The Buccaneers are mired in a four-game losing streak that has dropped the team to 1-7 on the season after a dismal 22-17 loss at Cleveland. What’s going right for the Buccaneers and what is going wrong in Tampa Bay? Find out in this week’s edition of State of the Buccaneers.
WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Evans Is On A Roll
Wide receiver Mike Evans, Tampa Bay’s 2014 first-round draft pick, has been the lone bright spot on offense. With at least four catches in all seven games he has played in during his rookie season, Evans has amassed 32 catches for 460 yards and four touchdowns – all of those stats lead the Buccaneers. Over the past four games, Evans has made big play after big play, and has four touchdowns in the last four games, including two against Cleveland – a game in which he had seven catches for 124 yards.
Bucs Run Defense Is Improving
Tampa Bay’s run defense has shown some improvement over the past month, and has not allowed a team to rush for over 100 yards since the Baltimore game when the Ravens rushed for 169 yards on 35 carries (4.8 avg.). Minnesota was held to 97 yards on 22 carries (4.4 avg.), and Cleveland was held to just 50 yards on 28 carries (1.8 avg.). After allowing seven rushing touchdowns in the first six games of the season, Tampa Bay’s run defense hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown over the past two games.
Tampa Bay Is Showing Some Improvement
At 1-7, the Bucs are only mildly improved, but they are improved from this time a year ago when the team was 0-8 to start the 2013 season. Of course that lone victory was a come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh that was gift-wrapped by the Steelers. The truth is that the Bucs had chances to win the last two games, which were much more competitive than recent showings, and the team should have more than one win.
Better Safety Play Without Barron
The Buccaneers traded strong safety Mark Barron, the team’s first-round draft pick in 2012, last week, and actually received better play from the players that were Barron’s backup. Major Wright was hardly “passive” while recording a team-high and career-best 13 tackles against the Browns and made a nice tackle on Cleveland’s two-point conversion attempt. Backup Bradley McDougald also had a nice game with a hard hit on tight end Gary Barnidge that resulted in Clinton McDonald’s interception.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay’s QB Quandary
The Buccaneers have not received good play from the quarterback position this year and it has shown in Tampa Bay’s 1-7 record. Mike Glennon started the last five games and has a 1-4 record to show for it. Glennon has thrown 10 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season, but hasn’t made enough big plays in the clutch to matter. His two interceptions at Cleveland had head coach Lovie Smith questioning Glennon’s performance and effectiveness, and it was revealed on Tuesday that team captain Josh McCown has been inserted back into the lineup as the team’s starting quarterback.
Special Teams Are A Disaster
The Buccaneers’ special teams have been terrible this season. Rookie kicker Patrick Murray has had two field goals blocked. Punter Michael Koenen has been struggling with his average and his net, and has had two blocked punts and a punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester. Tampa Bay is on its third return specialist of the year and the return game is going nowhere fast.
Bucs Are All But Out Of NFC South Race
At 1-7, the Buccaneers are almost officially eliminated from playoff contention. That’s bad news, especially in a weak division that was there for the taking for Tampa Bay or anyone in the conference. At least Bucs head coach Lovie Smith didn’t mindlessly suggest that the Bucs still had a chance to win the NFC South after the team’s 22-17 loss at Cleveland as he had done in previous weeks after other defeats. One more defeat and the Bucs will be unable to post a winning record. Two more losses down the stretch – which seem certain – and Tampa Bay is destined for a fourth straight losing season, and its fifth in six years.
Horrible Playcalling By Arroyo
We all know that Tampa Bay quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo is in over his head as an NFL play-caller. Arroyo, who presides over the league’s worst offense, is strictly an emergency fill-in for Jeff Tedford, who may or may not be back next year as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator due to a heart condition that required surgery. After a pretty good showing in the first half of the Cleveland game, Arroyo strayed away from a running game that produced 80 yards at halftime, didn’t go back to a Bobby Rainey screen pass that worked for 34 yards in the first quarter, and inexplicably called for two consecutive pass plays on second-and-1 and third-and-1 at the Cleveland 37 on Tampa Bay’s final drive as the Bucs were attempting to rally for a win against the Browns.
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]
TAMPA BAY’S QB QUANDARY
It should evident to everyone by now that we do not have a franchise QB. It is the one ace that the other NFC-South teams hold over us. I grant you there are other needs, but if not now when? Administrations come and go with the Bucs about every two years. This may be the single most determining factor in whether we get out of that revolving door.
