-hand

Not sure what Justin Watson said about BA’s mom but the guy is our best option and has hands for a good 3rd receiver, just don’t know why we are seeing Periman and Miller but no Watson? Interesting indeed

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EricNV

Possibly because he doesn’t have quite the speed of Perriman and Wilson to blow the top off of the secondary. He’s not slow by any means, but I’m sure he’s a couple of steps behind those two on deep passes.

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wish-in-one-hand

I think you’re right but speed only helps if you can catch, and I hope Arians see’s that.

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Buc stops here

My usual positives and negatives for the week – and as usual, they are different from what is listed here in some cases: Positives 1) The defensive line did a very good job putting pressure on Murray. Suh getitng a sack was a surprise as he was acquired to stop the run at this point in his career which he has done well. However he managed to get the quick Murray which is probably the last thing I expected. Pick up Shaquil Barrett continues to have an outstanding season, and JPP coming back is helping out as good as can… Read more »

Dbuc63

Humphries is a cap issue more than anything good points though. Fans in general seem overjoyed with Winston’s play including PR. I can’t help but laugh in sadness. I am not a Winston basher and really want him to be our franchise QB but in reality, I just don’t see enough. Winston missed 3 open receivers on 20+ yard passes with 2 of those 3 being touchdowns if thrown on target. Think about that, the whole game changes on those types of plays. Winston definitely stares down receivers STILL. If you want to compare Winston to Farve like some have… Read more »

Buc stops here

DBuc – agree about the cap issue and Humphries, but that has to do with cap management. Think about the money invested in two terrible picks – Vernon Hargraves and MJ Stewart. They kept those two again this year and again they did nothing. I think next year with that dead weight dropped and more rookies coming in they may get better. I also want Winston to succeed and he has talent. However I am beginning to doubt he has it “upstairs” to put it all together and stop being a turnover machine. Throwing the ball away except when he… Read more »

Adam Humphries was not worth his price tag. I am sure the Bucs didn’t want to lose him but his salary cannot be justified.

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He is making $36 million over four years, or $9 million a year. Perriman makes $4 million a year. You get what you pay for. Perriman stats – 9 catches, 75 yards, longest catch 18 yards, 1 TD, 8.3 yards a catch Humphries stats – 33 catches, 341 yards, longest catch 30 yards, 1 TD, 10.3 yards a catch So you get three times the catches, 20% more yards per catch, and he costs twice as much. Humphries is being paid the going rate for his performance. Perriman for his. You pay less, you get less. Very simple. People I… Read more »

Interesting numbers however regardless of what you are paying Perriman to my point, I cant comprehend paying someone 9 million a year for 33 catches and 1 measly touchdown. Is he even a WR/3 on his new team?

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He is a Wr/3. Okay, so more numbers for you to make my point. Four receivers are getting paid $9 million this year. They are: Adam Humpharies (TItans) – 33 catches, 341 yards, longest catch 30 yards, 1 TD, 10.3 yards a catch DeSean Jackson (Eagles, former Buc) – 9 catches, 159 yards, longest catch 53 yards, 2 TDs, 173. yards a catch Quincy Enunwa (Jets) – 1 catch, -4 yards, longest catch -4 yards, 0 TDs, -4 yards a catch (not making this up) John Brown (Bills) – 47 catches, 680 yards, longest catch 38 yards, 2 TDs, 14.5… Read more »

Sorry, John Brown that is his second contract – three years, $9 million a year. The Bills got a bargain for his performance on that base salary.

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EricNV

The Bucs did not have the cap space to afford Humphries. If they did, I’m sure they would have kept him.

Too many negative nabobs of negativity seem to forget our cap space was very limited earlier this year. Don’t blame Licht, it happens to all teams periodically. We’re in a better position next year, but we’re still not going to be able to keep everyone we like next year, which is just the way NFL has been for the past 25 years.

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Buc stops here

I don’t disagree. I thought the Bucs should have dropped Vernon Hargraves and MJ Stewart before the season started as neither have ever performed well, and kept Humpharies. But those two were high Licht draft picks and stayed, and Humpharies was regarded as a luxury. Now they only have two effective receivers and still have ineffective CBs in Hargraves and Stewart. I understand they kept Hargraves because he had been hurt so much and hoped he would develop, but he hasn’t. In the case of Stewart, he had been so bad that he has spent his whole career on the… Read more »

You were right about VHIII3 getting cut just a little off on the timing. Good Riddance!!!!

