Looking back at Bucs’ loss to Falcons

by Gary Shelton on December 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Patrick Murray missed from 54 yards at the buzzer./JEFFREY S. KING

Patrick Murray missed from 54 yards at the buzzer./JEFFREY S. KING

 

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

5 Observations

The last thing that a player on the edge of losing his career should do is flirt with the rules. Yet, there was Doug Martin, running afoul again. Peyton Barber isn't exactly Barry Sanders, but there is an energy when he runs. And if I was Martin, who already burned his team once this year,  I might pay a little closer attention the rules.

That was the Jameis Winston we expected in season three. A shame it took 14 games to see it.

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Matt Ryan was a running quarterback Monday./JEFFREY S. KING

Matt Ryan was a running quarterback Monday./JEFFREY S. KING

It's one thing to give up 126 yards to Devonta Freeman. It's something else to give up 29 yards to Crazylegs Matt Ryan, whose first cousin is a tree.The Bucs' defense was better Monday night, but it still played dodgeball in the running game.

Officials stop the clock all the flipping time to adjust the time remaining. Why not do so after a referee turns into Chevy Chase and flops on the field. Isn't fairness an issue, or have the Bucs lost their rights to that, too?

I'll say it again. I don't know if Dirk Koetter is the right man for the Bucs' job. But if the Bucs ever do hire the right man, it's going to take him more than two years to fix all that's broken.

Can Koetter get another victory?/JEFFREY S. KING

Can Koetter get another victory?/JEFFREY S. KING

 5 Comments

(From Dirk Koetter's day-after press conference)

(On injuries): "That will be coming soon, but Adarius Glanton for sure. (He) had to have some surgery last night. J.R. Sweezy will be done for the year. There (are) a couple more that could be coming, but just with the game getting over so late last night (not everything is finalized), but those are two for sure.”

(On a touchdown allowed when the Bucs had only 10 players on field): “(It was a) personnel issue because of injuries and a substitution error on our part. We knew about it, but by the time I could get down there the snap was imminent. It was a pass play and we were missing a defensive lineman, so the timing of the ball came out — it’s embarrassing that that ever happens, but it happened. I don’t think it affected that play any, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that it’s embarrassing.”

(On the big night by quarterback Jameis Winston):  "As far as the maturation part that you are talking about, I don’t think that just clicks in one week. I don’t think that’s like a one-week thing. I do think there is probably something to that theory, but Jameis is in here at the crack of dawn and staying here until [late]. He is getting treatment [and] he is always working on his body and on his film study and that sort of thing. The way he threw the ball last night — he threw it effortlessly and he threw it with touch. He threw the deep ball the best he has thrown it this year, so there could very well be something to that."

(On Winston's statement that he should just throw the ball up to Mike Evans more): “I think there is something to that. Mike’s numbers aren’t the same because he doesn’t have the same targets. Mike has been the most targeted guy in the league the last two years. We haven’t targeted him as much this year and I’ve had that exact conversation with Jameis. I told him, ‘Hey, wasn’t life a lot simpler when we just went back and tried to throw it to Mike?’ There is just some truth in that because Mike’s strength is his size and his power. To Mike’s credit, I thought Mike did as good a job as he’s done all season of just running fast. For a big guy, Mike can run. Teams try to beat him up at the line of scrimmage, so he doesn’t get in open space and you don’t really notice that speed, but he got behind the defense multiple times last night. Now, a couple of those were penalties, but I thought Mike really did a good job of running hard and using that speed and Jameis did a good job of giving him chances.”

(On an official tripping on the Bucs' next-to-last play): Yeah, of course I have a problem with it, but what are we supposed to do? You can’t say, ‘Hey, excuse me sir, could you stop the clock?’ I mean, the clock is running. We’ve got to play on. That’s human error. Before there was instant replay, human error was just factored in as part of the game. I promise you they’re not factoring in the umpire going to get the ball and bear-crawling the last eight yards to set the ball on the hash. They didn’t factor that in. So, we snapped that play with 25 seconds and had an 11-yard gain to Cam (Brate). The first part of that was they held Cam down. That’s one of those things that (is) a smart play by the defense. Our sideline is screaming at (the referee). With the game on the line, that is a hard call to make. It’s not a finite line (where) he held him too long or he didn’t. Our side is saying he did. I’m sure their side is saying, ‘Great play.’ (A reporter) asked the question last night: if we would have clocked it and there would have been over seven seconds, we would’ve run a different play. The average NFL pass play takes six seconds and if you’re within one second of that, it’s dicey because we were right there on the edge of field-goal range. Now, it looked to me on our tape – you can’t always tell exactly where it was – like it could have possibly been somewhere between (eight to 11]) seconds that we could’ve got that ball clocked. If so, we would’ve run another play. There is no guarantee we would’ve gained any more yards and we would’ve had to get out of bounds. We wouldn’t have had time to clock it again.”

