Looking back at the Bucs’ victory over Carolina

by Gary Shelton on December 4, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Jameis Winston had another clean performance./STEVEN MUNCIE

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

5 Observations

1. Say what you want, but Jameis Winston isn't having trouble passing chemistry with any other wide receiver. Maybe the problem isn't on Winston's side of the lab.

2. Dirk Koetter sure is smarter when his team isn't coughing up the football like hairballs.

3. I've seen a lot of limited running backs over the years, but they usually do something right. They run the ball. They catch the ball. They block. I don't see that any of that applies to Ronald Jones, whose best strength is that he completes the team picture.

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4. Did you see that Ron Rivera cleaned house after the Panthers' loss? I guess he figured if that defense couldn't stop the Bucs, what good was it?

5. Anyone else remember when Carolina got a "D" grade for drafting running back Christian McCaffrey eighth in 2017? I know he plays for the other team, but McCaffrey is a beast.

Dirk Koetter's future is a more complicated question./STEVEN MUNCIE


(From Dirk Koetter's Day-After Press Conference)

(On Chris Godwin's ability to step up):  "First of all, it's not surprising to me. I’ve been saying since day one that I feel like we have four starting wide receivers. They’ve all had their moments where they’ve played very well at times this year. Not surprising at all. On the touchdown we had a crossing route going to the left side of the end zone and Chris was on the very back end line — number four in the progression. When Jameis (Winston stepped up, that’s something that Monk (Todd Monken) works with those guys all the time – Chris converted right away to scramble rules and that was it. That was a heck of a throw by Jameis. That ball had a lot more juice on it than you might think. He had to throw it over the corner and back end zone and the safety was over there to the left. That ball had a lot on it, so that was a little tougher catch than it probably looked."

(On Winston's running the ball): "Jameis had two explosive runs — two beautiful scrambles. One just based on — they were in man coverage — on the one in the red zone they were in man coverage and he signaled to a different route and when you look at it on tape, the middle kind of parted and he just took it and ran hard. Then on the other one, it was a second-and-long and we kind of had a little breakdown and he pulled it down. We were in empty and we turned it the wrong way — we turned the protection the wrong way and so we were hot. Jameis had a guy in his face. He juked him with a pump and got him in the air — that was a really nice run too. We’re not designing it for Jameis to be our leading rusher, but that’s the way it worked out yesterday.”

(On what defensive coordinator Mark Duffner has meant to the defense): “Not only Duff, but the entire defensive staff. I thought the defensive line set the tempo for our defense yesterday. You’ve got to credit all three of the back seven — the linebackers coach, which is also Duff, the safeties coach Brett Maxie, the corners coach (Jon Hoke) — they’re all playing with a lot of backup players in there. Just to get those guys ready, put their package together and have those guys in position — plus Carolina’s a hard team to defend because of all they do with their option football. I couldn’t be prouder of the way the defense played and coached yesterday. Did an awesome job.”

(On the goal-line play that was ruled a fumble):  "Our film doesn’t have a good view of it. I think whichever way they called that on the field, the other side was going to be disappointed. I don’t think any of those guys really saw clearly what happened. Those goal line plays are the toughest because there’s all those bodies and the guys looking in from the side then you’ve got the guy in the back. I don’t think any of them really saw exactly what happened. They had a little meeting out there. For whatever reason, they decided to call it the way they did. I don’t care how many camera angles you have, I just think those are always going to be hard to overturn whatever was called. I still do not have a good feel for what — somebody said one of the TV guys said something different. I have not seen anything that I can say where I even have an opinion on it.”

(On the defensive line putting more pressure on the quarterback):  “I’ve been saying I think the main thing on that has been — the most consistent thing in our rush has been the play of those two ends, JPP and [Carl] Nassib. Now you’ve got Vinny Curry back and he got in the act yesterday. I though Gerald [McCoy] had one of his best games of the year yesterday. The number one thing behind it all is the consistency of those two ends — how hard they’re playing. They’re both hard to block. JPP hasn’t been practicing as much lately, but when he does practice he’s pedal to the metal out there and Nassib has picked up on that. We struggled to block him all week.”

Cam Newton stopped on the run./STEVEN MUNCIE

5 of the Best Takes

"The Carolina Panthers have turned into a bad football team — a “bless their hearts,” stumbling, bumbling, crumbling hot mess.

When you find yourself in a big hole, you first put down the shovel. But the Panthers just keep digging — it is the one thing they are good at right now. They made it halfway to China Sunday, in a 24-17 road loss to Tampa Bay that was worse than it sounds.

