Looking back on the Bucs’ loss to Atlanta

by Gary Shelton on October 16, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Mike Smith was fired Monday./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Observations

1. The first thought I had upon hearing that the Bucs had fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith was simple. "... and who else?" The Bucs won't get better merely by firing their coordinator, but how in the heck could you justify keeping him? If Smith was a player, he would have been cut weeks ago.

2, Remember when Bucs' fans were scared to death that Mike Smith would leave the staff to take a head coaching job. Well, never mind. Bad players are brain-snatchers. They'll make. you lose i.q. points with every snqp.

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Duffner is in charge of the defense now./CARMEN MANDATO

3. Can anyone explain to me why the Bucs weren't more active pursuing defensive backs this off-season? This is historically bad, even for this franchise. The Towering Inferno had fewer burn victims.

4. I think we should find out whoever wanted to cut kicker Matt Bryant, who drove the final nail into the Bucs' coffin Sunday, bring them back and then fire them again. Also, they should not be served in public restaurants.

5. I'll ask it again. For all of you who are defending the Bucs' final play Sunday, tell me when the last NFL game that was won on such a play. Ever. I didn't think so.

Koetter's team lost its third straight game./JEFFREY S. KING

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

(On why dismiss Mike Smith now instead of two weeks ago when the Bucs had a bye week.): "We were going into the bye week. We’ve had quite a few things injury-wise not work out the way we had originally planned. I thought it was important that both sides of the ball be able to go through the self-scouting process during the bye week and see if we could make some adjustments that would help us play better as a football team. I do think that we had a good plan on defense for Atlanta. We did a lot of things that we had planned to do. We did some things differently, but it just didn’t work out. This is a production business and we have to play better on defense. We have to play better as a football team, but we have to play better on defense.”

(On what Mark Duffner will bring as the defensive coordinator.): "When you make a change on your coaching staff five games into the season, it’s not like you’re going through a whole bunch of options. I think the next D-Coordinator – first of all, I think everybody on the defensive staff, every coach that’s in that room has to help pick up the slack because Mike Smith carried a big workload. Duff has been a coordinator in this league. He’s the most experienced coach on our staff, period — at any position. I think he coaches in the middle of the defense — he coaches the linebackers, so his guys relate both to the backend players and the frontend players.”

(On what has to change the most on defense): “We have to cover better. We played man, we played zone, we played blitz zone. We have to cover better and part of covering better is getting pressure on the quarterback. We’ve seen the last two teams we’ve played have both gone to a lot of seven-man protection. I think we are getting some pressure with a four-man rush — four on seven. We did blitz more yesterday. We did pressure a lot more. We’re just giving up too many chunk plays in the coverage in the backend.”

(On if the final lateral would have been illegal even if the Bucs scored.) “To my knowledge, no. The way the play ended up isn’t the way we practiced it, but a lot of plays don’t end up that way. When we checked on it at the start of the year when we started practicing this play, if it’s inside of two minutes or if it’s a fourth down play it has to be a completed lateral (pass). If it hits the ground, that’s like the old fumble-on-purpose play.”

(On catches by Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson when they didn't get out of bounds): “These guys are playing in real speed and I think Mike’s was probably a cleaner chance to get out of bounds than DeSean’s was. I’m sure if Mike it had to do over again, he would’ve spun the other way and got outside, but he went inside and then he should take the ball right to the hash and either hand it to the official or set it on the hash mark, that definitely cost us a few seconds.”

Ryan was the latest quarterback the Bucs couldn't stop./JEFFREY S. KING

5 of the Best Takes

"Some in the aftermath of the win Sunday wanted to paint a picture of a last great stand by the defense against the Buccaneers at the end of the game. Please. It was like watching a cat cough up a hairball.

The Bucs had 512 yards in offense. The Falcons’ defense barely survived, with Jameis Winston driving Tampa Bay to the Falcons’ 21 in the span of a minute before a desperation Cal-vs.-Stanford like multi-lateral play for some end-of-game goofiness."

-- Jeff Schultz, the Athletic

"As Jones closed in, Winston jumped in the air and threw a lateral to . . . no one, really. The ball bounced on the turf, where teammate Adam Humphries tried to scoop it up near the 5-yard line but bobbled it. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans corralled the ball, jumped in the air and passed backwards and low to teammate DeSean Jackson near the sideline.

