“Wakeup Call” Runs Very Deep

September 25th, 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.


In a game that lopsided, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

That includes the coaches, starting with Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith. Neither side of the ball was nearly good enough Sunday and the offensive and defensive game plans aren’t exactly bound for a trophy case in Canton.

It starts on the practice field — and if you’ve been listening closely to the head coach, there’s much work to be done. Since players reported to training camp nearly two months ago, Koetter has rarely been pleased with the crispness of Buc workouts.

And Koetter now has company.

Ali Marpet, whose learning curve took a sharp downward turn in Minneapolis, says the road to redemption meanders through the fields of One Buc Place.

“It’s being consistent with our practice,” Marpet says. “Next week, we have to really battle and be detailed. I don’t know if this week in practice we were good enough, but we have to be better next week.”

The winless Giants basically have their season on the line Sunday when the Bucs seek their sixth consecutive home victory. Tampa Bay should have a few injured players back for the sold-out matchup, but it may not matter if the blueprints aren’t more imaginative and bold.

Flashback Performance

Throttled in Pittsburgh the week before, Minnesota had the Buc defense off balance all afternoon, deftly mixing short, intermediate and deep passes with some nifty running by Dalvin Cook.

The absence of Brent Grimes proved devastating as Tampa Bay’s remaining cornerbacks afforded huge cushions. By the time Smith adjusted, the Vikes were way ahead and content to let Cook take center stage.

In short, this looked alarmingly like the defense that was ravaged during Tampa Bay’s 3-5 start last season. Poor tackling, poor communication and a lot of bad angles to the football.

“To be honest with you, this is a wakeup call at least for me,” said Clinton McDonald. “Anytime you lose it is very disappointing. You feel as if you weren’t as good as you could have been. At the end of the day, this is the NFL. Win or lose, every week is an opportunity for us to get better than the last time.”

If anyone doubted the importance of Kwon Alexander to this defense, shame on you. Kendell Beckwith may be a heck of a rookie, but Alexander is the catalyst for this unit and his absence was conspicuous.

Grimes is also one of the most indispensable Bucs, but the defensive depth on this team is supposed to be good enough to beat a backup quarterback. Yes, Case Keenum has Tampa Bay’s number and for Buc fans, that number is 9-1-1 … I’d like to report a journeyman quarterback on fire.

And now for Mr. Koetter, who said after the game that his staff has to coach better. Yes, they do.

This time around, Jameis Winston and friends didn’t benefit from four Buc takeaways in the opening half. This time around, the Bucs had to earn everything they got, and it wasn’t very pretty.

Draw It Up

The ground game, decent in the opener, couldn’t do a thing against a stout Minnesota defense. The second-half scoreboard dictated that Koetter would have to abandon offensive balance, but the bitter truth is there were no indications that the Vikings would have ever respected Tampa Bay’s run game.

Meanwhile, I still see a reluctance to go deep and a general lack of variety.

Koetter is too good a play caller not to capitalize on all this firepower. A screen pass to Charles Sims would be nice on occasion. How about a draw play to make the aggressive Vikings think twice?

After an initial drive ended with a field goal, Tampa Bay’s next five possessions featured four punts and an interception.

“Coach Zimmer does a nice job defensively mixing it up,” said Cameron Brate. “It makes it hard on an offense. Chicago was a little simpler to game-plan for.”

With two upcoming home games, the Bucs have every chance to finish the opening quarter of the season 3-1. Even a 2-2 mark wouldn’t be a total downer, considering Tampa Bay entered the year with a cumulative 4-16 record in the first month of the past five seasons.

But for that to happen, the Bucs have to be a lot better in all aspects than what we saw on Sunday.

It ends with the players. It starts with the coaches.

35 Responses to ““Wakeup Call” Runs Very Deep”

  1. Lord Cornelius Says:

    We need to get healthy. No team has depth to supplant like 8 core starters on defense lol…

    Grimes / Kwon / McCoy / Ayers / Spence / Lavonte / Baker / VHIII

    I’m sorry but jesus have we ever had that many injuries in a single week ever combined with a flu across the entire team? I know VHIII returned but he wasn’t 100% and neither was McCoy / Ayers when playing.

    I think Beckwith & McDonald were the only decent starters we have on defense who weren’t out or injured at some point in the game. That’s absolutely insane.

    That’d be like the Broncos losing Chris Harris / Aquib Talib / Von Miller / Derek Wolfe for a week. They wouldn’t be the same at all. It kind of matters to have your best players playing..

  2. The Buc Realist Says:

    What we saw was a team that has just had 1 too many distractions and all the jumping through hoops they have done this year!!!!!!!! Word on the street is that when this season is over, from the owners on down, everything will be ask, “does this help win football games” and if the answer is no, it will not be done!!!!!!!! The distractions will be eliminated as much as possible as the unifying the goal to maximize success!!!!!!!!!

    They are not as bad as we saw yesterday, But a re-dedication to the ultimate goal will be the focus next year!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!

  3. JonBuc Says:

    Even Tampa Sport’s Treasure Ira “Turn &” Kaufman experienced a wake up call on the state of the Bucs. At least his favorite team drafted a difference maker at rb and are flourishing because of it.

