The Morning After

December 4th, 2017

A bitter morning today as Joe is trying to get the taste of Pepto Bismol out of his mouth from chugging four bottles after Mike Smith’s defense again wet the bed.

1. To read missives from Bucs fans, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, is worse than Rob Johnson and should be cut immediately so the team can move on and bank the future with the Ryan Fitzpatricks, Tyrod Taylors and Sideshow Bobs of the world. Welcome to your Bucs nightmares of the past.

A glance at Sunday’s box score shows Jameis had a fine day. And if one had to shut off the TV with six minutes left [in regulation], a Bucs fan would be content that Jameis again gave the Bucs a fourth quarter lead. But here we go again. That rotten road defense capitulated. Again, giving up nine points in two of the final three Packers drives in regulation and overtime. That’s twice in Jameis’ last four starts he gave the Bucs a fourth quarter lead, only for the defense to ralph all over the field, both against rotten quarterbacks  — quarterbacks Bucs fans now want to start for their team. Sure, Jameis had a moronic play in which he fumbled and it was returned for a Packers touchdown. That did not cost the Bucs the game, not when Jameis brought the team back and gave them a lead. Claiming that play cost the Bucs the game is like saying a hitter in third inning stuck out with the bases loaded cost a baseball team a game — when the same hitter slugged a three-run homer in the eighth for a lead only to have the closer yack away the game. Only haters reach like that.

2. With playoff-chasing teams remaining on the schedule, it sure seems as if the Bucs will have a top-10 pick in the draft. But the 4-12 record may bring the immediate future of the team in doubt. Ira Kaufman likes to say Team Glazer wants the arrow pointing up at the end of the season. Well, if the Bucs lose out, that’s not exactly arrow pointing up. Joe will write it again: There isn’t an NFL team that wouldn’t drool to have Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Brent Grimes, Kwon Alexander and Kendell Beckwith on their starting defense. And it’s very unlikely those same teams would have the worst defense in the NFL with those five core players. No matter what may or may not happen to the football staff of the Bucs if they lose out, Joe just cannot see how defensive coordinator Mike Smith remains in his current position. You take away the now mirage of five games late in the 2016 season, in which the Bucs defense played well, and Smith’s defense has been an embarrassment. Joe likes and respects Smith a ton but results are results, and the results Smith gets from his defense are unacceptable and they are costing the team wins, and may just cost good people their jobs.

3. Bucs fans who have been hollering that the offensive line was killing the run game may have a minor point. Joe believes it was who was toting the rock, not who was blocking. But with a makeshift line (two starters were out) Sunday, the Bucs had their first 100-yard rusher since October 2016, as Peyton Barber, who Joe always felt had the best upside of all the Bucs running backs, ran for 102 yards. Again, Joe gives a load of the share of the credit to Barber, but perhaps, the backups who played on the front line are a little better at run blocking than the starting-five? However, the Bucs did allow seven sacks, one shy of a Packers record. That could be because Barber is not a good blocking back. One play Joe had his binoculars on Barber on a Jameis dropback and Barber did the best impersonation of a turnstile this side of Jeremy Trueblood. It was bad. Barber’s known hiccup in pass protection may have contributed to the ghastly seven-sack day.

4. It sure seemed Dirk Koetter was pulling out all the stops. He started Peyton Barber (smart) and look what happened. He used O.J. Howard in the second quarter and he turned in a big play. Jameis found Chris Godwin open for a brief second in the end zone put couldn’t complete the pass. Why has Koetter waited until perhaps it is too late to use Barber? Why does he wait to use Howard and Godwin when they have shown they can make plays?

5. Joe heard a lot of Bucs fans at the game say that when they bought tickets, with the game set for December, they were scared the game could be flexed to a night game. The Packers were led by Aaron Rodgers and the Bucs had high hopes for the season. But a combination of Rodgers getting hurt, Jameis getting hurt and the Bucs horribly playing below expectations, fans were saved what potentially could have been a brutally cold game on a north Wisconsin December night. Instead, fans got two struggling teams to watch in an upper Midwest October-like day with the temperature hitting 50. Man, how things changed in a handful of weeks.

