Pretend Season Is Just That

August 28th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


The NFL preseason is essentially behind us and the Buccaneers are one of the league’s big winners.

Yeah, you heard me.

Forget about the 1-2 record heading into Thursday night’s preseason finale. You think the Glazers are pressuring Dirk Koetter to play regulars against the Redskins so Tampa Bay can even its exhibition mark?

The Browns are 3-0 right now and the NFC champion Falcons are 0-3. The 2008 Lions were unbeaten during pretend season and 0-16 once the games began to count.

The Bucs are major winners because their medical staff hasn’t been forced to work overtime tending to major injuries. There’s even a chance it will be all hands on deck for Buc starters Sept. 10 at Hard Rock Stadium, where the Dolphins are trying to overcome the loss of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The No. 1 priority for every NFL coach in August is to emerge relatively unscathed. Health is always a major factor in determining team fortunes and right now, the Bucs are relatively good to go.

“The majority of our injuries have a chance to be back and should be back for the Miami game,” Koetter said following Saturday night’s drab 13-9 loss to Cleveland.

In their breakthrough 1997 slate under Tony Dungy, the Bucs went 1-3 in the preseason.Then the powerful 49ers sauntered into town and Tampa Bay engineered a stunning upset to trigger a 5-0 getaway.

HIPAA Festivals

Have you seen what’s going on around the league this summer? Key players are falling from Seattle (left tackle George Fant) to New England (Julian Edelman).

Kansas City’s Spencer Ware is done for the year and Dallas middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens is sidelined eight weeks with a fractured knee. Giants stud Odell Beckham Jr. may not be ready for the season opener and Tyrod Taylor is dealing with a concussion.

In Tampa, a quiet confidence still prevails that the 2017 Bucs will end that nine-year playoff drought.

“We’ve got to be better than that,” Cameron Brate admitted after the lethargic effort against the Browns. “It seems all preseason that we’ve kind of been able to move the ball at will. But we’ve had self-inflicted wounds … penalties, not taking care of the football. Luckily, it’s just preseason, but we have to get better before Miami.”

In August, it’s better to be healthy than precise. That’s not to say the Bucs have shown the kind of crisp execution Koetter craves.

Ali Marpet talks to Ira

Jameis Winston will end the preseason without a touchdown pass and the ground game remains underwhelming. It would be comforting to see more of a pass rush and fewer flags.

“This game isn’t where we’re at as a team,” said Ali Marpet. “It’s not a representation of what we can do. Obviously one of our goals is to start fast — but we didn’t. I know we were missing a lot of guys, but if you’re keeping score, it counts. We want to put a good product on the field, and we didn’t deliver.”

Acts Of Sabotage

Koetter and his staff have been thinking about the Dolphins since the schedule came out in April. No one is going to remember a rainy, sloppy Bucs-Browns matchup once the real season comes along.

Thursday’s game is for the guys on the bubble trying to stick with the Bucs or put enough on tape to impress another team. Winston will be a cheerleader, along with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Demar Dotson and Brent Grimes.

The next time you see key starters flying around, the Bucs and Dolphins will be tangling in the heat.

Some NFL coaches like to break down the regular season into quarters, so let me do the math for Mr. Koetter. In the past five seasons, the Bucs are a combined 4-16 through the first quarter.

That’s not just putting yourself behind the 8-ball, that’s an act of sabotage.

While other teams are banged up, the Bucs should be charged up to face Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Sam Bradford. Murderer’s Row, this is not.

The Bucs will get on that team plane a healthy bunch, brimming with hope and young talent.

“We know how good we can be,” said Marpet. “It’s all about cleaning up some details.”

21 Responses to “Pretend Season Is Just That”

  1. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Yes, but we have “seen this movie before”. The Bucs are and have always been one of those teams that they play in the regular season like they practice” in the preseason. I hope that this and future years is an anomoly.

  2. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ali Marpet … “I know we were missing a lot of guys, but if you’re keeping score, it counts.” Agree with Ali. ‘Preseason doesn’t count’ is just another excuse for looking bad.

