Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Getty Images
A stunning, 37-32 loss to visiting Los Angeles dropped Tampa Bay to 1-2 on the year. It’s time for PewterReport.com’s new 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game.
TWO BIG STATEMENTS
STATEMENT 1: AGUAYO’S MISSES ARE UNACCEPTABLE
Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo missed three field goals and one extra point in the first two preseason games, and after a perfect showing in a 31-24 season-opening win in Atlanta, Aguayo missed a 45-yard field goal in a 40-7 loss at Arizona, then missed an extra point after Tampa Bay’s first touchdown and a 41-yard field goal against Los Angeles.
After that miss in the third quarter, the Rams seized momentum and drove down the field to score a touchdown and take the lead. Because of Aguayo’s missed extra point, the Bucs were forced to go for two points twice in the fourth quarter but conversion passes to Vincent Jackson missed the mark. Tampa Bay had to chase that missed point throughout the game and it really hurt.
The Bucs should have tied the game with Jameis Winston’s final touchdown pass to Mike Evans in the fourth quarter, but those missed four points loomed large. Aguayo is a rookie, but with a second-round pick invested in him, he has to deliver and be more consistent than he has shown. Aguayo was in a slump during training camp and the preseason and worked his way out of it with perfect showings against Cleveland, Washington and Atlanta, but now appears mired in another funk, which is unacceptable.
STATMENT 2: THE BUCS OFFENSE IS FOR REAL
If I would have told you before the game that the Bucs rolled up 472 yards on Sunday against the Rams, scored four touchdowns with quarterback Jameis Winston accounting for three of them while throwing for a career-high 405 yards, with a pair of receivers hitting the 100-yard mark in Mike Evans (10 catches for 132 yards and a touchdown) and Adam Humphries (nine catches for 100 yards) would you have thought Tampa Bay would have lost to Los Angeles? Not to mention the fact that the Bucs converted 50 percent of their third downs and both of their fourth down attempts.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Yet Tampa Bay lost despite scoring four touchdowns in a game for the second time this year. What’s happening is that the offense is also committing some momentum-killing turnovers that are contributing to these losses. Winston threw another interception – his sixth of the year – when his pass to Charles Sims bounced out of hands, and that led to a touchdown right before halftime. Then the Rams scooped and scored on Winston fumble after defensive end Robert Quinn knocked the ball out of his hands when he went back to throw.
If the Bucs offense can protect the ball – it has eight turnovers in three games – it should score more than enough points against most teams to generate a win. Even without Doug Martin, who is likely sidelined for the next two games, Winston and Evans proved they could move the ball and generate points. That’s an encouraging sign despite Sunday’s dismal defeat.
TWO PROBING QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1: HOW DOES THE BUCS DEFENSE GIVE UP 30 POINTS TO THE RAMS?
The Buccaneers offense did its job, which was to put points on the scoreboard. Tampa Bay should win games in which its offense scores four touchdowns accounts for 25 of the team’s 32 points. The offense played well enough to win and scored four touchdowns.
Mike Smith’s defense continues to come under fire as Los Angeles, which had only scored six points in its first two games, racked up 30 of the 37 points the Rams scored. Running back Todd Gurley was held in check with 85 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries (3.1 avg.). What hurt the Bucs – and continues to be a major area of concern – is pass defense.
For the second straight year, Case Keenum beat the Buccaneers. Keenum hit Brian Quick for a 44-yard touchdown and found Tavon Austin for a 43-yard score. The weakness on Tampa Bay’s roster is the safety position, and there was no safety help for Alterraun Verner on Quick’s touchdown, which head coach Dirk Koetter admitted after the game, and Austin was singled up against backup safety Keith Tandy, who blew the coverage and missed a tackle on that touchdown.
Making matters worse, Keenum was only sacked once in 27 pass attempts, and that was by linebacker Lavonte David on a coverage sack. This team cannot get pressure on the quarterback without Jacquies Smith, who is out for the year with a torn ACL, and without Robert Ayers, who missed the game with an ankle sprain.
QUESTION 2: WHY DIDN’T KOETTER CALL A TIMEOUT?
Koetter should have called a timeout after Sims picked up a first down on a 12-yard check down pass, especially after Sims didn’t get out of bounds. Koetter admitted as much after the game.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
“Yes, there was an opportunity,” Koetter said. “I got a lot of confidence in our two-minute [offense] and I sometimes push the envelope on that, on getting to the next play. I thought we were a little bit slow lining up on that next one. I thought we still had time to check it down again and use it, but as it worked out, we were still lining up so I probably should’ve used it there.”
Not using a timeout – the Bucs had two – burned about 15 precious seconds that could have been used at the end of the game. Tampa Bay left two downs on the field as the game ended after Winston’s 10-yard scramble on second-and-goal from the Rams’ 15, and Koetter took a timeout into the locker room after the game, which was poor clock management.
And Koetter even has an assistant coach – Andrew Weidinger – who is in charge of game management, too. That’s his title – assistant wide receivers coach/game management. This was a painful lesson for first-year NFL head coach to learn. The hope is that Koetter is a quick learner and won’t make the same mistake again.
