Looking back at the Bucs’ loss to the Falcons

by Gary Shelton on November 28, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Fitzpatrick's string of starts may be over./CARMEN MANDATO

Fitzpatrick's string of starts may be over./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

5 Observations

1. A lot of the problems with this year's Bucs, frankly, are because of  last year's Bucs. At least, the parts that fooled the bosses. Looking at the way the defense closed in the second half of last year, I think the Bucs believed they were in better shape. The pass rush was better (somewhat), the coverage was much better and the tackling was crisper The same holds for the offensive line, which has been a mess no matter what the coaches say. There have been too many high draft picks spent on offense. There has been so much regression on this team you'd think they were going in reverse.

2. The Bucs have a lot of money tied up in receivers. I'd trade the whole lot of them for Julio Jones.

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3. The criticism has reached the point that it's at Dirk Koetter's feet. As it should be. But I don't hate Koetter nearly as much as I hate the prospect of starting over. Again.

4. The Tennessee Vols finally got the game films of Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay?

5. The shame of the Bucs winning only four games so far? It's happened far too often. The Bucs have 20 seasons in which they've won five games or less in a league that does more to help the downtrodden than any. It's the eighth time the Bucs have been 4-7.

Dirk Koetter went for tje touchdown late./STEVEN MUNCIE

Dirk Koetter went for the touchdown late./STEVEN MUNCIE


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

(On the probable return of quarterback Jameis Winston this week against Green Bay): "Yeah, Jameis had an MRI this morning and then he also did some rehab work with the trainers and if he does not have any soreness tomorrow after the rehab work, it looks like he will be cleared to practice on Wednesday. I haven’t seen him throw yet. I haven’t even talked to Jameis  since he had this workout. But until he is officially cleared, we will be making the game plan both ways and we will see what happens come Wednesday. You guys will see him out there.”

(On the inability to cover Atlanta receiver Julio Jones): “We didn’t handle Julio. We didn’t handle him at all. He had seven plays over 20 yards. It’s a combination of a lot of different stuff. We played 14 different coverages yesterday. We played 14 different coverages and none of them worked. We had everything from the cornerback falling down, to a linebacker running out of (his) zone, to not getting pressure on the quarterback, to double moves, to them high-lowing us in a two-deep coverage and throwing over the corner’s head — every way you can beat those different coverages, they all happened.”

(On whether receiver Adam Humphries should have had more depth on a late pass attempt): “Yeah, he should’ve gotten more depth, but they covered it well. Quizz (Jacquizz Rodgers) had that eight-yard run on first down. It’s second-and-two — let’s remember, you are trying to score a touchdown. You’re not trying to make two yards, you are trying to score a touchdown. We are down seven (with) between seven and eight minutes left in the game. We ran a double move to DeSean (Jackson) that we’d been trying to get up the whole game. We’d been trying to get the right spot for it. We finally got there. That’s a play that we are turning into the league. I thought DeSean might’ve had him and got grabbed a little there. It doesn’t matter at this point. No call, so third-and-two. I didn’t like the play we had when I saw the defense (and so I) called timeout. We went to a man-beater play. They were in man coverage with a robber in the middle of the field, so they were kind of in and out on our bunch formation there. Adam needed to get a little bit more depth and Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick) had a little bit of pressure. He felt like he had to get it out. If he could’ve moved on in his progression there might have been some other options there. On the fourth down, we had already decided if we didn’t get it on third we were going to go on fourth. On fourth, we ran a play with three or four different options on it. Again, Fitz was under a little bit of pressure (and) had to make a decision and it just didn’t work out.”