  3. Jim Says:


  4. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    The secondary is as bad as last year and donovan smith almost let myles garrett kill jameis and it wasn’t even close, I definitely think koetter is the man for the job and jameis is going to be an elite QB, not sold on the guy buying the groceries

  5. darin Says:

    Cmon beam yourself up scotty. They were out 8 starters saturday. 8!. I like how dirk has cut down on hitting in practice. Ive had season tickets for 30 years and have only been to about 4 preseason games. Who gives a spit. Win or lose it matters none sept 10th. Ill gladly take all the players healthy over a cpl meaningless wins. Go Bucs

  6. InJameisWeTrust Says:

    I have never seen such unwarranted negativity than the comments section on JBF. Relax guys. We got this

  7. DR FEELGOOD Says:

    I guess the Falcons are gonna suck all year, the Pats have no chance since they lost to the Jags this preseason, and the 49ers are Super Bowl bound!!! Love putting so much stock in the preseason. I always say, “I hate preseason because I only want to get out without injuries”. This is a different year with a totally different team that’s emerging. Our youth movement is now young vets and our coaching staff is elite. So is the man buying the groceries. Look at this roster vs the pre-Light roster and it’s obvious he’s the man for the job. GO BUCS!!

  8. MJB Says:

    Sounds like Dusty wants Rockstar Dominick back…smh

  9. BucTrooper Says:

    I’ll remember this game for the reason that the “SENTRY” Brownshirts closed the gates on the fans and said that because of “NFL RULES” they’re not allowed to let ANYONE INTO the stadium during a lightning storm, so we have to stand outside. About 400 of us are stuck outside in a lightning storm and a TPD officer says you should go back to your car…. a mile away.

  10. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Not dominick but look how robinson up in tennesse has build that team to protect mariota, just think that protecting the franchise would be priority 1

  11. The Buc Realist Says:

    I love that the sheep and even so called media cannot tell when we are running vanilla on the schemes!!!!!! I am not saying that in game 1 they will be throwing bombs up be up by 28 by halftime!!!!! it will take some games to “really” gel!!!! But they are definitely holding back!!!!!!!!! And for those who do not like the personal can go pound sand!!!!! We are just now not only getting real NFL starters, but have some depth in a couple of positions!!!! That is something that has not happened around here in many many years!!!! And next year they will draft best available and we will have more depth in even more positions!!!! Its called building a roster!!!!! Look into it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Stud Says:

    In pre season you want your starters to outshine the other teams starters, not have your “franchise qb” not throw a TD in 5 quarters of play.

    This team is not lead by an elite Qb where they can just turn it on all of a sudden. I still think they will be good but I might scale back my expectations for 2017 to 8 or 9 wins instead of 10 or 11 since I still don’t trust Jameis to protect the ball.

  13. BucTrooper Says:

    I’m getting sick and tired of reading the cliche “Well the team is PURPOSELY vanilla.” “They don’t want to tip their hand.” “This is STRATEGY.” And “I love that the sheep and even so called media cannot tell when we are running vanilla on the schemes!”

    The Bucs have looked EXACTLY like this in every preseason for a decade and what happens? We strip off the secrecy and the “vanilla” and they look JUST AS TERRIBLE in the regular season. So don’t try to sell me this line of BS that this is strategy. What we’ve seen in the PS has been EXACTLY what we got in the RS.

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    darin, Marpet essentially said exactly the same thing that Jameis when he said “if you’re keeping score, it counts.” Remember how Jameis responded on Hard Knocks when Sefo basically recommended that he chill out? Jameis retorted back that you give 100% all the time … practice, preseason, regular season, playoffs. Every play, no matter where, is a learning situation. When folks start making excuses for poor play in practice & preseason, then that’s what they’ll see it ‘real’ games … mediocre play. Granted, there were starters out, but when that happens in the season, backups have to step up & play like starters. When they don’t, they become the ‘weak link’ and will get picked on all game long. Ask Ryan Smith if he agrees.

  15. stpetebucsfan Says:

    If there is anything to whine about it’s that the three pretend games have been boring. Aside from the offense moving the ball effortlessly in the first quarter and the defense flashing what else has their been to see.