Gruden went into the Bucs' Ring of Honor./JEFFREY S. KING

Gruden went into the Bucs' Ring of Honor./JEFFREY S. KING

5 of the Best Lines

"The Falcons didn’t face a good defense here Monday. The Buccaneers of Mike Smith entered ranked next-to-last in yards against and last in passing yards. They were missing anchors Gerald McCoy and Vernon Hargreaves. They saw a half-dozen others exit with various ailments, which is symptomatic of a 4-9 team playing out the string. Much of the crowd at Raymond James Stadium departed after a halftime ceremony honoring Jon Gruden, who in what seems another century led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory."

-- Mark Bradley, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Yes, they won. Yes, they’re 9-5. But this game was like so many this season: It left you wondering why a team with the NFL’s most talented roster — this according to Pro Football Focus – only occasionally looks the part. This was a fairly benign road setting, what with the Bucs playing as if they’re ready to welcome yet another head coach. (If Dirk Koetter finishes 4-12 on a six-game losing streak, he’s surely out.) But the Falcons, with so much at stake, couldn’t put lasting distance between themselves and their callow opponent."

-- Bradley

"Entering the season, the Buccaneers -- now 4-10 -- were supposed to challenge the Falcons for the NFC South crown. Instead, their final couple of weeks are nothing more than an opportunity to spoil some seasons and maybe even save some jobs.  They didn't play well on Monday night. Winston actually pieced together a sensational stat line -- 27 of 35 for 299 yards, three touchdowns, no picks, and a 130.5 passer rating -- and played better than he has pretty much all season long. So don't blame him for the loss.

-- Sean Wagner-McGough, CBSsports.com

"You can compliment the Buccaneers for finally stopping Jones, but then you have to remember that Ryan missed a deep touchdown bomb to Jones. And while the Buccaneers didn't get torched through the air, they did get annihilated on the ground. I'm not sure there's any kind of moral victory the Buccaneers can claim from the loss. The Falcons were bad. The Buccaneers were even worse -- with the exception of Winston. And in the process, they got decimated by injuries."

-- Wagner McGough

"Fun—or depressing if you’re a Bucs fan—fact: After cutting Matt Bryant following the 2008 season, Tampa has used eight different kickers and has the worst field-goal percentage over that span. Bryant, meanwhile, has drilled his field goals at greater than an 86 percent rate in six of his nine seasons with the Falcons. He’s 27-of-32 this season, including a 57-yard attempt he nailed on Monday night."

-- Max Meyer, SI.com

McCoy earned his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl./JEFFREY S. KING

McCoy earned his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl./JEFFREY S. KING

 Pro Bowl Bucs

(Sorta)

1. Gerald McCoy     Defensive tackle          Starter

2. Lavonte David    Linebacker                  2nd alternate

3. Kwon Alexander Linebacker                 3rd alternate

4. Cameron Brate    Tight end                  3rd alternate

Brooks has 11 Pro Bowl appearances./JEFFREY S. KING

Brooks has 11 Pro Bowl appearances./JEFFREY S. KING

Most Bucs' Pro Bowls

Derrick Brooks     11

Warren Sapp          7

Lee Roy Selmon    6

Gerald McCoy       6

Mike Alstott           6

Winston had his best game...finally./JEFFREY S. KING

Winston had his best game...finally./JEFFREY S. KING

5 of Winston's best games

Opponent     Year       A-C-I        Yds        Tds           Ranking

Philadelphia   2015    19-27-0       246          5                131.6

Atlanta           2017     27-35-0      299          3                130.5

Washington   2015    21-29-0      297           2               128.1

Atlanta          2016     23-32-1      281            4               125.5

Jacksonville  2015     13-19-0     209            1               122.5

5 Memorable Monday Nights

2000 -- Bucs 38, Rams 35: There for a while, this was the best matchup in the NFL. The Bucs had the league's best defense. The Rams had the league's best offense. On Dec. 18, Shaun King won his biggest game.

2003 -- Bucs 17, Eagles 0: Call it the last stand of the Super Bowl season. The Bucs, who won the big game the season before, opened their season up with a 17-0 blanking of the Eagles in Philadelphia. No one could predict that team would fall apart.

