For weeks now, Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith has sprinkled in the comments “We’re not Tennessee-ready” in his press conferences.
After a crushing, 42-14 defeat in the Buccaneers’ 2015 season opener I guess Smith was right.
Sunday’s loss was at home before a crowd of 63,945 fans by the way, where Smith’s Buccaneers are now 0-9 in the regular season.
Siege the day? Smith’s Buccaneers were sieged, seized and slaughtered by the Titans. Even if they weren’t “Tennessee-ready” no one in Tampa Bay saw that pathetic attempt at football coming.
With five months to prepare for the Titans, who were also 2-14 last year and were also starting a rookie quarterback, there was absolutely no reason for Smith and the Buccaneers not to be “Tennessee-ready.”
How much more time did Smith need to be ready? Another week? Another month?
Here’s a newsflash for Smith. He only gets one week to prepare for each opponent the rest of the season with the exception of a bye week. He’s not going to have six months to prepare for New Orleans, which he could use after Sunday’s debacle.
“That’s definitely not how we wanted to start our football season,” Smith said. “I thought we were ready to go, had good practices, but you need to get to the first game to see exactly where you are. We are not there yet. It’s obvious.”
With five months to prepare for the Tennessee game, and this being the second year of the Tampa 2 with a lot of returning personnel, why weren’t the Buccaneers prepared?
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith – Photo by Mark Lomoglio/PR
“You have to give Tennessee a lot of the credit,” Smith said. “They had a good game plan against us and of course they executed it well. I thought we had some opportunities early before we let it get out of hand. Defensively, of course we couldn’t stop them. Didn’t get takeaways when it really counted. Offensively, we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted to. Whether it’s turnovers or not being able to move the football.
“Disappointing, of course, for us. We have to keep this in perspective. We’re very disappointed, we’re embarrassed and all of that about today’s performance, but it is one game. That’s the only thing we can lay our hat on right now.”
Plain and simple, the primary job of a head coach of a football team is to prepare his football team to play. The fact that a veteran head coach like Smith did not have his team prepared to play in their home opener is quite disturbing, and frankly, inexcusable.
Smith’s predecessor, Greg Schiano, was 1-1 in season openers. Heck, even Raheem Morris was 1-3 in season openers. Smith is now 0-2 and unless he steers the Buccaneers ship in a new direction quickly he won’t have a chance at a third opener next year.
Indeed, Sunday could mark the beginning of the end for Smith in Tampa Bay. Already feeling the heat from a disappointing 2-14 season and wanting to be more of a master of his own destiny, Smith decided to take the reins of the play-calling for the Tampa 2 scheme away from Leslie Frazier this offseason.
Uh, how did that work out?
After surrendering five touchdowns, including four in the red zone, and not holding Tennessee to a field goal, maybe he should turn the defensive play-calling duties back over to Frazier, as the Bucs defense was actually playing better after the bye week last year. Call it a knee-jerk reaction on my part if you will, but that’s what it seemed like when Smith took away the play-calling duties from Frazier in the offseason despite improvement by the defense down the stretch.
“Red zone defense – I mean, I guess you can start there, you can go all over,” Smith said. “We didn’t play good defense, period. So red zone – couldn’t stop them. Gave up the first touchdown, you shouldn’t give up the big play in a coverage that’s designed not to. Nothing was good tonight.”
Everyone knew the Buccaneers would be young on offense this year with a rookie quarterback in Jameis Winston and two rookie offensive linemen in left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet. When rookie receiver Adam Humphries was on the field yesterday, which was often, Tampa Bay actually had four rookies on the field, which is never an ideal recipe for success.
To say that the Bucs offense missed its best offensive lineman in Demar Dotson and its best playmaker in Mike Evans on Sunday would be a huge understatement. Veteran right tackle Gosder Cherilus, Dotson’s replacement, surrendered two sacks and was flagged for holding and two false starts.
Louis Murphy, who replaced Evans in the starting lineup, was invisible on Sunday and didn’t post a single catch. There was little separation by Murphy or the other Bucs receivers on Sunday.