Jackson bent down to pick up the ball at the 6-yard line as Falcons defenders, led by safety Damontae Kazee, closed fast. There was a clear lane between Jackson and the end zone. Maybe he doesn’t score if he catches the ball but he’d have a chance. Instead, it took a weird bounce and squirted through Jackson’s hands out of bounds."

-- Michael Cunningham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"The final points by the home team came via Matt Bryant’s 57-yard field goal that made it 34-29 with 1:16 to play. If Bryant missed, then the Bucs would get the ball on the home team’s side of the field needing a field goal to win with about a minute to go.

It was a risky call by Falcons coach Dan Quinn. Hard to blame him, though, for thinking his defense had little chance to prevent the Bucs from driving the field for a winning field goal. The Falcons had what it took to keep the Bucs from scoring a touchdown, even if it wasn’t certain until the ball bounced past Jackson."

-- Cunningham

"Falcons nickel back Brian Poole, who blasted Winston on the sideline in the second quarter and touched off a mini-riot, had two key plays in the third quarter.

He lost Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries on a crossing route that went for a 51-yard gain.

With the score 24-13 and the Bucs threatening to score, Poole came up with a big interception in the end zone. Winston tried to force a pass intended for Chris Godwin. The pass hit linebacker Duke Riley in the back and popped up. Poole came over from the slot where he was defending a running back at the 2-yard line and made the interception."

-- D. Orlando Ledbetter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"It's debatable whether or not the Buccaneers indeed only had time for one final play with seven seconds remaining, but it seems strange that an offensive-minded coach like Koetter would feel the team's best option to win rested upon quarterback  draw from 21 yards out.

If the Buccaneers had pulled off the win, it's still hard to imagine anyone describing the play call as great, but it certainly wouldn't have been the talking point it became once the Bucs fell to 2-3 on the season. With a quarterback at his disposal that already torched the injury-depleted Falcons for 395 yards on the day, Koetter's decision to run it was certainly a curious one."

-- Austin Knoblauch, NFL.com

Winston threw for 395 yards, but had two picks./CARMEN MANDATO

Game Balls

Offense: Yes, he threw two interceptions, which hurt. But for the most part, the one reason the Bucs had a chance of an upset was quarterback Jameis Winston, who hit nine receivers.

Defense: Kwon Alexander had 11 tackles, far and away leading the Bucs.

Special teams: Bryan Anger averaged more than 40 yards per punt, including one inside the 20.

Barber had a good afternoon for the Bucs./TIM WIRT


Quarterbacks: In his first start of the year, Winston threw for 395 yards, the second-most in his career. His interceptions lower his grade, however. Grade: B+.

Running backs: Peyton Barber still can't find daylight on short-yardage plays, but he ran for 82 yards and averaged more than six yards a carry. Grade: B.

Offensive line: It performed better against the Falcons, perhaps because Grady Jackson didn't play. Still, not a bad effort. Grade: B.

Wide receivers: Winston spread the ball around fairly well. But Evans should have gotten out of bounds on his last-drive reception. Grade: B.

Defensive line: Jason Pierre-Paul had another sack, but it was the only one for the Bucs. Good against the run. Grade: C.

Linebackers: A lot of tackles, but some flaws in pass coverage. Grade: D.

Defensive backs: Another day of playing chase and not catching anyone. Grade: F-.

Kickers: Chandler Cantizaro missed another extra point, and the Bucs never could overcome it. Grade: D-.

Coaching: See that guy. Right there. That's Julio Jones. He's kind of a big deal. You might want to cover him. Panic play at the end. Grade: F.

Brate caught a touchdown pass./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Best Plays

3-8-15 -- Winston hits Cameron Brate for a touchdown.

3-17-31 -- Jason Pierre-Paul sacks Matt Ryan for a loss of eight to force a punt.

1-10-15 -- Payton Barber breaks loose for a 24-yard run.

3-1-9 -- Winston passes to Chris Godwin for a 10-yard touchdown.

2-5-10 -- Winston passes to O.J. Howard for a 10-yard score.

