Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Getty Images
You can moan about the time. If only the clock was a little kinder. If only the Bucs had handled it a little better.
You can gripe about the distance. If only Jamies Winston had thrown quicker to give a receiver a chance. If only he had run harder so he wasn’t caught from behind.
You can grumble about the weather, or about the mistakes or, as coach Dirk Koetter did, about the culture. You can blame a dozen different players. You can hide behind fat statistics if you want.
Eventually, you will come to the truth about Tampa Bay’s 37-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
The Bucs lost this game because they deserved to lose this game. They worked hard for it, and enough players worked for it. There were too many blown coverages, too many turnovers, too little clock management and too many Rams – the Rams! – in the end zone.
The Bucs are 1-2 today, with the two Super Bowl teams up next. That’s staring 1-5 in the eye, a possibility that will make you ask this question: What, really, has changed? Might it not have been Lovie Smith or Greg Schiano or Raheem Morris on the sideline? Might it not have been Ray Perkins or Richard Williamson or Leeman Bennett? With the game in the air, this team continually latches onto defeat. Again.
Hey, Koetter has never been a head coach. This clock management stuff is new to him. When Charles Sims stayed in bounds after a catch, it would have been a perfect time to call time out.
“We lined up slow, so maybe I should have used it then,” Koetter said.
These were the Rams, mind you, a team that had scored nine points in two games. Against the Bucs, they got 37. Their quarterback was Case Keenum, a quarterback with a popgun arm. I’m sure Case is swell to his dog and all, but let’s face it: There were passes when you thought the refs were going to call the infield fly rule. Batter’s out. There was one pass where I was sure that the receiver was going to call a fair catch. And it went for a touchdown.
Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Getty Images
Then there was Roberto Aguayo, whose toe – and maybe his head – is evidently not on straight. Aguayo missed two of four kicks on the afternoon.
There was Charles Sims, who tipped another pass into another interception, and Donovan Smith, who didn’t block Robert Quinn on his way to a sack-fumble-touchdown. There was Chris Conte, who didn’t cover a receiver and Keith Tandy, who didn’t tackle one. There was Dirk Koeetter, who cost his team several seconds – maybe enough for another play or two – when he didn’t call time.
Taking a timeout home is never good.
There was Winston, who strolled to the Rams’ 5, still pump-faking although he was far past the line of scrimmage, on the final play.
It was like an Agatha Christie novel. Everyone did it. Everyone played a part.
“Our culture is not where it needs to be,” Koetter said. “That starts with me. I’m the head of that. I’m putting that squarely on my shoulders. There is something about our culture. I wish I could grab it. I’ve been on teams that have had it and you don’t want to let go of it. When you don’t have it, it is hard to figure out what it is. I wish I could grab it. When you don’t have it, it’s hard to figure out. Something in our culture that lets a game like this get away. We’ve got to get over that hump and we’re not there.”
No, they aren’t. The Bucs had a lot of great performances Sunday – Winston threw for 405 yards, Mike Evans caught 10 passes for 132 yards, and Adam Humphries caught nine for 100 – but there were enough mistakes to erase them all.
Winston, of course, blamed quarterback play as the thing the Bucs need to have better. But it wasn’t his arm. It was his hands (which were stripped by Quinn) and his legs (he never really did commit to the run on his 10 yard gain at the end).
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and RB Charles Sims – Photo by: Getty Images
It can get a little silly when Winston is suggesting that better quarterback play is all the Bucs need. What they need is for someone else, every now and then, to be the Bucs’ best player. It’s not saying that Winston couldn’t have been more precise – he admitted he overthrew Vincent Jackson in the end zone – but who would you say did the most to try to help the Bucs win?
Look, none of us really expected this team to be ready to make a run at the Super Bowl. Not two years after being worst in the league. But we did kind of hope for improvement. But if the Bucs lose their next two, it would have to go 6-4 to finish 7-9. Can they do it?
