It just ended up being that the Buccaneers division schedule didn’t start until the very end of October. At the beginning of the year, this was looked at as odd, but by the time the division games rolled around, the Bucs needed them at 2-4 in the standings.

Unfortunately, they weren’t able to gain the ground they desperately needed in their first division game, as they fell to the Carolina Panthers at home by a score of 17-3.

The game was schedule to be a windy one, which normally comes with offensive inefficiencies. Though the winds weren’t as bad as they could have been, the game still had those early inefficiencies with both teams starting off with three-and-outs.

On the Bucs’ second drive of the game, things started to settle down in their favor. A nice Doug Martin run of eight yards got things going and a few short passes to Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate moved the sticks beyond that. T drive came to a halt, however, when Mike Evans dropped what should have been the next first down.

Carolina responded with the game’s longest and most time consuming drive. The possession stretched 82 yards over 17 plays, and included Cam Newton and the Panthers offense converting on 5-of-5 third downs they faced. The final play of the drive was a 1-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart.

On the Bucs next drive, they sustained control. After a holding call, which was the first of many offensive line errors on the day, Jameis Winston and DeSean Jackson connected for a 19-yard pass. Jackson was targeted five times in the first three drives of the game. Winston went on to hit Evans for a 19-yard catch of his own, but was unable to get the offense in field goal range after that; a punt was the result.

The Bucs defense came alive on the following two Panthers’ drives, holding them to just four plays each and 11 total yards. However, on the drive that would follow those, the Panthers marched the ball 41 yards in nine plays to get into field goal range and extend their lead to double digits.

That’s how both teams went into half time; with the score 10-0.

The Buccaneer started the game with the ball and weren’t able to do much with it. Knowing that, it wasn’t good that the Panthers were starting the second half with the ball and the lead. However, Bucs safety Chris Conte put those nerves to rest early with a big interception near midfield to end Carolina’s first drive of the half.

The Bucs and Panther both exchanged punts after the turnover, but on the following Buccaneers drive, Martin led his team down the field with runs of 17 and nine yards to give Bucs kicker Pat Murray the chance to cut the lead. He did just that, and the score went to just a one-possession game at 10-3.

The game would then go on three consecutive punts, two by the Panthers and one by the Buccaneers. On the Bucs next drive, Winston was hit in the arm and the the ball fluttered in the air, eventually caught and intercepted by Carolina.

The Panthers did what they were suppose to do and capitalized off the turnover with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Kelvin Benjamin. That brought the score 17-3 in favor of the Panthers.

On a drive that held a lot of importance for the Buccaneers, Winston started things off with a 12-yard pass to Evans and a 23-yard pass to Cameron Brate. In Carolina territory now, Winston dropped back to pass and went for a pass to Brate over the middle. His pass, however, was caught by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly instead, and was intercepted.

The Bucs defense held the Panthers to a three-and-out on a key possession after the interception, which fit for their day, a day that was overall pretty good considering they were down their top two cornerbacks. The Bucs offense got the ball back on a punt and late hit penalty, putting them near midfield on their own side. After two big passes to Evans and Brate, the offense stalled. Down 14 points, the Bucs went for it on 4th and 14, to which they failed.

And that’s how it would end.

Jameis Winston finished the game 21-for-38 with 210 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike Evans led the Bucs in catches with five and got 60 yards from them. Cam Brate led the team in receiving yards with 64 on four catches. DeSean Jackson finished the game with eight targets, but only was able to haul in three for 37 yards. Adam Humphries had four catches on six targets for 26 yards, and O.J. Howard has two catches on two targets for 16 yards. On the ground, Doug Martin had 71 yards on 18 carries.

On defense, linebacker Kwon Alexander led the team in tackles with 10 and also had two tackles for loss. Safety Chris Conte was second on the tackle list with nine and had the Bucs only interception as well.

The Bucs are now 2-5 overall and 0-1 in the NFC South with a trip to New Orleans coming up next week.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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JustaBuc
JustaBuc
4 years ago

Just flat embarassing all around. I just don’t know what it is with this team that seems to leave half its team in the locker room every week. And that half seems to alternate!