Coming into the season everyone suspected Tampa Bay’s offense was likely going to struggle, and the defense, which showed improvement at the end of last year, was expected to carry the day while Winston gained experience. But as bad as the offense performed with Winston throwing two interceptions, including a pick-six on his first pass attempt in the first quarter, Smith’s defense was even worse.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs defense forced and recovered one fumble, notched just two sacks, made Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright like look a Pro Bowler, and allowed rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota to have the best debut for a rookie quarterback – ever – with four touchdown tosses, while completing 13-of-16 passes for 209 yards.
I’m not sure who was worse on Sunday – Lovie Smith the head coach or Lovie Smith the defensive coordinator. Sunday’s 28-point loss was the third time a Smith-coached Buccaneers team has been beaten by 25 points or more in 17 games.
The margin of defeat by Schiano’s Buccaneers in his 21 losses over two years was 10.95 points per game. And that was for a coach who came from Rutgers – not the NFL. Smith, who came to Tampa Bay with tons more NFL experience than Schiano had, has actually fared worse. In his 15 losses over two years, the margin of defeat has actually been by 11.6 points per game.
To put that in perspective, over 32 games, Schiano only had one defeat that was by more than 25 points – a 41-0 loss at New Orleans in 2012. Smith has had three in 17 games – a 56-14 loss at Atlanta last year, a 48-17 debacle versus Baltimore at home last year, and Sunday’s 42-14 thrashing at the hands of Tennessee.
Losing stinks, but Buccaneers fans are sick and tired of non-competitive, embarrassing, blowout losses – and there have been far too many under Smith’s watch already. Are the players not responding to Smith’s coaching? Does Smith’s mild-manner coaching style not resonate within the locker room?
Sunday’s loss to Tennessee might have been worse than last year’s loss at Atlanta, which is a tough place to play, and worse than the 48-22 home defeat to Baltimore. Hey, at least the Ravens were a playoff team in 2014.
Smith called Sunday’s performance by Tennessee an “onslaught,” and he’s right. Smith’s defense, which had been fortified by a host of his own hand-picked, former players, including defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Chris Conte and cornerback Tim Jennings, was tricked, fooled and bamboozled by Mariota’s play-action passes.
Those play-action passes froze the linebackers and allowed Wright (four catches for 101 yards and a TD), tight end Delanie Walker (three catches for 43 yards), and wide receiver Harry Douglas (two catches for 24 yards and a TD) to slip behind them for first downs and/or touchdowns. Smith never had an answer for Tennessee’s two-tight end set, which fortified Mariota and gave him plenty of time to throw, in addition to allowing running back Bishop Sankey to hit the edge and rush for 74 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries (6.2 avg.).
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander and SS DJ Swearinger – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
Tampa Bay’s defensive ends were mowed down on perimeter runs, as Jacquies Smith was held to two tackles and a sack, while George Johnson had one tackle and a fumble recovery. The Bucs defensive tackles, a unit that is supposed to be the best in the NFL, was manhandled by the Titans massive offensive line. Tampa Bay’s franchise player, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, finished the game with just three tackles and a sack.
The Bucs linebacking corps was pedestrian with Lavonte David, rookie Kwon Alexander and Danny Lansanah all notching five tackles each, but also missing quite a few tackles, too.
“Am I surprised that we were that bad?” Smith said. “Yes, I’m surprised that we were that bad. I thought we were ready to go. So yes, it’s definitely a surprise to all of us. But we’ll bounce back. We’ve been in situations like this before. Sometimes you feel like you’re ready, you’re just not – a lot of times that happens the first game of the year. You really don’t know until you get to that first game. The biggest improvement you see from Week 1 to Week 2, and that’s how it’ll happen for us.”