Trinkets: The Bucs defense, woeful as it was in two of the final three Packers drives, did a solid job overall. The Bucs entered yesterday’s game allowing 455 yards a game on the road. The Bucs held the Packers to 276 yards. But, the fourth quarter. … It is very difficult to believe intelligent men cannot find a way to use dangerous DeSean Jackson. The Bucs are not getting a good return on a major investment and from the naked eye, it doesn’t appear that Jackson is the culprit. … Joe is going to stop the snark calling Will Clarke the 53-year old former All-Star first baseman. The Bucs’ reserve defensive end now has three sacks in his last four games after his two-sack performance yesterday. It looks like defensive line coach Jay Hayes may have found someone he can groom. Clarke is making cash with his play of late. … In the locker room after the game, the two LSU products took the loss hard. Kwon Alexander sat for many minutes in front of his locker with his head in his hands. Kendell Beckwith also hung his head staring at the floor for a good bit of time.

Two days in Green Bay: Joe honestly didn’t know what to expect going to Packerland this weekend. Of course, we all read and hear how wonderful it is for football, but Joe had no clue. Let’s just say it lived up to the hype.

Sometimes working for something makes the rewards a bit sweeter. And that may be true of going to Green Bay for a football game. It’s out in the boondocks, a two-hour drive from Milwaukee along the Lake Michigan coast and a three-hour drive from Chicago. Once you get outside of Milwaukee, it’s pure farmland. Joe saw more dead deer along I-43 driving up from Milwaukee as he did cops. That’s the truth.

It takes an effort to get to Green Bay. But it is worth it.

Green Bay isn’t any different than any small city it seems. Think Brandon. No real defining skyscraper. You pull off the interstate, make a turn and boom, you are in town. You make another right hand turn and hey, what is that over there, that building with a big “G” on it? Oh, yeah, it’s Lambeau Field!

A four-lane road not unlike Gandy Blvd. in Tampa or 22nd Street in St. Petersburg surrounds two sides of the stadium (one is Lombardi Ave.). On the other two sides? A middle class neighborhood. Like having an NFL stadium in your backyard or for a neighborhood park. The parking lot surrounding Lambeau Field has the feel of a high school parking lot. And across the street from the school stadium sits the Packers practice facility, the Don Hutson Center, which looks like an LA Fitness place.

Green Bay may not be the best for partying (hard to beat New Orleans or perhaps South Beach or even Pittsburgh) but it is like a throwback to a Norman Rockwell portrait. Sort of like living a “Happy Days” episode. Just some kind of quaint charm of an NFL stadium in a clean, leave-your-front-door-unlocked neighborhood. Many of the houses, in typical Midwest fashion, have a basketball hoop in the driveway. A place where kids, after they come home from church on Sundays, can play football in the front yard in the morning and then walk to the game with their dads.

The Packers have bought land surrounding Lambeau in recent years and have turned the property into mixed-use land, meaning it is a 365 entertainment plaza (very similar to what the St. Louis Cardinals have done where the stadium is surrounded by bars and eateries all located on team-owned land — a project the Atlanta Braves are trying to emulate as well). There are high end restaurants/bars/craft breweries both inside the stadium atrium and outside the stadium that are open year-round. Joe watched the Big Ten championship game Saturday night from 1919 brewery inside the stadium atrium (the name comes from the year the Packers were founded). Also inside the atrium of the stadium is the Packers Hall of Fame and stores. Joe walked through the Packers Pro Shop, which is damn near as big as a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. They will slap a Packers logo on any friggin’ thing. Joe even saw Packers crock pots and Packers facial tissue — that’s not a joke!

Across the street near a steak restaurant/brewery called “Hinterland,” there is an outdoor plaza that the Packers turned into a German-like WinterGarten replete with an ice rink and surrounded by decorated Christmas trees. It was way cool. On Saturday night, for no apparent reason, the Packers had a fireworks display over Lambeau Field.

For those frigid game days in Green Bay, the Packers have an auditorium/beer hall — think of a giant Ferg’s across the street from the Fruitdome — in the parking lot of Lambeau Field. Bands play for tailgates and beer flows like water along the Fox River and brats are sold like gold nuggets on sale for a nickel.