Can only hope for the Bears upset now as I watch.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
Reply to  JustaBuc
4 years ago

Nothing to say other than BAD!

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  JustaBuc
4 years ago

Yup – the only thing consistent about the Bucs this season is they’re inconsistent.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Maybe if we take the statue of Gruden out of 1 Buc on sundays, and out it on the sidelines it would help.

jshumaker
jshumaker
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

I think we are going to see the real Gruden on the Bucs sideline next year. It just fits too perfect as long as he believes that he can get Jameis fixed

pinkstob
pinkstob
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Some of you guys drive me crazy. Absolutely positively crazy. I haven’t commented on the idea of Gruden coming back to the Bucs because I was hoping it was a temporary madness that would pass. We all saw the stupid personnel decisions, dumb play calls (endless end-arounds by Michael Clayton) and horrible win-loss record racked up by Gruden after the 2002 season. Also, we can see from his commentary and commercials that his ego has only grown since the Bucs fired him. Why would he concede to giving up personnel decisions if we bring him back? He’ll only want more… Read more »

Horse
Horse
Reply to  pinkstob
4 years ago

Pinkstob, I so agree. He’s been out of the league for quite a while now and is perfect for what he does on ESPN. We need new young blood, not old blood coaching.

macabee
macabee
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Better hurry, Jon Gruden’s protege’ may be scooped up by the Gators who are looking for a new HC. lol.

Scott Frost, UCF head coach, 42: The hottest up-and-comer on the market, plus he has ties to the state. Frost quickly rebuilt the Knights with a top-tier offense – 2017 record is 7-0. The former Bucs defensive back has worked under and played for some of the best minds in the game, including Tom Osborne, Chip Kelly and Jon Gruden.

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  pinkstob
4 years ago

Agreed. IF, and I’m not calling of it, the Glazers fire Dirk, the next head coach needs to either be a modern coach or hire a modern OC and stay out of his way. We need to go forward. Not backwards.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  RootsCrew
4 years ago

Roots – I doubt that there is any NFL coach on the planet who has studied more gametape, observed more NFL games in person, personally coached up more top tier rookie draft candidate quarterbacks, interviewed more NFL coaches, and has had to stay on top as an analyist of the latest and greatest in trends in NFL play, than Jon Gruden.

And, he’s a proven performer as a coach himself. Nobody on the planet is more qualified to be an NFL head coach. And nobody has stronger ties to Tampa and the Bucs than JG>

RootsCrew
RootsCrew
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

You think his Gruden camp is an actual QB coaching clinic? That’s made for ESPN. Nothing more. I have zero issue with Gruden, but he’s been out of football for 10 years. He’s never shown he can develop young QB’s to his system either. That’s why he’s gone after vets during his career. Again, I have nothing against Gruden. I think he got a raw deal by the Glazers after the Super Bowl. They left the team high and dry when they bought Manchester United. Still, I’d rather move forward to go back. But if he’s the guy they want… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  pinkstob
4 years ago

Gruden – winningest coach in Bucs history, four trips to the playoffs, three division championships, and a Super Bowl ring. Zero division championships, and zero trips to the playoffs since the Glazers fired him. Yup, how stupid to want any more of that.

Sarcassm/off

Buc-n-Philly Fan
Buc-n-Philly Fan
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Best damned comment I have seen you make Naplesfan!!!Sarcasm and all…lmao!!!

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

After 4 seasons I’ve seen enough of Licht. After 2 seasons of Koetter being a head coach and Mike Smith being defensive coordinator, I’ve seen enough. At the end of the season they should be let go. If the Glaciers are going to waste their money on overpaying for players that are average, might as well pay these present coaches not to be here too. It’s just plain frustrating right now. I don’t know where the answers might be; it’s not for what we got now for sure.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Jay Glazer reported before the game J.W. has a slight tear in his shoulder that might require surgery after the season. If that’s the case I say give him one more game against N.O. next week. When we lose shut him down, and do the surgery now. If we wait till after the season, he won’t be able to throw till maybe June setting us back for next season. We owe the new G.M., and coaching staff having a healthy Jameis to start the off season.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  surferdudes
4 years ago

Why risk further injury? Shut him down now, get his surgery, and let him be at full strength come OTAs next spring. This season is already tanked.