Tampa Bay’s defense didn’t siege the day on Sunday. It was under siege – by a rookie quarterback that looks like a future Hall of Famer the way he played in the 2015 regular season opener. A few more bad losses like the one that occurred on Sunday and Smith will be under siege, too.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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]
Everyone is freaking about Winston and Lovie. The real story is how did a Rookie QB just have the single greatest game for a rookie in History against our Defense. He threw 4 Touchdowns. We had no Pass rush, we could not stop them on the ground, and our LB’s took a step backwards. Not to mention Mariotta made our Secondary look like high school players.
I really don’t understand this outcome. I think that Jameis Winston is a qb who will Improved. But the young qb from Oregon is another P Manning. He is NFL Readt right now. I believe that Jameis Winston should be the backup untill a few weks from now.I think Mike Glennon would be a qb that could give the bucs the key to upset over saints.
Mariotta just looked NFL ready because our defense was non-existent. He will come back down to earth when he has to play professionals.
Wrong about Mariota BucTebow. His play action passing had our linebackers frozen and he will do that to every team. THAT is how his receivers were always so wide open. And as soon as they are open, it takes him 0.33 seconds to deliver a STRIKE. That will be tough to stop for any defense.
He ran PA like 5 times… and it paid off each time. I imagine the gameplan was to limit Mariota’s running ability, then defend the pass. Other teams will be more savvy.
Spot on with the release time though. Rampant coverage breakdowns allowed that to happen.
The Situation at right tackle is a mess and what about Evans ? We have seen very little of him in pre season and now he is out for the opener. How serious is his injury ? The official sophomore slip has begun for Evans.
Best thing I’ve read all morning, great article!
What took so long to write this article? See no difference from last year.
Time to stop talking as to what you need to do and do it! Go Bucs! Get Better.
Its only one game. But it sure was one hackuva stinker!
Did you even read the article. These embarrassing losses and colossal letdowns are commonplace for Lovie’s Bucs. Schiano would never have survived a loss like this on opening day.
No, it’s a pattern with this coach. Nothing has improved since he got here.
I am out. As a fan that has lived in Chicago for several years I was so sick when Lovie was hired. I heard and watched the Lovie Bears for years and listened to fans up here get worn out on Lovie and the terrible offense, poor defense and sickening handling of the press. The “tampa 2” defense they run is outdated and in the new passing league will never be a championship style. Conte was a joke up here and run out of town looking so bad I can’t believe he got another job.
As a displaced fan it is too hard and expensive to keep up with a team that shows no ability to get better. No matter the coach, GM, players it seems they make bad decisions over and over and a turn around is years away. Another coach and scheme? 2-3 years before personnel is in place, by then McCoy is aging and Winston will be (if he is any good) moving towards a big money contract which wastes any advantage of starting a rookie QB. I am so frustrated so no more of my time or money will be heading TB’s way.
It’s the ownership.They have had very good coaches, but they always fire them o jump to the latest fad in coaches.
The sky is falling! All is lost!
Well it is pretty saggy, that is for sure. Without some braces there will be a cave in.
Lol. Sky is not falling. Just back to the drawing board. New coach next year. New GM. New system. New players. Another “New day in Tampa Bay”. LOL.
I challenge PEWTER REPORTERS to ask Lovie today during his press conference if he feels any heat about his job after performances like that. I know they won’t. They’ll just ask their same pathetic non-threatening questions for fear that they won’t get their press passes for next week’s game.
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It should be the END of the END for St’ Lovie. He should be gone by the time his presser is scheduled.
To answer the question, yes this is the beginning of the end for Lovie. If I was a Glazer here’s how I’d proceed. I’d give Lovie till the bye to right this ship, or get the pink slip. My pick for interm coach? Hardy Nickerson. Koetter would seem like the choice, but he has his hands full with Jameis, and a bad offense that needs all his attention. Frazier is a carbon copy of Lovie, and also our bad defense can’t afford to lose a coordinator there. I pick Hardy in hopes he can light a fire under this team. I’d tell him it’s time to get in players faces, like he did when leading our defense to greatness during his playing days. Next thing I’d do is put out the word every player on our team is up for trade with the exception of Kwon, Jamies, Jenkins, and Evans. Gerry the not real McCoy would head the list. Yes I’d include L. David also. Let’s face it, we can still give up 35 points to a rookie Q.B. without those two. They’ve both been here long enough to show they can’t lead this defense out of the basement. With the draft choices these players should fetch it’d give our new head coach much needed draft choices to build a new Buc team. My hope would be though Hardy who is loved by fans, would do good enough to show that he can be the next Mike Tomblin, and just perhaps that right combination of tough coach, and players coach that the team will rrun through a wall for.