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Yes, happy that finally happened. Drafts are the responsibility of both the coach and the GM. In this case, Arians/Licht agreed on him going. Fingers are crossed that Arians/Licht can draft better going forward. This year, 2019, is early but so far the top 3 picks of Devin White, Sean Bunting, and Jamel Dean are contributing as well as the kicker Matt Gay. Can only hope going forward they pick better.

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Buc76

Carolina needs to lose to Atlanta and we beat the Saints then things get interesting. Must play a perfect game to beat New Orleans. 3 turnovers on defense and None by the offense. No missed extra points or field goals and very few penalties then we might have a shot.

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EricNV

Hopefully, the Saints are as PO’d as Scott says they are, and they play a bit too aggressively picking up lots of penalties early in the game. They’re going to try and beat us in the first quarter. If we stay with them, and play rock solid football in the 4th quarter, there’s no reason why we can’t win.

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drdneast

Great observations Capt. Sly. Fitz is a solid back and will no doubt want to play for a few more years because he has a huge family (apparently he never took a Biology class at Harvard) but he is just as likely to cost you a game as win one and when he loses one, it’s usually all on him, unlike here where Winston has suffered from poor offensive line blocking for the past three years. Even now it is barely average due to Dotson’s broken body. So if you like Fitz, go to a Dolphins page and express that… Read more »

drdneast

BTW, Miller made an excellent Adam Humprhies like catch yesterday when Winston put the ball a tad behind him so he would lead him into a DB and he came up with the grab.
I’d have loved to have had Humphries back but he just wasn’t worth the 9 or 10 million he was paid and if you asked the Titans, I don’t think they would say they have gotten their money’s worth out of him this year either.

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drdneast

Wouldn’t lead him into a DB, not would.

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76Buc

I agree about VHIII, but why is no one – fans or media- mentioning that he came back in late and forced a fumble.

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cgmaster27

Thats because hargreaves mever forced a fumble. He knocked a ball away, but then got pass interference on the next play. 2 straight balls thrown his way. The offense literally look for him when hes on the field. That dude is done.

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Dman

I thought the PI call was bogus. Not a VHIII fan, but even the announcers gave that a shout as being a “tough call to make”.

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dmbucs

Please tell me WHICH QB in our history is better than winston?

I’ll say brad because he won the big one. Otherwise winston is the best and most entertaining.
The highs of 300 HD big scoring games along with multiple turnovers keeps me on the edge of my seat.

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twspin

Yep Scott, Hargraves is gone next season. Perriman too! Enjoy the win cause a real pissed off Saints teams comin Sunday. Brees never has 2 back to back bad games. Ruck up Bucs!

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bucballer

Doug Williams was better than Jameis!

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Buc stops here

He is probably the best QB the Bucs ever drafted besides Steve Young – he did win a Super Bowl and was prolific with the 49ers having multiple winning seasons.

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scubog

I always loved Doug Williams and supported him throughout his career here and elsewhere. He was a pioneer who put up with a lot, including the sudden death of his young wife. Williams to House or Williams to Giles are great memories. “Dougie” had the IT factor. he also had an outstanding Defense that Winston doesn’t enjoy. Quite the opposite. While here, he had around a 50% completion percentage and, like young Jameis, threw his share of INT’s and received a lot of Boooooooos. Like Steve Young before him and Vinny and Trent Dilfer who followed, Doug Williams didn’t receive… Read more »

dmbucs

William’s was awesome but we didnt get to see him long. Culverhouse was pinching pennies with scrooge and pushed him out.
They were 10 points from the superbowl and yet he didnt get paid.

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fredster

Hargreaves stinks. He’s either hurt or inconsistent. Seen enough of him.

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Knightrider79

Wasn’t he not participating in OTA’s this year cause he “didn’t feel like it”?

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Knightrider79

So I was a huge Winston fan and he was the guy I wanted the Bucs to draft. That being said my patience with him has run out. How many times are we gonna say “th potential is there” or “he’s gonna figure it out with better coaching”? He’s not going to figure it out because he’s to set in his ways. We seriously need to start looking for a QB that we can win with. If people are tired of VH3 like I am then they should be tired of Winston as well. As far as QB’s go, this… Read more »

EastEndBoy

Great that Dean played much better. Bad that SMB and VHIII played worse. Too bad Davis was out again. Time to move on from Stewart. Among the gaggle we might be able to compile a CB2 and a slot CB that allow us to compete on defense…but not unless we acquire a CB1! Yes Dean looked better playing against a bad AZ team. Let’s not kid ourselves that our secondary is “fixed”…we have no CB1. None of these guys can cover Thomas and Julio twice each per year. Better game from Dean – our GM has not fixed the problem.… Read more »