The Buccaneers lost to the visiting Green Bay Packers, 20-3, on Sunday to drop to 2-13 on the season and 0-7 at home. 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
Tampa Bay Still In Line For No. 1 Overall Draft Pick
If the Buccaneers lose to the visiting New Orleans Saints on Sunday the franchise will have the No. 1 overall pick for the first time since 1987 when Tampa Bay drafted Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde. With the franchise desperately needing a quarterback, the Bucs will be poised to draft either Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota or Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston or trade the pick for a bounty of picks. Even if the Bucs lose and the Tennessee Titans, the league’s other 2-13 team, lose together, Tampa Bay wins the strength of schedule tiebreaker scenarios. Don’t be surprised to see the Bucs fans cheer defeat at the end of the game as the 2014 season concludes on Sunday.
Buccaneers Wide Receivers Set To Make History
For the first time in franchise history, Tampa Bay will have a pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers as both Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are closing in on that mark. Evans has 63 catches for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns, which tied the team receiving TD record set by Mike Williams in 2010, while Jackson has 69 catches for 991 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson is on the verge of tying Joey Galloway’s mark, which is three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (2005-07). Evans is on the verge of becoming the Buccaneers’ second 1,000-yard receiver as a rookie and could break Michael Clayton’s rookie record of 1,193 yards, which was set in 2004, but would need a huge game against New Orleans.
Other Bucs On The Verge Of Career Marks
Entering the last game of the 2014 season, Bucs linebacker Lavonte David is close to establishing a career high in tackles as he has 141 stops and had 145 tackles last year. Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith could tie Gerald McCoy for the team lead in sacks with two more quarterback captures. Smith has 6.5 and McCoy has 8.5 on the season. Second-year cornerback Johnthan Banks has a career-high four interceptions to currently lead the team and could be the Bucs’ leading interceptor for the first time in his career.
Lots Of Playing Time For Developmental Players
In addition to looking at Demar Dotson at left tackle, the Buccaneers got an extended look at several young, developing players on Sunday and will have that opportunity again this Sunday in the season finale. Offensive lineman Kevin Pamphile got some reps at tight end again, and defensive tackle George Uko and wide receiver Tavarres King saw their first action as Buccaneers. Rookie guard Josh Allen got a look at right guard, and rookie Charles Sims continued to shine as a receiver out of the backfield, despite struggling as a running back (minus-1 yard on four carries).
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BUCCANEERS
Bucs Guaranteed A Worse Season In 2014; May Go Winless At Home
The Buccaneers’ 20-3 loss at Green Bay assured the team of a worse record this season than it had a year ago when Tampa Bay finished 4-12 and fired head coach Greg Schiano. New head coach Lovie Smith lamented the 4-12 record all offseason, but even with a win on Sunday against New Orleans, Tampa Bay will finish no better than 3-13 on the season. Given the fact that the Saints have a better quarterback in Drew Brees and a better coaching staff with Super Bowl winners in head coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, don’t be surprised if the Bucs lose to the Saints and finish 2-14 – which would be two games worse than Tampa Bay’s record from a year ago. A loss on Sunday would also make the Bucs go winless at home for the first time since the inaugural 1976 season, which would be a huge embarrassment.
Tampa Bay Poised To Have Worst Running Game In Team History
After rushing for an embarrassing 16 yards against the league’s 27th-ranked rushing defense in a 20-3 loss to Green Bay last week, Tampa Bay is on track to have the franchise’s worst rushing performance in team history. The Bucs entered last week with 1,176 yards on the ground, which ranked 29th in the league. Now the team has only 1,192 yards rushing and needs to rush for 99 yards on the ground against New Orleans this Sunday to eclipse the 1,290 yards that Tampa Bay rushed for back in 1993. Given the fact that the Saints enter the game ranked 29th, allowing opponents to rush for 129.5 yards per game makes that goal attainable. Unless either Bobby Rainey (406 yards) or Doug Martin (386 yards) has a huge day, Tampa Bay may not have a 500-yard rusher for the first time since 1988 (Lars Tate, 467).