The number of the day was “four.” The defeat made it four losses in a row for the Panthers. Cam Newton, the star quarterback who said four days before he was playing the best football of his career, threw four interceptions.

Newton looked like a rookie again Sunday. In fact, the only other time Newton has thrown four interceptions in a single game was as an NFL rookie in 2011."

-- Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer

"Yes, it was that kind of nasty afternoon, where the Panthers had a chance for steak and wound up eating dirt sandwiches.

"When asked about what happened on a particular interception, Newton said: “It’s sad, because I don’t even know which one you’re talking about.”

"That was unusual. Newton had been averaging only 0.64 interceptions per game in 2018 and was posting career-best numbers in both completion percentage and quarterback efficiency. But Newton was remarkably inefficient Sunday, allowing a journeyman Buccaneers safety named Andrew Adams to pick him off three times."

-- Fowler

"If the past three losses weren't pretty, this one might break a mirror or two.

"There was the blowout against Pittsburgh, the almost-comeback against Detroit and the late-game collapse against Seattle, but Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay was just all-around ugly.

"The Panthers, despite 444 yards of offense, turned the ball over four times, couldn't stay on the field -- or get off, depending on which unit was in the game -- on third down, and couldn't protect Cam Newton, who couldn't stop turning the ball over. But it's not what the couldn't do that made the loss so frustrating -- it was the unforgivable number of opportunities they afforded a struggling Tampa Bay team."

-- Marcel Louis-Jacques

"Jameis Winston wasn't flashy but man, was he good. The former first overall pick completed 20 of 30 passes for 249 yards and two scores, adding another 49 rushing yards on five carries. He kept the sticks moving and that's all Tampa Bay needed him to do in game where Carolina failed to apply much pressure."

-- Louis-Jacques

"Jamies Winston had a solid day for the Buccaneers on Sunday. He was fairly efficient and accurate through the air even though he did not hit many deep passes. Winston also had an impact scrambling with the football. The biggest thing for Winston was that he only had one turnover-worthy play, which has been his Achilles heel throughout his career.

"It was a tough day on the edge for tackle Donovan Smith. He was beaten at a high rate by rotational defender  Efe Obada, who was only in for a handful of snaps. Smith struggled both in pass protection and in the run game.

"The Buccaneers’ secondary was excellently highlighted by the play of cornerback  Javien Elliot, as he intercepted one of Cam Newton‘s wayward passes and made six tackles, including two stops in coverage. Andrew Adams was the beneficiary of some good luck, as he was the recipient of the other three interceptions.

"Defensive interior Gerald McCoy was dominant on the defensive line, as he racked up several pressures including two hits. He lined up all up and down the line and wreaked havoc on whomever he was facing. Edge defender Carl Nassib also added several pressures to the stat sheet, as Newton was under duress for much of the afternoon."

-- Pro Football Focus

Andrew Adams gets an interception./STEVEN MUNCIE

Game Balls

Offense: Yeah, that's what you want from Jameis Winston. You don't need bombs, and you don't need flash. You just need turnover-free football. That hasn't been Winston's  best assent. Since he joined the league, he has one four-game streak without an interception, one three-game streak and three two-game streaks. That's it.

Defense: In one day, Andrew Adams made people look up his name and then cheer for it. It was only the fourth three-pick day of the Bucs' history -- two by Ronde Barber and one by Aqib Talib.

Special teams: You probably don't want to jinx it by saying it out loud, but kicker Cairo Santos is still perfect.

Peyton Barber had a tough day./STEVEN MUNCIE


Quarterback: Winston was terrific. He had only one pass that could have been intercepted, and he thought that one should have been called for pass interference. Has someone finally gotten the message to Winston about turnovers? Or will he relapse?

Running back: It was an odd day for Peyton Barber, who had a couple of big runs but averaged just 2.8 yards per rush. Backup Ronald Jones averaged 0.5. Grade: D.

Offensive line: No running game against four sacks? The Bucs were lucky the line held up often enough. Grade: D.

Defensive line: The Bucs pressured Cam Newton often, missing a couple of sack opportunities. They hit him nine times and got two of the team's four sacks. Grade: B+.

Linebackers: Lavonte David was back, and he had 12 tackles and a sack. Grade: B.

Defensive backs: Four interceptions and 10 passes defensed makes for a pretty good day. Andrew Adams was the lead singer, but he had help. Grade: A.

Coaching: The Bucs scored just seven points in the second half after Rivera seized the defensive play-calling. Penalties hurt. But they won. Grade: B+.

Chris Godwin had more than 100 yards receiving./STEVEN MUNCIE

5 Best Plays

3-11-13 -- Winston has thrown better on the move lately. On this pass, he rolled to his right and picked out his fourth option in Chris Godwin and hit him over the corner for the score.

