We’re as delusional as ever after the Bucs’ devastating loss to the Giants. We lost the game, but there’s reason for optimism. Shaq Barrett is on pace to shatter records. Jameis Winston plays a solid game. The pressure is now on Matt Gay. What do the fans have to do with it?
We discuss our initial thoughts on the Carolina game and how the coaches film stacked up. Shaq Barrett was the star of the show, but another defender quietly made the game. The offensive line’s performance may be the highlight of the offense. ProFootball Focus ranks Bucs defenders. We discuss their head-scratching list. The injury report is out. Find out who will likely be sitting on Sunday.
The Buccaneers are set to host the New York Giants Week 3, days after long-time quarterback Eli Manning was benched in favor of rookie Daniel Jones. While the receiving corps is a weak point, the threat of Saquon Barkley makes their run game dangerous. The Buccaneers offense matches up against a secondary that gave up 494 yards and 35 points to the Dallas Cowboys. Can the Buccaneers add to their lead of our division opponents, particularly with two division quarterbacks lost to injury? Ronde Barber will be inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor during this game. Caleb Benenoch gets a new home. Is it with a contender? Buccaneers continue the celebration of the league’s 100th year with another concert.
Bucs get a road win against division opponent Carolina Panthers, breaking Jameis’ 12-game lose streak on the road. The defense looks stellar. We discuss rising stars Shaq Barrett, Jordan Whitehead, Vita Vea and Kevin Minter. The offense is yet to fire on all cylinders, but Jameis played a smart game, turning the ball over zero times, making good decisions, and taking sacks when necessary. The offensive line plays nasty. Plus, He Who Shall Not Be Named gets angry for the first time in his career.
Bucs fans have had his game circled on their calendars since around about May, when He Who Shall Not Be Named was cut and subsequently signed with our division rival. Division games are always tough. Add in a player switching sides and, like a relationship gone wrong, it gets ugly. Compound the anticipation with the sour taste many fans feel after our ugly loss to the 49ers, and this is a game that has a lot riding on it.
I don’t think we’re going to have a hard time with our former defensive tackle. As we’ve stated many times, he’s a one-trick pony that’s easy to beat. With our offensive line’s markedly improved run blocking and his ability to create holes in the defensive line by getting completely pushed out of the way, I have no doubt we’ll be successful in the run game. Carolina allowed the Rams to clock 166 yards rushing with a 5.2 yard/carry average. While you could argue the Bucs don’t have a running back like Todd Gurley, the fact is the Rams spread it around to five different rushers and Malcolm Brown’s 11 carries nearly matched Gurley’s 14.
Conversely, I am 100% worried about Carolina’s run game. Specifically, Christian McCaffrey, who put up 128 yards rushing against the Rams, and another 81 yards receiving. It appears they’re limiting the amount Cam runs as he only rushed three times for a total of -2 yards. Mark Duffner, as interim defensive coordinator last year, figured out that if you contain Cam and force him to throw you have a chance at beating them. It was exactly how the Rams game shook out. Whether that was the game plan by the Rams or the Panthers, I don’t know.
Our run defense can certainly handle the challenge of this running heavy offense. The linebackers, however, will need to emphasize their tackling, as McCaffrey is known to require more than one defender to bring him down. Lavonte David appears to have returned to form, as on his five tackles against rushers in Week 1, San Francisco gained: 0, -2, 1, 4, 1 yards. A good day against McCaffrey is holding him to 80 yards and a touchdown, which we’re confident the defense can handle. Neutralize him and we have a good chance to win the game.
The bigger question here for Bucs fans is Jameis Winston. How is he going to perform after losing us the game last week? Bruce Arians has publicly stated the interceptions weren’t Jameis’ fault, but as Ralph discusses in our game review podcast, that’s not necessarily the case. While Jameis’ intended targets may have made mistakes in their routes that led to the interceptions, two for touchdowns, Jameis had open receivers elsewhere. This is a flaw in Jameis: he does not read the field. It may be the flaw that ends his career (with the Buccaneers, anyhow). But if anyone can fix it, it’s Bruce Arians.
The fan reaction to Jameis this week has been an emotional one. Ralph and I are always on the Bucs hype train, but were disappointed in the Week 1 showing. Jameis has to make better decisions. Plain and simple. This loss hurt more than years past because there’s a lot riding on this season. We had a lot of hope. Expectations are high. If Bruce Arians can’t do it, can anyone? We should have beat a team like San Francisco. It’s one of our few gimmes in the first part of the season, before we go on a five-game away streak that spans the globe.