The whole complex sort of looks like a mini version of International Plaza in Tampa, with an NFL stadium in the middle. Lambeau is sort of like Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, a bowl with bench seating.

Shoot, while touring the Packers Hall of Fame, Joe got to sit at Vince Lombardi’s desk. The Packers even have recordings of Lombardi talking to players at his desk they play for visitors who squat in his chair. His film projector is an arm’s length away.

Joe can’t tell you how cool of an experience this was. Every NFL fan needs to make a trip up there once in his life.

The best way Joe can set the tailgate scene is that it’s like a college tailgate party in a high school neighborhood. The Wisconsinites are beyond friendly. Oh, and they like to drink their beer and eat their brats and cheese curds, too.

Joe met an avid reader, Joe Salts (@37champs) and his son Jake, from Indiana. Joe met a lot of Bucs fans this weekend, some from Florida, many from the Midwest who travel to see the Bucs whenever they play, whether it is in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Chicago or, naturally, Green Bay. Anyway, when Joe was walking to the Vince Lombardi statue to meet Salts, a Packers fan hollered at Joe from about 20 yards away. He had full Packers regalia on, including Packers sunglasses and the official hat of Wisconsin, a cheesehead. He yells at Joe, “Hey, catch it!” And he throws a yellow and green football at Joe. Naturally, Joe pulled a Michael Clayton and dropped the ball. But that’s how Packers fans are, the guy was just having a good time before the game and wanted to play catch with anyone that happened to be walking his way.

You drive through the neighborhood to get to the game, it is sort of like southwest Clearwater near Clearwater High School, and neighbors are throwing the football back and forth across the street while traffic passes beneath the throws of the Aaron Rodgers wannabes. Dan Lucas of WFLA-TV told Joe that he saw a house with a sign in the front yard “Clean bathroom.”

It was just a cool deal all around Saturday and Sunday, even if Joe was working Sunday. By all means, one should put a trip to Lambeau Field on their bucket list. The experience is almost like a throwback to a simpler time. This place is special and Joe now understands why NFL people rave about it so. It’s sort of like a shrine to the NFL.

Green Bay is not simple to get to. It isn’t a huge party scene. It’s not a place to hook up for a one-nighter. There is just something about it that is way cool and sets itself apart from any other NFL experience Joe has been through.

36 Responses to “The Morning After”

  1. Crazed Fan Says:

    Man, go head with this Peyton Barber stuff. He had a good game and now he’s “special”. He is not our best back, Rodgers is. I admit Doug is gone, but let’s not act like we have the back of the future right here in our presence. Man barely cracked 100 yards rushing and suddenly he’s Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson. He isn’t a rookie, we’ve seen him before and No One gave a Damn!!!

  2. WyomingBucsFan Says:

    This defense is so over rated at line backer. Beckwith is the only one who is not terribly undersized. Kwon and Lvd get blocked way to easy. That last drive by the Packers proves my point. This defense knew they couldn’t pass and they ran it right down our throats. I don’t care about forced fumbles, Lvd is nothing more then a safety playing LB. I hope Gruden can fix the defense, it’s completely undersized.

  3. Easy Says:

    I’lol Gruden. WE need a good young coach

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There were several things that cost us that game. As is usually the case

    Jameis’ fumble
    Blocked Punt
    Impotence in the red zone (again)
    Porous run defense (allowing the QB runs)
    Evan Smith’s penalty
    Losing the coin toss.

    For all the losers hoping for a loss….why are you complaining, you just got your better draft pick.

  5. Time4Change Says:

    Personally would like to see Mike Vrabel as HC, get a veteran OC and DC.

  6. Youngbucs Says:

    Hey joe how about a poll for jameis a bet
    U wouldn’t like the results

  7. Andrew Says:

    SAINTS trade away WRs and jimmy graham for Oline and RB. Now they control the clock, wear teams out, and win late in games. WE IGnore those positions and look at the results. JASON LICHT IM LOOKING AT YOU.