3-16-19 -- Cam Newton's tough afternoon started with Andrew Adams' first interception. He says he should have scored.

3-3-3 -- It looked to all the world that Winston was going to try to run this one in, but at the last minute, he flipped to Adam Humphries for a touchdown.

2-10-25 -- Adams didn't get all the interceptions. With Carolina threatening and the Bucs ahead 10-7, Javien Elliott intercepted a pass and returned it  50 yards to set up the Bucs' second touchdown.

3-11-39 -- Tampa Bay's final touchdown was set up when Winston converted third-and-11 with an 18-yard pass to Chris Godwin.

5 Worst Plays

2-4-4 -- Fumbling at the goal line is unforgivable. Barber looked like he was close to the goal line (some replays hint he might have been over it) when he lost a fumble to Luke Kuechley.

2-2-49 -- McCaffrey got more than half of his yardage on this 53-yard run to set up the first Panthers' touchdown.

3-7-- 11 -- The Bucs had the Panthers pinned back in their own territory, but McCaffrey slipped out for a 20-yard gain.

3-4-44 -- We understand that Jason Pierre-Paul has sacks on his mind. But the game's final play was an incompletion into the end zone. Game over. But Pierre-Paul was offsides, giving the Panthers a last shot. Fortunately, it failed.

1-8-8 -- Doesn't it seem as if a back like McCaffrey would get extra attention? Here, he gets into the end zone for the Panthers' first touchdown.

Javien Elliott after getting an interception./STEVEN MUNCIE

Unsung Heroes

1. Andrew Adams: After Sunday, they ought to name the award for Adams, who had three picks in a game he will tell his grandchildren about.

2. Jordan Whitehead: He was second on the Bucs with seven tackles.

3. Javien Elliott: Almost scored with his interception. Still, he's tied for second on the team.

4. Kevin Minter: He sacked Newton on the second play of the game.

5. De'Vante Harris: Led the Bucs with three passes defensed.

Bucs celebrate after Andrew Adams gets another interception./STEVEN MUNCIE

The Five Most Popular Guys in Tampa Bay (This Week)

1. Andrew Adams

2. Blake Snell

3. Brayden Point

4. Jeff Vinik

5. Hulk Hogan

Jameis Winston was turnover-free./STEVEN MUNCIE

5 Reasons for Hope

1. New Orleans: Yes, the Saints are all the rage. But they aren't quite as good away from the Superdome, and the Bucs have won the last two meetings between the teams.

2. Baltimore: Joe Flacco is hurt. If the Bucs can somewhat contain Lamar Jackson, that should help.

3. Bucs at Cowboys: Dallas is one of those teams with split personalities. Amari Cooper will threaten the secondary, but Dak Prescott may not be able to go deep enough.

4. Falcons at Bucs: Tampa Bay has played Atlanta well at times. Julio Jones is a beast, and he'll have to be contained.

5. Jameis Winston, for the moment, seems to have conquered his turnovers.

Is Brees ready for the Bucs?/JEFFREY S. KING

5 Reasons for Woe

1. New Orleans: After their Week One loss, the Saints have been the best team in the league, and Drew Brees probably can't wait to get at this secondary.

2. Baltimore: The Ravens are a tough team defensively. It might be tough to move the ball.

3. Dallas: Beating Jerry's team in Dallas is like beating the Cartwrights on the Ponderosa.

4. Atlanta: The Falcons are more of a mess than the Bucs. But Jones is the great equalizer.

5. Who knows how long a cure for turnovers lasts?

Duffner watches his defense play better./JEFFREY S. KING

Tale of the Tape: Smith vs. Duffner

After Five Games                                                      Now

34.6                                Points                       32.2

439.8                 Total Defense YPG           391.0

355.6                   Passing YPG                    234.4

9                      Sacks                                   33

1                         Interceptions                      5

Koetter has won almost as many as McCarthy lately./CARMEN MANDATO

Tale of the Tape: Koetter vs. McCarthy

Tampa Bay         Team              Green Bay

5-7                    18 Record          4-7-1

19-25                Since '16            21-22-1

Winston        Quarterback       Rodgers

1 '                    '18 Offense                8

Winston has more Bucs' TD passes than anyone./STEVEN MUNCIE

Most Bucs/ TD passes

1. Jameis Winston, 2014-Pres. 81

2. Josh Freeman, 2009-13 80

3. Vinny Testaverde, 1987-92 77

4. Doug Williams, 1978-82 73

5. Trent Dilfer, 1994-99 70

Adam Humphries has been reliable for Bucs./STEVEN MUNCIE

Opposing QB Ratings (Best)