Evans cost the Bucs too much time late./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Worst Plays

1-10-41 -- Mike Evans catches an 18-yard pass from Winston but fails to get out of bounds. The play costs the Bucs 24 seconds to run, roughly half of the time that was left.

3-11-19 -- The Bucs forced a rare incompletion, which means Atlanta would have to settle for a field goal. Instead, Gerald McCoy is called for having hands to the face (replays show it was William Gholston.

2-7-7 -- Winston tried to force a pass into Chris Godwin in the end zone, and the ball bounded into the air. Atlanta intercepts.

3-10-26 -- Ryan hits Austin Hooper for 14 yards and a first down.

Extra point -- Chandler Catanzaro misses wide left. The Bucs never did recover.

Bucs often fire assistant coaches in season./JEFFREY S. KING

Assistant Coaches Canned in Mid-Season

Mike Smith, defensive coordinator                               2018

Leslie Frazier, defensive coordinator (demoted)       2014

Jim Bates, defensive coordinator                                  2009

Jeff Jagozinski, offensive coordinator                         2009

John Rauch, offensive coordinator                               1976

Evans has the Bucs' only interception./JEFFREY S. KING

5 Games Where the Bucs Will Be Underdogs

1. Cincinnati

2. New Orleans

3. Dallas

4. Baltimore

5. Atlanta

Jackson and Winston lack chemistry./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Games Where the Bucs Will Be Favored

1. San Francisco

2. Cleveland

3. N.Y. Giants

4. Washington

5. Carolina (home)

McCoy is in his fourth straight 2-3 start./JEFFREY S. KING

Even Worse in '18

2017                                                                     2018

32  (378.1 ypg)           Yards Allowed per Game      31 (429.6)

32 (260.6 ypg)       Passing Defense                 32 (355.5

32                                 Sacks                              25

27  (94.6)                 QB Rating                        32 (129.5)

12 (22)                 TD Passes Allowed              32 (16)

27 (67.6)               Completion Pct.                 32 (76.8)

Licht has had mixed success in the draft.

Grading Jason Licht's First-Round Picks

1. Mike Evans (2014)

2. Jameis Winston (2015)

3. O.J. Howard (2017)

4. Vita Vea (2018)

5. Vernon Hargreaves (2016)

Aguayo was a celebrated mistake./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Grading Jason Licht's 2nd Round Picks

1. Ali Marpet (2015)

2. Justin Evans (2017)

3. Donovan Smith (2015)

4. Carlton Davis (2018)

5. M.J. Stewart (2018)

6. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2014)

7. Noah Spence (2016)

8. Ronald Jones (2018)

9. Roberto Aguayo (2016)

The Saints are playing well./JEFFREY S. KING

5 Good NFL Teams

1. L.A. Rams

2. New England Patriots

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. New Orleans Saints

5. Baltimore Ravens

Gruden is off to a rocky start./JEFFREY S. KING

5 Bad NFL Teams

1. Indianapolis Colts

2. Oakland Raiders

3. N.Y. Giants

4. San Francisco 49ers

5. Tampa Bay Bucs

Foles had a sub-100 quarterback rating./TIM WIRT

5 Best Opposing Quarterbacks

1. Mitch Trubisky, Chicago   19-26   345   6   0   154.6

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans 37-45  439    3   0   129.5

3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta            31-41     354   3   0   125.5

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pitt.  30-38   353    3   1   120.7

5. Nick Foles, Eagles              35-58    334    1   0   98.8

Howard is 16th in catches for tight ends./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Random Statistics

