FAB 4. Bucs Studying For Repeat Performance Against 49ers

Tampa Bay only had five wins last year, but some of those wins were quality in nature. The first two that come to mind are … well, the first two victories of the year – a 48-40 upset of the Saints at New Orleans in Week 1 and a 26-21 triumph over the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles.

The Bucs’ 27-9 win in Tampa on November 25 last year was also instrumental for two reasons. First, it snapped a four-game losing skid at that point in the season, and also because it was Tampa Bay’s largest margin of victory in 2018. The Bucs led 13-6 at halftime and outscored the 49ers 14-3 in the second half.

Bucs DT Vita Vea - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs DT Vita Vea – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Quarterback Jameis Winston passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers, while wide receiver Mike Evans had 116 yards on six catches. Defensively, the 49ers game was a coming out party for two rookies, as safety Jordan Whitehead had a career-high 10 tackles and held tight end George Kittle to 48 yards on six catches, while nose tackle Vita Vea had three tackles for loss and a sack, which was one of four sacks on the day from Tampa Bay.

“There are some things we can take away from our win last year because some of the players are the same, so we can use some of those notes in this year’s game,” said Bucs defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches. “As far as doing what we did last year? No. Our defensive is totally different. It’s a totally new scheme, but as far as their personnel goes, that’s where the carryover can happen.”

Bucs tight end O.J. Howard was on injured reserve for that game, but saw tight end Cameron Brate kick off the scoring with an 8-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Howard is looking forward to playing against the 49ers this year, and former teammate Kwon Alexander, who left for a big pay day in San Francisco during free agency.

“Having played them last does help us,” Howard said. “Whenever you can go back and see what you did against them in a win – because some of the players are still there and you can see how guys played and take your game and go off of that.”

With a 49ers front four that features four first-round draft picks in ends Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, as well as tackles DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, Howard might have to help stay in and block as many times as he’ll go out for passes against San Francisco’s linebackers and safeties.

“Absolutely,” Howard said. “They’ve got some boys. They have some guys up front that we have to do a great job of blocking. We may have to do some chipping and some different stuff against them.”

Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs running back Peyton Barber found running against the 49ers defensive front problematic, as he rushed for just 47 yards on 18 carries (2.6 avg.), while his counterpart, 49ers running back Matt Breida, a Tampa-area native, rushed for 106 yards on 14 carries (7.6 avg.). But Barber did score a key 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter to push Tampa Bay’s lead to 20-9 and give the Bucs some breathing room.

“The personnel seems to be a little different, but for the most part it’s the same players,” Barber said. “They have Kwon now but we know him. We’ve played against him. It’ll be interesting to see how things go. I think we’re going to have a pretty good day. I know he’s definitely going to have a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to stay here. I know Kwon very well and he’s going to be gunning for us.”

Part of the reason why the Bucs didn’t push to re-sign Alexander, who signed a four-year, $54 million contract with the 49ers, was because he was coming off a torn ACL and Tampa Bay wasn’t sure if he would be healthy by the start of the 2019 season. Alexander played in just one preseason game, but is slated to start. Expect the Bucs to run right at the undersized linebacker, who may not be 100 percent healthy.

Of course that means running into the teeth of the 49ers defensive line, which is improved due to the addition of Ford, a lightning quick pass rusher.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

“I have to tip my hat to them because they have a great front four,” Barber said. “I played with Dee Ford in college. They have a talented bunch and I’m definitely excited and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The Bucs have had all offseason to prepare for the 49ers, and with a lot of the personnel remaining the same for both teams, they’ve had some helpful notes to study from last year’s big win in Tampa.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

24 COMMENTS

  1. Well, one thing is for sure: it never works out like we think it’s going to. Some team will get a big injury (or two), some team won’t suffer any (hello Atlanta 2016 season), some players will nose-dive their careers and some player(s) will emerge across the league to be the “next great things” that currently look like JAGs.

    I’m sticking with 16-0 at this point.

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  2. Think if they can roll the Lions and Texans, they’ll still take care of the Colts and Falcons. The pass rush will be in full effect and are able to give the offense enough chances to figure it out. Optimistic of course. This offensive line really makes you go hmmm….

