Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

November 2nd, 2015
Bucs coach Lovie Smith addresses his team just after the overtime upset over Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of

Bucs coach Lovie Smith addresses his team just after the overtime upset over Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of

Welcome to Victory Monday, Bucs fans.

No, the Bucs are not a perfect team. Far from it. But they are back in the playoff race.

Scoff at Joe if you will, but look at the schedule. The next four games are winnable. If the Bucs can pull off a road upset over the best team in the NFC South while missing so many offensive weapons, then they can hang with the Giants, the Tony Romo-less Cowboys, the erratic Eagles and the Colts.

Yes, the Bucs are 3-4, but in four of the past five years, a team that finished with eight wins or less has made the playoffs. On paper, the Bucs are not a playoff team, not even with the eyeball test. But they are in the hunt. It doesn’t matter how pretty you are, it is what your record is when the season ends.

Kwon’s Brother

Joe generally doesn’t like to write about a player’s family issues. It almost feels like taking advantage a guy’s troubles for a story, a gain of some degree. And Joe isn’t a sappy, touchy-feely kind of writer, either, in case you haven’t noticed.

As we all likely know by now, Kwon Alexander’s younger brother was murdered last week. Alexander easily could have gotten a pass from the Bucs to go back home to Alabama and be with his family. Not one person would have blinked an eye. Shoot, Joe would be surprised if the Bucs didn’t advise Alexander to go home.

Instead, Alexander chose to be with his teammates. Talk about dedication! Talk about a teammate! Joe is struggling for words to describe how impressed he is with Alexander. That’s the type of mentality this team needs to climb from the cellar of the NFL and instill an attitude in the locker room (as opposed to “‘tude”). Sometimes, guys gloss themselves as leaders or try to hoist themselves as a team leader without substance or foundation.

You can bet your sweet rear end that from now on, if Alexander speaks up in a team setting, then he will have everyone’s full attention. He already played 110 percent. He put actions before words yesterday. When his family needed him the most, he honored his responsibility to his second family, his football family. And he balled out.

Talk about commitment. As Logan Mankins said to Alexander before the team, arm draped around his weeping teammate, “What this guy did today was something special. … And to play the way you did… man, I’ve got a lot of respect for what you did today.”

Making A Play

It was seven hours after the Bucs win as Joe typed this near midnight (yes, Joe has odd sleep hours) and it was almost stunning to re-watch how the Bucs closed the game.

In one of the more grisly defensive performances Joe has ever witnessed (more about that later), it just so happened to be the man Bucs fans love to hate, Gerald McCoy, who nearly brought Matty Ice down with a sack but forced him into a desperate throw on fourth down that fell incomplete.

Bucs fans, for some reason, cannot swallow the fact GMC is a good player, but not (yet) a Hall of Fame-caliber stud. How this somehow has become some great sin, Joe isn’t sure.

However, there is a bit of merit in the argument that GMC often is missing, when the Bucs need someone, anyone, to step up and make a play, make a stop. That was glaring in the nut-kick choke job at Washington a week ago.

Well, GMC’s critics need to shut their trap. There was GMC draped all over Matty Ice on fourth down in overtime. The win was so emotional for the Bucs – in part because for the better part of the game, the Bucs defense redefined the definition of “sieve” – that when Matty Ice’s final throw fell to the turf, players broke down at midfield.

Maybe, just maybe, this is a team turning point? Maybe, just maybe, this is a turning point for GMC’s career? Maybe, just maybe, this is a turning point for the Bucs franchise all too eager to shed its losing ways?

Three Wins From Job Security

All through the offseason, Joe’s goal for the Bucs was six wins. Joe thought that was a reasonable number. Given the fact the Bucs would be playing with a rebuilt offense and a rookie quarterback, and an ugly team foundation that finished 2-14 the prior season, six wins seemed possible, though a ceiling.

Joe also was convinced if Bucs coach Lovie Smith won six games, it was a lock for him to return. Any time you triple the amount of wins from a previous season, that is a helluva job.

