Forget the Bucs defense allowing the Rams to march down the field in the final few minutes to kick a game-winning field goal.
Forget the defense allowing yet another backup quarterback to beat them – this time third-stringer Austin Davis – in his first NFL start.
Forget Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown making another poor decision and throwing a costly red zone interception.
While all of those things may have contributed to Tampa Bay’s 19-17 defeat by the hands of the Rams, this loss ultimately falls on the Buccaneers coaching staff. Playing not to win almost always costs a team a chance at victory.
On Sunday, it was proven once again as the ultra-conservative play calling by Lovie Smith and his offensive coaching staff are as much responsible for the Buccaneers being 0-2 as the Rams’ 45 percent third down conversion success, or Patrick Murray’s blocked field goal that would have given the Bucs three points in the fourth quarter to push Tampa Bay’s lead to 17-13.
Time and time again, Tampa Bay failed to go for the jugular on offense, and instead of being aggressive, decided to play it safe. McCown made a poor decision in the second quarter by throwing a first down interception on the Rams’ 2-yard line. But the Buccaneers failed to throw a single pass in the red zone the rest of the game.
If Smith doesn’t believe in his quarterback, get him out of there and start Mike Glennon.
Running the ball on third-and-2, and not converting a first down in the second quarter says you don’t have faith in your quarterback.
Running the ball from the nine-yard line on third-and-7, as Tampa Bay did in the fourth quarter up 14-13, then getting your field goal blocked, is saying you don’t trust your quarterback.
“That’s what we called at the time,” Smith said. “It didn’t work, right? We’d like to have that over. We’d like to have that play over. That’s on us. That’s on the coaches. We can call a better play in that situation right there.”
Running the ball in the fourth quarter down 16-14 unsuccessfully on third-and-2 from the Rams’ 16-yard line, then settling for a field goal, is saying you don’t have faith in your quarterback.
“The third-and-2? No,” Smith said. “We’ll do that over again just like we did. Believe me – there is a lot more. Our were playing their butts off. We as a staff need to do a better job, which we will. Our guys fought banged up. Again, we’re going to handle some situations better next time and eventually we’ll start winning football games.”
And that isn’t even mentioning the lack of faith shown in McCown as the second half was winding down and the Buccaneers decided to sit on the ball and take three timeouts to the locker room down 10-7.
PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds asked Smith about that following the game.
“I think we were in decent position, based on what happened,” Smith said. “At the end, we had some timeouts where we got one big play before, but just wanted to go in at halftime and not go in the hole anymore.
“Right before the half I didn’t want [St. Louis] to put more points on the board. The only thing that could happen was something bad, then. That didn’t have anything – I don’t know your question or what you really asked, but at the end of the [half] I felt like we needed to go in then without anything else happening. That’s the decision I made, it didn’t have anything to do with faith in anybody else. Head coach’s decision that I made.”
Smith comes from the Tony Dungy mold that preaches mistake-free football and timely takeaways by a stout defense. The problem with that philosophy is there is no Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp or John Lynch on this football team. Smith was counting on a suddenly-beat up defense that was missing starters in Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, Michael Johnson and Mason Foster to hold a slim lead late in the fourth quarter.
If Smith doesn’t trust McCown is capable to lead the offense and if you are worried about turnovers, then it is time to insert Glennon as quarterback. And if McCown keeps throwing costly picks and the Bucs fall to 0-3 with a loss on Thursday night in Atlanta, the calls for Glennon will begin if they haven’t already. If the Bucs are going to run the ball on third-and-long inside the red zone instead of letting McCown throw the ball, then they might as well consider starting Glennon.
Smith has been fond of reminding the media jokingly that he had last year off after being fired by the Bears and spent it in his Chicago basement watching football games. Unfortunately for the Bucs on Sunday, Smith must have failed to watch many games of the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots or New Orleans Saints – teams that show complete faith in their offense and in particular their quarterbacks.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well typed and it’s the TRUTH! Lovie Smith had better get his head on staight and start playing 2014 NFL football or his tenure SHOULD be as long as Richard Williamson’s. This BS is NOT acceptable.
Does it really need to be said who plays QB for Denver, New England, and New Orleans? Hey Lovie, how come you don’t call plays like your QB is elite? Fail.
Thanks MC for the “From the Hip”type commentary about our coach.
I’m going to let the alcohol and anger subside before I comment. Hopefully tomorrow I will have a measured and thoughtful opinion!
Lovie’s postgame comments backup a loss of confidence in McClown. I think he gives McCown one more chance. But another terrible pick like the one in this game and that’s it!