  4. ndog Says:

    Great so we are onto next already Realist? And what distractions could they have avoided? Its not like they had control over Hard Knocks or the hurricane or the flu. But they did have control of who they drafted and signed in free agency. Did they get a runningback or a DE that can actually play and stay on the field? Its not a distraction issue it is a talent issue and clearly it is not just the talent on the field that is lacking at it is clearly lacking in the front office as well. It was clear to everyone what this team needed and we just flat ignored it.

  5. ndog Says:

    But we got a heck of a 3rd string safety and a great RB sitting on someone else’s PS!

  6. Bucamania Says:

    That was as bad as they are capable of playing. Even Marpet was playing like crap. It’s disappointing to hear they are practicing poorly. Dirk and Smitty better get this straightened out fast.

    1. Start Peyton Barber next week. Don’t abandon the run so fast. Don;t handoff to 34 though. That’s a waste.
    2. Throw to the TE more – OJ and Brate
    3. CBs need to stop with the 10 yard cushion. The blitz can’t get home if guys are wide open immediately.
    4. get TJ Ward in there if he can go. I’d rather have a 70% TJ than the garbage play we are seeing at S this year.
    5. JW stop staring down receivers!!! That’s why guys are getting killed out there. Sendejo was reading your eyes all game and headhunting.

  7. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Even if we drafted a great defensive player in R2 instead of Evans; or a RB like Cook; it wouldn’t have mattered lol. Your defense is not going to be the same when you lose that many players or have that many playing hurt. We still would have gotten roasted by Keenum and we still would have been stuck in a desperate come from behind mode regardless of 1 additional player from round 2.

  8. AJ Says:

    Bucs were horrible, no news flash there. Coaches out-coached, and players out-played. Your right Ira, no draw play or screen pass to offset the Viking rush. We just never got comfortable playing yesterday. Hats off to the Vikes, they were a big part of that.

    Jameis has got to be better though. 3 Int’s were killers, never gave us a chance to get back in the game.

    Let me go all loser fan here though. Officiating was horrible for us yesterday. Cook’s fumble at the 1? These receiver screens are becoming a joke in the NFL. And I can’t believe letting that Vike’s Safety go head hunting all day. He was taking cheap shots on Brate, Humphries. And the headshot to Evans at the goal line (int.) was so obvious. Some calls probably would not of made a difference. But who knows…

  9. Bucamania Says:

    I did see one positive. Will Gholston was beasting yesterday.

    And yes, the officiating was horrible. That Cook ‘TD’ was a fumble prior to crossing the goal line from every angle I saw.

  10. FortMyersDave Says:

    Ira said:
    “The winless Giants basically have their season on the line Sunday when the Bucs seek their sixth consecutive home victory. Tampa Bay should have a few injured players back for the sold-out matchup, but it may not matter if the blueprints aren’t more imaginative and bold.”

    So true! The Giants are going to be licking their chops after seeing how poor the Bucs played the Vikes defensively. The Head Stick Carrier needs to show some innovation on the O to get some points on the board early. It is abundantly apparent that this team can not win if down by 10 or more points. On paper the Giants are a winnable game but its going to come down to if the Bucs really want the W more than their opponent. Whether the stick carriers show up could make a difference for the home field advantage as many a Giant fan live in FL and a lots of those mothers are gonna be at RJS, I hope Justin and his legion shout them down as the Bucs are gonna need every edge they can get. Time to bring the A game….

  11. crazy Says:

    Not enough depth on the roster to make up for injuries or poor playing starters.

  12. Bucamania Says:

    Just found another positive. Beckwith.

    Beckwith only allowed 9 yards on 3 receptions. Beckwith allowed just 0.27 yards per snap in coverage – 2nd-lowest of any ILB with a targeted pass his way on Sunday.

    That’s all I got.

  13. ElioT Says:

    Barring some unforeseen miracle, this Bucs’ defense is going to get shredded until they can get some guys back and that might not even help.

    WINSTON and Co. MUST get their sh*t together and start putting TDs on the board instead of FGs and dumba** turnovers if this team is going to go anywhere this season.

    Time to step it up offense!!!!

    Go Bucs!

  14. JAB83 Says:

    Well if Pitt beat down the Viks last week like we beat down the Bears.

    Some encouragement can be found in the fact the the Bears beat Pitt this week.

    We caught a pissed off Viks team right after beating a sorry Bears team. But how sorry our the Bears if the beat Pitt???

    Point is. We beat a decent Bears team and got chin checked by a playoff contender.

    Who thought we were going 16-0???

    I don’t care if we lose by 1 point or 100 points. Bottom line is every lose hurts.

    We just added way to many injuries in addition to the insult of playing like Pooo

    My guess is we will stay competitive in most games.


  15. ndog Says:

    Bucmania not to burst your bubble but why would they throw to a TE or a RB when every WR is running wide open down the field all day. His good coverage was due to a lack of need to throw to his guy not good coverage.

  16. John Ensch Says:

    Looks like the whole next man up idea of Koetter’s isn’t working all that well for the Bucs. It would work a lot better if they had any decent next men up. The Bucs suffer from the same problem they have always had, “no backups”!