TWO BOLD PREDICTIONS
PREDICTION 1: BUCS WILL HEAD INTO THE BYE WEEK 1-4
I have given the Buccaneers the benefit of the doubt by believing that their roster was indeed upgraded this offseason and forecasting a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. Tampa Bay will have to steal a win against a better opponent to get back on track with that prediction, but given how bad the defense is I can’t see that happening in the foreseeable future. Until the Bucs learn to play better defense and learn how to hold on to a lead (and they led 20-10 in the second quarter), expect two more losses to Denver and Carolina and a dubious four-game losing streak heading into the bye week.
Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Getty Images
PREDICTION 2: MORE MISSES FROM AGUAYO COULD CAUSE FRICTION
Here is what more missed extra points and field goals (one each on Sunday) will result in – in addition to more losses as his four missed points contributed mightily in Tampa Bay’s 37-32 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. More Aguayo misses could cause friction in the Bucs’ locker room after those missed points result in losses, and resentful attitudes could emerge towards the rookie kicker from his teammates. Also, because the Bucs are committed to him due to his second-round draft status, there is a chance that some hard feelings could erupt between general manager Jason Licht, who drafted Aguayo, and Koetter, who is essentially forced to ride out the ups and downs of an erratic kicker over an entire rookie year if losses continue to mount.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
Well I think I have a good idea what’s wrong with our Defense? It didn’t get any better! That tells me Mike Smith scheme is as old as Lovie Smith scheme and that’s the reason why they were fired as Head Coaches. LB D. Smith is hurting us when he gets out there on the field and our Safeties aren’t very good. Did we address any of this past Spring or Fall? No! Then we have the same problem we had before with the pass rush; it’s medicore at best without Ayers in the game and average when he is in the game.
Agree @horse. I’m not convinced that the reason we don’t get pressure is the absence of J Smith and Ayers…unless somehow those two became the reincarnation of Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor when I wasn’t watching. I would say the issue is the same one as last year…in today’s NFL, trying to rely on a 4-man pass rush is archaic/naïve/foolish…offenses have schemed well past the 4-man pass rush….perhaps if you have V Miller on your line you can try it, but for most teams like ours it’s outdated.
Defense is barely better than last year. Many people questioned using a 2nd rd pick on a kicker. Plenty of kickers who had worse stats in college but are proven kickers in the league.
Plenty problems on the offense as well, whether some of it is on any of the WRs is not certain. But seems to be too much excuses for the QB. The 8 TD passes is big for certain but he also has 8 TOs (6 Picks & 2 Fumbles lost). Would prefer an environment more like Dak Prescott & C. Wentz. They TD passes arent as high, but neither one has thrown a Pick. They protect the ball.
You know what Dak Prescott and C. Wentz also have in common? They aren’t throwing it 47 times a game because their defenses suck. Higher throwing rates lead to higher turnover percentages. It’s simple math. And that doesn’t even include that turnovers, some are subjective. No ones blaming Jameis for that int this week I would hope as the throw wasn’t any where near a defender until simms lateraled it to Barron. The Arizona game was all him, bad turnovers, but he’s not getting slack from anyone. Quite the opposite if you read any other sites from the fans.
At least you can’t blame Lovie for this, Scott.
Kind of a shame really, would’ve loved to hear you harp on Lovie’s inadequacy as a game manager and as a defensive specialist. Unfortunately your hand-picked successor looks exactly the same as Lovie did. Solid win against division rival, followed by a blowout game and then a game where the defense and game management cost the team against a backup level QB. Hmmm where have I seen this before?
All Lovie would say after most losses was “I’m disappointed”. That really got old, so I dont miss Lovie. Coaching is just part of the problem.
It’s really an organization problem starting from the top down. Once the Glazers starting shedding superstars after winning the S. Bowl and putting their $ into Manchester United, then getting rid of Gruden it has been downhill ever since.
Another perspective for just a second; If Jameis had pulled off that last second touchdown, everyone would be talking about one of the great finishes that they’ve seen from the Bucs in a long time. I do like that our 22-year-old QB showed some flash coming down the stretch and giving the team a chance to win. I do agree with CG that this team lacks the overall depth and experience that are currently elevating other young QBs at the moment… Prescott, Wentz, Siemien… But, it’s necessary for a Winston to have these teaching moments. He’ll grow from it and I think it’s still early in the season; hell, we’re tied for first place after three weeks! Keep grinding, gents…
Lovie had over a decade of experience as head coach and clock management and still couldn’t do it. Not making excuses just saying Koetter will make mistakes as first year head coach. Jason Garrett was terrible at clock management his first 2 years and all Dallas fans wanted him gone. Don’t hear anyone calling for him to get fired now do you? People need to give Koetter a frigging chance! My god.
As far as blaming Mike Smith for the defense? Really? You want to blame someone blame Licht. Other than Ayers and Smith nobody can rush the passer on this D line. That is the biggest problem with the defense. Also the safety position isn’t strong. Again who drafted the dumbass kicker who can’t even make point after attempts instead of taking Von Bell? Oh yea Licht. No pass rush equals no D. That simple.
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