Is Lovie doing a good job this year? No and yes. His defense is an insult. But Lovie’s handling of Jameis, both directly and indirectly, has been just about perfect. In that respect, Lovie has done a helluva job with the franchise’s prized asset. It’s great the way he has stepped away and let Jameis be Jameis while hiring Dirk Koetter to lead the offense, and staying mostly out of Koetter’s way.

The Bucs have nine games left. If they go .333, winning only three more games, barring something completely and totally unforeseen, Lovie will be your Bucs coach in 2016.

Lovie’s Defense May Pearl Harbor Him

Joe wrote last night that you could watch Pasco County 7-on-7 high school summer football leagues and never see a team complete 16 passes in a row. But that is exactly what Matty Ice did to the Bucs at one point yesterday, atrocious for a professional defense.

(7-on-7 football, for those that aren’t aware, is a form of flag football where six offensive skill position players and a center, play against seven defenders, made up of any combination of linebackers and defensive backs. It is a passing format.)

Aside from the forced turnovers, we have may witnessed the worst display of Bucs defense since the Dixie Chicks hung 42 in the first half alone on Raheem Morris in his final game as Bucs coach.

First off, when fans ask, “Why is [pick a defensive back] starting?” Who else you going to start? So you want Loaf Jennings to start? This just in, folks, if someone is walking the streets in early November and cannot even hold a gig on a practice squad somewhere, there is a pretty good chance he is as rotten as a two-week old banana. There are no fixes this time of year aside, from what resides on the roster.

The fact Lovie’s defense is this decrepit tells Joe it seriously needs major work in the offseason. A heavy-laden defensive draft is pretty much a given. Remember, assistant coaches contracts (aside from the new hires this year) are up after this season. It is a safe bet that Leslie Frazier is gone, as he is little more than a coffee fetcher after Lovie has pushed him aside. Is Joe Cullen, nice guy that he is, intense guy that he is, really getting the most of the defensive linemen? Is Gil Byrd coaching up the defensive backs? If anything, the defensive backs are terribly regressing, not improving.

If Lovie doesn’t return next year, the decision will have its roots in the defense. Don’t be shocked if Team Glazer tries to push Lovie to bring in a new defensive coordinator. Probably the best thing for Lovie is to do what he did with Koetter: Hire a competent, proven defensive coordinator and get out of the way.

And may Joe also suggest that a major housecleaning of defensive personnel? It really wouldn’t shock Joe if there were as many as six new starters on defense next year, between the draft, free agency and perhaps a trade.

Team Record

Oh, and how grotesque was this defense yesterday? Forget the Bucs nearly gave up 500 yards of offense to the Dixie Chicks. Forget the Bucs threw away a three-score lead (again) for the second straight week.

The Dixie Chicks never punted yesterday. Not once. Per Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, never in Bucs history has the team not forced an opponent to punt once.

Think of all the rancid Bucs teams of the past, and even those skunky units forced good teams to punt once. Not this Bucs defense.

Simply put, not one member of the defensive coaching staff, up to and including de facto defensive coordinator Lovie, should be comfortable in their jobs.

NFL Thoughts

Patriots: Tom Brady, yada… yada… yada…

Chiefs: Holy Fish and Chips are the Lions bad. Can’t the NFL just leave them behind in England? Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes. Yes, really!

Crows: Joe Flacco throws for 319 yards and a touchdown and suddenly, the soon-to-be Los Angeles Chargers will be looking for a new coach. Two gut-punching losses in a row for San Diego.

Vikings: The Vikes score 13 fourth quarter points to rally for the win in Chicago. The big play was for a 40-yard touchdown from Teddy Bridgewater to Stephon Diggs with three minutes left.

Cardinals: When snotty football geeks try to say wins is not a quarterback stat, Joe counters with Josh McClown. Puts up a lot of stats, but always loses. Always. Yesterday in Cleveland was more of the same, before he got hurt. Again. Carson Palmer threw four touchdown passes for the Cardinals.

