You Are Darn Right It Matters In Tampa

August 20th, 2018


These games don’t count. The NFL preseason is meaningless. Nothing of consequence can occur in August, except injuries.

Yeah, right.

Exhibition games may not count, but they matter, especially for a woebegone franchise like the Bucs. In the National Football League, winning is a habit. So is losing.

Guess which group the Bucs have signed up with during their lost decade?

Saturday night’s decisive victory at Tennessee gives Tampa Bay its first 2-0 August start since 2008, Jon Gruden’s final year in pewter. That also happens to be the last time the Bucs entered the regular season with the momentum of a winning record.

Avoiding major injuries will always be the top priority in August, and the Bucs have been somewhat fortunate in that regard. But forging a winning culture ranks a close second for a franchise weighed down by the second-longest playoff drought in the league.

In beating the Dolphins and Titans on the road, the Bucs have consistently showcased their dynamic weapons in the passing game.

(Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers.)

Mike Evans makes a terrific adjustment to haul in a long pass along the sidelines. Cameron Brate does what he does, coming down with the football in heavy traffic over the middle. Chris Godwin outworks defenders to grab Jameis Winston’s frantic heave in the end zone.

DeSean Jackson goes deep, outracing much younger corners at the age of 31. Rookie Justin Watson runs a precise route and sticks the landing for a touchdown.

With Todd Monken once again calling the plays, the Bucs rolled up 302 yards in the opening half. Preseason or not, Buc fans aren’t used to that kind of attack.

Heck, a year ago, Tampa Bay scored a total of 43 points in four exhibition games.

Highs, Lows & Chemistry

And while rookie Ronald Jones is struggling, Peyton Barber looks every bit like a No. 1 back. Jones needs more patience. He has a tendency to bounce every run outside before the blocking develops.

Trust your linemen, young man, or they won’t trust you.

Through two games, Winston’s right shoulder appears fully healed and his legs are fresh. On the Hail Mary TD throw to Godwin, Winston says he knew the Titans were going to be flagged on the play, so he felt he had a free down. If that’s not the case, it was a poor decision with a successful outcome. I’ll let Dirk Koetter handle that one.

The games may not count, but aspects of these games speak loudly. Tampa Bay has converted 13-of-29 on third down while opponents are 8-for-27. That’s a major improvement.

It appears Jason Pierre-Paul may be as much of a factor defending the run as he is on the pass rush. That’s double trouble for opposing offenses.

M.J. Stewart seems to have a knack for dislodging the football. Will Gholston may have saved his roster spot with a solid effort in Nashville.

The offensive line was erratic — too many penalties, not enough push.

Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t sharp. His passes were out of rhythm, and that simply won’t do in New Orleans.

Roger Goodell wants to reduce the number of preseason games, and I say bravo.

“There’s value to them, building a team, evaluating players, but there are other ways of doing that,” says the NFL commissioner. “Almost every coach has agreed we could get done what we need to in three games.”

Three games, four games … whatever. All I know is this Buc team is building chemistry and building trust.

That counts, even in August.

Now in his 40th year covering the NFL, Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in the Tampa Bay area. He scored a full-time seat at world headquarters in July of 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 hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays at 5 p.m. during football season. Also a TV star, see Ira now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday NFL show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, tennis, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

31 Responses to “You Are Darn Right It Matters In Tampa”

  1. Casey Morgan Says:


  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    No Casey, NO! 16-0, don’t settle for less!

  3. Says:

    Now, if we can get a home field advantage…

  4. reality-is-a-beotch Says:

    The only thing that matters in Tampa is whether draft talk starts week 4 or week 5. anyone with hope, has not been paying attention for nearly two decades. Same Ole Bucs With the same crappy ownership. just do the right thing glazers and change the ring of honor to ring of underachievement and give Sapp and Selmon the only 2 great players in franchise history their own ring… nobody confuses popularity with greatness more than low standard basement loving bucfan.

  5. BucEmUp Says:

    I agree the 4th meaningless. The coaches have seen what they need to see by that point. Two games I don’t think would be enough. First two games you really evaluate the depth, third game the starters should treat as a real contest.

    I’m still not.pleased with the secondary coverage. I have seen a little bit tighter coverage here and there but against the titans the corner was playing off coverage in the end zone. It was supposed to be a run and gabbert took the free touchdown..


  6. Wright Says:

    You’re* 😀

  7. Broy34 Says:

    Couple of you guys woke up miserable. One flipping out on coaching the other insulting anyone optimistic. Must be a sad way of life

  8. Darin Says:

    Looks great now doesnt it fellas? So why would it look different week 1? Well Dirk is going to go back to calling plays, throwing the whole thing off. It looks as if he has found a way to get the offense in rhythm and not make so many bone headed decisions. Lets hope he reevaluates and lets Monk keep calling plays. If not itll look like last year. How could it not. The guy seems to love to abandon the good experiments and keep the bad ones going. Heres to hoping he learned from last season.