Passing Yards        34. Winston        510

Rushing Yards       32. Barber          220

Receiving Yards     10. Jackson      501

.                                 13. Evans          484

Sacks                       10. Pierre-Paul       5

Tight end catches. 16. Howard          15

David is 31st in tackles./CARMEN MANDATO

5 More Random Stats

Tackles           31. David             40

.                       40. Alexander.   37

Interceptions 27 (tie). J. Evans.    1

Scoring           35. Catanzaro.   33

Punting           31. Anger           42.5

Penalties          18. Jensen         4-45

Evans now owns the receiving records/CARMEN MANDATO

Bucs' all-time Receiving Yardage Leaders

Rank                           Player                                     Yards

1.           WR Mike Evans, 2014-Pres.                    5,063

2.           WR Mark Carrier, 1987-92                        5,018

3.           WR Kevin House, 1980-86                        4,928

4.           WR Vincent Jackson, 2012-2016               4,326

5.           TE Jimmie Giles, 1978-86                         4,300

Evans caught four passes for 58 yards./CARMEN MANDATO

Bucs' All-Time Touchdown Leaders

Rank                  Player                                           Tds

1.              WR Mike Evans, 2014-Pres.               35

2.              TE Jimmie Giles, 1978-86                   34

3.              WR Kevin House, 1980-85                  31

4.              WR Joey Galloway, 2005-07                28

5.              WR Mark Carrier, 1987-92                  27

Winston now third in Bucs' touchdowns./CARMEN MANDATO

Bucs' All-Time Touchdown Pass Leaders

Rank                 Player                                    TD Passes

1.            Josh Freeman, 2009-13                          80

2.            Vinny Testaverde, 1987-92                     77

3.            Jameis Winston, 2014-Pres.                 75

4.            Doug Williams, 1978-82                          73

5.            Trent Dilfer, 1994-99                               70

Jones carried just once Sunday./CARMEN MANDATO

Running Back Draft

2.  Saquon Barkley, Giants           84         438        5.2

27. Rashaad Penny, Seahawks    30         135         3.6

31. Sony Michel, Patriots             91          400        4.4

35. Nick Chubb, Browns              16          173        10.8

38. Ronald Jones, Bucs               11             32         2.9

43. Kerryon Johnson, Lions.      50         286         5.7

Bucs fans have seen their team sink fast./JEFFREY S. KING

Bucs' Power Ratings

Fansided                  23

Yahoo                       21

Bleacher Report     19

ESPN                        22

NBCsports.com.    21

Dirk Koetter's team is sinking in ratings./CARMEN MANDATO

CBSsports.com's Hot Seat Ratings

1.Vance Joseph, Denver

2. Hue Jackson, Cleveland

3. Bill O'Brien, Texans

4. Dirk Koetter, Bucs

5. Jay Gruden, Redskins

Fitzpatrick got the Bucs off to a good start./JEFFREY S. KING

Closing Thoughts

1. Remember how good the season felt after two games? Behind Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bucs had the feel of a team that would win 11. Now they have the feel of one that could lose 11.

2. At this point a year ago, the Bucs were also 2-3. They went 3-8 afterward. Ouch.

3. No, I wouldn't trade a first-round draft pick for Patrick Peterson. Peterson is good, and the secondary is bad, but that might be a top five pick. That's pricey even for an elite corner. Then there is this: If the Bucs blow up their front office, a new coach would want that draft pick for a new quarterback or a pass-rushing defensive end. Peterson hasn't exactly saved the Cardinals, has he?

4. I don't care. I paid for my costume, and I'm wearing it. For Halloween, I'm going as Mike Smith. That should scare some people.

5. Does it feel as if we've all been here before? It's the 14th time in its history that the Bucs have been 2-3. The average win total is seven, propped up by the 11-win season of 1999.

Jim Brown is still the best NFL player the Browns have had.

Looking Ahead

5 Best Cleveland Browns

(Not counting the Ravens)

1. Jim Brown

2. Otto Graham

3. Lou Groza

4. Ozzie Newson

5. Joe Thomas

5 Favorite Cleveland Players

1. Clay Matthews

2. Ernest Byner

3. Marion Motley

4. Brian Sipe

5. Bob Golic

5 Cleveland Fans

1. Elvis Presley

2. Hank Aaron

3. Condoleeza Rice

4. Drew Carey

5. Brad Paisley

Rattay won one game for the Bucs.

Best Game

Quarterback Tim Rattay was an essential Bucs' player for, oh, about 12 minutes. Still, he led the Bucs to a 22-7 Christmas Eve victory over the Browns in a thoroughly forgettable game in 2006.

The Rat, in his only win (two starts) for the Bucs,  hit 16 of 26 passes for 212 yards. After that he was gone.

Rattay was the typical journeyman quarterback. Before coming to Tampa Bay, he won four games in six seasons for San Francisco.

Still, for a day, he won a game for the Bucs.

There were others who did not.

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