The Buccaneers fell to 2-11 on the season with a 34-17 loss at Detroit. The latest loss has brought some good news and some bad news to Tampa Bay. What’s going right with the Buccaneers and what is going wrong in Tampa Bay? Find out in this week’s edition of The State of the Buccaneers.
WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Smith Is On The Rise
Young Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith has been quite the find for general manager Jason Licht. Smith recorded two sacks against the Lions – both of which were on third down, which is the money down for defensive linemen. That was the second two-sack game for Smith this year, who has six quarterback captures and ranks second in Tampa Bay behind defensive tackle Gerald McCoy’s 8.5 sacks this year. Smith has done a great job for the Buccaneers since taking over the left defensive end position and has been a real bright spot for the defense.
Lansanah’s Versatility Is Exciting
Danny Lansanah has started at all three linebacker spots in Tampa Bay over the past month. Since winning the starting strongside linebacker position, Lansanah has recorded three interceptions, returning two of them for touchdowns. When Lavonte David missed two games at weakside linebacker, Lansanah filled in and recorded 23 stops, including a career-high 14 against Cincinnati. Last week at Detroit, Lansanah notched a game-high eight tackles while playing middle linebacker for Mason Foster. With Foster’s contract expiring in the offseason, Lansanah may have successfully debuted at the Mike linebacker spot for the Buccaneers in 2015.
Evans Stating His Case For Best Rookie WR
It’s a three-way race for the honor of being the best rookie wide receiver this year, and Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans is in the lead. After catching two touchdowns at Detroit, Evans has 57 receptions for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s one shy of the Bucs’ team record, which was set by Mike Williams as a rookie in 2010. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin, who will face Tampa Bay this Sunday, is nipping at Evans’ heels as has 59 catches for 848 yards and nine scores. New York Giants rookie Odell Beckham, Jr. has made up for lost time due to an early-season injury, and has 59 catches for 829 yards and six touchdowns.
The Bucs Currently Have The No. 1 Draft Pick
Tampa Bay’s loss at Detroit combined with Oakland’s upset over San Francisco on Sunday allowed the Bucs to move into the driver’s seat for the number one overall draft pick in 2015. With the top overall pick the Bucs will have their choice of drafting either Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Florida State’s Jameis Winston or possibly trading down to acquire more draft picks. This is an unexpected gift for a dreadful, losing season in Tampa Bay – and one the Bucs shouldn’t blow by winning a meaningless game or two down the stretch.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Tampa Bay’s Offensive Line Is Abysmal
The Buccaneers’ offensive problems start at the offensive coordinator position where Jeff Tedford bailed on the team this year following his recovery from a heart procedure, but they continue along the offensive line. The unit was without left tackle Anthony Collins, who has underwhelmed this year, at Detroit and his replacement, Oniel Cousins really struggled. The offensive line once again had multiple penalties and surrendered six sacks and 14 quarterback hits to Ndamukong Suh, Ziggy Ansah and the rest of the Lions defensive line. Tampa Bay was only able to rush 14 times for 26 yards (1.9 avg.) against Detroit, too.
The Bucs Officially Don’t Have An Offensive Coordinator
The Buccaneers and Jeff Tedford officially parted ways on Friday. Tedford didn’t feel like coaching after his heart procedure and when he finally got healthy this fall, he wanted to coach elsewhere rather than stay in Tampa Bay and deal with the train-wreck he helped create. But when Tedford said he wanted to leave so he wouldn’t be an “obstacle” for play-caller Marcus Arroyo, head coach Lovie Smith and the other Bucs coaches that reeked of crap. Tedford’s return could actually help the Buccaneers, but considering how the offense has fared this year and how some of the talent hasn’t panned out, he probably didn’t want to ruin his reputation by staying in Tampa Bay. Don’t let the door hit you, Jeff.
Sims Has Had A Slow Start As A Rookie
Much was expected from rookie running back Charles Sims when he made it back from the injured reserve-designated return list in November after tearing a tendon in his ankle during a practice in August. Perhaps too much was expected of a young player that missed the final three preseason games and has been forced to play catch up. Sims has struggled while rushing for just 83 yards on 37 carries (2.2 avg.) with a long run of just 12 yards. After rushing for 22 yards on six carries (3.7 avg.) at Chicago, Sims has rushed for just two yards on 10 carries (0.2 avg.) over the past two games, including minus-4 yards on five carries at Detroit.
Johnson Is Bucs’ Biggest Bust Of The Year
Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Johnson would be perfect for the role of the Invisible Man as he’s been nowhere to be found on Sundays lately. Johnson has just 21 tackles in the 11 games he’s played in this season, and doesn’t have more than two tackles in any game over the past eight contests. After recording no tackles at Cleveland, he notched two tackles and a sack – his only QB takedown over the past eight games – Johnson has just four tackles over the past three games. While he has been struggling with an ankle injury, there have been plenty of plays where Johnson has been seen loafing on the field and not giving much effort against the run or the past. Johnson needs to be cut in the offseason, and it’s not even about the money – it’s about the roster spot Tampa Bay is wasting on him.
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]
Agree with most everything Scott; still not sure about our top spot pick yet. I hope Glennon gets to play in two more games so we can positively say yes or no about him.
I actually like Glennon but I still think we should draft Mariota, trade Glennon (while his value is decent) and keep McCown. Glennon is a solid game manager that would be best suited with a good defense to back him up. Unfortunately we don’t have that and what we need is a playmaker. Here’s to hoping we STAY AT 1 and draft Mariota. Go Bucs!!
Good stuff Scott. Obviously Jeff Tedford’s heart wasn’t in it when he made no effort to help this struggling offense. While I have some sympathy for his health issue, I just can’t accept the fact that he remained on sick leave when he could have returned. But with this pathetic excuse for an offensive line, I don’t know that anyone could design plays where blocking isn’t a factor.
