As much as many of you hate to hear the word, “rebuild,” that’s precisely what’s going to happen come the end of the 2018 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following their 26-23 “triumph” over the Cleveland Browns.
Despite the promising start for interim defensive coordinator Mark Duffner with the defense surrendering only 305 total yards (119 rushing and 186 passing) and causing a turnover, the unit still gave up critical drives that allowed the game to go into overtime.
While we did see some strides on the defense, what was unforgiveable is four turnovers caused by the offense and offensive inconsistency that’s plagued the team since Koetter’s hiring in 2016. In what was supposed to be a crossroads and season-defining game, showed the Bucs are who we thought they were, not a resourceful gritty team, but merely a lucky one.
At 3-3, two wins under the team’s backup quarterback and one with the franchise QB, the team is the same inconsistent mess and have underachieved this entire time. Same old stuff.
It was as ugly brand of football as you can get even by Bucs and Browns’ standards. Sure the Bucs had a more “complete game” with QB Jameis Winston tossing for 342 yards and accounting for 55 of the team’s 114 rushing yards. All of the touchdowns scored by the team were on the ground from Winston, Ronald Jones, and DeSean Jackson. As expected, Winston distributed the ball primarily between Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin for key plays.
Unfortunately Winston also had a hand in almost costing the team the game with his three turnovers (two interceptions and a sack fumble). Winston’s still making the same mistakes and still becoming a factor in the team’s struggles.
Whatever combination of players, coaching and playcalling, the team has exhibited no growth whatsoever. Yes, the team came up with the plays, providing key sacks, receptions and drives to win yesterday, but it looked more often we seen the ugliness from penalties, turnovers and stalled drives that the Bucs were merely lucky.
They did enough against the Saints, Eagles and now the Browns. They faltered against the Steelers, Bears (horrendously) and Falcons. If the team stays its current course, it will finish .500 and still remain mediocre. In year three, this is no excuse and it’s more than enough time to see if the team can ever grow enough to persevere.
Not in today’s league, not by a long shot. Start preparing your goodbyes to Koetter, most of his staff and probably a great deal of the players. It only gets harder and more frustrating with linebacker Kwon Alexander likely out for the year and only tougher opponents coming their way, save for San Francisco.
Is it premature to give up on the season? Well at this point, you have to look at the game from a scout’s perspective. Who’s going to be worth keeping for 2019? Is there any takeaways and foundations that can be built moving forward when the new staff takes over? There are things to still look out for and you may see some gems among them, just know that if you have some nothing that the Bucs can magically run the table, remind them of games like this is who the team really is and this staff has taken the team as far as its ever going to go. Make no mistake, Winston WILL NEVER get any better under them and there’s no unit on this team, you can rely on.
Koetter will land on his feet again he’s a coordinator, not a head coach.