Mike.Seven
Mike.Seven
4 years ago

6 Punts 1 fumble 2 interceptions 1 field goal and Red Zone Efficiency 0/1 – 0% I am 50 years old and never watched a QB of my favourite team play this bad I am pissed beyond the point I can not see straight to write this post. Kuechly made a fool out of Bucs coaches and QB calling out the plays Bucs were about to run Rattled Winston calling out the fumble just before it happened. Only good news The defence held the Panthers to 17 points even with this pathetic offence. Please explain to me how stupid I… Read more »

Jlog
Jlog
4 years ago

I cut the game off after Winston pitched the ball to Panthers near the end of the half. He’s never going to learn that just taking a sack is OK sometimes. Even after it got him hurt to begin with he’s still learned nothing from it.

Just completely frustrated with this team, the coaches and GM right now.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Jlog
4 years ago

I think I would have benched him when he did that for one series to send a message to him. I was afraid that this was going to happen when we got behind more than 10 points and sure enough it did happen. Koetter needs to control Winston better because he’s better than what he did. I thought he and Winston were communicating when he was offense of coordinator but now that he is head coach something has happened.

Michael WestDominguez
Michael WestDominguez
4 years ago

Ok, so I am going to go ahead and say this agreeing with most of you all in that the play calling is horrendous! This team (when I think it can’t get any worse)…..get’s worse! As far as a new head coach, has anyone thought or taken a look at Matt Campbell from Iowa State…pretty damn good football coach. Yes, unproven in the NFL but Koetter and Smith are proven they are inadequate and just flat out bad. Before, it was the excuse of having lackluster playmakers on offense. We now have players like Howard, Evans, Brate, Jackson and Martin… Read more »

Buc76
Buc76
4 years ago

I was there at the game. No energy in the stadium. They are done. The season was over at Arizona. The whole regime has to go. They will never win with these coaches or Licht as the GM. They need to evaluate everything. Every position. They better get Gruden before someone else does. Chicago wants him. He’s going somewhere next season. We better hope it’s here. Bring in Derrick Brooks as the GM. When you look at this team it has been nothing for 9 years since Gruden and Brooks left. Bring them back!!!!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Buc76
4 years ago

I made the same observation as you Buc76. That was one of the most apathetic crowds I’ve experienced, including myself. Very few Panthers fans, but even they were in a semi-coma. Not one high-five with those around me. Folks behind me did nothing but talk about their personal lives the whole game.

seat26
seat26
4 years ago

October is not over, and we now are left to reading 2018 Draft Boards and Mocks. I had such high hopes for this year. I fear an entire Regime change is coming.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Macabee, Frost also has strong ties to Dungy from Tony’s sons time at Oregon. Wouldn’t it be something to have him as coach, and Dungy as president of football operations. Could be the killer combination we’ve never had here.

Randy H.
Randy H.
4 years ago

I fly out from Texas for 5 games a year. This was number 4 for me and it was hard to watch. Hopes for a great season have gone out the window. Jameis actually looked like he had learned something when he took off with his feet a couple of times and then, boom, that stupid shovel pass fumble and the interception late and it is all over. It is just so frustrating. My cousin was at the game, as her daughter was in the halftime show, and her husband said to me, “You fly out just to go to… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

Didn’t see this coming (“this” being this season). Given that the failures rotate from special teams one week to defense the next week to offense the week after that, it’s starting to look like the only points of commonality are the coaching staff, and by extension, the GM.

We’re flirting dangerously with being labeled the Browns of the NFC. The gang who couldn’t shoot straight.

surferdudes
4 years ago

Naplesfan, right on about Gruden. His record speaks for its self, but I like you wonder how much better he might be the next time around having learned from his past mistakes. One thing this team lacks that Gruden always had plenty of, juice! Other things he’d provide to the fan base that is surely lacking, hope, and excitement.