Of course we all like talking Draft. Having the # 1 pick is something we have experienced many times. We got the first one (Lee Roy Selmon) right but it was pretty much down hill after that. Often we were bamboozled in trades for the coveted top spot. I’m not sure if taking Mariotta is the best thing to do because I haven’t seen enough of him and I don’t think Winston is worthy of a top ten selection. I’m curious what other QB’s might be available later in the Draft if we can somehow turn pick # 1 into enough in return to right the ship. The season is going to play itself out no matter what we may want. Yes, I’d like the first pick but I’m not looking forward to sitting in the stands with chants of “Go Pack Go” and “Who Dat” echoing in my ear. Maybe I can respond with “First Pick!” Nah, not much of a ring to it. I know, “We’re Number 1!” There’s also a nice hand gesture that goes along with it.
Tedford is a west coast guy. He coached at Cal,and after spending the summer in Tampa, probably had a hard time adjusting to the change. Family, friends, probably adjusting to the climate too. That’s a concern with drafting Mariota also. If a man in his 50’s can get home sick, how about a 20 year old get? Don’t think it’s easy for someone to change coasts. Winston on the other hand is home grown. He knows how to train in the heat, and humidity, it won’t be a shock to him. If you think it doesn’t matter where you draft a player from, I believe it does. Isn’t Mariota from Hawaii? That’s a long way from home.
Lovie and Licht are not on the what’s wrong list? Getting lucky on one or two FA acquisitions but blowing the rest, making poor game day personnel decisions, getting little productivity from nearly all of our draft choices except for the obvious/easy decision to draft Evans, creating a culture of accepting/perpetuating mediocrity…? There is a bigger picture here and if that isn’t rectified we will be trapped in respectable but not elite level play for the duration of L&L’s tenure. Sorry if my concerns aren’t fun to read, I’ve just been sickened by the Glazer’s decisions about coaches and GMs post Gruden and have a sinking feeling they’ve whiffed yet again.
Keeping the first pick and always encouraging your men to win is a dilemma. No General wants to tell his men to give up the fight. And I agree! But I want that first pick with a passion. So with a sturdy heart and a convincing tone of voice, as the General, I’m going to tell my men to pick up their weapons and advance to the rear!
surferdudes; that makes a lot of sense. I am going into this weekend like I do every weeeknd for a couple years now; no expectations. They win, great! They lose, great! I can’t figure this team out. These free agents weren’t previous world beaters; how do they come here and play so poorly for the most part? I think we should be like the Rays? Go to the other side of the Bay and find a new place. Hey Bucs; there’s a baseball stadium available in St. Petersburg.
Maybe this is the answer. LOL
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Tedford saw what I saw in this team when I was watching a Bucs Practice at one Buc Place peeking through the fence the week of the Atl Game, a dreadful situation at qb, I saw Glennon play two series and guess what he threw two picks to our defense OUR DEFENSE, McCown’s Arm is worse in person than on tv he throws a wierd side arm thing with nothing behind it, kind of like Bernie Kosar without the accuracy. I can’t imagine trying to coach an offense with these two qb’s and this putrid line. I think it was cowardly of Tedford to jump ship but after seeing these guys play makes me wonder if I wouldn’t do the same thing. BTW I flew to Tampa wo watch the Buccaneers vs Atl been planning the trip for six months but after I saw them in practice I didn’t go to the game after spending all the oney to get down there and I was offered free tickets but a few people. Untill this team gets their act together I won’t be making any future plans of flying across the country to watch these guys
macabee..Enjoy reading your posts. My thinking is the same as yours. I also want that first pick with a passion. Have had season tickets for 20+ years now and would like to have another shot at a #1 pick again. I can only hope the Buc’s don’t screw up the choice AGAIN if they get the pick.
surferdudes, I agree with you. It makes so much sense to draft homegrown like Winston when talent dictates.
Maybe we can sign Tebow to back up Winston and have two Fla kids, ha
not Danny Weurfel?
Weurfel is kind of old now, I know the Miami Fans are saying don’t forget about us we had Ken Dorsey
Yes Dorsey – forgot about that guy too.
The problem with the Bucs offseason was that we had the smartest man in the room syndrome. They thought they saw something correctable in Oneal Cousins when everyone in the league continued to say how awful he was. They replaced Zuttah who was perfectly fine at C with EDS who also had mixed reviews over the past 2 seasons. Then we move to the Bengals, one never started and the other came off a 3 sack season that even I thought was due to the scheme. Bucs should focus on proven commodities like Jared Veldheer last offseason who I wanted but they chose to save a few million and get the watered down AC. Everson Griffin had superior numbers last season yet we paid Michael Johnson. Had Revis in house yet chose to spend on Verner who is a downgrade and Jenkins who never played a meaningful snap for us and the list goes on. Moral of the story, pay for production and not hope. Still wonder how far ahead of the curve this defense would be with Banks emerging and Revis locking down the other side. After all we didnt save any of the money we just tied it up with downgraded talent. This regime has used all of its passes in my book this offseason is vital in determing how long Lovie sticks around.
Nice review Scott. I would add that Jon Banks is doing well as another bright spot, perhaps unexpected. BUT, I for one never had any expectations for a third round reach RB (a.k.a. Sims)…I am not disappointed – he is pretty much as I expected. I know that most of the issue is actually with the line, but even with the best line in the league Sims would not be better than the other gaggle of RBs we have – he’s fine (like they all are) but nothing special as a RB, IMO.
Matador has a point. No criticism of Lovie? Warhop and O’Dea get a flyer too?
PR and most TB Media has been far too soft on the HC and his staff.
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