DLT’s Doubloons – Buccaneers Can’t Escape the Upset Plague

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The defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coming off their bye week at 6-2 and facing a bad 2-6 Washington Football Team decided all they needed to do on Sunday was to throw their helmets on the field and the Football Team would cower in fear. Instead, Tampa Bay walked away with an ugly, devastating 29-19 loss in the Nation’s Capital.

What I Liked

  • Devin White and Lavonte David played like men possessed out there, combining for 32 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, and a forced fumble.
  • Leonard Fournette playing hard for the Buccaneers.

What I Didn’t

  • The first quarter turnovers giving me flashbacks to the previous quarterback.
  • The Bucs’ defense’s inability to get off the field on 3rd down.
  • The Bucs’ offense’s inability to sustain drives and a passing attack against the worst pass defense in the NFL.
  • That last Washington drive.

Pieces of Eight

One

Where to start? Sigh. Well, I think you have to begin with Thomas Patrick Edward Brady, Jr. do you not? There’s no doubt that this particular column has been waving the pom poms for Tom Brady all season. I love Tom. He brought our favorite team back to the pinnacle of the NFL. We all recognize that none of this is possible without him. That’s why it’s rather shocking when Tom doesn’t succeed. We have to be honest with ourselves. Brady was terrible in this game. Not average. Not meh. T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E. Terrible.

We’ve seen it too many times as Bucs fans haven’t we? Poor quarterback play in the first half having the Bucs chase the game the rest of the way. The Buccaneers offense began the game with a 3-and-out. That was pretty much the highlight of the first quarter-and-half because after that was…pain.

The first interception – I don’t agree with coach Arians on that one. Brady hit Jaelon Darden, who should’ve caught the football, but he didn’t secure it, was hit, the ball popped up and into a Washington defender’s hands. That led to 3 points by the Football team.

The second interception was a Jameis special, late over the middle and not seeing the DB Bobby McCain. The Football Team turned that one into a touchdown and suddenly the 9 point favorites were down 13-0.

The Bucs marched down the field on their next drive but Brady almost was picked for a third time, but the ball was trapped by the Washington defender. The Bucs would settle for 3 points.

I think that near miss on a third one was what really got the Buccaneers beat in this football game. It shook Brady a bit. 4 interceptions in the last 5 quarters of play is very un-Brady like but that’s what Tampa Bay’s QB had put on film. He was determined he wasn’t going to throw another.

He became captain checkdown, with most of his targets not going more than 5 to 6 yards downfield. Leonard Fournette, not Mike Evans, not Chris Godwin or OJ Howard (did he play?) or Tyler Johnson or heck, even Breshad Perriman – Leonard Fournette led in targets with 9 of Brady’s 34 passes.

The one time he did decide to take a chance, Mike Evans torched Washington on a 40-yard touchdown bomb.

Tom Brady hates to lose. For one of the few times since he’s come to Tampa Bay, he was a primary reason why they lost.

Two

On a positive note, it was nice to see Devin White finally be Devin White again. White, who has been missing in action most of the season, was the elite linebacker Tampa Bay expected when they drafted him 5th overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

White sacked Washington QB Taylor Heinicke twice (his first of the season), hit him another 3 times, had 3 tackles for loss (his first of the year) and led the Buccaneers with 18 tackles.

That’s the sort of play we expect from Devin White. He’s shown us he can do it in the past and he displayed it again on Sunday. If Tampa Bay can get that sort of play from him on a consistent basis, this defense will be better.

Three

While the loss hurt a lot, what may even be a bigger loss is Vita Vea going down with an injury during the last play of Washington’s game sealing marathon drive.

It doesn’t sound good for Vea, who was carted off.

If Vea is lost for an extended period of time (or worse – the season), it could be a devastating blow to a defense that has already had it’s share of injuries this season. While it’s true Vea has only averaged 2 tackles a game and played in about 58% of the Bucs’ defensive plays, he commands double teams, doing the dirty work to keep opponents honest.

Those gash runs you’ve seen recently on the Bucs defense? Those are typically when Vea is on the sideline and others are in for him.

The Bucs aren’t a great defense with him. They’re not a good defense without him. It would be a tough one to swallow.

Four

Speaking of the defense – it was another inconsistent day for this unit. While they did all they could to keep the Buccaneers in the game while the offense self destructed, they also shoulder a significant amount of the blame for why they lost.

Washington came into the game one of the worst teams in the NFL at converting third down – the Bucs defense allowed them to convert 11-of-19 third downs (57.9%).

They missed out on several interception opportunities, letting the ball skip off hands, jumping too soon, or tipping it in the air but failing to track and come down with it.

Each time the offense pulled the game within a single score, they allowed Washington march down the field on a time consuming drive that ended in a touchdown, the last of which was an embarrassing 19-play drive that bled 10:26 of the fourth quarter and ended with Washington sealing the game on a 1 yd run. When the drive started, there was most of the fourth quarter still to play. When it ended, there were 29 seconds left.


You have to get off the field on third down, especially against a team that came into the game with no confidence in sustaining long drives. The Bucs had begun to build momentum, they needed their defense to keep it going and get the ball back to them. Instead, they let a 2-6 football team stick a dagger through their hearts.

Simply unacceptable.

Five

One of the more shocking things about this loss is it made crystal clear the differences for this football team in the friendly confines of Raymond James Stadium versus the road.