Not playing like this, they can’t. The Bucs still give up too many long passes. Their running game struggled at times (Sims had six rushes for six yards in the first half).
The team still doesn’t protect the ball enough. Time management, one of Lovie Smith’s failings, is still a mystery.
Maybe someday it will be different.
No one has won more awards, including two national Associated Press Sports Editors Best Columnist awards and eight top 10 finishes, than the legendary Gary Shelton, former sports columnist of the St. Petersburg Times. Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can.
Shelton just received his sixth Sportswriter of the Year award for Florida by the NSSA, and no one has seen more big events, including 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics and 11 Final Fours. Shelton still goes into the locker room to obtain his stories.
And no one has made you angrier, or laugh louder, or think harder about what he has written. Simply put, no one has covered Tampa Bay sports like Shelton has. Now you can read Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton
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Legendary sports columnist Gary Shelton returns to PewterReport.com for his second season of providing post-game commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like no one else can. No one has won more sports writing awards than Shelton, who has covered Tampa Bay area sports for decades with his unique brand of humor and insight. Bucs fans can Shelton daily on GarySheltonSports.com and follow him on Twitter at @Gary_Shelton
It’s too early to dump on our New Coach. The problems we have are not all his fault. He may be responsible for not managing the clock better, but I am guessing that he was not the guy who pulled the trigger on moving up to get a kicker in 2nd round. My guess is that given the time to turn this into a better team he will be just fine. We still need lots of talent on this team on both sides of the ball.
Always like Gary Shelton. Never thought we’d lose a shootout with the Boomerams.
we can’t beat the Rams, we just can’t
Plain and simple; we don’t have enough quality players yet. We first have to build the DL and OL some more, find some safties, quit signing players that other teams have released. Acquire more draft picks and Meathead needs to do a better job in obtaining quality players. Go Bucs!
This loss is squarely on the shoulders of Jason Licht. The swings and misses both in the draft and FA are what has crippled this team. Here we are 3 games into the season and the same questions we had at the end of last season are the same questions we have today. The job of a GM is to HELP the team get better but I urge anyone to look at our team and see growth. I see different but I definitely don’t see improvement. We still cant rush the passer, the secondary looks equally as awful as last year and the offense still lacks the player on the outside to walk the safeties back and open up the field. We heard about Vitale being the next Alstott only for him not even to make the roster. We heard about Kenny Bells great wheels only to find out he’s Maurice Stovall and can only perform in underwear football. We couldn’t take a risk on Collins two years ago bc “nobody” would yet we waste a pick on a FB and KR that don’t even make the team. This year we trade up for a kicker that missed loads of kicks over 40 yards and shockingly he has under performed. It starts to look like the Kwon Alexander pick was the exception and not the rule per his draft history. Now let’s take a look at FA since he’s been the GM. Let’s line the busts up Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, Bruce Carter, Brent Grimes(and no it’s not too early), George Johnson, Darryl Smith, Alterraun Verner, Brandon Myers, and Evan Smith. We signed those players while trading away/cutting the likes of Darrelle Revis, ASJ, Mark Barron and Jeremy Zuttah who ALL could help this team. Even what’s left of Revis is better than anything we have playing CB that I’ve seen. ASJ should never have been cut bc the problem is much bigger than him. Licht sent a very dumb message and as a result someone else will benefit from our dysfunction. Im sick of bashing players I know aren’t good enough so I’m going to focusing on Licht until others get on board. This team is not ready to compete and will not until we get someone more competent over player acquisition. I can’t even blame the Glazers bc they give every GM and coach the opportunity to bring in whatever players and scheme they want so when it doesn’t work its all on them and it’s starting to look like Lovie isnt the only person that should’ve cleaned his office out last season. Jason I sure hope someone calls you before the exit interviews at the end of the season like you did Lovie and give you the same treatment he got bc you certainly deserve it.
I’m on board with you.