Texans: How bad are the Titans? The got walloped by the lowly Texans. Zach Mettenberger was sacked seven times. Brian Hoyer (!) threw for a pair of touchdowns.

Saints: An arena league game broke out in the Superdome. Drew Brees had seven touchdown passes against the Giants. SEVEN!

Bengals: All Andy Dalton does is win as he outdueled Big Ben. Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is out for the year with a knee injury.

Rams: Todd Gurley went wild with 133 yards against the 49ers.

Raiders: Derek Carr has grown up. Against one of the better defenses in the NFL, he throws for four touchdowns and 333 yards. If Joe was a Jets fan, he’d want to jump out of a window if his choice of quarterback is between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith.

Seahawks: In a terribly boring game, the lone touchdown came on a Russell Wilson 22-yard pass to the immortal Luke Willson. Dallas is dreadful without Tony Romo.

Broncos: Peyton Manning… blah… blah… blah…

Non-NFL Thoughts

* That Michigan-Minnesota game Saturday night was cool. Joe thought Michigan would run over Minnesota, which lost its (good) coach just days before due to health reasons. Instead, the Gophers played inspired football and nearly pulled off the upset.

* It really blows Joe’s mind that referees cannot use instant replay. When fans on the couch can see infractions, how the hell cannot officials? Case in point was the crazy end of the Miami-Duke game where not only did a ballcarrier have his knee down, but there were multiple personal fouls on the play by Miami. And the zebras missed them all! No wonder that crew was suspended by the ACC yesterday.

* It is to the point in college football that NFL rules for reviewing instant replay should be adopted because the officials upstairs are so incompetent. Each team gets up to three challenges. If the challenge is wrong, you lose a timeout.

* Really, the same team that upset then-undefeated Oklahoma, that would be the Longhorns, got shut out by Iowa State. Really, Iowa State? A true low point in the proud history of the Longhorns.

* Nebraska got hammered by Purdue. In football. How low has that program sunk? Never in Joe’s wildest dreams would he ever imagine Nebraska losing to both Illinois and Purdue (and maybe Rutgers) in the same season. Mike Riley may be a one-and-done but don’t rewrite history. Bo Pelini was launched because you can only kick the shins of school suits so many times before it comes back to bite you in the rear end unless you win titles (why, hello Bobby Knight!). When recordings leak of you cussing out fans of the school and in a second recording calling a school administrator a lower region of the female anatomy, your only saving grace will be titles and if you don’t have titles, you are gone. That was Pelini. The fact that folks were leaking secret recordings of you every couple of months shows Pelini must have really been an a-hole behind the scenes.

* So Donald Trump is going to be a guest of Cowturd today, huh? Welp.

Joe has a couple of nuggets leftover from his trip to Washington, D.C. last week.

* Joe walked around the National Mall, having already been to the Capitol days before. Joe traveled from the Metro stop at the Smithsonian all the way past the Lincoln Memorial and back. Even though it was overcast, windy and a bit cold, it was a great way to kill a couple of hours.

* The World War II Memorial was, well, a bit underwhelming. It seemed like it tried to be too much, tried to be too many things for too many people which is sort of understandable since it was such a massive conflict. When Joe visited this, there maybe were three or four dozen folks there. Much of those were students on a class field trip. Later, Joe came across the Vietnam Memorial. It’s the second time Joe has visited the place and it was nearly as emotional as the first time Joe was there, when the memorial was still in its infancy. There were hundreds of people there. Joe really doesn’t know what to make of so few people at the World War II Memorial, but so many at the Vietnam Memorial. Maybe because the World War II Memorial is just, blah? Maybe because the Vietnam Memorial is such a masterpiece? Or maybe because there are so few Americans left from the Greatest Generation that it doesn’t resonate? Not sure. Anyway, when Joe saw a group of guys in their 60s and 70s, all with white hair, all with the same type of military caps on, taking their picture at the wall with fallen comrades in the background, and they are all crying, it got to Joe, just like when Joe years ago saw parents at the wall reacting to seeing their son’s name etched in stone forever. It is very moving.

