Bucs follow familiar script in loss to Giants

by Gary Shelton on November 19, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston led the latest comeback that fell short./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

Yeah, that figures.

If you have watched the Bucs this season, there was nothing that should have surprised you about their latest disappointment. Tampa Bay didn't protect the ball, didn't rush the quarterback, didn't stop the opponent. And for the sixth time in their last seven games, they lost.

It was the standard formula for Tampa Bay, which finished second in a two-team competition once again. By now, it all makes sense. And if the Bucs don't beat a wounded San Francisco team, they might lose out.

“We can’t put a depleted defense in the situation that we’re doing, including a pick six, we can’t do that," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. "It’s not a good recipe to be successful."

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Ryan Fitzpatrick had three more turnovers./STEVEN MUNCIE

Let's face it. These Bucs are bad. They are worse than last year, and last year, they were worse than the year before. They have a terrible defense, an offense than can gain yards but cannot get wins, and a coaching staff that seems to be on its way out.

By now, you have seen this before, haven't you? There wasn't a surprising sight for the entire afternoon, not from falling behind not from coming back to get close (but lose) at the end, not an opposing quarterback picking them apart, not the failures in the red zone (no, it doesn't mean stop). For the Bucs, it was the standard issue game, right to the point where they congratulated their opponent at the end.

For instance:

The comeback from a 17-point deficit came when Jameis Winston scrambled toward the goal line, and fumbled (teammate Mike Evans recovered in the end zone this time). Figures.

The first-half collapse began when another quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) started throwing to the wrong-colored shirts. Figures.

The Bucs came within 31-28 late and entrusted the game to their defense. Awful option. Two plays after the kickoff, Eli Manning hit Evan Engram for 54 yards. Figures.

For most of the day, it was that way. The Bucs committed four more turnovers (they're minus 23 on the season, seven off of the record), unsightly, ugly turnovers. They ended up again with five football fields of yardage in losing. And their defense was gashed.

“It’s just a combination," Koetter said of the turnovers. "If there were zero turnovers on offense and zero takeaways on defense, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But the fact that we’re getting zero takeaways on defense and and we’re turning it over four times on offense, that’s the number one killer in football. We’re minus-20 something (23), that makes it tough.”

For the Bucs, it was also one in a series of falling ridiculously behind, making it close, then losing at the end. Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Carolina and now the Giants games were that way.

Last we heard, the Giants were talking about their next quarterback. But Eli Manning hit 17 of 18 passes and had a rating of 155.8. Rookie running back Saquon Barkley rushed for a career high 142 yards. And the Giants, who had won exactly as many games in their home stadium as the Bucs have this year, rolled as if they were headed for another Super Bowl.

Manning was the sixth quarterback who has thrown fewer than 10 incompletions this year. He was the ninth (of 10) quarterbacks to have a rating of more than 100.0, but his 155.8 was the worst of the Bucs' season.

And the Bucs?

They played in a Xerox machine.

This is Groundhog Day, only with rapid groundhogs. Every day is as bad -- or worse -- than the day before.

Once again, the Bucs piled up a ton of yardage -- 510 -- but couldn't protect the ball. For the second straight week, Ryan Fitzpatrick -- who started over Winston despite the outcry of the observers -- had three turnovers. Figures.

After the game, coach Dirk Koetter wouldn't second-guess the decision to start Fitzpatrick. Well, others will. Fitz was awful the week before, and the world was crying for Winston.

"You can second guess every play out there, I mean, any play that doesn’t work, any decision that doesn’t work, of course you’re going to," Koetter said. "That’s the NFL."

Frankly, it doesn't matter. The best-looking quarterbacks are the ones who aren't playing -- have you noticed how Ryan Griffin looks in a certain light? You can call him Ryan Winston or Jamies Fitzpatrick. Or you can call him Winston-Fitzpatrick-Freeman-Dilfer-Testaverde-Thompson-Spurrier.

The offensive line? It features tackle Donovan Smith-McCrae-Walker-Trueblood-Snell. The defensive line? It has Vita Vea-Curry-McCants-Reese-Upshaw-Haynesworth. The secondary is Carlton Davis-Jones-Piscatelli-Banks-Verner.

And all of them are coached by Dirk Koetter-Bennett-Perkins-Wyche-Morris-Schiano-Smith.

"The bottom line is, no matter how big the comeback, if you lose, it really doesn't matter,'' Winston said.

In other words, the Bucs are the same as they ever were.

And that's the battle cry of your Bucs, 2018 version.




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