The Buccaneers are 4-0 at home, beating teams by the average score of 40.5 to 18.5. On the road, Tampa Bay is 2-3 are being outscored by their opponents 27.6 to 23.4

The most shocking drop is the production on offense, which is a full 17.1 points per game less when away from Ray Jay. The Bucs drop in red zone efficiency contributes to that, falling from 69.4% to 61%.

Brady’s yardage average home vs. away doesn’t change (a slight drop from 319.3 to 318.6), but his scoring production drops while turnovers rise. Brady has thrown 18 TDs, 2 interceptions, 1 lost fumble at home. On the road, Brady has thrown 9 TD passes, rushed for one touchdown, has thrown 5 interceptions, and has one lost fumble.

He’s also been sacked at a higher rate on the road (1.4 vs. 1.2).

Defensively, we talked about the difference in points allowed home vs. the road, but other statistics support that as well. While the Buccaneers have given up more yardage on average at home vs. away (352.7 yds per game vs. 319 yds per game), teams have sustained drives on 3rd down significantly better (42.5% on the road vs. 34.6% at home) and have turned those red zone opportunities into touchdowns more consistently (66.9% red zone efficiency for opponents on the road vs. 37.5% red zone efficiency at Raymond James Stadium).  As Tom Brady has turned the football over more on the road, the Bucs defense has forced fewer turnovers as well. Just 4 turnovers forced in road games (2 ints, 2 fumble rec) vs. 11 turnovers forced in home games (8 ints, 3 fum rec).

The Bucs are +5 in turnover margin at home. -2 in road games.

The big newsflash for the Bucs – if they don’t get better in road games and soon, they’ll be on the road for the playoffs and this year there will be fans in the stands.

Six

As gut wrenching as this loss was for Tampa Bay, and make no mistake, it is a very bad one – a loss that may have knocked the Buccaneers out of contention for the #1 seed in the NFC. Yet, this season, this seems to be a way of life for the contenders in the NFL.

From the NFL: For the second consecutive week, four teams – Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, and Washington – entered the week with a .500-or-below winning percentage and defeated a team that began the week in first place or tied for first place in their division.

The eight wins by teams with a .500-or-below winning percentage against division leaders over the past two weeks are the most such wins to occur during Weeks 9-10 of a single season since 1970.

The Bucs set back last week and smiled as the Saints lost to Atlanta, keeping the Buccaneers in first place in the division, then saw Dallas, The Rams, and the Packers all lose to lesser opponents, improving the Bucs seeding. Buffalo came into week 9 as the top seed in the AFC and was beaten by Jacksonville. Yes, Urban’s Jacksonville.

Then this week came, as the Ravens, Cardinals, Chargers joined Tampa Bay on an upset Sunday. Add to that, the Broncos, who were stunned by the Eagles, and the Steelers tied the winless Detroit Lions.

You know the old clichés. On Any Given Sunday. That’s Why They Play The Games. Those two statements haven’t been more meaningful than this season where losses defy logic.

Last season, the Buccaneers losses were all to teams that made the playoffs – even the Bears (who squeaked in on the last wildcard). This year, both the Rams and Saints are currently in playoff position. I don’t expect the Football Team to join them. So it can be said this is the worst loss in the one-and-half years Brady has been in Tampa Bay.

The week 9 contenders (except the Saints), all bounced back this week. The Bucs must do the same.

Seven

The Bucs again got some help in the division as the Saints and Falcons both loss. While the Panthers did win and rose from the depths of the bottom of the division, they did the Bucs a favor by keeping the currently top seeded Arizona Cardinals within shouting distance.

Seeding wise, other than the Cardinals, it wasn’t a great day for the Buccaneers. While the Rams will play on Monday night, Green Bay and Dallas bounced back with wins, dropping the Bucs to the 4th seed in the NFC. The fourth seed faces the best Wild Card team (for example, Washington was the fourth seed last season and they faced…well, you know).

Eight

The Bucs limp back home after consecutive road losses to face the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. Of course, Bucs fans are nervous enough without Daniel Jones and the Brady killers coming to town. But hey, Tampa Bay’s at Raymond James. So blow out victory for the good guys, right? RIGHT?

DLT’s Who To Root For This Week

Despite the ugly loss on Sunday, the Buccaneers are still in great shape for the playoffs. You’d like to have a higher seed, but there’s a lot of football left to be played.

Here’s who to root for (other than the Bucs) next week:

New England over Atlanta – The Falcons came back to earth in ugly fashion against the Cowboys, let’s keep them reeling at the bottom of the NFC South. Patriots are surging in the AFC and getting that old feeling back.

Washington Football Team over Carolina – Can the Football Team make it two in a row and get Rivera’s Revenge on his old team? If they can, that helps the Buccaneers in the NFC South.

Minnesota over Green Bay – The Packers took care of Seattle last week, but this is a divisional game between two hated rivals and Vikings are desperate for wins. They pulled off a huge upset in LA against the Chargers – can they do it again?

Philadelphia over New Orleans – The Bucs blew a golden opportunity to go up two games on the Saints in the division, while Philadelphia stunned a Broncos team coming off a huge win in Dallas. Can Philly keep the Saints reeling?

Kansas City over Dallas – The Chiefs are starting to get that feeling back, if they can deliver an L to Dallas, that would be good news for Tampa Bay.

Seattle over Arizona – The Seahags limp back home after an embarrassing loss in Green Bay. It’s desperation time in the Emerald city. Facing a must win against the division leader in the NFC West, Seattle really needs this one badly. Will Kyler and DeAndre be back?

Tweet of the Game

 

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