Worst Offensive Showing In Tampa Bay This Year
In a year in which the Buccaneers offense has been abysmal, the team is saving its worst for last. In Sunday’s 20-3 loss to Green Bay, Tampa Bay amassed just 109 yards of total offense and had zero yards and five straight three-and-outs well into the second quarter. The three points is the lowest scoring output of the season by the Bucs, and the team also allowed a season-high seven sacks to the Packers as well as rushing for an embarrassing 16 yards on 14 carries (1.1 avg.) on Sunday.
Evans’ Stats On The Decline
During the month of November, Bucs rookie receiver Mike Evans was taking the NFL by storm with 21 catches for 558 yards and five touchdowns during one three game span, including a 209-yard receiving day at Washington. But he’s cooled off considerably into December, catching just 17 passes for 203 yards and four touchdowns over the past five games with no game over 49 yards receiving. During this span, Evans has likely lost the opportunity to go to the Pro Bowl, as well as the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors to New York’s Odell Beckham, Jr.
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]
I think what’s most important in having that first pick is the Buccaneers will be able to take who they WANT to take most. They can get an OC who can USE who they want most best. After all, IF we do get that franchise guy we all want he’ll be here for a long time while a successful OC probably won’t. It is ESSENTIAL to make the right choice but first we have to HAVE the choice. I will be going to the game and though I will be cheering anything positive I see from the Buccaneers, I will NOT be disappointed should we lose and get that first pick. And I have to agree that most fans, whether at the stadium or not, feel that way.
Incidentally, there’s an interesting thread and assessment of Jameis Winston on the “the complete Jameis Winston just the facts” thread on the Insider’s board for those panicking about picking him by choice or by having to at the second pick should we go QB!
If we have the #1 pick and we don’t take the obvious pick in Mariota, I will weigh my options on sticking with this current team and rethink my support moving ahead, been a fan since 1985 and I now live in Az for the past 15 yrs, c’mon Bucs don’t force my hand do the right and obvious thing and lose this meaningless game and take Mariota in the draft and give me hope moving forward and for those who think we need to take a LT with the first pick let me remind you of how bad we sucked with Paul Gruber and how well Wilson is playing with Allan Bailey at LT in Seattle and Luck with Costanzo
Lovie heeds to send a message on Black Monday! play or die! The next crop of FAs need to realize that the Bucs a is not place to come to collect a check. Play or die!
If they won’t accept performance or incentive contracts, don’t sign them.
Step up Lovie, be a man!
Yes I am one of the few who really wants this win because the players who aren’t released shortly need to believe that next season winning has started. I’m just not in love with any of the top two spots. I don’t see franchise player. Mariota is too true to believe and Winston makes mistakes, but wins. I guess I’ll get to change my position when I see both play again.
Now that we have the first or second pick locked up there is no other choice but QB. This fan base needs hope and no other position will give us that but QB. L&L realize that picking a QB will buy them two more years for sure. With two more drafts we should be able to complete and win the division. In FA we should look at Suh and drop Johnson. The money is available if Suh becomes available.
I’m sorry horse but this is exactly why we don’t win. How many times have we said,that this player and that player rant top whatever pics and we trade down. Trading down is not something Tampa needs to be doing. We NEED a quarterback more than any position. Idc about lt or ol until our ability position is taken care of. Mariota is the real deal. Dont talk yourself out of a great player bc he has great skills AND intagibles. Not hating on you at all, but Mariota is legit and any other pick but Mariota is a failure.
Sorry an out the typos. Rant is arnt and “ability position” is quarterback position.
The only State of the Buccaneers is the state of disrepair. The upcoming Draft can fix that in a hurry if done properly. Like Garv, I’ll be cheering for the Buccaneers to win, but like this past week, won;t be disappointed if we lose. In typical Buc fashion, we will probably win by a point or two and miss out on the chance to take the player of our choosing. Now that the Winston saga has concluded in the young man’s favor, I suspect he will move up on some teams’ Draft Boards who may have devalued him. I was considering a scenario where we trade down, get a booty of picks and still end up with the Nole. Me, I’m waiting for the Woes Bowl Game to see JonnyG’s favorite player for the first time.