1. Eli Manning, NY Giants                               155.8

2. Mitch Trubisky, Chicago         154.6

3. Cam Newton, Carolina            133.2

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans       129.5

5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta                   125.5

Mike Evans argues with a ref./STEVEN MUNCIE

Opposing QB Ratings (Worst)

1. Cam Newton, Panthers 66.2

2. Nick Mullens, 49ers 89.6

3. Nick Foles, Eagles 98.8

4. Alex Smith, Redskins 100.5

5. Baker Mayfield, Browns 104.4

Fewest Incompletions

1. Eli Manning, Giants         1

2. Cam Newton, Carolina      6

3. Mitch Trubisky, Chicago  7

4. Drew Brees, New Orleans 8

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh 8

Alex Smith, Washington 8

Most Incompletions

1. Mullens, 49ers 14

2. Newton, Panthers 13

Foles, Eagles 13

Dalton, Bengals 13

5. Mayfield, Browns 11

Running Back Draft

2.  Saquon Barkley, Giants      195    954       4.9

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks       73    369       5.1

31. Sony Michel, Patriots        144.   640       4.5

35. Nick Chubb, Browns           131    694       5.3

38. Ronald Jones, Bucs           23     44     1.9

43. Kerryon Johnson, Lions.      118       641     5.4

Defensive Tackle Draft

12. Vita Vea, Tampa Bay                    8         2

13. Da'Ron Payne, Washington       39        4

29. Taven Bryan, Jacksonville.       13        0

57. P.J. Hall, Oakland                      15        0

69. B.J. Hill, Giants                         38         5

Bucs' Mock Draft

Pro Football Focus            12. Brian Burns, DE                 FSU

Walterfootball.com           10. Deondre Baker, CB            Georgia

CBSsports.com                    7. Greedy Williams, CB         LSU

Bleacher Report                12.. Deonta Thompson, S        Alabama

Drafttek                               9. Byron Murphy, CB              Washington

Power Rankings

Sporting News.                24

Fansided                            22

Bleacher Report               21

Massey                              20

Oddshark                         23

Random Stats

 Passing Touchdowns              26. Winston            12

 Interceptions Thrown              3. Fitzpatrick        12

..                           ..         5. Winston             11

 Rushing Yards Per Game        26. Barber                52.9

Receiving Yards Per Game        3. Mike Evans       93.4

Receiving 1st Downs                   6. Mike Evans        52

More Random Stats

Sacks                      4. Jason Pierre-Paul 11.5

Tackles                  18. Lavonte David 83

Interceptions         9. Andrew Adams 3

Punting                 23. Bryan Anger 44.6

Penalties               17. Ryan Jensen 7-75

5 Closing Thoughts

1. Who knew there were so many defensive backs on the street? The Bucs' practice squad graduates played better than the original group, didn't they?

2. For all of you salivating over Mike McCarthy, consider this. Since Dirk Koetter was hired as head coach, he's won 19 games. McCarthy has won 21.

3. In five years, who do you think has more wins? Ex-Buc Jon Gruden or ex-Buc John Lynch?

4. The Bucs have to go 3-1 to finish .500. I don't think they'll make it. But this has always been a franchise that hated finishing poorly. Koetter at least needs two wins to have an argument.

5. The good thing is this: No matter what color combination the Bucs wear next week, it's gotta look better than the red Power Ranger suits they wore Sunday.

Looking Ahead

5 Best Saints

1. Drew Brees

2. Rickey Jackson

3. Willie Roaf

4. Archie Manning

5. Chuck Muncie

Favorite Saints

1. Archie Manning

2. Bobby Hebert

3. Doug Atkins

4. Danny Abramowicz

5. Tom Dempsey

Famous Fans

1. Brad Pitt

2. Harry Connick, Jr.

3. Ellen DeGeneras

4. Aaron Neville

5. Hilary Swank

Best Game

Talk about losing streaks. In 1977, the Bucs had lost 26 straight games when they upset the New Orleans Saints 33-14.

Tampa Bay's leading passer (Gary Huff) had just 96 yards through the air. Their leading rusher (Mike DuBose) had only 59 yards. But the Bucs returned three interceptions off of Archie Manning for touchdowns. Manning had said it would be a "disgrace" to lose to Tampa Bay.

As for Bucs' coach John McKay? "I thought it was the greatest victory in the history of the world,"  he said.

5 NFL Predictions

New Orleans 29, Tampa Bay 17

New England 31, Miami 20

Green Bay 21, Atlanta 17

Philadephia 28, Dallas 24

Seattle 27, Minnesota 23

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