2003 -- Colts 38, Bucs 35: No, they aren't all Bucs' wins. This was perhaps the most disappointing regular season loss the Bucs have had, a 38-35 comeback by the Colts. In some ways, Tampa Bay never recovered.

2002 -- Bucs 26, Rams 14: In the Super Bowl season, you wouldn't expect the Bucs to not play the Rams.

1999 -- Bucs 24, Vikings 17: King showed that he had enough poise to win for Tampa Bay.

Anger averaged almost 48 yards per punt./CARMEN MANDATO

Anger averaged almost 48 yards per punt./CARMEN MANDATO

Game Burns

Offense: If the average Bucs' fan could describe how he wants Winston to play, this would be close.

Defense: Kwon Alexander had 13 tackles for the Bucs.

Special teams: Bryan Anger averaged 47.7 yards per punt

Brate graded out well for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Brate graded out well for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

Best Five Bucs

(Pro Football Focus)

QB Jameis Winston, 86.8 overall grade

S Chris Conte, 86.4 overall grade

TE Cameron Brate, 80.5 overall grade

CB Robert McClain, 78.2 overall grade

WR Mike Evans, 77.2 overall grade

NFL Power Rankings

ESPN                           28

Yahoo.sports              27

NFL.com                     26

SI.com                         25

Sportingnews.com    28

David still leads the Bucs in tackles./JEFFREY S. KING.

David still leads the Bucs in tackles./JEFFREY S. KING.

5 Top Tacklers

Player               Tackles              League rank

David                   84                            34

Alexander           78                            43

J. Evans              66                             86

Beckwith            98                             65

Conte                  98                             65 (tie)

5 Mock Drafts

Todd McShay, ESPN   7          Clelin Farrell, DE, Clemson

Bleacher Report            7           Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

Draftwire                         7            Chubb

WalterFootball               8          Derwin James, S, FSU

CBSsports.com               8          Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Sweezy's season is finished./CARMEN MANDATO

Sweezy's season is finished./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Leading Penalty Producers

1. Donovan Smith           8            70

2. J.R. Sweezy                 6             45

3. Demar Dotson            6             42

4. William Gholston      5             29

5. Mike Evans                 4             40

Evans numbers are down on the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Evans numbers are down on the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Grades

Quarterback: It was the kind of night that hints at what Jameis Winston could become. He has never been more accurate and seldom more efficient.  Grade: A-.

Running back: Peyton Barber played with a lot of energy in the absence of Doug Martin (who?). Alas, Barber had only 53 yards rushing and fumbled as the Bucs were going in for the score. Grade: B-

Wide receiver:  Mike Evans pushes off too much. He did it twice after decent gains on Monday night. Adam Humphries also had a good night for the Bucs. Grade: B.

Offensive line: Only two sacks, which is an improvement. But shouldn't the holes be bigger in the run game? Grade C+.

Defensive line: The Bucs gave up 201 yards rushing and were blocked fairly efficiently by the Falcons. No sacks. Not much daylight, either. Grade: F.

Linebacker: Kwon Alexander had 13 tackles. Kendall Beckwith had five, but was left bow-legged by Falcons runners. Grade: C.

Secondary: It was a much better effort, holding Julio Jones to 199 less receiving yards. Ryan Smith returned from injury several times. Grade: C.

Kicking: It's hard to rip a guy for missing a 54-yarder. Still, former Buc Matt Bryant, who is 102 years old, it seems, had a 57 yarder. Grade: D.

Coaching: For the most part, Koetter still has his guys playing hard through the injuries. Grade: C.

Williams among the best of the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Williams among the best of the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Ranking the Ring of Honor

1. Derrick Brooks

2. Lee Roy Selmon

3. Warrren Sapp

4. John Lynch

5. Paul Gruber

6. Doug Williams

7. Mike Alstott

8. Jimmie Giles

9. Jon Gruden

10. Malcolm Glazer

11. John McKay

Random Statistics

Total Defense            31

Passing Defense       32

Sacks                          32

Third down Pct.       32

20-plus plays           30 (tie)

It's been a while since the Bucs won a trophy./JEFFREY S. KING

It's been a while since the Bucs won a trophy./JEFFREY S. KING

NFL Playoff Droughts

(Through 2017)

1. Buffalo          19

2. Cleveland     15

3. Rams            13

4. Bucs             10

5. Titans          10

Martin is being outplayed by Barber. /JEFFREY KING

Martin is being outplayed by Barber. /JEFFREY KING

Comparing the Backs

Barber                                                               Martin

   2                                 Starts                               8

 78                                   Att.                               129

 301                                Yards                            402

    2                                    Tds                               3

 3.9                                  Ave.                              3.1

5 Former Bucs

1. Donald Penn ....Injured his foot and will have surgery, ending his season and his streak of 170 straight starts.

2. LaGarrette Blount...carried the ball only seven times for 21 yards in the Eagles' victory.

3. Aqib Talib... had three tackles and two assists for Denver. Played his 11th straight game without an interception. Still made the Pro Bowl.