I always want the Bucs to win, but it’s the 3rd week in a row – first time in 35 yrs – that I root for them to lose. We NEED that first pick. We NEED a franchise QB. We NEED Marcus Mariota.
Rose Bowl will convince me of either Winston or Mariota. Issue I have with Mariota is most of the highlights I see of this guy are running plays. (See RG III) next are short passes. Not sure he has NFL arm. Winston has great vision, throws long and short, has high football IQ and just wins.
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Who said I wouldn’t be happy if we loss? Either way we will get a QB. I prefer Winston over Mariota. Winston has tremendous up side and can fit into any program; we have no clue if Mariota can do the same and also take the pounding. So if we lose I am for picking Winston. Now you have heard it from me.
You who live on the east coast prolly have never seen Mariota play throw in the fact most of you are Noles Fans so saying you want Winston isn’t a shocker
I’ve watched Mariota play numerous times and what horse said above is exactly right. Mariota throws a screen about 1 out of every 4 passes and doesn’t run anything close to a pro offense. He never takes a snap from center. Do you really want our coaching staff teaching this guy how to take 3 and 5 step drops?
Spread QB’s don’t work and it’s been proven time and time again. Winston is a much better fit for what we have. We would need an offense designed around Mariota if we pick him. Do you trust Lovie to do that? I don’t.
The debate will go on right up until the commissioner turns in the card. IMHO Winston is and will be the better QB coming out but the BIG question is can he stay out of trouble? If you can believe the scouting reports and forget the off field problems you have to take Winston. Therefore I believe the Buc’s will make the wrong pick and take Mariota. I am not a Nole fan but I would take the QB that gives us the best chance at a SB and that would be Winston.
So what happens if either Marita or Winston decides to stay in school for another year? Or if both stay?
jongruden; I have watched mariota 3 times this year and I consider him a system player. I hope you are right. I have watched Winston about 25 times and he will make mistakes, but is a leader and does have a presence. Yes I’m a Nole Fan, but that will never stop me from seeing the way I see it as of right now. You’re right, if he plays and wins the next two games it will change a lot of minds.
Horse- you say “system player” is Winston in the same system that Chris Wienke, EJ Manuel and Christian Ponder are from?, lol Listen put the spread offense into Tampa with Mariota and you have another Russel Wilson period.
Jon, you can’t sit hear and even think that any of those three Qb’s listed above are even close to WInston. As a Noles fan, I’ve seen them all play and could’ve told anyone that drafting EJ and Ponder before the 4th round was a terrible gamble. Just because they are from the same coach, doesn’t mean they are equally skilled.
I have seen Mariota 5 times this year and he looks terrific! However, I have many questions about whether or not his game transfers to the NFL. I agree with the poster who says most of his big plays are either runs or short passes to receivers who are wide open also, he takes EVERY snap in the shotgun and I don’t think he has ever taken a snap under center. Winston does take many snaps under center and DOES throw into small windows. I just believe he is an NFL QB and Mariota MAY be.
EJ Manuel was who many of us thought was a 2nd to 3rd round pick and same for Ponder were huge reaches. Wienke was way before Jimbo Fisher brought his LSU scheme to Tallahassee. Fisher adjusts to his QB and they all have to be drop back passers and take hikes from the center up close; Mariota hasn’t. I’m not saying I wouldn’t pick him, but base on what I have seen so far I would take a chance on Winston for the long haul. You have seen Mariota for two year so I hear what you are saying and will watch what he does in his next game. Defense usually wins in Bowl games because of the long lay off and both Oregon and FSU is about the same there. Maybe FSU getting better as they played a lot of young players because of the last draft.