* Many folks told Joe to go to the Spy Museum in Washington, and Joe did. What a friggin’ joke! Joe expected to see a lot about espionage (there was some of that) and real history like the Rosenbergs (there was a little of that) but mostly it was a spoof on spies. Damn near a third of the place was all about James Bond. Joe doesn’t give a damn about James Bond (yes, Joe knows the character was based on writer Ian Fleming who was a British agent). James Bond is a fictitious character. After you take a “Get Smart”-like elevator to the top floor, with cheesy instructions to memorize your new spy profile, you get out and there is a lifesize cutout of Maxwell Smart. What the hell! That’s like going to the Holocaust Museum and at the first exhibit there is a cutout of Col. Klink! Then, steps away, there was a cutout of Diana Rigg, who played a comely spy in the old TV series “The Avengers.” If you are into Hollywood’s take on spies, this museum is for you. If you are into the history of espionage and details on famous spies, you are better off saving your $20 and just surf the internet from your hotel room.

If you are ever going to tour Washington that tells Joe you are at least somewhat interested in history. So skip the Spy Museum and go to the Newseum. Really cool stuff in there includes a video presentation of war reporters in Vietnam on a 90-foot screen. May be the coolest screen Joe has seen outside of Jerry’s World in Dallas and the Gator Bowl. Man, to watch games on a college football Saturday on that thing!

24 Responses to “Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow”

  1. Thibs5599 Says:

    So much to read but site keeps glitching and sends me to the Apple Store all the time. Anybody else have this problem?

  2. Lovie Is Dog Poo Says:

    Jameis = hope

    Lovie = dope

  3. Jerry_G Says:

    I was having the same problem @Thibbs5599. I thought it was Judy happening to me but I guess its happening to others as well.

    Funny how the “Experts” have calmed down all the hype of who is the better AN between Jameis and Mariota. All that athleticism Mariota was thought to have and Jameis was thought to lack doesn’t seem to be helping him now. Its your boy,America’s Quarterback, that’s making linemen miss tackles and buying time 27th his feet. Boy do opinions change quickly when you prove doubters and haters wrong. Lol. Our defense may be pretty but in the words of Vincent Jackson,” it doesn’t have to be.” What matters is getting the win. You are what your record says you are!

  4. David Says:

    Man…I hope I can have this proud feeling 5 or 6 more times this year…lol

  5. Tampa Tony Says:

    @thibs- same for me. This site is no fun when I use any Apple products to view it

  6. loggedontosay Says:

    Lovie is building a team and doing great job at it. At the rate Lovie is going this team is set to return to the Super bowl in two years.

  7. loggedontosay Says:

    It took GMC more than sixty minutes to make a play joe.

  8. Ed Says:

    You know what, I’ll take my crow regarding jameis now. Truly looks like the game is starting to slow down for him. While it really is too soon to say whether or not he will be the savior, at this point he is the best rookie QB. His awareness in the pocket is especially impressive. Hope he keeps up his hard work and development, and doesn’t get complacent. Can finally see him becoming one of the elite qbs within the next few seasons.

  9. ATLBucsFan Says:

    I can run errands around town with my Bucs shirt on this week!!! Good win for a struggling team. Thanks for a great Monday Bucs!

  10. Buc1987 Says:

    Joe being a very patriotic person myself I love touring D.C. I’ve only went there once as an adult and once as a small child. As an adult it was in the middle of August and sweltering as I lived in NC at the time. We had our 2 year old daughter with us in a stroller, so we really didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked to see. Went to the Smithsonian of course and toured the American History one. Loved that. Did the Lincoln Memorial thingy as well and of course me being the funny guy that I am. As we walked along the reflecting pool I had to yell out Forrest, Forrest a few times and had everyone laughing that was in the area. It HAD to be well close to a 100 degrees out, so unfortunately we had to cut our tour short and never got to truly see the Vietnam Memorial. Since then touring the entire city has been on my bucket list. There’s just so much more to see.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The offense looks stable,,,,,even with our #1 & 3 WR out & TE…..Jameis & Company still moved the ball. Koetter is doing a great job. Oline looks solid & has some depth.
    Sims is maturing….