There is no doubt in my mind that any one of the QBs taken last year or either of the top 2 QBs in the 2015 class would have won that game Sunday. Keep in mind these are opinions and may be never heard outside of this forum, but I say them because I believe that it’s time to change the trend. Sure we have other needs, but there is no single position that will have more impact on wins and losses than this one. The status quo is not an option. Which QB plays the remainder of this season is as simple as a coin flip or how the coach feels when he gets out of bed Sunday morning!
These are changes I recommend for 2015. A QB should be drafted in the 1st round. If the 2015 QB rankings remain as they are we should take either Mariota or Winston. Which one should be determined by the remaining performances and other selection criteria leading up to the draft. McCown should be retained as back-up QB and acting QB coach. In 2016, a back-up QB should be drafted in the middle rounds and McCown’s contract can be renegotiated as the full-time QB coach. Glennon should be traded for any draft pick that is offered.
macabre…You are right on target with your 2016-16 plan. I was thinking the same thing. A franchise QB could make so many other poor positions on a team look good with good QB play. Now we need the team to lay down (shouldn’t be to hard ) and go winless for Winston.
Sorry macabee about the type O on your name. Haven’t figured out how to edit a post.
No problem Kinderrt. I showed your post to my wife and she said “seems some of your friends know the real you!” lol
Macabee is on point. This organization needs to find a QB that elevates the offense, takes advantage of turnovers from a hopefully improved defense next year, and controls the clock. The days of just-good-enough QBS is gone – not with these pass-happy rules. Mariota, Winston, and Cook should all be on Licht’s radar. This decision will make or break him and Lovie in Tampa, just as Josh broke Raheem, Schiano, and Dominik. They had better make the right decision.
macabee…. After reading your post my recovery jumped ahead 2 weeks. It all starts at the QB and there are a couple of good ones hopefully available in 2015. Mc Cowan would make a good back-up/ coach and a mid rounder for insurance and development makes since. We can always fill other needs through free agency and the draft. Go Bucs……
Yup, we need a new QB. Will they get one in the first round, or pick up another used player like Sam (I’m hurt) Bradford.
Yep, all of you and you great astute opinions are right on point, draft a QB first round. That rookie QB will win games all by themselves. Heck he will pass for 500 yards a throws 7 TD’s as we win 52-49 and make the playoffs for the first time in over a decade!
I think our problems are much more than just a QB. We have 6 months until the next draft.
I agree with horse- there are more than just QB problems in Tampa…I believe we also have a problem with our coaching staff- mainly the head coach and the OC…NONE of next years top rated QBs will pan out- MARK MY WORDS…the ducks have yet to produce a successful NFL QB and the crab thief is just an accident waiting to happen- if Jamarcus Russell , pacman jones and mike Williams had a child in the League- Winston is their child…just face facts- this franchise is a bottom feeder and is still YEARS away from being competitive…
This team has been searching for that elite QB since Steve Spurrier trotted onto the field in 1976. I agree with those who believe your chances of winning are much greater when you have one of those special players. Sure you can win with an average schmo if the rest of the team is comprised of great players. But that’s the one position that can kill the rest of the team’s opportunity to win a game. How many times did we hear Sapp beg for a mere 17 points a game. Consistently successful teams have that one guy on whom the rest of the team looks for leading the team to victory, or at least gives them a chance. No other position on the team carries such a status. Yes, we need nearly every position but if we are fortunate enough to draft that elusive special QB maybe the rest of the roster wont be so bad. How would the Saints be without Brees, the Packers without Rodgers or the Broncos without Manning? I think we all know that answer.
Scubog; are you saying that this type of quarterback is in this draft for us to pick? I don’t see it, but maybe you do. Based on what I just said, I am looking for a starting defensive lineman, offensive lineman, or linebacker
Can you explain why Jason Licht and the pro personnel director was at the FSU/Louisville game? Maybe just boys night out?
Doing their due diligence, I’d assume. Not doing their job if they don’t. But Winston is a moron…. Qbs at the NFL level have to be at least a little cerebral. Winston can barely form a coherent sentence sometimes. If we really wanted a qb I think we missed or chance this year with Bridgewater or carr. They both are looking like they can make the strides to be successful at this level
To answer your question Horse, I don’t really know yet. Assuming we end up with a top 5 choice and no QB is worthy of that lofty status or risk we may need to trade down as you often suggest and perhaps take one a little later in the round. I’m certainly no QB guru, but if Winston wasn’t so immature, he’d be a no-brainer. ngldevin questioned his intelligence, but I heard he was accepted to Stanford. Those off the field issues with him have to be considered. If Winston comes out this year, Licht and company need to dig really deep before selecting him in the top 5. I haven’t seen or read enough of the others to really say who else might be a candidate. I know this; don’t force the pick just to take a QB or any “need” position. What O-lineman or D-lineman are you taking with that choice?
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