Tampa Bay has lost five straight games and is mired with a 1-8 start to the 2014 season. What’s going right with 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
Bucs May Have A Hit With No. 1 Pick
It was another strong week for Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans, the team’s first-round pick, who tied his career-high with seven catches for a personal-best 125 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta on Sunday. Evans has posted back-to-back 100-yard games and now has 39 receptions for 585 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Can he be the first skill position player picked in the first round by Tampa Bay to avoid being a one-year wonder (see Michael Clayton, Cadillac Williams and Doug Martin)? Evans is on pace for 73 catches for 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
David Is On A Record Pace In 2014
Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Lavonte David is on pace to break his own record for tackles (145 last year) with 183 stops. Through nine games, David has 103, which is second to Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly’s 105, and he’s averaging 11.4 stops per game. David also has 14 tackles for loss, and could break his personal best of 19, which was set during his rookie season in 2012. The Nebraska product is coming off a 14-tackle effort against Atlanta and marks the fourth time in the last five games that David has posted 14 stops in a game.
Bucs Offense Is Gaining Ground, But …
The Bucs offense has had recent success in gaining yardage. Tampa Bay has eclipsed its previous season high of 350 yards against Pittsburgh in a 27-24 Week 4 victory twice in the last two weeks. The Bucs out-gained the Browns last week 365-330 yards, but lost 22-17. Last week against Atlanta, Tampa Bay out-gained the Falcons, 373-322 yards, but lost 27-17. The Bucs offense is being more productive, evidenced by completing 12-of-17 (71 percent) opportunities on third down, but can’t seem to produce more than 17 points per game.
(Finally) Happy Returns For Buccaneers
After releasing rookie Solomon Patton and Trindon Holliday, Tampa Bay is on its third return specialist of the season with Marcus Thigpen, who was signed off the practice squad a few weeks ago. Thigpen has returned three kickoffs for an average of 26 yards (with a long of 28), but on his first punt return opportunity he ripped off a season-long 53-yarder against Atlanta last Sunday. Thigpen had four fair catches on punt returns prior to big return versus the Falcons. Thigpen’s 53-yarder marked the longest punt or kick return of the season in Tampa Bay.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
McCoy Can’t Post Just One Tackle
PewterReport.com has all the respect in the world for Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. But a week after questioning his teammates’ will to win, McCoy can’t come out and post just one tackle against Atlanta like he did on Sunday. As the face of the franchise and one of the few good players on this team, McCoy has to be a week-in, week-out producer in Tampa Bay, especially after signing a seven-year contract extension worth in excess of $95 million.
Koenen Is Going To Get Booted By Bucs
Michael Koenen, Tampa Bay’s special teams captain, had a horrible game punting against the Falcons on Sunday with his longest punt traveling just 37 yards. Koenen had paltry punts of 23 and 31 yards that pushed his season average below 40 yards per punt (39.7) for the first time in his career. Koenen, who has had two punts blocked and had one punt returned for a touchdown, has an embarrassingly low net of 35.2 yards per punt that will surely get him run out of Tampa Bay in the offseason unless there is a dramatic turnaround.
Bucs Aren’t The Thieves They Need To Be
Tampa Bay’s defense must have seasonal allergies to pigskin because it just doesn’t seem to want the ball. For the fifth time this season, the Buccaneers defense didn’t record a takeaway and the team lost the turnover margin against the Falcons, 3-0. The Bucs have just six interceptions in nine games, including just two (against Cleveland) in the past four games. Tampa Bay is on pace to record just 10 picks this year, which would be 11 less than a year ago. The Bucs have only forced and recovered six fumbles this season, and need to do a better job forcing turnovers.
Tampa Bay’s Lack of Sack Production Hurts
The Bucs have just 14 sacks in nine games and are on pace for 24 this season. That would be 11 sacks less than a year ago and the team’s second-lowest in a decade as Tampa Bay notched just 22 sacks in 2011, which was the last year of the Raheem Morris era. The Tampa 2 scheme is predicated on getting to the quarterback, and with the Bucs struggling to do so, it’s no wonder the defense is one of the worst in the NFL. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads the Bucs with five sacks this season.