@stlbucsfan…as usual, from my head to your keyboard…couldn’t have given Licht better criticism myself. We all (rightfully) complained about what a poor job Dom did of player acquisition (I mean he was the low bar)…..but Licht looks to be very much in the same low-bar category. Every arm-chair GM can select an Alexander (or an LvD) every now and then…only the good GMs make consistently good selections. I am right there with you on questioning why we don’t take some chances with our 6th and 7th round picks (L’ael Collins for one), but instead seem to settle for guys that have almost no chance of making our roster, even as special teamers. Look at the guys New England trots out every week…they aren’t exactly all 1st round selections, and Brady clearly doesn’t account for all of their performance. The road to success has to come with player acquisition first.
Then, we can look at complaining about “doing your job”…D Smith didn’t do his job as a LT, but maybe he shouldn’t be playing LT…Sims didn’t do his job as a RB, but maybe he should only be a 3rd down RB…and so on.
@eastendboy I personally thought the Bucs should have made a run at Okung this summer but instead we paid Sweezey. I thought Reggie Nelson should’ve been targeted but instead we resigned Conte and brought in no real competition at that position. I think Sims is serviceable as an every down RB but I also like what I saw from the Hillis kid in preseason as he brings a dynamic our backfield doesnt currently have which is a little power. Once they hopefully fire Licht maybe they can bring us in as consultants to right the ship lol.
Sorry, STL, still way to early to call this entire season or to focus on firing Jason Licht.
I’m just as disappointed as anybody in the last two games, plenty of things to criticize including but no limited to draft picks. But the GM doesn’t blow a coverage, doesn’t mis-manage the game clock, doesn’t make dumb decisions with the ball in the red zone, etc. etc. etc.
With GMs you have to take a very long term view. He’s had wins and losses, just like every GM does, even the very best ones don’t have a success rate much better than 50/50. But the best GMs, over an extended timeframe of three to four seasons, produce measurable progress. Licht’s season two was measurably better than his season one – how could it not be? – and we won’t know the final results on his third season for another 13 games, possibly more.
Today we have a brand new coaching staff in its third game. We have a lot of young players who are just learning the NFL game, more young players than most NFL teams. We have our franchise quarterback, but much more often than not it takes multiple seasons for a young QB to develop to anywhere close to his potential. And we’ve already had some significant injuries take their toll.
So it’s not time to demand a new GM. If at the end of this season we’ve won 6 or fewer games with little to no sign of progress through the season, then Licht should be on the hot seat. But if we’ve won 7 or more games and the team is beginning to “gel”, then different story.
It’s still plausible that this team goes through a very difficult early schedule and ends up being 1-4, then goes on a hot streak the rest of the season. At which point everybody will be backslapping Licht and everyone on the team.
No reason to make judgments until the results are in.
Licht should be gone not bc he blew coverages but bc he’s allowing the same guy(Verner) to blow coverages every year while paying him starters money. He should be gone bc we cut ASJ I presume to send a message but won’t cut the kicker whose production is about as poor as ASJ off the field issues. What makes a GM worth the money is knowing what risks to take and what ones not to take. Knowing that the Collins kid prob would choose to go elsewhere if he went undrafted made him worth a late round pick for a team with needs all over the offensive line. Trading up and selecting a kicker when Jameis(our top priority) needs another speedy weapon and the defense needed major help in the backend and at DE was yet another terrible call. He would get a pass if he was doing the most with the picks he had but he’s not. I hope you’re right and we turn it around but this looks like the team that ended last season 0-4 so I see no reason to expect anything different.
Sorry, still not with you STL.
ASJ got cut because he had three years to get his act together and failed. Cutting him was exactly the right thing to do and I congratulate Licht for pulling the trigger on him.
You still cannot judge any GM on less than three to four years of work. Period. I don’t care if they’re good or bad, unless they simply go bonkers and suffer a social media meltdown, the GM cannot be judged on short term criteria.
You have to wait til the end of this seasons, at the very very least …. and then only to put the GM on notice, if necessary.