Well said Scott. Lovie will never admit it and his history is to remain loyal to his starting QB. But if it is his lack of confidence in McCown is the reason behind the ultra-safe play calling then perhaps he should consider another option. But, as I see it; the reason for these two defeats is that our defense is making back-up QB’s and no-name receivers look like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. The question is whether the problem is learning the scheme or a lack of talent. So far, I haven’t seen anything special from the free-agent class of Johnson, McDonald and Verner. The Glazers must be tired of seeing little return on their investments.
Well said. The coaches change, the players change, the result is the same. Does every staff that comes in get handed the same playbook passed down from every other losing staff? They even make the same excuses. Naming McClown the starter over Glennon was a mistake, they should’ve fought it out preseason. I’ve seen enough of Clown to know he’s not the long, or short term answer. The Tampa 2 is dead. Gruden mentioned during MNF that he thought the scheme doesn’t work anymore. When a 3rd string Q.B. getting his 1st start on the road throws for 80 percent, and whips you, I have to agree. We all felt good when Lovie came in bringing back the past, but as Billy Joel was sang, the past wasn’t always as good as it seemed.
On the bright side. Bucs will have an opportunity to draft a Q.B. with a top five first round pick. All the more reason to play Glennon now, we need to find out if he indeed is the future.
But surferdudes, you’re forgetting that Lovie doesn’t draft qbs in the first round. Orton in the 4th is the highest he’s reached for one. We all want the new shiny sportscar to play with, but Lovie wants his bulldozers for the defense.
Get ready for 4 years of 9 win max seasons.
We had an all offense draft and new OC skills and decide to use that talent to run the ball and not go for it or be aggressive. Trust in your QB and let it fly. Very disappointed in the ultra-conservative nature. Not going for it at the end of the 1st half is baffling. We could have had the ball with about 1:30 on the clock and two timeouts. That’s damn near the definition of a 2 min drill.
I am keeping an open position because I saw that the talent wasn’t here. Our drafting has been poor for years. The only way to build a team is from the draft and the first priority in todays NFL is a QB. Meanwhile we don’t have anywhere near the good players from drafting so we fill the pieces of the puzzle with over paid free agents. Don’t you think GM and Coach have told Larry,Moem Curly already and they are on board with it. Lower your expectations this year and look to see how the younger players are doing. Go Bucs! I support you.
You’re missing the point – with coaching like we saw this game, it won’t make any difference how much talent we have because we aren’t going to use it.
Note to self: If I ever become a NFL coach, If you play the bucs, don’t start your starting QB. You don’t need him. Your back up will have a career day.
Lovie its time you let go and allow Tedford to do the job you hired him for which is run the offense. Your offensive schemes have never worked and your coaching tenure will likely be linked to your abaility to find a quality QB and taking your hands off of the offense. You call plays on offense like we have Seattles defense not Tampas. If our 35 year old QB cant handle 3rd and shorts in the 4th quarter we might have the wrong guy for the job.
This team is too mediocre to overcome obvious coaching and player (ie. two blocked kicks, last play of game by Mike E., etc) mistakes. Disappointing…
MC, I will do no such thing like, “Forget Tampa Bay quarterback Josh McCown making another poor decision and throwing a costly red zone interception”. That’s where all the conservative play calling started. But don’t think I’m letting Lovie off the hook. He’s the one that brought McCown in here as his starter. To be fair though, what better option was there at the time? Look at McCown’s preseason numbers compared to Glennon’s. Who would have won a QB competition? The only other FA option at QB was Vick. Would you rather have him? What better options were there in the draft? Have you seen Carr’s performances in Oakland? Pitiful. We didn’t have an opportunity to draft Bortles and no other QB from the draft could beat out the incumbent. At the end of the day though you have to be accountable for your decisions so Lovie has to be held accountable anyway for naming McCown as his starter then not playing him when the game is on the line.
The Rams having more faith in their 3rd string quarterback is pathetic. Our inability to create turnovers facing the past two quarterbacks we have is a scary thought when we play starting caliber and pro-bowl qb’s next.
Your defense is all banged up, can’t stop 2nd and third string quarterbacks, even on crappy teams and you don’t get any turnovers, yet you want to be conservative on offense? Stupid is as stupid does……
This is not Tedford’s offense. Lovie won’t let him use it….fail.
The conservative play calling was frustrating , but mistakes cost us at least 6 to 14 points on the INT and blocked FG. Lovie’s not going to know whether this team can play his style of game unless he puts them to the challenge. Going forward, now he knows better. We’re banged up, but lets see how he does. Go Bucs!
Lovie is playing not to lose, needs to play to win
I agree with everything you said. And I appreciate you asking the question about trust in McCown. It clearly rattled Lovie. Which further proves that IMO he does NOT have faith in his QB. His actions on sunday and his words following prove it.
If we come out and lay an egg against ATL I wholeheartedly expect a change at QB either during the game or after the game to prepare for PIT.
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