Bucs in pain after lopsided loss to Vikings

by Gary Shelton on September 25, 2017 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston threw three interceptions Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Winston threw three interceptions Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Monday, 3 a.m.

In a word: Ouch.

The Tampa Bay Bucs suffered about as painful an afternoon as you could imagine Sunday. It hurt on the field, and it ached off of it, and it was sore in the standings, and it stung in the reputations. It was an afternoon that ripped up everything precious about the Bucs, a team that was flying high with regard coming in.

This was the Tampa Bay Bucs from the preseason. This was Jayvees on the run. Even for a franchise that knows a lot about bad, this was bad.

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Evans lost his cool during the third period./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Evans lost his cool during the third period./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

The Minnesota Vikings left the Bucs battered, bleeding and broken Sunday, taking an easy 34-17 win behind backup quarterback Case Keenum – who sees the Bucs' uniforms and miraculously turns into Tom Brady. The Bucs got no pass rush on Keenum, and no pass coverage on his receivers. What they did was play chase.

Of course, it should be mentioned that the Bucs were ravaged by illness and injury to their defenders. They played without Brett Grimes, without Kwon Alexander and without Chris Baker. And during the course of action, they lost Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, T.J. Ward, Noah Spence and Robert Ayers Jr.

Jackson had 84 yards a touchdwon ./CARMEN MANDATO

Jackson had 84 yards a touchdown ./CARMEN MANDATO

The rest of the Bucs? They played as if Raheem Morris had come home, and as if he had brought Greg Schiano with him. Davin Cook ran for 97 yards. Receiver Stefon Diggs caught eight passes for 173 yards. Fellow receiver Adam Thielen caught five for 98.

And so forth. Put it this way: The Vikings will indeed have a highlight film this season, and all of the scenes might come from Sunday's game.

“We got beat in every way you could get beat,” said Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter, who lost by the biggest margin he has lost by since October 2 of last year. “We couldn't stop the run. We couldn't cover. We had no pass rush. There wasn't much good. Case Keenum has been lights-out against us. He looked like the best player in the NFL today.”

If you thought the Bucs were a good defense, or a deep one, this was a chance to correct your view. The Bucs had little pass rush and laid too far off of receivers.

Of course, Koetter can't rip the team he fielded. He needs those players, too, although in smaller amounts.

“There's no way to put a number on how much the guys you're missing (hurt),” Koetter said. “That's the way it is in the NFL. Everyone's missing guys. Next man up. And you got to keep playing.”

Other thoughts:

Rodgers had only 15 yards rushing./JEFFREY S. KING

Rodgers had only 15 yards rushing./JEFFREY S. KING

-- Jameis Winston threw three interceptions. That's a concern because of his history of interceptions. But let's be honest: The Bucs had no other way to move the ball than Winston. (Of 20 first downs, 19 came via the pass).

"Bad decisions," Winston said. "They ran right into the guy that I was throwing to. But at the end of the day, I make the final decision on where the ball goes, and I have got to protect the football at all costs, no matter what they do, at the end of the day, I’ve got to protect the football. "

-- Tampa Bay rushed only nine times for 26 yards, inviting a return to the conversation of whether the team should have done more to address its running back situation in the off-season. Winston threw for 316 yards, but when a quarterback is clearly outplayed by Keenum, it's a concern.

-- Keenum has now won 10 games (of 26) in the NFL. Three of them have been against the Bucs. Tampa Bay has Eli Manning next week and Tom Brady the week after. At least they don't have Keenum.

-- The three leading tacklers for the Bucs were William Ghoston, Kendall Beckwith and Adarius Glanton. What does that tell you about the defensive roster?

-- Jacquizz Rodgers led the Bucs in rushing with 15 yards on five carries.

“We definitely got away from what I think we do best,” Koetter said. “That's mix the run and the pass. We couldn't stop them in that first half. We tried to react and play a little faster and then the turnovers came. When you lose, and turnovers are 3-0, it's going to be tough to win.

-- Mike Evans doesn't have his temper completely under control. In the third period, Evans had a sideline tantrum.

“It was very frustrating,” Evans said. “I lost my cool in the third quarter after a turnover. I can't do that. I'm a captain. I ve got to fight my emotions better than that. I wanted this one bad. I wanted to be 2-0.”

-- The Bucs are Case Keenum's personal Chia Pets. Keenum will tell his grandchildren about the Bucs. Think about this. Against the rest of the league, Keenum is 7-16. Against the Bucs, he's 3-0 with a rating of 124.0. The Bucs blitzed Keenum on 14 plays Sunday, and he got 232 of his yards on those plays.

-- Backups or not, the Vikings gained 494 yards of offense behind their No. 2 quarterback. That's Raheem Morris stuff.

And so you wonder: Who did the Bucs miss the most?

I'd say Grimes. He's one of the best cover corners in the league, and his presence would have helped to slow down Diggs. I'd follow with Alexander, who usually leads the Bucs in tackles. Spence would have helped; he's the team's best pass rusher. McCoy and David are fine players, but they played most of the game until injured. Baker might have made the going tougher for Cook. Maybe Ayers, too.

But all of them? At once? Let's face it, if the Bucs needed medical aid any more, the head referee would have been Hawkeye Pierce.

The bad part, of course, is not knowing how long these players will be out. McCoy's ankle looked like a lingering problem. Who knows how long David or Spence will be out?

The Bucs play the winless New York Giants Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Koetter saw his Bucs' get flattened by the Vikings./CARMEN MANDATO

Koetter saw his Bucs' get flattened by the Vikings./CARMEN MANDATO

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