  8. lightningbuc Says:

    JoeBucsFan = America’s Jaboo Excuse Machine

  9. Tom Edrington Says:

    Amazing how Saints looked to be trending down last year and now they’re atop the division………Bucs looked to be trending up last year and now, well, uh, er, the remainder of the season has become one, giant “Who Cares?”

    Still amazed by the Rams turnaround…..

    Simple fact is the Bucs just don’t have enough talent….

  10. JabooBuc Says:

    I know this really has nothing to do with game performance but just saw a new clip of the Jameis pregame hype talk (think Eat a W but less creepy) and I have to say I am getting tired of his act. i know it’s a game and they should be having fun, but when you are losing consistently, it would be nice to see these guys look like they are out for blood. This guy is always clowning around.

    BTW, not blaming him for losing yesterday as this defense is an absolute joke.

  11. OrlandoJoe Says:

    Jameis and Koetter put up only 20 points on an awful defense when they have a running game for the first time all season. No one really cares about all the yards this team can rack up if they can’t get in the end zone. Koetter should be gone because 7th graders playing Madden are more capable playcallers. Winston should be gone because he’s an average (not above average) NFL quarterback that no one in the organization can trust to stay out of trouble and keep his hands to himself.

    Jason Licht is the only one who should keep his job. Everyone patronizes him for not picking up help in the pass rush. But if you review the 2016 season then you know that getting to the QB wasn’t a problem last year. Would it have helped to get another DE? Yes. But you can’t blame him for it when he just pulled off another heist in the draft. No one can be upset with our first 4 picks. If he goes out and gets talent a little more talent on both sides of the line, then this is a playoff team next season.

  12. B Coburn Says:

    Jameis was under a lot of pressure but he also took at least a couple of dumb sacks he had no business taking, where he should have gotten rid of it long before. Those are also costly. IMO bucs pretty much need to win out to make me feel like coaches should be back. It’s almost too little too late

  13. B Coburn Says:

    I still can’t figure out why recently there is so much delay typing each letter on here. Doesn’t seem to matter which device… and just as I type this it somehow clears up

  14. BuckAnEar Says:

    JW is always the same old JW. He has flashes of brilliance, then he heaves a football forward while 20 degrees from horizontal and catching his arm on his own man. Half the High School QBs wouldn’t try something that stupid.

    Check these and his off-field tendencies and conclude that he is a punk, and the faster he goes to back up DeShone Kizer the better.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’ll give Jameis somewhat of a pass on this game…..he was hampered by way too much pressure and had little time in the pocket.

    He still made very bad decisions several times throwing the ball. There could have been several picks.

    Jameis is who he is and likely will not change much…..If we are counting on him, we must have a very strong defense in order to be a winning team

    Mike Smith is absolutely gone.
    Koetter, maybe but I hope not (churning coaches is not good)
    Licht will survive (IMO)

  16. Pierce Says:

    Any organization that changes their philosophy every two years is doomed to fail. I understand why fans want change, but fans are some of the worst people to listen too because they want everything now.

    Mike Smith didn’t forget how to coach. Neither did Koetter. Give them all another year to see if they can right this ship. I mean really, what do we have to lose?

    The Glazers need to pick a path and stick with it. Stop this flavor of the week nonsense.

  17. Joeypoppems Says:

    How many teams can hold a team to under 100 passing yards and still lose? Lol

    This might be the most embarrasing loss of the year so far

  18. Youngbucs Says:

    Jameis lip service is getting old

  19. Jim Says:

    Great stories about Green Bay. I had no idea about it either, now I know why it is revered. Thanks for the in depth description.

  20. darin Says:

    Tom
    The bucs have enough talent. Of course they could use more but this team is being doomed by coaching every week. Dirk got the lucky bounces last year. He is a bad hc. Smith is terrible. Of course licht is making picks to appease his coaches. Cant see how dirk gets through this. Ill never get over the head coach throwing in the towel in the first half in arz. That was it for me. Hasnt gotten any better since. Lets move on glazers. N no Im not for changing coaches every 2 years, this guy is not a hc tho. Big mistake making him one. He was a great oc. Too late now. I hope licht learned his lesson on picking head coaches. Maybe he can quiz them on simple elementary game management and when to go for 2 during the interview process, among other things.

