The Buccaneers won their first playoff game in 17 years with a 31-23 victory over Washington on Saturday night. The game was closer than many expected, but Tampa Bay will move on to face the winner of Sunday’s Bears-Saints contest.
Below is the list of this week’s most disappointing players.
T Joe Haeg
Early in the game as an extra blocker Haeg was beaten badly on a run down. Then, after Tampa Bay’s first touchdown, he took the outside man on an extra point attempt allowing an inside player free to block the kick. Youth league football players are taught to always block down and don’t allow a player to cross your face when blocking for kicks, and unless special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong teaches it differently, I have no idea what Haeg was thinking on that play. There’s not much to criticize general manager Jason Licht about this year, but Haeg might be the least impressive move he made in the offseason. The veteran offensive lineman being “versatile” is about the best thing we can say about him at this point.
RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Vaughn’s third quarter fumble was a major setback as Tampa Bay appeared to be driving for a score after struggling coming out of halftime. Earlier in the game Vaughn didn’t get turned around as a receiver out of the backfield soon enough and Tom Brady’s pass hit the turf for an incompletion. Following his fumble, Vaughn was relegated to the bench. He finished the night with five carries for 21 yards.
OLB Shaq Barrett
Something just doesn’t seem right with Barrett in 2020, as he hasn’t looked himself for much of the year, particularly on Saturday against Washington. Barrett failed to generate much pressure all night and didn’t record a sack. Barrett ended his evening with one tackle-for-loss on the first play of the game, but was invisible after that. If the Bucs hold out any hope of beating the Saints – or Rams – next week, they could use the 2019 version of Barrett instead of this year’s mediocre one.
G Ted Larsen
Ted Larsen has somehow managed to stick around the NFL since 2010. That’s right, Larsen was in Tampa Bay when Raheem Morris was the head coach. Many more games like Saturday night and his playing days will be coming to an end soon. Larsen was thrown into a tough situation as a fairly new player in Tampa Bay who hasn’t seen many snaps this year and was thrust into the starting lineup when Alex Cappa left the game with what is feared to be a fractured ankle. Still, as an 11-year veteran you expect more, and with two sacks surrendered to Washington, Tampa Bay will have to figure out who gives them the best option in next week’s divisional game. And if they decide it is in fact Larsen, they must get a better effort from him if they hope to advance.
Bucs Pass Rush
Maybe it would have been better had veteran Alex Smith been able to play quarterback for Washington on Saturday night as he doesn’t have the mobility he once had before a devastating knee injury nearly cost him his career, and at one point his life. The Bucs pass rush was dreadful on Saturday, as they recorded just two sacks on the night and allowed an XFL backup quarterback to run for 46 yards while also throwing for 306 yards and one touchdown. Too often on Saturday night the Bucs failed to get pressure on Taylor Heinicke and had a hard time containing him in the pocket. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or even Jared Goff will eat this team alive if given the amount of time to throw that Heinicke was.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com