There’s a difference between patience and insanity. The players he’s acquired this summer have had absolutely no impact through 3 games. Grimes looks like a Verner clone getting roasted in pass coverage. Ayers has been hurt, Darryl Smith has played to his birth certificate, Conte still makes good chase down tackles but no impact plays, we may never know what Sweezey can do bc he’s been hurt since the day we signed him and I’ll stop there. Our K who we traded up for can barely make XP’s, Spence has been asked to change sides at DE and has been thrust into a starters role due to injury and lack of depth. He inherited a team that couldn’t rush the passer, had no QB and who needed playmakers at WR and the secondary. Through 2 seasons and 3 games the only question we solved was due to us having the #1 pick not great GM work. I’ll re visit this is a few weeks and see if you’re still so patient.
I just basically said same thing under the most dossapinting thread. Yes, reality is this team is not ready. Go ahead and set yourself up for disappointment if you think they can compete with Broncos or Panthers next.
I think the kicker fiasco instead of taking a safety or WR was just about the dumbest move a Gm could possibly make. Not saying that would made difference today but who knows. All I know is this team is still too razor thin in areas. Am I ready to fire Licht? No, but he would be on short leash and I would base this next drAft off if I keep him or not.
Stlbucsfan……I couldn’t have said it better. I will only add we need to look at our offensive line and make some obvious decisions in the off-season. We have to draft a left tackle, move Donovan (yellow flag) Smith to guard, release J.R. (no offense Larry Hagman), and draft a center that can grow with Winston. Lastly, can anyone assist Winston with his over-throwing?
Seems like you’re focusing on the offense, when the offense is actually fairly productive (ranked 16th in points so far, and 7th in total offense) and our defense is what’s killing us (ranked dead last in the league in points allowed, and 21st in total defense).
Putting up 32 points on the Rams was actually a pretty good performance against a pretty decent defense (ranked 12th in scoring defense). Letting the Rams (29th in scoring offense) put up 30 offensive points against us is what really hurts.
Yeah, Smith getting multiple flags sucks. But we still put up 32 points and 472 yards without our star running back in the lineup.
What really hurt most yesterday was poor clock management by our coach and offensive players, and terrible, horrible, no good defense.
The o line isn’t best in league but it’s hardly our biggest issue right now. They held up ok against best D line in the NFL I thought. Yes Smith is not a pro bowl LT but Winston had plenty time to throw all day I thought. You aren’t going to get much more time against that defense. Drafting a LT or anymore O line should be behind WR,Safety,TE,DE, IMO.
while i do think we need 1 or 2 new linemen i agree it is not as urgent as a WR, Safety, TE, DE
Well, here I am droning on this again. A Second Round pick for a kicker that is LOSING games for us? How many missed extra points and very makeable field goals are the Bucs willing to stomach before getting a new kicker? Jason Licht unfortunately will be forever tied with this one completely terrible pick. I know you folks in Florida have a softspot for this kicker, but if this kicker was out of the University of Nevada, you would be screaming that this might be the worst pick by the Bucs since Bo Jackson! Dirk will figure things out. He will be an ok head coach (although I think he should’ve remained in his comfort zone and ended his career as an excellent Offensive Coordinator, instead of being remembered as a so-so Head Coach). I actually like Jason Licht, I think he has done some excellent moves for the Bucs, but one glaring terrible, bone-headed, second round choice that he traded up to get, will by his epitaph in Tampa Bay. (I posted this same thing in another article, but this is probably the better place).
I understand your point and yes, the positions you listed absolutely need to be addressed. I have just grown tired of the o-line’s penalties and their innate ability to falter when it matters most. Here’s something, can we please start to wear our red jerseys at home? I think we have proven that dark jerseys do not factor into fatigue. Anyone else notice that visiting teams still have the energy to celebrate after winning on our home turf? Can we please stop being soft mentally? IMO that was one of the points Dirk was making when he spoke of a losing culture; our lack of mental toughness.