(On if Fitzpatrick should have thrown a check-down pass on second down): “He wouldn’t have had time to get it to the check-down. It was a double move. When you watch it on tape, everybody can see that Jacquizz  is open as the check-down, but if he would’ve held that ball another half a second he would’ve been on his back. If you remember in the first half, we ran a double move to DeSean (Jackson) over on their sideline, on the right side of the field, and Fitz threw it right on time, their corner grabbed him (and) we got the call. That was the other corner. This was a different double move, but similar. [With] the way they play, double moves have worked against them in the past. DeSean is a good double move guy. Anybody can watch the tape and say, ‘Hey man, that check down is wide open.’ But, anybody is not playing quarterback with a five-man rush coming at (them).”

(On if he understands the criticism of the defense week to week): “Well sure, I understand it. Players play and coaches coach. When things aren’t working, everything is questioned. Of course, I understand it. If there [were] easy fixes in there believe me I would be doing everything I could to fix it. Again, how do you go from being the leading third-down defense in the league to giving up 79 percent yesterday? We’re doing the same things. I mean, you’re scrambling up the order of your calls. We tried five-man pressures, we tried six-man pressures, we tried rolling to Julio. We tried pressing him, we tried three-deep zones, two-deep zones, quarters-based zones, quarter-quarter-half zones and the bottom line is we didn’t get it done.”

 5 of the Best Takes

"Jones expressed surprise afterward how often Tampa Bay left him single-covered. The Bucs’ defense is coached by former Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Oops Jones finished with 12 catches for 253 yards, touchdowns  of 51 and 25 yards and saved 14 children from a burning building."

-- Jeff Schultz, Journal -Constitution

"They’ll take it. This year, the Falcons will take anything, even if it means the game ends with their finger tips dug into the side of a building. The running game wasn’t great. The special teams were just this side of a dumpster fire. There was a costly dumb penalty late, and several blown double-digit leads, and it was starting to get to the point that one wondered if naming rights should be sold for this season. Something along the lines of, 'Tums presents: The 2017 Falcons.'"

-- Schultz, Journal-Constitution

"For better or worse, they’re still the Falcons, which means they’ve never met a lead they couldn’t blow. This calendar year, we’ve seen them lose games they led 17-0 and 28-3. (One of those is more famous than the other.) On Sunday, they’d rained havoc on the last-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who entered with the NFL’s second-worst pass defense and without their No. 1 quarterback."

-- Mark Bradley, Journal-Constitution

"No matter who Smitty tried — and he tried everybody — it mattered not. Safety Justin Evans was beaten on Sanu’s deep (and beautifully delivered) ball; linebacker Lavonte David kept inheriting Jones in zone coverage, meaning he had no chance, and the former Falcon Brent Grimes was brushed aside for the third-down catch that galvanized the clinching drive. It takes a village to cover Julio Jones. Tampa Bay’s citizenry failed."

-- Bradley, Journal-Constitution

"I note that Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter, once the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, might have erred in going for it on fourth-and-a-longish-1 at the 18 with 7:10 remaining. Why not take the field goal, pull within four and heighten the pressure on a team that, as we know, doesn’t handle pressure well?"

-- Bradley, Journal-Constitution

Kwon Alexander had a solid day against Atlanta./CARMEN MANDATO

Kwon Alexander had a solid day against Atlanta./CARMEN MANDATO

Game Burns

Offense: Ryan Fitzpatrick lost for the first time as a starter. Still, he threw for 283 yards against the Falcons. Obviously, he isn't Winston, but how many backups across the league have two wins?

Defense: Kwon Alexander was the best of the lot Sunday, coming up with a season-high eight tackles. But the Bucs' defense continues to struggle. They're 32nd in the league, and if the NFL expands, they'll be lower.

Special teams: Bryan Anger averaged 53.3 yards per punt, his highest average of any game this year. If the defense ever holds up, that's special.

Martin hasn't seen a lot of light this season./CARMEN MANDATO

Martin hasn't seen a lot of light this season./CARMEN MANDATO

Doug Martin: A comparison

2016                               2017

8               Games                 8

421           Yards               376

144          Carries             119

2.9          Average             3.2

87       Biggest game      74

5 of Best Offensive Opponents

(All on the road)

1. Julio Jones, Falcons: Jones had 12 catches for 253 yards. If the Falcons had pushed the issue, he could have caught 20 for 300.