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  3. As for Devin White not being named team captain no big deal. He’s going to have enough on his plate without having to also carry the C on his chest. Besides, how do you vote a rookie who’s never taken a snap in an NFL regular season game a team captain? I think he’ll be wearing that C for years to come, but it has to be earned, he hasn’t done anything in the NFL to earn it. The big surprise for me is Nissab. Didn’t know he was so well respected, and such a character. A defense needs a fire starter, they take that lead. Maybe that’s why we were so ho hum it’ll be O.K. when McCoy was here.

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  4. Poor offensive line play can be overcome by proper scheme. The success or failure of this season is in the lap of Byron Leftwich & Todd Bowles. Every NFL team has weaknesses but the good ones know how to manage their Weaknesses while capitalizing on their Strengths. Bruce Arians is tasked with maximizing the talent we have on this roster and not make excuses for scheduling,injuries or any other thing that will arise this season. I don’t know what our record will be but if BA is anything like advertised we should be extremely competitive with the talent that’s on this roster. Palm Palms waiving Go Bucs!!

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  5. Sorry Scott, but I see the Bucs splitting the two games with the Saints. Our defensive starters, less D White, have already played against the Drew Brees-led offense at least twice, including Suh. They haven’t played our new defense, which I believe is big step up from last year’s defense. We’ll apply a lot more pressure on Brees than years past. I don’t see anybody on the Saints defense who can cover OJ Howard. I think M Evans gets the best of M. Lattimore once again, and Godwin has at least one good game against that secondary. I don’t think the Saints defensive line is anywhere near as good as Carolina’s, LA’s, or SF’s.

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    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
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  6. If you saw the Gruden comments about running backs picking up the blitz and how he pointed out Dare Ogunbowale’s missed assignment on one of Cleveland’s sacks it made me feel better about the o-line. It is one thing if the guys simply can’t win one on one and another thing if there are missed assignments that can be cleaned up.

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  7. I’m really hoping this is VHIII’s year. I’ve been a fan since his college years, and was glad the Bucs selected him in 2016. I knew my faith in him was justified for about 30 minutes of play against the Saints in week 1 last year. Pray he stays healthy and plays up to his potential, which I believe would put him as a top 10 CB in the league.

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    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
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  8. I had already stated I hoped for 8-8, as that would be a successful season for this franchise at this point and keep things stable for next year. We get a true indication if it is at all possible this weekend. If the Bucs cannot beat the 49ers at home all bets are off. Note: I don’t agree about the Titans. I think by the 8th game it will be not Mariotta but Ryan Tannenhill from the Dolphins playing at QB. Hopefully the outcome is the same.

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    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
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  9. The outcome will be the same, Tannehill is not an upgrade.
    Still disappointed that Pewter Report has spoiled the season for me by telling me the outcome of the games before I have watched them.

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    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
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  10. Having hope propels Bucs to achieve the Glazzers dream and drives the Bucs forward toward its pursuits.”HOPE”  keeps a smile on pewterboys, spitfire the chef as everything seems to go wrong, even when we see that we’re losing. Hope is always the light at the end of the tunnel, The Bucs gallon cannons ready to navigate the team through trials and difficulties of 49ers , Panthers and Giants to a great day. It’s about game 6 when we lose that hope, Bucs are like a rudderless ship being tossed about without direction. Chef and fredster blaming everything but the team while still having and finding hope with response to each Pewter article, It essential for keeping our dreams upright and continuing to sail in the direction above last place NFC south.

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    • I don’t know who wrote this, but this is not the regular usual Bob. Someone must’ve hacked his account. There’s punctuation, sentence structure, and an almost poetic flow to some of the sentences. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this is Mark Cook trolling you guys lmao.

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      • I’ve often speculated that there really wasn’t an actual person known as my old nemesis Bucfan47 or our current resident cesspool bather, Buc Ass Bob. In realty the author of the constant negative babble with that by-line is actually an unnamed Pewter Report intern. Fess up Scott.

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    • Difference between you and I BAB is that whether this team wins or loses, I’ll be here to comment. Heaven for bid Tampa balls out this year and you disappear like the troll you are. That’s a dream I think all of us could get on board with.

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  11. These people that we pay to talk…they talk. Can’t be surprised what happens when you pull Chatty Kathy’s string. My good friend from Chicago, now that he’s done cussing his TV and throwing his remote control, will say you never know what you’re going to get until game day.

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    • Bears fans sure thought victory was assured after the first half-dozen plays. Talk about shooting your wad.

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  12. I still got us at 8-8. If we had a bigtime pass rush, I’d up it to 10-6. You never know though. IF our Bucs can come out of the gate at 3-0, we might have something here. But they gotta start fast..real fast. Here’s to a great season.