At this point I don’t care who they fire and when they do it at One Buc Place, but in terms of wisely managing an NFL franchise even I think it’s too early to fire Lovie. If/when they do though, Licht should go with him. Too often the HC takes the fall when the GM has saddled him with lousy players. I do think the defense will look better next week when they’re not facing Mariota. He’s going to make a lot of defenses look silly this year because the defenders will have to think more than they normally do. When the defense improves after next week and stays competitive the rest of the season while Mariota continues to complete about 70% of his passes against other teams things will come into better focus.
Owners are to blame on drafting Jameis. They definitely wanted Winston. They had to sign off and did so publicly. They wanted Licht. They wanted Lovie. They (over)paid for Gerald McCoy. They (over)paid for every free agent that has been brought in. I have no confidence that they know what the hell they are doing. They have the football acumen of a tax accountant who makes all valuations from a spread sheet and never with the naked eye or a gut feeling or common sense. They are not football men. They are fools and I am over their ownership. Owners : Please sell.
Sell yes, but to someone in Tampa.
What I saw is Tampa as always. I see Improvement. But if Tampa has the no#1 pick again well it should all defense players and a new head coach. and get a Veteran Coach for bucs new coach Like Butch Davis! Go Bucs
GeorgeHicks – Butch Davis? Do you regularly eat paint chips or just occasionally? You said you see improvement. I see a team that will be lucky to go 2-14.
Lovie : Please go back to the basement.
I think I am going to switch from disappointment, crying and anger over to laughter at their bone-headed play. That is much more likely to happen than the Bucs turning it around!
Too late Buctebow. You and a handful of others got what you wanted. Jameis is your guy. Enjoy that!
BucWild02 I really didn’t care who we picked. However, Jameis is the least of my concerns with this team.
I don’t think anyone realistically thought we would have a playoff caliber team this year, however the Bucs still managed to astound everyone with a performance worthy of Division III football against the least talented team in the league. The question remains…if we can’t beat the Titans (or even be competitive), then who can we beat (hint: the answer is no one)?
Another thing that bothered me is ‘Captain’ Vincent Jackson. He drives me crazy. Third drive of the game, third down and 7 and he runs an out and gets 6 yards. You gotta realize you need 1 more yard. Nope. Just runs out of bounds. Bucs go for it on 4th down and th spot is reversed. Never an issue if he stretches or dives or makes an effort.
I’ve always thought that you need to give a new system and coach 3 years to turn the program around, but the calls for Lovie’s head are starting to make sense. I feel sorry for those who went to the game filling the stands and spending hard earned dollars for a product like that. There are Lemon Laws for cars that can’t be fixed. I wish there was one for football teams, so the fans could get their money back.
‘Captain’ McCoy is another one. He’s tired of losing? They have never won with him here. He is not a captain or a face of a franchise. He is a bust. One sack and one pressure. Woo hoo. Its no wonder that the rookie Marpet has looked good against him at times, he’s average.
So the most winnable game on the schedule by far (at home, against a 2-14 team starting a rookie qb with a roster of virtual unknowns) turned out to be a one sided ROMP against the Bucs who look exactly as unprepared as they did all of last year. But the head coach had no idea it was coming. And after watching every snap in training camp and preseason PR thinks this team will put up 7 wins? Okay….
What has me quite concerned, is why all the local media seemed to believe we are better than last year and said so.
Even last year the media fell into the “playoffa” hype.
So who is doing the real reporting rather than just publish what they think the readers want to read?
How could the local media be so far off when they were at all the practices?
Apparently they believed the Lovie garbage he espoused.
