Bucs QB Jameis Winston - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
All things considered, it may have been the ugliest play in the ugly history of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Children should not watch it. It should be rated X, because rating it an O would just be silly.
It was third-and-one at the Denver 26, a lean-forward kind of play. Nothing too complicated, right.
But quarterback Jameis Winston handed the ball off to Charles Sims, who finds running the ball from scrimmage a bit of a chore. He was swamped. He couldn’t telephone the first-down marker without it being a long distance call.
So, faced with being stopped short, Sims compounded his mistake. Hearing Winston call for him to lateral the ball, he pitched it wildly, and Denver recovered it for the third takeaway of the half. It ended up eight yards behind the line of scrimmage in the hands of the Broncos’ Billy Winn.
Bucs RB Charles Sims – Photo by: Getty Images
It was scattered, it was chaotic and it was unsuccessful, all of which sums up the Tampa Bay offense on Sunday.
“That was not a smart play on our part,” coach Dirk Koetter said. “It was not one of our finest moments.”
And really, that was about as good as it was for the Bucs’ offense on Sunday.
For the most part, the Bucs spent most of the afternoon running on a treadmill. The ground game was through quicksand. The passing game was through fog. In the middle, there was a lightning. Yep, you might say that the Bucs’ offense was chaos.
I mean, yeah, the Broncos defense was tough, all right. But they made the Bucs look like foreign students trying out this game of football for the first time.
Put it this way:
In the first half, the Bucs had two interceptions and a fumble.
In the second half, the Bucs gained 92 yards.
In the second half, they had four first downs.
In the second half, the Broncos had four sacks.
And so forth.
For the game, the Bucs had 215 yards. But 75 of those came on their first-period touchdown drive, leaving 140 yards over the remaining 11 drives. The Bucs had 69 yards in penalties.
So no wonder coach Dirk Koetter punted when it was fourth-and-six at Denver’s 46. To him, seven yards must have looked like walking to North Korea.
“Not a smart play on our part,” said Koetter. “Not one of our finest moments right there.”
Look, there are a couple of glaring shortcomings going on here. One is Winston, who was sacked five times and seemed to think that Aqib Talib was one of his primary targets. Remember last year, when Winston seemed to have a handle on his early mistakes? Well, he’s throwing to the wrong guys again. Last year, after four weeks, he had seven interceptions; this year, he has eight.
“At times, I do try tot do too much,” Winston said. “That’s part of the problem. I’ve just got to do my job and let the players play.”
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
Winston was asked if he needs to protect himself by giving up and taking a sack or throwing the ball away when there’s no play to be made.
“I need to protect the football,” he said. “That’s what I need to be worried about protecting right now.”
Perhaps the problem is that the Bucs don’t have anyone else to rely on offense. Mike Evans is off to a good start, but he relies on Winston to get him the ball. And make no mistake. The Bucs desperately miss Doug Martin.
Sims is a nice back coming out of the backfield to catch a pass, but when it comes time to run the ball, he’s Lars Tate light. He carried it 15 times Sunday; he gained 28 yards. That’s a 1.9-yard average, which means he might pick up the first down on sixth-and-short. Of course, he might not.
Let’s face it. Tampa Bay Bucs’ fans have seen some ugly offense through the years, from Sam Wyche circling his finger to Ray Perkins to Leeman Bennett trying not to notice that Bo Jackson didn’t sign. With Koetter, it was supposed to be better. Sunday, it wasn’t. The Bucs wouldn’t have scored again if the teams were on the field until Thursday.
Koetter seemed to agree. He praised Denver’s defense, but he added, “It’s not acceptable for the way we played.”
Want an example? There was 7:30 left to play, and the Bucs had a fourth-and-six at the Denver 46 with the Broncos up 27-7.
If there was any chance at all, the Bucs had to go for it … and Koetter punted.
“I had been watching our offense the whole game,” Koetter said. “I don’t know why anyone expected we could make it on fourth-and-7 if they had been watching our offense the rest of the game. I sure didn’t expect us to.
“I’m playing the percentages, guys. We don’t make it on third-and-7, and we’ve got the guy wide open, what makes you think we’re going to make it on fourth-and-7? We were struggling all night. We aren’t playing well enough on offense.”
The answer? No, I don’t think the Bucs would have made it on fourth-and-seven.
The other answer? A good team would have. A good team would have had the guys, and the aggression, and the boldness. Because you aren’t going to overcome a 20-point deficit with your punter.
Then there are the growing concerns with Winston, who has now thrown an interception in his last seven games. Everyone likes how competitive Winston is, and everyone likes his leadership. But the kid simply has to be more precise throwing the ball. He can be scatter-armed, and it leads to trouble.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Getty Images
“He decided last year to come out of it,” Koetter said. “He made a conscious choice to come out of it. He did a great job of that. We need it again.”
For the Bucs, it doesn’t get much easier. Next week, instead of the Super Bowl winners, they play the Super Bowl losers in Carolina. Away from home. On Monday night. Then they travel to San Francisco, where they have not played well.
“I still think we’re going to be a good football team,” Koetter said. “We weren’t good enough tonight in a lot of areas, starting with coaching. My coaching.”
The thing is, the more a coach says that, the easier it will be for fans to believe him. In other words, if the Bucs are going to be better, isn’t it about time?
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
Bucs fans can enjoy Shelton’s weekly post-game column on the Bucs following every Tampa Bay game exclusively on PewterReport.com, and our readers are encouraged to subscribe to GarySheltonSports.com for all of his expert commentary on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays, USF, Florida, Florida State and all of the sports teams and sports figures in the national spotlight.
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
Gary has it right.
With the caveat here that it’s still early, only one quarter of the way through a 16 game season, what is most disappointing isn’t necessarily the W-L record. Despite the rah rah at the beginning of every new season and annual predictions of “we’re going to the playoffs this year!”, I think most knowledgeable Bucs fans, looking at the schedule, penciled in at 1-3 in the first quarter .. thinking we’d probably lose at ATL and beat LA at home … so we flipped that, still at 1-3. No, the problem is that in our three losses, we looked simply over-matched by the opponent, especially on our defense. Offense has been flipping from hot to cold to hot to cold.
What I wanted to see was the Bucs in every game through the final whistle, playing good defense, and good offense, making progress, and showing consistency from week to week. Even if it still produced the same 1-3 record to date.
But that is not what we’ve been seeing. We’re all over the map on the offense – you define quality and reproducibility of results – and the defense is just not getting it done. Well, you may say they gave up “only” 27 points yesterday, but that was with two quarterbacks with a total of 4 NFL starts between them … one had a passer rating of 141.7 and the other had a PR of 94.1 yesterday!
I remember well the good old days of Bucs defenses when we made even the star quarterbacks of the league have off days when they played the Bucs. Now we make the rookies and backups look like stars.
Well if one had listened to Winstons Press Conference he was asked that question about Sims trying to lateral to him and he said he never said a word and thought the play had already been stopped by the refrees.
In fairness to Sims – and with a heavy but honest heart – I’m not sure that play was even top-10 ugliest in our storied history.
Btw, my vote would probably be for that falling down (over his own feet), on an otherwise seemingly positive drive, baffling under-arm, tumbling, inexplicable throw/toss, directly into the arms of an awestruck defensive lineman, interception by our supposedly prized free agent QB Josh Mclown.
But there really are a pirate’s bounty of riches to choose from in looking at ugly plays….
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