The New DNA

September 16th, 2016


Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter, eye-RAH! Kaufman, pens a column here on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. His award-winning podcasts pop on Tuesday and Thursday. eye-RAH! writes and says whatever he wants. His opinions are his own.


The national media is flocking toward Jameis Winston and the second-year quarterback is handling it well, deflecting plaudits to his Buccaneer teammates.

“He’s a winner,” Doug Martin says of Winston, who will try to lead the Bucs to their first 2-0 start since 2010, when Josh Freeman looked like a franchise quarterback. “Jameis is more mature than what people believe.”

But is his football team?

Let’s not have any illusions about the task at hand Sunday in Glendale. The Falcons have the look of a 5-11 club while the Cardinals have been an elite team for three seasons under coach Bruce Arians. The defensive game plan against Atlanta last Sunday was relatively simple: contain Julio Jones. But Arizona boasted the NFL’s No. 1 offense in 2015, and Carson Palmer certainly doesn’t lack for weapons beyond future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald.

There’s a palpable buzz around Tampa Bay after the Bucs’ road win in the season opener, the kind of chatter that could make a young team lose its bearings heading into the desert.

“It’s great to be excited, it’s great to feel like we’re turning that corner, but I will wait until we have about 10 wins before we start getting excited,” said Gerald McCoy, who played big at the Georgia Dome. “It’s just Week 1 and if you look at our schedule coming up, we’ve got a lot to prove and our tests are coming, starting with Arizona.”

If the Bucs can spring an upset Sunday, the security guard manning the gate at One Buc Place will have a busy week ahead of him, processing a national media stampede into Tampa.

DNA Match

Heading into the home opener against the punchless Rams, a 2-0 Bucs team would be one of the major stories lines of the NFL season.

“This is a great team we’re playing against,” says Mike Evans, who appears far more focused in 2016. “This will be a good experience to see where we’re at. Hopefully we keep winning and bring this town back to prominence.”

The Cardinals have one of the league’s premier cornerbacks in Patrick Peterson, and logic dictates he will follow Evans all over the field at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Arians is as sharp as they come and he’s not about to repeat the mistake the Redskins made Monday night, when Antonio Brown was rarely covered by Josh Norman.

Make no mistake — the Cardinals are in an ornery mood after a 23-21 setback against the Patriots. Arizona had been 19-5 under Arians at home and the Pats played without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

“Arizona just lost opening day at home, after being in the NFC championship game,” McCoy says. “Head coaches and GMs don’t typically speak out about the whole team, they talk internally. They spoke out in the media about their team. If you think that arguably the best team in the league is going to go 0-2 at home and go lightly, we’ve got another thing coming.”

The biggest shocker of all would be if the Bucs played scared Sunday. That’s not in their DNA, not with No. 3 under center.

Just ask the Falcons.


Since Dirk Koetter and Winston arrived together last year, Tampa Bay’s offense has developed the kind of consistency Buc fans simply aren’t accustomed to, even during the franchise’s glory days.

If the Bucs can avoid their traditional red-zone blues, they figure to score enough points to compete every week behind an improving defense. Buc fans have been teased before, but this feels like the real deal — a young emerging team brimming with confidence.

I’ve already received one indication the Bucs aren’t letting one win go to their heads.

Winston was sitting by his locker yesterday when I mentioned the Florida State-Louisville game will kick off Saturday at 9 a.m. local time when the Bucs already will be in Arizona.

I asked Winston whether he will be too busy to watch FSU’s matchup against the Cardinals, who are averaging 66 points during a 2-0 start.

“Man, there’s only one Cardinal team I’m thinking about,” Winston said, “and it isn’t Louisville.”

9 Responses to “The New DNA”

  1. Miko Says:

    Exciting to think we could be relevant again but until I see the seal clubbing stop against the better teams, I’ll remain skeptical. Atlanta is weak. The last good team we played it was over at halftime (the stinking Panthers). If we just hang in with the Cards and have a chance to win at the end, that will be progress.

  2. DB55 Says:

    if you look at our schedule coming up, we’ve got a lot to prove and our tests are coming, starting with Arizona.
    I’m excited to see where we stand against the best the NFL has to offer. In the next 4 weeks we will play the best playoff teams from 2015. We can’t play scared, we have got to go out there and punch somebody in the mouth and take what’s ours. Real talk! Everybody thinks we’re a homecoming team but guess what? Jameis don’t play that! 4-1 here we come.

  3. Bama Rich Says:

    Miko, my thoughts exactly. As long as we are competitive I can tolerate a close game. IMO protecting Jameis and pressuring old-man Palmer are keys to a competitive game.

  4. Phil Says:

    I only thing I worry about in this game are the officials.

  5. Mojiska Says:

    If they go into the bye at 3-2 with 2 close losses, this could be a big season!

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    Somebody once said, To be a great gotta beat great teams. its good we won our 1st game of the season on the road. We’ll need all the confidence we can muster come Sunday. Look for a hard hittin, mean, dog fight in AZ. This Az team is gonna go all out to whip us. So we have to play..lights out football. Jameis has got to be on point and the Defense gota step it up one more notch above the ATL game. Do this and we..Shock the sold out crowd
    in Glendale, AZ.

  7. grafikdetail Says:

    wonderful article! bringing in a vet like Ira in was a great move!! no offense but the Joes gets a little annoying at times with the corny humor and jabs at people

  8. JonBuc Says:

    Cards….because of Carson Palmer…will take a step back this year IMO. He stunk it up so badly in the NFC Championship that I think there’s a bit of a hangover. Should be a great benchmark game for the Bucs…

  9. Jim Walker Says:

    Atlanta isn’t weak. Since Winston has been our QB we have owned them. Winston hasn’t lost them 3-0