  21. FortMyersDave Says:

    I think this L might be the one that gets Dirk fired. The loss in Buffalo and Koetter chasing points in the desert after falling behind 24-0 to a bad Az team are probably exhibit B and C. If the Bucs win 2 out of 3 of these games they are 6-6 and then throw in a decent kicker and better clock management for the Thursday NE game and the team is 7-5 (still last place but actually still relevent and probably favored over a Lion team that got boat raced by the Ravens yesterday). Lovie had the meltdown in DC, Koetter lost at Lambeau. Any bets on which HC gets pink slipped first? Ben McAdoo, Koetter, the Colts coach, Del Rio and Fox in Chicago are all likely toast so who cuts bait first? I don’t think the Glazers wait too long after the finale versus the Saints, especially if the Bucs are 4-12 (maybe 5-11 if the saints have their playoff seed locked, then again, the Saints backups and third stringer could boatrace the Bucs D as a final insult to Smith and Koetter).

  22. FortMyersDave Says:

    Darin, I agree. Last year they won in KC, SF, the ATL and SD. This year they lost to Buffalo, Green Bay, and every other road game except down in Miami…. The Bucs had a soft schedule last year and they still started 3-5. This year the schedule was harder and the team has only one road win. Last year the Bucs got the lucky bounces and caught teams at the right time via the injuries etc; kind of like the Titans this year. Koetter is the Norv Turner of this decade, good OC, horrible game manager, too much on his plate. Time to move on Glazers!

  23. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “after Mike Smith’s defense again wet the bed.” It’s your website Joe, but constantly beating on the defense without telling the ‘rest of the story’ (as Paul Harvey used to say) is getting old. Yes, the defense couldn’t stop the Packers running in OT, but the only real thing I’m wondering is why the Pack took so long to turn exclusively to the run. Fact is that our defense did a respectable job for 4 qtrs in holding the Packers to 13 pts … and yes, the Bucs offense gifted them the other 7 pts.

    Late in the 4th qtr, Bucs’ defense held the Packers to 3 pts (which allowed them to tie the game at that point). If you take the time to look at that series, that was a major accomplishment (Pack should’ve scored from the 5-yd line).

    The Bucs offense got the ball back with 2 minutes left in the game … all they needed was a FG to win it. Instead, they blew it. Starting from our own 20-yd line, Jameis passed complete to Sims for a 20-yd gain, only to have that 20 yd gain called back due to a stupid penalty on Evan Smith. So now we’re at the Tampa 10-yd line instead of at our own 40-yd line. But it’s what happened AFTER that that blew my mind.

    With 1:46 left in regulation and 20 yds to go for a 1st down, Koetter runs Sims … for 3 yds (it’s now 2nd & 17). Next play, Winston gets sacked (it’s now 3rd & 20). So what do we do with 1 min left in regulation? Yup, run Sims again … for 8 yds. Followed by the obligatory punt. Packers ball at the Green Bay 38 with nearly 1 min left. Guess what … Bucs defense held them AGAIN and forced OT. Granted, they couldn’t hold them on the only series in OT (Pack won the toss), but up to that point the Bucs defense had done pretty good IMO given what they had to work with.

    For GMC haters, he played 100% of the defensive snaps. That’s right, 100%, which is unheard of for a DT. Baker only played 58% of the snaps, as did Gholston. Siliga contributed next to nothing (22%). Sure, go ahead and trade GMC.

  24. tmaxcon Says:

    There isn’t an NFL team that wouldn’t drool to have Gerald McCoy,

    until they let that POS in the building and he sucks the life, heart and will to win from everyone in the building within the first 20 minutes.

  25. tmaxcon Says:

    defense rules

    the defense sucked arse… it gave up 2 scoring drives to brent hundley not joe montana. you are simply delusional trying to defend or justify another pathetic performance and blown 4th qtr lead by captain blowout and is quitting pansys.

  26. Bucsfanman Says:

    Offense can’t score TDs, offensive line cannot block (although we did find a run-game, temporarily), our QB is turnover-prone, and our play-calling resembles the Boca Ciega High School, Coaching for Idiots game-plan.