    We do need to solve this 1 yard problem…..several times this year we simply couldn’t get that yard.

    Defemse needs to start jamming recievers & not letting them off the line for these quick slants…..need more well-times blitzes too.

  12. Buc Neckid Says:

    I think that Leslie Frazier was hired under a two year contract.
    Taking away play calling from him should have been the first sign of no confidence in this defense.
    it is easier to cast Frasier aside to save his own job.
    A new Defensive coordinator is a Definite NEED in the offseason.
    Somebody with fire to liven these players up and balance Lovie’s Mellow Confidence.

  13. Buccfan37 Says:

    My feeling’s go out for Kwon, sorrow that he lost his brother and amazed at the effort he put forth in the game. I’m thinking of you Kwon. On the other note, who ever heard of a team winning while not forcing a punt from the opponent? That is freaking unbelievable!

  14. Jeagan1999 Says:

    It was really nice to a win against a quality opponent! For the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s taken this long to finally start showing some signs of a pulse in this team, but if they keep playing well and win a few more games, I would be ok with giving Lovie another chance.

    I’m also very impressed with young Jameis Winston! Over the last few games, he has cut out the turnovers, and has started to show that he could soon be an elite NFL QB. In particular, I’m I pressed with his toughness and leadership skills. I still like Mariota too, but there’s no denying that Winston is on his way to being a top signal caller!

    As long as I’m handing out credit to the Bucs organization, kudos to Jason Licht on drafting Kwon Alexander. This kid is a friggin playmaker!

    It’s nice to think that we might actually have a shot to have this season mean something! Go BUCS!

  15. Buc1987 Says:

    Jeagan1999 …yep 3-4 does feel a whole lot than we were at this point last season. It’s nice to have that glimmer of hope back again. I’m truly okay with bringing Lovie back if the team wins 7 games this eason, but I’m not banking on that happening. Unless of course every team they play has 4 turnovers like Atlanta had. 4 turnovers and they took it to overtime. That’s just sad and it won’t happen every week. I’ll take the ugly win all day long. I believe Jameis Winston is exactly what I said he was before they drafted him. A much needed adrenaline shot to a lacking in the motivation category. He’s becoming just as advertised, a natural leader that players and coach’s gravitate towards. Oh you can also throw in the football IQ and talent into the mix as well. Still too early to tell Bucs fans, but I’m about 85% sure that we have FINALLY found our franchise QB after all these years. My confidence in Lovie is still around a mere 30% though, but I’m rooting for him of course.

    As far as Kwon goes. Anyone that watched all the preseason games this season knew this kid was special. He was all over the field in pre-season and reminded me more so of D. Brooks than anything LVD ever did in his rookie year. Lots of good young talent on this team. If not for the talent, my confidence in Lovie would be hovering in the single digits right now. So I’ll keep repeating this, because there are are many of Buc fans that expect so much more from rookies. Give a rookie at least 3 years before you judge the guy to be a bust. Same goes for the fans that are enamored with a rookie during his first season. Just give it time and enjoy what they do for our team. It looks promising in a few different areas on this team. O-line is one of them right now and LVD is still a pretty young kid himself along with Kwon. Most importantly give our rookie QB some slack, even if you hate his guts like most of the country does.

    Sorry for the long posts. I’m making up for lost time…

  16. Buc1987 Says:

    Damn do I need more sleep and a proof-reader.