4. Michael Bennett...had only one tackle in Seattle's loss to the Rams.

5. Adrian Claiborne...Had one tackle and a half-sack against the Bucs.

Even after all these years, the question is the same: Why not Alstott?/JEFFREY S. KING

Even after all these years, the question is the same: Why not Alstott?/JEFFREY S. KING

5 Thoughts

Why did the Bucs ever turn loose of Matt Bryant?

Does anyone else wonder if this retirement thing is going to stick with Mike Alstott? I'd give him the ball 20 more times to see.

Did you see that Gerald McCoy made the Pro Bowl? Bully for Gerald, but this year, I don't see it.

It's nice to hear that the Bucs still support Dirk Koetter. But, um, at 4-10, do they still get a vote?

We'll never know how much it ended up hurting, not helping, the Bucs to bring in all the weapons for Winston. Winston struggled to find chemistry with DeSean Jackson (and O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin). Meanwhile, Mike Evans numbers look like he's lost a quarter of a season. If you struggle to gameplan for a multitude of receivers, you struggle.

Evans had a great play on a touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

Evans had a great play on a touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

Comparing Mike Evans

2016                                                             2017

  154                    Targets                               115

  84                      Catches                               60

1159                      Yards                                839

 10                          TDs                                     5

13.8                    Yds per Catch                   13.0

Glanton rides off on a cart after a season-ending injury./JEFFREY S. KING

Glanton rides off on a cart after a season-ending injury./JEFFREY S. KING

Sack Leaders 

Player                            Sacks                          NFL Rank

McCoy                             5.0                                  55

McDonald                      4.0                                  73

Clarke                              2.5                                121

Ayers                                2.0                               140

Glanton                            1.0                               281

5 Best Bucs Sack Seasons

(To Compare)

1. Warren Sapp                    2000              16.5

2. Simeon Rice                     2002               15,5

3. Simeon Rice                     2003               15.0

4.  Simeon Rice                    2005               14.0

5. Lee Roy Selmon              2013                12.0

Bucs are among the worst five./JEFFREY S. KING

Bucs are among the worst five./JEFFREY S. KING

NFL Bottom Five

32. Cleveland

31. N.Y. Giants

30. Indianapolis Colts

29. Tampa Bay Bucs

28. San Francisco 49ers

  Looking Ahead

Cam Newton is among the best Panthers./STEVE MUNCIE

Cam Newton is among the best Panthers./STEVE MUNCIE

5 Great Panthers

1. Julius Peppers

2. Steve Smith Jr.

3. Greg Olsen

4. Cam Newton

5. Luke Kuechly

5 Favorite Panthers

1. Sam Mills

2. Kevin Greene

3. Jake Delhomme

4. John Kasay

5. Hardy Nickerson

Brad Johnson had his big games./JEFFREY S. KING

Brad Johnson had his big games./JEFFREY S. KING

5 Great Performances Vs. Panthers

1. Josh Freeman...hit 25 of 46 passes for 248 yards to lead the Bucs to a comeback victory in overtime in 2012. Tampa Bay trailed 21-10 with just over four minutes to play.

2. Cadillac Williams...in 2005, Williams gained 112 yards on 29 carries in a victory.

3. Warrick Dunn. Dunn gained 115 yards on 22 carries in a 27-3 victory in 2008.

4. Brad Johnson. In 2002, hit 22 of 40 passes for 253 yards.

5. Doug Martin. Martin gained 138 on 24 carries in a victory in 2012.

Best Game

At the time, Tampa Bay was still trying to believe in Josh Freeman. Some days were harder than others.

But in 2012, against Carolina, Freeman was on top of his game. It wouldn't last very long.

Freeman would win only one more game as a Tampa Bay quarterback. But no one knew that when he led his team from an 11-point deficit to beat the Panthers, 27-21 in overtime. Freeman trailed by eight points with 62 seconds left and no time outs.

After the game, teammates talked about what a competitor Freeman was. Mike Williams called him "elite." But Freeman would soon run out of chances to lead the Bucs.

For one day, however, Freeman was a star.

Imagine he thinks about that day?

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