  17. GhostofSchiano Says:

    I see Gerald “TMAXCON” McCoy having a huge day. GO BUCS!!!

  18. Tony Liga Says:

    Good bye to the Bucs, I’m done with the NFL and it’s crybaby players who can’t get away from their self interest. They live in the greatest country ever…and they, and their ignorant owners can’t realize that and extend respect. This is not about the right to protest, it IS ABOUT JUDGEMENT AND RESPONSIBILITY. They have none. So good bye Joe…I’m sure I’m not the only one who has come to that decision.

  19. LocalJoker Says:

    All that other stuff – be damned! We need to be certain that our franchise QB is still on pace. The most significant factor that will determine whether we win or lose.

  20. Rads Says:

    Gholston’s suplex was a thing of beauty. The sport is brutal, and there is no real plan in place to protect players other than the QB. It always dawns on me on Sundays just how different the games are being officiated when flipping through different games. Bottom line, the Bucs need to match fire with fire and become a team that plays on the edge and can adjust to the weekly reality. Gholston was determined to punish Cook for the Vikings liberties. It doesn’t have to mean headhunting, but make your opportunity and make it hurt.

    I expect nothing less than a war this weekend. Physicality first, finesse second.

  21. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “It would work a lot better if they had any decent next men up. ”

    Please point out to me a team that lost like 6-8 core players in one week on one side of the ball (defense) and still balled out.

    If we can’t get healthy then Winston needs to take that leap now and put up 28+ points of offense on average every week.

  22. Mike Johnson Says:

    Sems like the Viking caoching staff were extra ready for us. You’d think we would have been ready for Keenum. He’d beat us down twice before. My worries over a lacking pass rush are now showing bigtime. And if we don’t find one, It won’t matter if Jesus is coaching..we will lose! To me its very sad. because if we do not improve, I don’t see us reaching 8-8. Forgetabout beating the pats. Did you see their poise yesterday? Jameis needs to scramble more if we are to beat the Giants. Unlike us, their pass rushers can and will..turn it on. To hell with the excuses. Next man up. Get her done!

  23. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    The sky is not falling. Good teams lose bad sometimes. Good teams get injury bugs. Some times your QB throws 3 picks. Hey Matt Ryan had 3 picks as well yesterday. The difference? He had a defense and a running game.

    This will be a great chance to check the character of this team and how they adjust to adversity from coaching on down… gonna be a great gut check. If they can stay in those next 2 games into the 4th quarter and steal one, you can crank back up the hype machine.

  24. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    @Mike Johnson wanna have some fun? Go watch the 2016 highlight of Keenum… the first few big plays yesterday were exactly what Keenum and the Rams ran against Mike Smith’s defense last year… so it doesn’t seem they were extra ready they coached their asses off. Great game plan by them.

  25. unbelievable Says:

    Lord Corn, AJ, and Bucsmania- ya’ll pretty much summed it up perfectly.

    3-1 seems highly unlikely at this point unless many of those injures heal miraculously quick. Or the offense turns the switch on immediately.

    But this team has preached “grinding it out”, “f your circumstances”, and “family” so let’s see what they got. Big tests coming up.

  26. unbelievable Says:

    @sorryittriggeredyou that is another good point, I mentioned something similar in another thread.

    Yesterday was a weird day in the NFL all around. A lot of really good QBs through a lot of interceptions, and a lot of favored teams ended up losing.

    It’s 1 week, just 1 game. More concerned about the injuries than a single loss.

  27. firethecannons Says:

    Koetter and Winston are not working out–time for a new play caller, offense is suffering, we need somebody that can emphasize Winstons unique talents and limit his turnovers

    do something with vh3 and r smith-anything but let them do that again

  28. mike n Says:

    Man, same old Jameis and that D was terrible.

  29. Destinjohnny Says:

    Starts on draft day….
    We just don’t have 10-6 talent

    9-7 tops

  30. sorryitriggeredyou Says:

    @unbelievable The injuries are bad. That’s a turd that will not polish. They need Grimes back ASAP!

  31. firethecannons Says:

    time for the stick carriers to have a face to face with koetter, and mike smith about poor play calling and disastrous cornerback play

  32. darin Says:

    Yes Ira a draw play, or 5. I just dont get no draws. The bucs have always neglected the draws, no matter the coach. N theyre just not in rhythm. We need some YAC. A few quick slants would help. Yeah cmon Dirk open it up. Seems like the same 8 plays being run all game. Cmon buccos put it on the Gmen

  33. mike Says:

    Is Koetter really that good of a play caller?
    I’ve been hearing that since day one…..
    Never have really understood it.
    Things have gone downhill since the O lineman from New England retired.
    Our O line sucks

  34. Jimmy T Says:

    I agree w Ira, Koetter needs to throw screens to Sims if u r going to play him, do what he does best which is catch passes out of the freaking backfield. Pass to set up the run. Hopefully being a head coach hadn’t taken away koeter’s ability to be creative offensively

  35. George McGillycuddy Says:


    A great running back who couldn’t learn the playbook and who can’t block for his quarterback.