I really want to see red jerseys with white pants at home but we will only wear the red for like 2 games at home with the pewter pants
Like Gary Shelton, I believe there’s plenty of blame to go around.
The “culture” thing that Coach Koetter talks about is maybe nothing more complicated than players making plays, and coaches making good on the field decisions.
We had players who made a lot of plays, pretty good numbers put up by our quarterback and several receivers. But when it was “clutch”, they weren’t there. Clock management was poor. Play selection wasn’t great.
Tactically, it would have been better, I think, to stretch the field and throw the ball for intermediate to long distances rather than depending upon driving down inside the red zone. We had three very capable receivers, plus a pretty good TE to throw to down the field. Face it, our red zone offense has not been good, and good defenses – and say what we will about the Rams, they do have a pretty decent defense, especially their front four – tend to tighten up a lot in the red zone. Especially so when the clock has run down so far that defenders simply put 8 guys in the end zone to wait for your qb throw. Sure, a quick strike TD will leave some time on the clock for the other team to score, but far better to put the pressure to perform on their offense.
As for Aquayo, he may prove us all wrong eventually, but he sure looks like a wasted second round pick now. Another quality tight end or interior lineman on the offense could sure come in handy. Don’t draft kickers high, period.
Latest Mystery? Does anyone think that this team looks any different than last year? Other than the obvious: Alexander and David being the beasts they are, Evans is playing well, Humphries seems like a legit slot receiver and Winston is playing like he usually does (which is not the one losing ball games for us may I add), the defensive secondary still looks suspect, Verner is terrible and the defensive line is still not imposing any kind of pressure on QB’s with consistency. The games like yesterdays are the one’s that “progressing” teams win!, yet we continue to not capitalize, in particular, the Panthers dropped another game to fall to 1-2 and tonight the Saints and Falcons play. Now with Denver and Carolina knocking at the door, 1-4 looks pretty imminent. It amazes me how a team that could not score, managed to rack up 37 points yesterday and made a mediocre QB look like Brett Favre. Let’s not even mention Aguayo, as a huge Florida State fan, it saddens me to say he is a huge disappointment thus far. It makes you wonder as a fan, what are the credentials to be a GM in this league and more specific, for this franchise. Like others have commented regarding ASJ, I also think he will go somewhere else and be a huge asset much like Aquib Talib has been. We seriously need a speedster (big in size) at the other wide out position because for 3 quarters yesterday, I wondered if VJ was even on the field. Even the Atlanta game IMO could have been a loss which would make us 0-3 right now. Very sad, to see this franchise in such a s**t hole all of the time.
As long as the Bucs have Jason Light running this franchise they will never be a winning team. Look long and hard at what he has done in free agency, and his draft picks and that should be enough to tell you that this guy is the real problem. The coaches can only coach the players that are provided to them by the GM, via the draft or free agency. Why was the whole NFL laughing at us when we drafted a kicker in the second round? Well I guess that question has been answered very clearly by the 2nd round kicker now hasn’t it. Thanks to our fabulous GM.
Wow, that was a tough loss for sure. I didn’t get to see the final drive as I couldn’t stay at the bar long enough to watch it. The offensive line didn’t play that poorly from what I saw. This is one of the best defensive lines in the NFL and Jameis only got sacked once I believe.
I’ll start with the good. Jameis was playing great, despite what some are saying about his “inaccuracies”. You guys do know he’s completing 61% of his passes right? That includes throwing it an average of 47 times a game! that’s absurd and a perfect picture of how bad our defense and run game are. Simms needs to stop tipping passes to the other team. Does Jameis miss some throws? he sure does, but show me a QB in the league who doesn’t.
Mike Evans is a star and uncoverable. Get that man a raise now if you can. Him and Jameis will provide fireworks for years to come. Brate played well and will be a big cog for us for a while as well.
