A “Winning Hand”

September 20th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com 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. You can also see Ira every football Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-13, Scott Smith’s Tailgate Sunday.


You ever get the feeling you’re on a roll?

Whether you are nailing blackjacks in Las Vegas or striking it rich in singles bars, sometimes things just seem to go your way. And when that happens, you enjoy the moment, knowing adversity won’t be far behind.

That’s the happy place the Bucs find themselves today after a dominant season opener.

It doesn’t matter whether the Bucs forced four first-half turnovers or the Bears were incredibly sloppy, the point is Sunday’s game was effectively over at halftime. That 26-0 cushion gave Dirk Koetter freedom to give guys like Peyton Barber and Evan Smith a healthy dose of playing time.

Heck, even Ryan Fitzpatrick made an appearance.

If Tampa Bay isn’t the league’s healthiest team at the moment, the Bucs are on the short list. Although Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David suffered injuries against Chicago, there’s a decent chance the Bucs will have all 22 starters ready to go in Minnesota.

In the violent world of the NFL, that’s called a miracle. Have you looked around the rest of the NFC South?

The Panthers, who have struggled offensively, just put Cam Newton’s go-to target on injured reserve. Tight end Greg Olsen is expected to miss at least six weeks with a broken right foot — and that absence figures to include a midseason visit to Raymond James Stadium.

The Falcons just lost their premier pass rusher, Vic Beasley, for at least a month with a hamstring tear. He’s the straw that stirs the drink up front for the defending NFC champs and my bet is he will be out until November.

Who cares if the Saints are healthy? They stink.

Good Players > Good Fortune

Yes, things are going Tampa Bay’s way in this early going. The next home game is against the Giants Oct. 1 … and suddenly that doesn’t look like a daunting matchup.

The Giants can’t protect Eli Manning and their run blocking hasn’t been much better, so Gerald McCoy and company should feast when the Bucs pursue their sixth consecutive home win.

Of course, things could change in a hurry. The Bucs could fail to show up in Minneapolis and add injury to insult.

There will be some hard times for the 2017 Buccaneers. That’s just the way it is for 32 NFL clubs vying for a championship.

Still, the early signs are strikingly positive and these Bucs are relying on more than good fortune. This roster has a solid nucleus of talent and character.

Depth is an issue for every team and Tampa Bay’s backups have yet to be tested. That’s when we’ll find out if this team has the physical and mental toughness to play winning football in December.

But here in September, the arrows continue to go up. Good fortune is nice, but good players are better.

9 Strong

When luck runs out, talent can sustain you. Let’s pull back for a moment and realize what the Bucs have accomplished.

In their past nine games, the Bucs are 7-2, outscoring opponents 203-144. Does that sound like a fluke?

Every week, Koetter reminds his players that the skies over Raymond James Stadium won’t always be sunny and bright. Sometimes, the cards don’t go your way. Sometimes, closing time finds you all alone.

Soak up the moment, Buc fans. Right now, you have a winning hand.

11 Responses to “A “Winning Hand””

  1. Jaboo is the GOAT Says:

    Great stuff, Ira! The sage is at it again. Giants have a real chance of being 0-3 heading into RayJay… crazy.

  2. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Luck is a funny thing. My father, a tormented man, was always trying to denigrate any achievements I may have had. Yeah I know I never figured it out either. He had demons.

    But he would always put me down by saying…”You have the luck of the Irish”.
    I heard it soooo often that it really stuck in my brain big time. I’ve gone through life literally believing I have the luck of the Irish. And my life has been blessed. I do not consider it simply a coincidence which is why I’m always spouting off here about positive thinking.

    I believe this is another thing #3 brings to this team. Not that he’s injury proof or that as Ira points out we won’t have some bad breaks….but overall #3 had visualized success not failure…and what the mind conceives the body achieves!

    We won’t always have good luck…we’ll get some bad breaks….but in the overall scheme of things I believe #3 has the “luck of the Irish” and it will spread to our team effort.

  3. Pickgrin Says:

    Landing Jameis Winston was like flopping a Full House. It rarely happens (statistically once every 1087 hands), but when it does – you are looking to get someone all in by the time you get to the river.

    Jameis in year 3 with all the acquired weapons is equivalent to getting to the river card holding Aces full over Queens with a nice pot building.

    Glazers are ALL IN on this team winning NOW as we all should be…

    Kinda feels like we’ve sat through 1087 Quarterbacks over the last 40 years in order to be dealt pocket Aces and then flop the Full House doesn’t it?

    The Vikings can naively stick around with their 3 Queens and think they are probably “good” – but we’ve got a nasty little surprise waiting when its time to reveal the WINNING hand.

    Go Bucs!!

  4. Jim Says:

    Saying that in the “last nine games the Bucs are 7-2, outscoring opponents 203-144” means that this impressive win streak is due to the defense, right?

  5. RayJameisStadium Says:

    When you stay in command of your focus and actions you are no longer a victim.
    Stay focus on the negative and buddy grab an umbrella because its going to rain as much as you wanted or focus on the positive and move through adversities.

    Indeed St.Pete, #3 is a beacon of positive thinking and achieving. He is always willing to learn and move on. No tantrums with this guy.

    This week the team gets to tangibly experience their ultimate vision – a trip to Minnesota in February. Perfect!!!

    Now lets add a WIN to that experience. Go Bucs!!!

  6. stpetebucsfan Says:

    This week the team gets to tangibly experience their ultimate vision – a trip to Minnesota in February. Perfect!!!

    RayJay!!! I hadn’t thought about that! Perfect!!! Our FIRST trip to Minny but not our last.

  7. Rod Munch Says:

    Great article Ira – reminds me of reading the Trib as a kid, which was my paper of choice since the sports section was so vastly superior to the St Pete Times.

  8. Joel Says:

    So tired of hearing about depth. No team in the NFL has real depth. The teams at the end are usually the ones who avoid injuries. Period.

  9. Bob Higginbotham Says:

    A predictable stellar column Ira. Always appreciate your magic, but often forget to tell you!

  10. William Walls Says:

    Man, you’re a heck of a writer, Ira. We are so blessed to have you. Just… thank you.

  11. Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    A lot of good comments on here today. Thank you Ira, of course, and same to StPete and RayJay