I said this last year when I kept using the moniker “St. Lovie” when referring to anything Lovie said or did.
Nothing has changed, that I have noted.
The article poses the question,”Is this the beginning of the end for Lovie Smith in Tampa?” I say no it shouldn’t be. This is the owners bed and they need to sleep in it. I say the Glazers must only be allowed to get a new coach if this one dies or is no longer under contract. When they lose enough revenue, maybe they will sell the team to someone who knows what they’re doing.
too painful for words. thought the defense would be better. a lot better. had a bad feeling about the team, but not this bad. Tampa as an entity does not have a good track record with coaches since Gruden and a poosr track record with coaching decent personnel. Revis is doing well, so is Bennett, Blount, Talib and others….we cannot coach them up AND mold a consistent system to take advantage of their strengths…this get backs to the Glazers. I think they just are not football people or at least savvy football people. College football for me.
Been a Buc fan since 1976. Can’t recall a more horrible nonperformance by offense & defense. This team is SOFT! No one has a mean streak at all. I was hoping for a 6 win season. Thought that would be an improvement. Now, not sure if 3 wins is realistic. It appears the division is as bad as last year, so that makes the Bucs the worst of the worst…vying with Jax & Oakland for #1 pick again.
I generally agree with surferdudes regarding blowing up the team & starting over with a ton of draft choices. Only two problems with that: 1. We don’t draft worth a darn, and 2. It would take up to four years to get better with so many rookies. Bottom line though, I don’t see this team getting better in the next four years no matter what.
Have to wonder if Chip Kelly saw all this coming when he accepted the head coaching job then reneged.
Been a Bucs fan since I was seven years old in ’79 and have been around too long to overreact to one game. But all I can say today is: when does hockey season start?
This board is a riot. What did you really expect with four rookies starting and your best offensive player out? It was obvious last year that the offensive line coach is horrible and he was not replaced. That’s on management. But this game doesn’t mean much except that we’re 0-1. Is Marita the next Tarkington. Quite possibly. I amde it clear that I thought he was more Pro ready because of his quick decision-making. But that’s old news. We’ve got Winston and he played like a rookie. That’s not all that awful. You can continue this pattern of two or three year changes in HC and GM, but that gets old and each time the franchise has a smaller and smaller field of eligibles from which to choose. This notion that Lovie lacks passion and excitement is hardly a damning critique. Chuck Noll was emotionless,so was Tony Dungy, Landry of Dallas, and it’s not as if Beli-cheat is an exciting guy.
Some fans are just over-reacting out of frustration. They are afraid this game is a prelude to the entire season. If it proves to be prophetic both Lovie and Licht will be shown the exit by the equally frustrated Glazers. But no need to panic just yet.
If St. Lovie REALLY cared about the Buccaneers, the players and fans? He’s resign immediately and admit he’s no longer able to coach in the NFL. It’s obvious to ebveryone else and embarrassing to watch or be a part of. Done dee done done.
here,here I agree please for the sake of my marriage. My poor wife had to put up with my ranting fot hours. Sorry Dear. Go Bucs out of town. Fan since 76
Firing Lovie will actually do little to improve this team- similar to the last 2 coaches as they were all hired by the Glazer boys.We field a second quality football team year after year and we blame the players and then the coaches and the scouts- when the blame is solely on ownership and their inability or unwillingness to build a quality,competitive football team.
Lovie will likely be replaced by another coach of the same caliber and the process will begin again- nothing this team has fielded since the SB has been worth a damn- lets just be honest- the last decade of Bucs football has been forgettable and a piss poor excuse for a football organization…
The Glazer haven’t shown me anything in the way of their decision making over the last decade to make me think anything is really going to change.
It’s time for the fanbase of this team to look elsewhere since it seems we have more conviction and desire to make and want this club to be competitive but the owners don’t appear to feel the same…
Except for one Super Bowl appearance Lovie Smith has a very pedestrian record. Fire him? The real question is why did the Glazers hire him!
Given all of the Glazers’ bad decisions starting with firing Gruden, maybe the answer is to fire themselves and sell the team to a local investor group.