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]
It’s still all about the pass rush even in today’s world. Go Bucs!
It must be hard covering such a bad team where you have to call average players like David more then what they ever are. Scott, you’re always talking up David, but he’s nothing more then a good player on a bad team. I don’t care how many tackles David has his play has not changed the out come of one game. You ever see his tackle highlights on sports center? No picks, no sacks, no game changing plays. JJ Watt a D end has more picks, and touchdowns then David. That’s what a pro bowler does. Brooks made a living picking off passes in this same defense, David can’t sniff a ball in the air. Remember Brooks sealing our first win for Gruden with a pick? Remember Brooks sealing the deal in the superbowl with a pick? That’s what people remember, that’s what great players do. David can have a 100 tackles a game, and the Bucs can still lose by 30, no one but you will say David was a bright spot with 10 tackles. When David doesn’t make the pro bowl don’t be shocked, don’t say he was robbed, he wasn’t. He leads the worst defense in the NFL, and part of the reason is for all those tackles, his play has not changed the outcome of one game. Please god just one.
David is starting to venture a little into the “Barret Rudd” territory …a lot of tackles but zero impact on the game. Now I believe David is a 100 times better but you have to remember he’s playing the “Brooks” role in this defense where a lot of stuff gets funneled his way and as suferdudes noted his lack of splash plays is getting concerning to me.
Yep, we need some game changers and don’t have any.
On another note I cannot imagine why another punter hasn’t been brought in for at least a look as Koenen has been abysmal this year. If anything put the fear of losing his job in his head.
Agree. But could be that since Koenen is also holder for Murray they don’t want to let him go. But he’s been horrible for punts AND kickoffs. He used to reliably put kickoffs out of the end zone – not this year.
McCoy was getting tripled teamed the majority of the game. What can’t happen is our other linemen not capitalizing when a team devotes that much attention to Gerald.
Didn’t the Bucs try out punters a few weeks ago? Koenen’s deep kicking on kick offs can’t be worth keeping him around. Murphy seems to have a strong leg…can’t he handle KOs as well?
Bayside4Life you hit the nail on the head. How can McCoy be expected to dominate when he is triple teamed? The other DL should be prospering, but thier not. That’s the issue. PR really missed this one.
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Surferdudes: Brooks was howmany years a veteran when he started making those “splashplays”??? And David is how many years in this league playing for one of the WORST defenses in the league each year?? So I guess being the only LB in the NFL since 2012 to have his sack to interception ratio doesn’t qualify as splash plays right?? Yeah.
JohnBuc06: Barret Ruud territory REALLY?? A comment like that is just plain assinine.
As I stated I feel David is 100x’s better …but the fact he’s not had any real splash plays when it mattered is concerning to me. He’s still slow to react/get to his marks in the pass defense and quite honestly seems to bite quite a bit on play action. I’m hoping its just still learning the system so he can stop thinking and just reacting but I agree with the OP that he should not be considered All Pro caliber this season just on his tackle counts. Rudd was thought of better by fans of other teams simply due to his tackle counts but us Buc fans knew better.
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I probably should put this comment under another of the articles, but I wanted to respond to the most recent.
I firmly believe the bucs need to draft both offensive and defensive linemen as their first priority next year.
While drafting a qb of the future is sexy, I believe that ALL of our issues on offense and defense can be addressed by upgrading linemen.
While we may not have the qb of the future on our roster, we do have two very serviceable quarterbacks — as long as they have time to throw. We have good RBs as long as someone on the line can open holes.
If we draft a qb, they will be hurried and sacked just like our current crop — it makes no sense until we have a good oline.
So draft linemen in 2015 and the qb of the future in 2016.
If we trade down, we may be able to get one of each.
Here is the order I would draft:
LT, C/LG/RG, C/LG/RG,Right DE, DT
We Buc again!
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