    It’s all the DT’s fault!

  27. 813bucboi Says:

    I don’t think 2 more wins will allow dirk to keep his job…..this team has too much talent and should be in the mix for the playoffs right now….

    the only 2 games we have a chance at winning are the lions without Stafford and the saints in the season finale because they will be resting their starters….under those circumstances, 2 wins aren’t good enough….

    with all this offensive fire power we have and we can barely score 20 points!!!!….we let back up QB’s look like seasoned vets….

    we have a HC that doesn’t doesn’t provide input into the defensive game plan….WTF!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  28. Mike Johnson Says:

    Bucs are out coached AND out gunned. The morning After? Pssst……I tell the honeybun, Get your clothes on and get out of here..I gotta be to work in 30 minutes. See you next week!!! Thats how I feel about my Bucs!

  29. Defense Rules Says:

    @Tampabaybucfan … “Jameis is who he is and likely will not change much…..If we are counting on him, we must have a very strong defense in order to be a winning team.” That’s a fascinating observation … and most likely spot on. I personally think that Jameis has the talent to be a franchise QB, but he’s nowhere close right now. Passing yardage doesn’t mean diddly … WINS are all that matter (and yes Joe, Hundley might have only thrown for 84 yds & had a 48 QBR yesterday, but guess what … he got the ‘W’ next to his name, not Jameis). Possible addition there: INTs & fumbles count also, especially when they lead to points for the opposition).

    Like several others, I’m in favor of bringing back this coaching staff (yes, including Mike Smith), but NOT if Dirk Koetter is still gonna be dual-hatted as HC AND OC. Personally think that Todd Monken has potential to be the REAL OC (not just in name only), but also think that Mike Bajakian should be replaced. He’s had 3 years tutoring Jameis, and from what I’m seeing it ain’t working. Jameis isn’t improving, and some of the ‘mistakes’ he’s making in his 3rd year are just plain dumb. He’s got the talent IMO to overcome those, but he needs someone ‘stronger’ as his tutor.

  30. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh and 813bucboi, take a close look at who the Bucs’ started on offense AND defense yesterday then tell me again if you still believe that “this team has too much talent and should be in the mix for the playoffs right now.” Bucs have one of the least talented T-E-A-Ms in the NFL. What we have is a number of fairly decent players starting, but several gaping holes in the starting lineups and almost no depth. This T-E-A-M is 4-8 for several reasons, one of which is lack of talent as a T-E-A-M.

  31. 813bucboi Says:

    defense

    injuries are apart of the game….name one team that is running with a full clip right now….

    stop making excuses…..this team is 4-8 for several reasons and most of them for because of coaching…or lack there of…..

    from what ive seen all season we have the talent but we don’t have competent coaches in place….GO BUCS!!!!

  32. uckinator Says:

    Good description of Green Bay, Joe. Been there twice. once I was racing across the Wisconsin Dairyland to catch a plane. It was on a Sunday morning and saw no police anywhere. and the second time for a batchlor’s party at one of those neighborhood bars with the Old Style Beer signs out front. I don’t remember which bar with which Old style sign, There were too many of them and I had short term memory loss syndrome that night and into the next morning. Boy – does it get cold up there. You haven’t lived unless you have breathed -21 degrees air through a wool face mask !

  33. MTM Says:

    Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Leave it to the Bucs. Dirt Cutter, Mike Smith and Licht will be gone at the ends of the year. The new coach/GM will jettison Winston for some picks and the rebuilding will continue. This team is unwatchable at times. They step on their d*ck at every turn.

  34. Bucballbaby84 Says:

    Carelessness is the name for our team. It’s all come down to Carelessness.

  35. GhostofSchiano Says:

    OrlandoJoe says : Koetter should be gone because 7th graders playing Madden are more capable playcallers.

    LOL!!!!!

  36. Cobraboy Says:

    I disagree about Alexander. I am not impressed by him. He’s constantly flying around, out of control, missing tackles, etc. There are numerous MLB’s far better than he is.

    Putting Alexander in the same sentence as David is an insult to David…who IS one of the best LB’s in the NFL.

 

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