On to the bad, our defense is terrible. I can’ fathom giving up 30 points to the Rams. Casey fucking Keenum is 30 against us. No pass rush, and the secondary is just terrible. Conte needs to go this off season period. We need safety help in a bad way and should be at the top of our off season list.
I mean Rams receivers were running wide open! and then to get the pass interference on 3rd and 17, I almost punched something.
We all new how razor thin this team was in terms of depth and it’s showing. Without Ayers in there, our pass rush disappears. And then there’s Roberto. I know you all like to bomb Noles fans for our dedication to our players, but even most of us knew a 2nd was too high. However he Was the highest rated kicker of all time coming out. But as a die hard Noles fan I say, if he fucks it up next week bring someone else in. We can’t afford that kind of stuff on this team.
I can understand all of your frustrations, I have them myself, but if you thought this team was anything more than an 8-8 team this year, you believed way too much of the hype., Way too many holes on this team. We need an entire new secondary and depth across the board. Not to mention receiver as VJ has clearly lost it. I mean hell it looks like it’s laborous to run his routes.
We won’t win this coming week, we all know that, but how close the Bucs can keep it says a lot. I guess it’s sad when you have to think of it that way. However it’s only three weeks in and we’re still tied atop the NFC south. haha.
AS for Licht, I see a bunch of people jumping on him. I’m not going to knock him for those free agent misses because I think Lovie had more to do with those choices than he did. The drafts have been pretty solid outside of some of you thinking every 5th and 6th round pick should be starting. He gets another draft to see what he can do , and it needs to be defense heavy.
Coach Koetter , I can fault him for not using the timeout , that s a huge pet peeve of mine, but we have to give this guy a few years. We gave Lovie and his joke sqaud 2 full years, and Koetters offense isn’t the problem. This defense is just horrible.
Amo good point on the penalties but it’s a young team and they were up against arguably best pass rush in NFL. It’s a need just low on the priority IMO. Penalties are still a team issue also not an O line only issue but I do hear what you are saying for sure bro.
To those talking about Collins, he should have been taken in the 3rd let alone 6th or 7th, but at that time didn’t he say that he would not report or sign with any teams that drafted him late because of the money.
That is way in the rear view, and I agree for the most part about Licht, however… If he has learned from a couple of these drafting mistakes he deserves to stay on and keep building. Bringing in a new guy will not automatically change things.
I defended the Aguayo pick when it happened, but it now is confirmed to be a terrible pick. I had high hopes for this season, and while I am not currently as doom and gloom as many of you, I hope the core can stay healthy and we can move a couple other veteran pieces for more draft picks.
Just a note on Collins…his agent said during the draft not to draft him after round 1 or he would sit out, ostensibly because of the implications on money and lockup of rights, however, his agent said after the draft that his comments were obviously just a bluff, that there was no chance Collins would have sat out because of the huge risk that would come with waiting an entire year for the next draft. No team called his bluff and he signed as a FA on his terms with the Cowboys.
My point simply is…as Donald Trump might say….what the hell have you got to lose? Instead we picked a full back that had no chance of making our team as a full back and wasn’t a particularly good special teaser either so really he had no chance of making our team at any position….
It is still too early to make strong judgments about how Koetter and Licht are doing as coach and GM. The team is in the midst of a rebuild. As far as I am concerned we are in year one of this regime. As much as I want us to “win now!”, I realize we still have a long way to go to climb back into the top tier of the NFL.
So far I think I was expecting too much improvement in the defense. We have a good young offense. I agree that our lack of depth has already emerged this early in the season.
If Koetter is still calling All the Plays he needs to change things up. We were supposed to be a run-1st team, a running, play-action team but that’s not what we have turned into.
218 plays, 153 passing, 65 rushing plays in 3 games. Sure we have put up a lot of points, but also
a lot of Turnovers, many that turned into a TD or set up a Score.
70% of our plays are passing, just too much imo.
The defense on the other hand is an even uglier story. Just a shade better than the Lovie Smith era.
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