I am torn. One year ago, I would have been thrilled to have a shot at Jameis Winston. The way he came in his freshman year and took control of his team and won a heisman and national championship. Fast forward and although he hasn’t lost a game yet, his immaturity could be a big problem once he gets paid. Conversely Mariotta looks special. Grounded introvert with low turnovers, great awareness and agility, and a great scrambler. I don’t think a scrambling QB is a problem if he scrambles like Wilson. Can’t be reckless. Like Manziel or RG3. That doesn’t transition to the NFL well.
Again with this system stuff. If looking off defenders, going through progressions, making smart decisions,and not turning the ball over is what makes Mariota a system player then that’s the system I want. Really, this isn’t even close. You noles fans can preach winstons talent all day, but it does nothing if he’s suspended 4 games at a time. Winston is a great talent, but so was Ryan leaf, which is who I see when I look at Winston.
Look, as an FSU fan, I love Winston the QB. But in pro football, you need commitment. The QB’s who succeed have total commitment. Luck succeeds, RG3 doesn’t. Wilson succeeds. Manziel doesn’t. Do you take a sure thing-Mariotta- or hope that Winston turns it around. And Winston could. But Mariotta is the sure thing, and history says take the sure thing.
Thank you artpac. No one is questioning Winstons talent. But u need more than that to win in the nfl . We need a sure thing or as close to a sure thing as you can get. Mariota Mariota Mariota. That’s the only player we need to be taking.
You keep saying sure thing, and MAriota isn’t even close to a sure thing. You say about Winstons problems like you know what he’s doing with the next 5 years of his life. The Bucs don’t need a nice guy, we have too many of them already. Winston leads not only on the field, but on the sidelines. Heck Mariota until this year, hasn’t even won his own conferance.If we draft Mariota, we set our franchise back 4 years and you can book it.
I’ve seen both play. If Winston didn’t have his off the field issues then I wouldn’t care who we picked. You say if we take Mariota we will be set back, how so? How do you know? You can look into the future but I can’t? Your opinion is completely biased bc you are a noles fan. I’m neither. I see great talent in both. But I see more commitment to his team in Mariota. Winston May lead on the field and on the sidelines, but in the nil he needs to lead off the field and he has not shown that he can do it. I get it, Winston to you noles fan is your pride and joy, and he’s a legend in that area, but he’s not showing me anything that says I’m going to mature and be the leader of a franchise on and off the field.
Players have to go through the interview process and GM’s and coaches take a guy that can provide them some security and longevity at their job, character will certantly play a major role in going #1 esp playing qb and being the face of the franchise. Winston is a PR disaster and career suicide for any GM that drafts him, giving him million of dollars will not make him more mature and responsible. Mariota to Me is the better player, and better representation of what a young man should represent in morale character and leadership and profesionalism, so we can debate all we want who is a better qb but there is no debate in character or proffesionalism
jongruden; we’re going to have these discussions for the next 5 months. I myself am not sure on which one to pick because I don’t think either one is a sure thing. I’m much more taking a OT which I believe is a sure thing. The only problem with that thinking is we need a RDE and more importantly a QB. Neither QB has convinced me it’s a sure thing. Right now I’m leaning for the reasons given, but I am far from saying in May that this is who I would like to pick. It’s still too early. We have one more game to evaluate our Bucs and another two plus weeks to see one of these QB’s twice.
Horse- In what game in particular of Mariota’s didn’t he convince you he is not the man for the job?
jongruden- Just my opinion. I don’t see him lasting long in the NFL pertaining to running as he will get injured. He is in a vert fast movement scheme and he throws a lot on the run or runs himself; other teams will make the corrections quickly. If he went to Philadelphia or Seattle or San Francisco he would fit right in. I would choose right now to trade him to Philly over picking him. We’re talking about the Bucs though. I don’t like that he hasn’t taken hikes over the Center; he might have no problem doing it in the NFL, but I don’t know at this point in time. I know you are very sold on him; that’s fine with me, I’m just not there right now. Again I get one or two more chances to see him play and I can easily change my opinion.
Horse- You do know that they said they same thing about Cam Newton that he doesn’t take snaps under center right?
But he did take some.
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