    I’m sorry but I agree with IRA and Realist. There have actually been folks on here who have criticized Koetter’s play calling as if he was calling plays to win rather than to identify the best 53 players.

    Other than the first quarters we haven’t really had a team on the field. We’ve had a collection of guys not a unit….some of the guys like Beckwith have played multiple positions to see how their skill sets work out.

    Cut the preseason to two games and stop hosing the fans!!! Somebody had a great idea about how to satisfy the players for exposing their bodies for those two extra games. Don’t! Players would only be allowed to play 16 of the 18 games adding even more coaching. Obviously coaches would start their best rosters in the division…unless you’re in the sorry AFC East but other calls would be far more difficult. Rosters and the inactive players would be announced Tuesday morning right after the Monday night game giving Vegas and the bookies plenty of time to work out their line and opposing coaches to firm up their game plans. But I realize that will never happen…thinking too far outside of the box.

    I do not care how they get there…end this PS madness…One game should be enough in reality.

  16. The Buc Realist Says:


    I totally disagree!!!! Let take Ryan Smith for example!!! He is taking a lot of snaps that the coaches are going over all the things that they want him to do correctly!!! He is learning loads right now and is growing more right now than any other time!!!!! This is when good coaches make a huge improvement to a team!!!!!! Giving young players and fringe player important game snaps that can be reviewed on film then he goes back next week for another game!!!!! And though the vanilla pass rush makes our secondary look worse, They are getting great isolated coverage video that they can work with the secondary!!!!

    Go Bucs

  17. 813bucboi Says:

    you cant say preseason doesn’t mean anything….seeing the Winston continue to make bad decisions is something….seeing the oline lose one on one battles is something….

    regarding the preseason games, I say leave them like they are….coaches have to do a better job on playing players and monitoring snaps….

    let the starter play a series or 2 in the first preseason game and then pull them…let the bubble guys play the rest…..

    schedule joint practices with 2 teams that you will play in the 2nd and 3rd preseason game and let your starters and back up players take most of the reps in practice….on game day, let the starters play a series or 2 and let your 2nd string guys play most of the game with the bubble guys coming in mid 4th quarter….

    final preseason game, let all bubbles guys play….rest your starters and back ups to prevent them from injury…..

    lets face it, in the game of football injuries will happen whether its in the preseason or playoffs….you just have to be prepared and ready….GO BUCS!!!!

  18. Dreambig Says:

    For all of you saying the Bucs have looked exactly like this every preseason, please tell me the last time the starting offense moved down the field at will like they have this year. Its been so long, I can’t even remember. Last year in preseason, our running game was horrible.

  19. Dreambig Says:

    Preseason in most years in the last decade, except maybe last year, we were always behind at half time and our backups would bring the game close in the 4th qtr. Jameis still needs to get better in the red zone but the team is making progress!

  20. RustyRhinos Says:

    Nice Read Ira, Thanks for your posts here on JBF.

    I am With Ya On this Realist !!!!!!!!!!! You are spot on, build depth and let the best players rise to the top supported by those talented hard working backups trying their best to take the starters arse off that seat. We are not yet there but we are building towards it.

    Preseason is a necessary evil, The current CBA only allows so many live practices to help with player safety and development. But to Gel as a team you need the live bullets flying. The players need time to get used to being hit and giving hits as well. I am 6’4″ 225 here and it would take me some time before during and most definitely after (I am over 50) to get used to being hit and getting up, blowing someone up and getting up. Those collisions feel good, feel good! But to get to that point that they do Feel Good takes real live tackling. The unfortunate need for Preseason. IMO.
    Go Bucs!

  21. darin Says:

    I agree the preseason is meaningful for practicing n learning mi amigo. Absolutely. All i mean is i could care less who wins. If marpet feels that way i love him even more. When i played i gave 100 percent all the time too. For me preseason is about effort and improvement(practice). Dirk obviously doesnt care if he wins them either by the amount of guys he sat. Its all about week one and the reg season when they really count. Id prefer to lose all the preseason games and have all the starters healthy for week one. As far as the players i hope they are trying to win em all. Go bucs