  17. bucrightoff Says:

    A win is a win and 99% of the credit for it goes to Jameis playing solid football when needed. He came through with the big plays needed to ensure the defense didn’t suffer a 17 point blown lead after a 24 point blow lead. I hope Lovie realizes now this defense can’t hold a lead to save its life and that Jameis needs to be allowed to put more points on the board rather than protect the ball. Defense is not winning any games this year, whatever wins we get from here on out are on Jameis shoulders. Kind of unfair to a rookie, but the state of the defense is as bad as it’s been in years. At least as bad as that 2012 Schiano defense.

  18. Mike Johnsom Says:

    Don’t give up on Lovie just yet fellow Buc fans. Yes, he’s a..spinmaster. But..He’s had to be. I, you, all of us want to see if…we string together 2 straight wins. Now that would be cause to celebrate. Our MO dictates we lose and play horribly after a win. All we need is for our Defebse to play a little better. Not perfect But give the effort they gave Sunday..every Sunday. Because our Offense with Capt Jameis can and will score points. Win against the Giants Bucs. I dare you. Prove us us real fans, you are developing into winners. Go get’em Bucs!

  19. FortMyersDave Says:

    A win is a win and as a buc fan I will take it! But allowing almost 500 yards and not forcing the ATL to punt should cost someone their job; Joe says 6 wins should keep Lovie safe and I’ll agree; heck 5-11 might do the trick if Lovie doesn’t have another DC meltdown but 6 will definitely get him retained although I suspect that the Glazers will force him to fire the entire defensive staff and possibly O’Dea as well as special teams did cost the Bucs a win in Houston and he must have signed off on Brindza over Barth and oversaw the onside kick the Skins pulled off against his special teams… This team with proper coaching should be 5-2 right now but they are 3-4 but it is an improvement over a Buc team that probably was in reality a 3 win team last year (Lovie tanked an L to close out the season vs the Saints last year to keep ahead of those tanking titans in the draft order). The defense though; it is horrible as is Lovie’s clock management but if he does get to 6 wins, yeah the glazers will probably keep him if he obeys their directives and fires a lot of the people who are currently responsible for the defense…. There is a chance he could refuse to fire some of his staff as well and get fired; didn’t that happen down in Miami with Sparano????? Not forcing a punt though and blowing another 3rd quarter 17 point lead; Lovie does have to put a stop to that BS if he wants a shot at 6 wins; not too many teams are gonna bend over like the falcons did in the first half yesterday….. Still a win is a win, it sure as heck beats the 26-23 loss i was predicting after the Bucs went up 23-20 in OT. Did anyone really think the Bucs were going to stop Matty ice???? I did not but am darn glad I was wrong!

  20. Mo_Downs Says:

    After all the dust from the win over Atlanta had settled, I went over to and looked at the offensive and defensive statistical totals.

    i was pleasantly surprised to find the overall offensive and defensive stats were, for the most part, better than that of our opponents. To be clear, I have no illusions about how statistics can be misleading. And the “vs opponent” statistics can be VERY misleading.

    I can understand why Lovie keeps saying “we’re close” when taking the stats into consideration to quantify overall progress. A quick look at 2014 vs 2015 underscores both his and my belief that we are turning the corner and getting demonstrably better.

    For all the yards both VJ and Evans had in 2014, with 2 very different QB’s, Jameis has a better QBR than either 2014 QB both separately and combined. What a difference a year makes.

  21. Warren Says:

    Nice write up. Looking forward to more of these after (hopefully) more wins!

  22. John McKillop Says:

    I don’t know, maybe it’s me. Lovie said he learned a lot in his year off, maybe he did. They drafted almost solely offense with the exception of Kwon in two drafts. Lovie never had a very good offense or offensive coordinator for that matter. He also never had good offensive lines in Chicago in 11 years as a head coach there. Lovie and Licht look like they have two good drafts under their belts, this coming draft will obviously be defense heavy. I think Lovie figured out the new rules favor the offense heavily. Maybe he did learn something.

  23. Digga Says:

    Joe that small snippet about Alexander was a nicely Written, kudos!!

  24. Joe Says:

    Digga, Warren: