Bucs DE Noah Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Watching the Lions fade late in Seattle Saturday night probably felt like a missed opportunity for the Bucs, who were a “strength of victory” tiebreak away from getting a chance to take out the Seahawks twice in one season.
From the eyeball test, Detroit certainly didn’t look stronger than the Bucs – but rules are rules and there’s nothing that can be done now. There is, however, a positive to be taken from the latest playoff outcome, one that underscores the feeling that the Bucs are close.
The Seahawks 26-6 Wild Card victory means Tampa Bay will have beaten three of the remaining eight teams – Seahawks, Falcons and Chiefs – by next weekend. That’s a promising silver lining for a young group that barely missed the playoffs.
Though the Falcons got the best of the Bucs in the latest matchup, a 43-28 TNF win in Week 9, it doesn’t take away from the Bucs impressive opening day. After getting out to a 31-13 lead on the road, Tampa Bay was able to hold off MVP favorite Matt Ryan and company to start 1-0 for the first time since 2012. It’s also worth noting, with regards to the Color Rush game, that the Bucs were coming off an overtime loss to compound a short week.
The next two wins over Divisional Week-bound teams featured perhaps Jameis Winston’s best outing (in Kansas City) followed by the defenses’ signature performance (against Seattle) during its strong second half of the season.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
The Chiefs, then 7-2, entered Week 11 as winners of their last nine at Arrowhead Stadium. Then Winston threw for 331 yards and was masterful on third down and in the fourth quarter. He finished 12 of 14 for 131 yards on third down alone and capitalized on Chris Conte’s touchdown-saving interception by leading a nine-play scoring drive the other way. A few more third-down completions in the final minutes drained the clock and sealed the statement victory.
Tampa Bay rode that momentum into Raymond James Stadium the next week, getting two quick touchdowns from Winston to Mike Evans that proved to be enough against Seattle. From the second quarter on, it was all about the defense in the 14-5 win. The unit harassed Russell Wilson all afternoon, holding the Pro Bowl QB to 151 yards while intercepting him twice and adding six sacks. Lavonte David also forced and returned a fumble inside the red zone to put the game on ice in the fourth quarter.
So while the Bucs would’ve much preferred to be playing in the divisional round than reminiscing about signature wins, at least they know they have what it takes. Detroit may have beaten the Rams and Saints, but technicalities aside, it’s hard to argue it had more impressive wins than the Bucs in 2016. We’ll see if those victories are a signal for good things to come in 2017.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
The. KC game was JW best game the kind of game he needs to have more of!
Something the offensive needs to do is be less predictable there maybe 3to 4 reverse or end around plays. Game planning for are offensive I don’t think was very hard stop the run and make JW throw, on third and one it seems like they ALWAYS ran left side between G and center and failed more than they won. But GO BUCS
Good assumptions Zach. I believe we are just a couple players away from being a good team.
I expect to see a little bit better Winston in his 3rd year. Same for Hargreaves and N. Spence.
I don’t think there is much doubt that the Bucs could have given the Seahawks a better game but with the limited amount of weapons that Winston had at the end of the season I don’t know if we would have won the game.
Besides, the Lions might have beaten the Seahawks themselves if Matt Stafford wasn’t playing with a broken middle finger which had a huge effect on his play in his last three games.
Even without the injury to Brate, the Bucs need more weapons and protection for Winston.
Absolutely correct Dr.D.
Some folks here (I suspect those who preferred MM) seem to think Jameis should be able to succeed even with players surrounding him who are literally off the street . No need for a quality RB, O-line or receivers. Who cares if they can’t get past the line of scrimmage, can’t open run lanes, can’t pass protect, can’t get open and can’t catch the ball?
Can’t say the OL is a real problem Scu. Injuries hurt when Dotson went out but I like our line and the promise of our remaining O linemen on team. At 9-7 I think they showed they are capable. Running back, yep we are definitely in need there. Same for receiver.
Injuries clearly hobbled the Bucs all season, more than every other single team in the league. We had a record good enough to make the playoffs, and if we had made it in rather than the Lions, we likely would have been a wild card round loser. We’re not there yet, but we definitely got a lot closer this season. We need some additional talent, another year of coaching, and another year of NFL experience for the growing core of key players on both offense and defense. Next season, we ought to be able to contend, not only to get into the playoffs, but to be able to win in the playoffs.
Jameis Winston is not yet a playoff caliber quarterback. Doesn’t mean he won’t be, but he’s not there yet, regardless of his fellow players. This has zilch to do with who preferred who in the run-up to the draft. I preferred the other player during the predraft (as did a majority of Bucs fans, by the way), but we didn’t draft the other player, we drafted Winston, so he is our quarterback, period, end of story. Both players have had comparable success in their first two years, but no quarterbacks are anywhere near their peak capability in their first few years in the league. Sometimes a young quarterback manages to be drafted onto a playoff caliber team – whether it was Tom Brady in 2000 (but not starting til 2001), or Dak Prescott in 2016. But those quarterbacks aren’t what put their teams in the playoffs – it’s the entire team.
Quarterbacks always get way too much credit for success, and way too much damnation for failure.
As good as Rodgers looked yesterday, it was his teammate Randall Cobb who really made the play of the game – the “hail Mary” reception as time expired in the first half. And it was his offensive line who protected him for incredibly long periods, as much as 6, 7, 8 or more seconds (!!!) from the Giant’s heretofore quality pass rush. Most quarterbacks given that long to throw can find at least one receiver open. Yet all the wagging tongues want to talk about are Rodgers. It’s true that Rodgers is a great quarterback, but he is not the team.
On the Bucs, we were hit particularly hard by injuries on both sides of the ball all season, the defense especially hard during the first half of the season when it clearly struggled, with Ayers out a few games, along with Clinton McDonald, and our second round draft pick Spence playing with an injured shoulder most of the season.
I don’t think the “majority ” of Bucs fans wanted Mariota. As I recall it was about even due to concerns about his legal issue more than his QB play. Glad you finally admitted your preference, which I often suspected was the reason behind your criticism of Winston.
As Dr. D noted, you are all over the map. First you infer that Winston doesn’t need better teammates then point out the superior talent on the play-off teams.
The bottom line is you rightfully acknowledge the need to acquire more weapons and an improved O-line in order to become a play-off team while still seeking to blame Winston for not getting us there this season.
We’re not yet a playoff caliber team … but we’re getting close. Unless we somehow find a way to regress, we ought to be there next season.
Naplesfan u confuse me more than my ex wife.
You say one thing and then refute yourself later on.
You say Winston isn’t a playoff calibre QB regardless of his weapons. Later on you say Zak Prescott didn’t put his team in the playoffs, his team did, which I agree with.
So why couldn’t the same be said for Winston who certainly doesn’t have the same number of weapons or nearly as good of an offensive line.
With just a B plus offensive line with a serviceable right tacklle instead of the C- line which is what they have, the Bucs would have a lot beter running game more protection for Winston and a win against the Cowboys and a slot in the playoffs.
drdneast – It’s not the least bit confusing. The team is not YET a playoff caliber team, and that includes the quarterback. It’s very simple to understand and most NFL prognosticators agree with that simple statement.
The key is “yet”. Even if Winston was as effective today as are the obvious stars of the league this year – Brady, Rogers, Ryan, Wilson, Roethlisberger, all four of whom have won multiple games in the playoffs and so are quite obviously proven playoff ready – the rest of the team is not there yet. And if the rest of the team were there today, they’d have to perform very strongly to make up for Winston’s lack of skills today.
But Tom Brady didn’t have those skills when his team won their first Super Bowl with him as quarterback. He wasn’t bad, but he was much more a game manager than a super performer as he later became. Ditto with Russell Wilson’s first playoff appearance, and even his first Super Bowl, which his team won. Virtually everybody agrees that Russell Wilson today, in his fifth season in the league, is a far more capable and dangerous quarterback today than he was in his first Super Bowl appearance, being carried to victory then by a combination of his coaching, his defense, his offensive line, and his “beast mode” running back.
Today, Dak Prescott is in a position similar to Brady in 2001 and Wilson in 2012. Part of a great team. He is doing extremely well for rookie quarterback, and he is a better game manager this season than is Winston, in terms of taking care of the ball. But he is far from a Brady or Rodgers … today.
I didn’t expect Winston to be the equivalent of today’s Wilson or Brady or Rodgers. That wouldn’t be a fair expectation. Neither is Mariota, for that matter. They are both coming along at very similar rates of development, though the two players are very different in style and attributes from each other.
Could Winston be as successful as Dak Prescott has been if he were the QB of the Cowboys this season? Intrinsically, I think he could be that effective, but he would have to get his mind right, i.e., that his job is to be the game manager and not the hero, and his job is to let the rest of his teammates do their jobs as best they can. Perhaps at Tampa Bay, where he does not have as much talent and injuries have been more depleting, perhaps he’s taken too much onto himself to try and compensate. We can’t really know.
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