Yet another week and yet another embarrassing loss. The hope from the first two weeks of the season has long since passed. Problems with the defense that were hidden behind a stellar offense are exposed for all to see. The big plays that Fitzpatrick delivered are interceptions for Winston. It could be safe to say the only bright spot on the season so far is JPP and his 5 sacks.
So what gives? Where has it all gone wrong? How can this change? Is it time to think about the draft only 6 weeks into a year that seemed so promising?
I’ll attempt to answer these questions in the following way. The Buccaneers cannot stop anyone on defense and opponents already know this. The Bucs have lost the mental edge before even taking the field due to the outrageous and bizarre play calls by the Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith. Players are left in no mans land because their football instinct is telling them one thing and poor coaching and play calling is leaving them confused. Get used to it because Smith will not quit. If he quits he loses the money from his contract, he’s smart enough to wait to be fired. Which won’t happen due to his contract extension from last year. The best fans can hope for is that Smith is forced to give up play calling duties, but that is unlikely.
Over to the offense and, this won’t be a popular opinion, this offense doesn’t look the same under Winston as it did under Fitzpatrick. Is it chemistry or don’t the coaches trust Jameis with the deep ball? Constant poor decisions and bad throws certainly don’t help and how many times can we put it down to “just a bad game?” Against Atlanta the defense actually stepped up and presented the offense with opportunities to put points on the board. Turn overs and bad plays on offense aren’t the fault of the defense.
What seemed like a routine missed point after for Catanzaro actually created a 3 point swing. The Buccaneers had the Falcons in 3rd and 9. A stop would have put Tampa Bay in place to get the ball back and mount an attempt to take the lead. Instead Smith called a prevent defense and Matt Ryan was able to walk for a first down because the nearest Buccaneer was 15 yards away.
It would be tempting to blame the officials after a blatant cheap shot on Winston. The picture clearly shows the defender lower their crown of his helmet to initiate contact with the head of Winston.
Looking at the rule on the official site of the NFL states that it should have been at least a 15 yard penalty and perhaps an ejection for the offender. Numerous missed calls that could have altered the game won’t provide any consolation.
This game was lost by the coaches on defense and the players on offense. So, with the Bucs likely picking in the top ten who is your choice in the draft?