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  13. Really good hearing that Howard said they may need to chip. That is the key and you saw the TEs do a lot of chipping and blocking for the Patriots in their power blocking scheme. Auclair and Howard are both good blockers. Put them both on the outside and we can neutralize the 49er’s pass rush. Get our power blocking going and our RBs will get to the second level and our Offense will flourish. Can’t wait!

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  14. There’s so much to comment on, but I’m going to focus on just one thing:
    Carolina is hosting the Rams on opening day, so if you think they’re going to be 100% come Thursday night think again. The Bucs have a really good shot at a 2-0 start.

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  15. My first ever Bucs game was a closing 3 seconds loss to a Green Bay field goal. I used to listen to us get trampled on the Radio when I was a kid because we were never on TV for Home Games. I was born the year before we lost Doug Williams so I have known what it is like to be a fan of a basement dweller. Win or Lose I am still a Bucs Fan… Till the end. I don’t believe like the Trolls do that praying for losses in the hopes of the Glaziers selling the team is at all what being a Bucs Fan is about. I root for My Team year in and year out because they are My Team, no matter how ugly things get. Granted things get so bad sometimes that I have to turn the volume up and go sit in the other room to listen because I can’t bare to watch at certain moments. Granted my Wife has to tell the kids “Don’t get scared when Daddy is yelling at the TV during Bucs games, it’s just because he cares.”

    Yes I choose to have Hope for the Bucs, always. Not because I’m too blind to see our faults, or admit we have weaknesses and have made mistakes. I have Hope because I Love My Team. I have Hope because there is always the possibility of a Win. I have Hope because even though things can always be worse, they can also always get better. I have Hope because no matter what, I will always wear that Flag with pride and root for My Team and hope for the day I get to sit on the couch during the Super Bowl, afraid to move from the same spot out of Superstition in hopes that We can win another one.

    I am Hoping for a 10 win season, but I know that is gonna take a real turnaround for this team this year. If we don’t get that it’s not gonna shatter my Hope, because if you give up Hope on Life there’s no reason to Live. If you give up hope on yourself then you’ll never accomplish anything, and if you give up Hope on Your Team, then there’s no reason to be a Fan. I am a Firefighter and a Paramedic, so I have seen things that would make most people Hope-less, only to have the outcome be Hope-full. I have seen Death and brought back Life, because I held onto Hope. Sometimes Hope is all you have, and anyone that tries to take that away from you is just miserable and sad. So I choose Hope… and I am not ashamed at all.

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    • Wow. That was a deep post. You beared your soul. Appreciate the hard work you do as a first responder. Also, hope is a great thing! Keep your hope alive, especially for the Bucs!

      You sound like a really passionate fan. Try not to get too upset though. It’s a game being played by millionaires and managed by billionaires.

      That said, this season and team feels different. I actually think these guys can win 12. I think there are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season. Enjoy the ride!

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      • *bared

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    • Loved your passionate post Spitfire. Sounds a lot like the past 40 plus years of my Bucs Life. Even in the most dire times, I somehow managed to have a little hope. That 1979 Worst to First season kept me thinking it could happen again.

      I started off every new season telling my wife, “This is the year.” Heck, once I was right. Many times I just wished we weren’t the worst team in the league. Bucs didn’t win much, but each of those times when the opponent probably lost more than the Bucs actually won, my spirit was energized. If nothing else, I always have hope….. even if logic tells me otherwise.

      Guys like Buc Ass Bob and others, who protect their own fragile psyche by limiting their expectations, mark down a loss in their mind before the team even takes the field. Then if the Bucs “luck out” a victory, they quickly add an asterisk noting “should have lost”.

      I sure hope (there’s that word again) Bob never gets sick. He’d never believe he had a chance to be cured and would start making his own funeral arrangements. Then, if he survived, he’d put an asterisk on the headstone marking his vacant plot, *I should have died.”

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  16. I have no clue what we’re going to do.
    Just have zero confidence to predict anything, but to say Go Bucs! Get this win!

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  17. Good Fab 5, Scott. I have us going 8-8 and with a little help from the Football Gods, 10-6. [Yes, Football Gods drink KoolAide too.] Also liked your preseason take aways – good objective assessment. One big difference this year going into the regular season is that if feels like the coaching staff gives us the chance for the upside and puts a safety net under this team for the downside. Injuries are always a wild card, but I like our chances with this staff.

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