This Carolina game offers redemption. A win would earn Jameis forgiveness from the fans he hasn’t yet lost completely. It would restore some hope, while at the same time perhaps tempering the expectations of those that had the highest of hopes. There’s nothing wrong with that – I’d rather have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised than have high expectations and be disappointed. Perhaps that’s what we needed Week 1 – reminder that anything can happen on any given Sunday (or Thursday).
Ralph’s watched the film, now find out the verdict. Was Jameis as bad as he looked? We’ll explore public comments on Jameis’ gametime foibles. What were the bright spots of the game? Bucs make roster moves as they waive Caleb Benenoch, put Justin Evans on IR, and add T Josh Wells, S Andrew Adams aka Triple A. He Who Shall Not Be Named is in the media this week (SHOCKER!) and has the Bucs name in his mouth. The game injury report is out – see how the Bucs are shaping up. We delve into BA’s record against the Panthers.
Bucs start Week 1 0-1 against a beatable San Francisco 49ers team. What went wrong? We discuss Jameis’ struggles, garbage refs, and more. Are we in for another year of hurt? We don’t think so! Plus, the Buccaneers defensive performance remains a bright spot.
The season is finally here, and what better opponent to face off in the season opener than the San Francisco 49ers. A team in rebuild mode with something to prove, the 49ers want a rematch after the Bucs toppled them last season in a 27-9 victory.
The team we’re facing this year has a few upgrades. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will lead the offense as he returns from an ACL injury that sidelined him in Week 3 of 2018. The Bucs matched up against Nick Mullens, San Francisco’s third string quarterback. Garoppolo is a significant upgrade to Mullens with a pocket presence about him. Fortunately for the Bucs, his receiving corps leaves something to be desired.
In doing my research for the preview podcast, I found 49ers fans consider their offensive guards a weakness on the offensive line. We watched the third preseason game and were surprised at how well the offensive line performed. Was that due to the quality of the opponent (the Kansas City Chiefs defensive line)? Is it simply a matter of the fans not appreciating what they have? Admittedly, one preseason game is not a great sample size for us to determine how good the offensive line is.
However, the Bucs faced this offensive line last year. The Buccaneers 27th ranked defense racked up: four sacks, seven tackles for loss, six passes defended and 10 quarterback hits. Our defensive line has seen significant upgrades this offseason with the addition of Ndamukong Suh, and the shift to a 3-4 defense that utilizes fast outside linebackers like Shaq Barrett and Carl Nassib.
With these upgrades and scheme shift, the defense has showed marked improvement in our run defense. We will see how they do against runningback Matt Breida, who is an underrated, pass catching runningback that averaged 9.6 yards per catch in 2018.
The main threat we’ll see from the 49ers offense is tight end George Kittle. An elite tight end, Kittle saw 136 targets last year. No other player on the offense had more than 66 targets in 2018. His 6 foot 4 inch, 250 pound frame presents a matchup problem for our linebacker corps. We can only hope Todd Bowles has game planned around Kittle.
The Buccaneers offense performed on-par with our defense last year, with Jameis Winston recording a 117.4 passer rating. The 49ers upgraded their defensive line, with the additions of DE Dee Ford and DT Sheldon Day. They also spent some resources on their linebacker corps, signing former Buccaneer Kwon Alexander and drafting Dre Greenlaw in the fifth round.
The secondary, however, was a weak point for the 49ers defense last year and saw little to no upgrades over the offseason. Granted, the team did replace their defensive backs coach, but the on-field personnel is the same. It’s somewhat surprising that a unit that gave up a 112 passer rating on throws over 20 yards, the worst in the league, has remained in tact, but who am I to question another team’s incompetence?
The Buccaneers put up 312 yards against this secondary, along with an additional 108 yards on the ground. I expect a more balanced approach this year, particularly with the offensive line’s improved run blocking.
In all, I think this matchup favors the Buccaneers. I’m predicting the Buccaneers start the season off with a victory.
We’ll delve more deeply into our upcoming matchup against the 49ers. Bucs elect captains. The weekly injury reports have been released. Who’s practicing, who isn’t, and players we’ll see Week 1. Antonio Brown drama continues. Plus, our wedding, the honeymoon, and our approach to fandom.
The 49ers come to town in Week 1’s matchup. The Buccaneers have the edge defensively. The Garappolo-run offense, however, may give us some trouble if they’re on early. The team lacks elite receiving talent, like a Mike Evans. Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ receiving corps should have a field day against the 49ers weak secondary. The 49ers defensive line could cause trouble for the Bucs offensive line. Kwon Alexander returns to Tampa.