2. Case Keenum, Vikings: Keenum hit 25 of 33 for 369 yards. Not bad for a backup quarterback.

3. Adrian Peterson, Cardinals: After barely being used for the first part of the season, Peterson had 134 yards on 26 carries. To date, Peterson has only two 100-yard days.

4. Drew Brees, Saints. Brees hit 22 of 27 passes for 263 yards.

5. Matt Moore, Dolphins: In one half of play, Moore hit 17 of 28 for 282 yards.

5 Bad Bucs Defensive Backs

1. Rod "Toast" Jones

2. Sabby Piscatelli

3. Melvin Johnson

4. Tim Wansley

5. Mark Barron

5 Best Quarterbacks Against Bucs

(All on the Road)

Player                                      Att-Comp  Yards  Tds  Int.   Rating

1. Case Kennum, Vikings       25-33     328        3    0         142.1

2. Carson Palmer, Cardinals  30-49    283       3    1          139.4

3. Drew Brees, Saints             22-27      263      2    0          131.9

4. Matt Ryan, Falcons            26-35      317       1    0         111.6

5. Matt Moore, Dolphins       17 -28     282      1    0         106.5

5 Best Receivers Against Bucs

(All on the Road)

1. Julio Jones, Falcons              12              253           2

2. Kenny Stills, Dolphins           7               180          1

3. Stevan Diggs, Vikings            8              173           2

4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals  10            138            1

5. Odell Beckham, Giants            7             90            0

5 Best Running Backs Against the Bucs

(All on the Road)

1. Adrian Peterson, Cards                        26-134            2

2. Tevin Coleman, Falcons                       19-97              0

3. Dalvin Cook, Vikings                            27-97              0

4. Shady McCoy, Bills                               23-91              2

5. Damien Williams, Dolphins               10-78               0

McCown sacked by Gerald McCoy./STEVEN MUNCIE

McCown sacked by Gerald McCoy./STEVEN MUNCIE

5  Ex-Bucs and their weekends

1. Greg Schiano, ex-coach: Was about to be hired as Tennessee's new coach before the Vols pulled out.

2. Kaelin Clay, returner: Clay had a 60-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Panthers' win.

3. Aqib Talib: Ejected from the game for getting into a fight with Michael Crabtree.

4. Mark Barron: Had five tackles in Los Angeles' victory over the Saints.

5. Josh McCown: McCown passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets' loss to Carolina.

Humphries yardage is down in '17./CARMEN MANDATO

Humphries yardage is down in '17./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Bucs Who Have Slipped

Player                                     2017       Stat           2016

1. Gerald McCoy                     5          Sacks             7

2. Adam Humphries          39-377   Catches      40-448

3. Bryan Anger                     43.8      Average      45.6

4. Chris Conte                      39          Tackles        51

5. Kwon Alexander  (7 games)     34   Tackles   58

Anger is having a good season./CARMEN MANDATE

Anger is having a good season./CARMEN MANDATE


Quarterback: As mentioned, Fitzpatrick had good numbers. But with the Bucs behind by one touchdown, he failed to convert a second-and two. Sometimes, you have to make a play:  Grade: B.

Offensive line: The Bucs kept losing linemen, but Fitzpatrick was sacked just once. There still wasn't a moment when you thought "Wow, some holes are really opening today. Grade: C

Wide receivers: Evans and Jackson were okay, but they didn't add up to Julio Jones. Grade: C

Defensive line: Did the Bucs play a defensive line? It's hard to remember a play. Grade: F

Linebackers: Both Alexander and David had a lot of tackles. Grade B

Secondary: Are you kidding me? Grade: F.

Special teams: Solid. Grade: B.