The happiest man in America today is Leslie Frazier – the man not calling the defensive plays.Come on Leslie, wipe that smirk off your face! lol.
lol I see what you did there
Drove 6 hours round trip, just to leave at halftime. This team is a joke. Here is a quote from Kendall Wright per Grantland, ““I don’t think the guys guarding me could guard me on that play, really,” Wright said afterward. “Not being arrogant … The defense that they ran, there were a lot of holes in the defense, and we worked on those plays all week for that Cover 2 defense.”” Yeah, Tampa’s not going to win many games this year.
seat26 is absolutely right. The Tampa 2 is predicated on a strong 4 man rush (which we obviously don’t have). We should have gone after aldon smith MUCH harder…. to go in to a season with George Johnson as your starting end and expecting any type of pass rush is laughable. Jameis is going to be fine it was his first game, but our defense really dropped the ball guys (all those completed inside stants felt like we were playing against kubiack’s (he was the OC) ravens last year again). here’s what i think, lemme know if you agree? The problem with lovie (and coaches like him) is that they only know one way, and believe that their one way will work. And when it doesn’t work, they cant/refuse to make adjustments. what ends up happening is he puts players in a position to fail (round peg in a square hole so to speak) rather then playing to their strengths. Been a Buccs fan awhile now and i never thought i would see a coach worse at making adjustments then raheem. (raheem had very little talent to work with mind you). PLEASE no one try to comfort me and say its going to be ok, (or even worse something like oh great article scott!) i stopped commenting on this site awhile back because some of these writers groupies get mad at me when i give them truths, and call them out on their crap. (this guy reynolds sounds like he misses shiano now, when he wanted him out no too long ago) we’ve been losing for too long and its getting really old. I was at buffalo wild wings watching the game and IM A REAL FAN, (only buccs fan in the house sunday, I live by sacramento)so i keep watching the game even if we’re losing to see what we have for next week/rest of the year. but after the titans scored in the third, the manager switched the game and our eyes met as he illicited an apologetic smile. I could only reply with a defeated smirk. its really getting old guys, we need to come together as a fan base and demand better results. Have you seen the steelers, patriots, or packers consistently lose for several years on end without the fanbase DEMANDING results?? Just some food for thought. It starts with calling out these “experts” on what they say.. This Reynolds (ira, roy, and the rest of these idiots) guy asks too many b.s. questions at the press conferences (i watch every single one). Why not ask “how are you really expecting to protect you rookie qb with 2 rookie linemen, and this bum goscher or whatever that the colts threw away?!!”.. or “why wasent there a stronger push to TRY and bring in aldon smith?”. “why do you bring in the bums (chris conte/major wright) from chicago but didnt give devin hester (a guy who still produced) a shot to come to tampa when he wanted to come here last year?”.. just blowing off some steam guys i hope i havent offended anyone, but seriously i look at this as an “us against them” thing. at the end of the day the beat writers, coaches, players and owners get paid in association with the buccs by various means, while us LOYAL fans who often spend thousands of dollars on the cheap product produced on Sundays get our hearts broke. I still bleed pewter and red and will support this team NO MATTER WHAT!!! GO BUCCS
kudos to you sir and most of us feel the same way. Hell me and my brother got free drinks forom the bar owner last year because we are sucker enough to show up and pay for food to watch this BS product. Lovie is a goner and should be. His tampa two sucks and he will never change that. There has been no improvement from this team for two years and it sucks.I’m also a little tired of Lovies Bears re-treads. How the hell is Conte still on this roster?
I watched the first half of the game and turned it off. I waited six month through all the hype and hoped for progress. Not a complete change, but some change. What I saw was a QB who was not ready to play football in the NFL. He plays football undisciplined and he is not ready to play. The coaching staff has not made him ready. That was their job. It is on them. The defense was a poor at best. That is on Smith. All this and it was the Titans; a two win team. Who can we beat? Not happy!
You draft slow, you play slow. That’s got to be the slowest team ever. Every position is slow.
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