Why the week 2 victory should be Bucs’ blueprint for 2019


Some opportunities opened for the Bucs following their week two victory. Not that anyone would celebrate the misfortune of others’ injury like those of the Saints’ Drew Brees and Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger

More importantly, the suggestion of “riding the defense and minimal offense” paid off in the September 12th victory over the Panthers in Carolina.

The 20-14 victory feels familiar to Bucs fans who remember when the Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden era. They were perennial playoff contenders with the modernized “Steel Curtain” Tampa 2 defense winning with defensive grit and manageable offense.

Simple Formula

The simple formula? Aggressive and opportunistic defensive scheme that thrives on speed overwhelming offenses to disrupt rhythm. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ plan worked beautifully and flustered Cam Newton. The Panthers kept within striking distance as the Bucs’ offense couldn’t capitalize on every single opportunity handed to them.

A long history with head coach Bruce Arians, Bowles is the team’s biggest asset taking the Cardinals and Jets, making them top 10 defenses the years he joined. The Bucs should lean on him and pending any future success, will likely be the eventual successor as head coach. When Bowles passes his first year curse, then the team decides his run New York Jets head coach was a fluke. So the Bucs and their fans should feel comfortable this could be a start of something, like a top 10 defense.

Now on the other side of the ball. Jameis Winston‘s had four years to act as franchise QB. He didn’t change the culture of losing with ALL his problems from Florida State followed him. Since the 2015 draft, he remained a polarizing figure and his selection divided fans who wanted Marcus Mariota, who went to the Titans. Until Winston’s play improves dramatically in 2019 and the Bucs end up another top 10 pick, the team will move on. The majority of NFL fans doesn’t believe he remains with the Bucs regardless of how many Vinny Testaverde’s records he breaks.

As the Bucs former franchise QB, Testaverde did more his time away from the team. Whether if it’s the front office or teammates to blame, he did not have the talent Doug Williams had. Patience isn’t what it once was in the National Football League. Hype can get you farther, but the ONLY stat that matters is your record as starter. As those in the football world observe since 2015, Winston’s the leader among active starting quarterbacks in turnovers. More recognize that than his 9-7 season under Dirk Koetter.

Back To Basics

What the Bucs needed to do with Winston after his display against the San Francisco 49ers is triage the playbook and take him back to basics. It worked against Carolina. If all he throws is 150-200 yard passing the rest of 2019 with minimal turnovers, then it is meant to be. The key stat making Winston an asset than a liability is the ZERO turnovers surrendered against Carolina. No fumbles or pick-sixes compared to the week 1 debacle. THAT is the Winston we need to see. If he can’t graduate from “Trent Dilfer game manager” status, then he never sees a regular starting job again and follows the many failed experiments out the door like Josh Freeman.

Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones Jr.‘s production starting to show 2018 is a fluke. There’s no shame in relying on the check down (when there isn’t a corner planting himself inside the route). Look at the career of Brad Johnson, who was the Bucs’ QB during Super Bowl XXXVII. He seen success most places he’s been in Washington and Minnesota. Players like Dilfer and Johnson showed better awareness from the pocket to make smart plays. If play breaks down, those two used of their space to dump the ball when needed. Throwing the ball away legally outside the tackle box at the line of scrimmage is better than taking 5-10 yard sack.

Dilfer hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at Raymond James Stadium for the Ravens was one of the most infamous moments in Tampa Bay football. Despite his underachieving ways, look at how he lasted in the league, which is far longer than he should. He didn’t average 3-4 turnovers a game as a backup. This is the SAME Super Bowl quarterback whose team jettisoned him for free agency after the victory. He still landed with Cleveland Browns, Niners and Seattle Seahawks, because of what his smarter play not give the game away.

When Winston gets his basic fundamentals, he graduates into the player the team needs him to be. This IS his final chance in 2019 to see if he earns that right. Do you want Winston in 2020? He better master vanilla so his brain can match his athleticism.

To recycle a past team slogan, “Pound the rock.” Play stingy defense and playfield position game. Hardly go wrong continuing Buc ball in 2019. It’s too early to say if the defense sustains in 2019. The determination and girt the team’s shown against Carolina echoed Dungy’s rise here.

Defense still wins championships.