NFL's Bottom Five

32.  Cleveland Browns            0-11

31.  San Francisco 49ers        1-10

30. N.Y. Giants                        2-9

29. Indianapolis Colts            3-8

28. Chicago Bears                   3-8

5 Mock Drafts for Bucs

1. Bleacher Report         9    Safety Rodney Harrison, Alabama

2. DraftScout                 14     Defensive end Arden Key, LSU

3. Walterfootball          15      Defensive end Austin Bryant, Clemson

4. CBSsports                 15      Defensive end Arden Key, LSU

5. Sporting News            5.     Offensive tackle Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

Winston could return to the lineup this week./CARMEN MANDAT0

Winston could return to the lineup this week./CARMEN MANDAT0

QB comparison

Winston                                          Fitzpatrick

2-6                        Record                  2-1

61.4                Comp. Pct.                58.9

4.4                    TD pct.                      4.3

2.3                     Int. Pct.                    1.8

87.3                    Rating                   86.0


Evans numbers are down this season./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Evans stats

2016                     10 Games                    2017

96                       Targets                           121

51                        Catches                            65

702                        Yards                            916

13,7                      Yards per catch           14.1

4                                TDs                            8

Other 4-7 Starts

2011                      4-12

1998                      8-8

1992                      5-11

1990                      6-10

1988                      5-11

1987                       4-11

1984                      6-10

1978                      5-11

David has played hard on a bad defense./CARMEN MANDATO

David has played hard on a bad defense./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Key Stats

Total Defense            32

Passing Defense       32

Sacks                          32

Third down Pct.       32

Penalty Yards           29

Looking ahead to Green Bay

"If a contest had 97 prizes, the 98th would be a trip to Green Bay."

-- John McKay

Best Packers

Don Hutson

Forrest Gregg

Ray Nitschke

Reggie White

Brett Favre

Favorite Packers

LeRoy Butler

Fuzzy Thurston

Jim Taylor

Willie Davis

Aaron Rodgers

Favorite Moment

In 1998, before the Bucs traveled to Green Bay to play a playoff game (they would lose, 21-7), I was sent to Green Bay to do a series of features on the Packers. I hated to go, because I thought I should have been around the local team. But it was one of the coolest assignments of my career.

I spent a day hanging around the Packers Hall of Fame with hand-written signs. "Could Don Shula beat Vince Lombardi at bowling." "Do you fear Trent Dilfer." "Will Warren Sapp eat a running back?" That kind of stuff. I spent a day with LeRoy Butler, one of my favorite Packers. I wrote about Favre.

But the neatest night was on New Year's Eve. I went to Fuzzy Thurston's bar on the river, and he walked me through his walls and walls of  souvenirs. It was a history book. This photo. That momento. Thurston spoke out of a voice box by then, but he was charming. And at midnight, Patsy Cline came on the juke box singing "Walking After Midnight."

Mind you, a lot of the patrons had already seen it. They were paying more attention to their drinks. They drank like their next order was going into overtime.

Thurston moved around the room slowly. He seemed smaller than a great NFL lineman would have been. He was 6-1, and he played at less than 250 pounds, but he seemed made smaller by age. At one point, he snorted his disapproval that the Packers -- a team that lived off the sweep -- didn't have either starting guard in the Hall of Fame.

Cool stuff. To this day, I cannot hear "Walking After Midnight" without the tinniness of Thurston's voice. Or think of that frozen night in Fuzzy's place.

Best Game

The Bucs have won one Super Bowl. I remain convinced they would have won two if Martin Gramatica had made a 40-yard field goal with 14 seconds to play in regulation. Instead, the Bucs lost 17-14 in overtime in 2000.

Had the Bucs won, they would have entered the playoffs with a bye week, and they would have been home against the Giants and Kerry Collins, in which they would have been favored.

Intead, the Bucs had to travel to Philadelphia for their playoff game. They lost in the cold. It remains one of the most disapponting losses in Bucs' history.

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