  9. D-Rome Says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that while the games don’t count, they matter. Jameis’s poise in the pocket matters. Seeing Jameis thread the needle to Justin Watson for a TD pass matters. At this time a year ago we watched Jameis struggle in the red zone connecting with Mike Evans. Most said it’s just pre-season and they’ll be fine. Turns out they weren’t. Jameis has definitely taken the next step in development as a QB and that’s refreshing to see.

    Seeing Ronald Jones’ lack of production also matters. If you think he’s going to turn it on during the season, think again. The team needs him to be the next Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara. He’s nothing like them. It’s a good thing Peyton Barber has taken the next step as a football player.

  10. Bart Buc Says:


  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    D-Rome- IMO, if he’s talented, he would stand out. We’re seeing other teams back-ups fare much better or at least flash. Jones, not so much. We’ll see!

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Drop the 4th preseason game and start the season a week earlier thus allowing a wild card “play-in” game……adding an extra wild card team.

    And, Ira…..yes…they absolutely count….we need to win no matter if the game doesn’t count….it feels really good for us fans and I’m sure the coaches and players like it also.

  13. David Corcoran Says:

    Folks, I’m gonna give you a a history lesson, in 1983 When John McKay was the Bucs Head Coach at the time the team just lost QB Doug Williams to the USFL and everybody was jumping over the Gandy Bridge. McKay found this Bum off the Street to replace Williams at QB some Street Wino named Jerry Goldstein, and when the Buccaneers went 4-0 during the 1983 NFL Preseason, everyone, including your Media Hero, “IRA KAUFMAN” was working at UPI at the time was saying “The Bucs are going to the SUPER BOWL.” But when the 1983 Regular Season began, The Bucs played host to the Det. Lions, and was shut out 9-0, including less then 75 yds. in total off. Goldstein was so inept, McKay replaced Wino Goldstein with another Tom Fool, Jack Thompson?, and the Bucs ended the 1983 season at 2-14. So don’t waste your time watching NFL Preseason Games, it’s a waste of time. It’s counts only in Lala Land. I went 2-1 in my NFL plays on Saturday, made come coin (YES), so for Monday, My Best Bet will be in MLB, take Cleavland (Klubber on the mound) +102 over the Red Sox tonight (MLB Network). See all of my fans at Bucs Practice on Wednesday at One Bucs Place, thanks for the love, David Corcoran, Winter Park, Florida.

  14. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I understand the importance of play calling to give the offense an edge, but at the end of the day it’s up to the players to execute!!! Make a freaking play.

    If the playcaller calls a good play and there is success except oh oh another pre snap penalty to wipe out a big gain that will never show up as success for the playcaller.

    I’m freaking tired of the excuses!!! HK, play calling yadda yadda…those do not compare to the total lack of a pass rush last year. Or the lack of a running game. Or the number of stoooopid penalties like Swaggy against Carolina or how many OL who got pre snap penalties that wiped out a nice gain or defensive penalties which gave the other offense another free play which they cash in on.
    If you wish to criticize DK how about his team’s total lack of discipline and lack of prep to start games…why so slowly.

    Dirk Koetter has been respected in both college and NFL circles for a LONG time as a play caller. He didn’t suddenly forget how to call plays. Moncken is also highly respected. They will BOTH have great input in the play calling no matter who gets to keep the title.

    Moncken does not need to be here!! He had and has opportunities. DK had to sweeten the deal for Moncken to keep him. Neither of these guys impresses me as an ego maniac and they obviously have a solid relationship.

    All this gripping on play calling seems like a big distraction to me.

    Here is who will call the plays and create the game plans for ’18. It doesn’t matter how titles are handed out…it will be a joint effort by Koetter and Moncken. They will BOTH be heavily involved and even if DK keeps the play calling duties Moncken will still have a HUGE input.

  15. 813bucboi Says:


    I agree……

    dirk will go back to calling plays and struggling to score in the red zone and smitty will go back to off coverage…..


  16. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Ronde Barber GM 2019

  17. Buc1987 Says:

    David Corcoran Says:

    “Folks, I’m gonna give you a history lesson….”

    Blah, blah, blah….(Peanut’s adult voice)

    The same David from Winter Haven that was CONFIDENT the Bucs were going to lose and lose BIG against the Titans..

    My name is David Corcoran…and I live in a van down by the river…

  18. orlbucfan Says:

    Here’s my vote for 4 preseason games. How else are coaches going to be able to evaluate new players? Still have my doubts about Mike Smith. He needs to get out of the booth and down on the field. Bucs Luck might change.

  19. DILLIGAF Says:

    Monk calling the plays…let’s keep that going then, shall we? Dirk…what do, ya do here? It’s your job in the line this year. Let Monk keep up the good work. We’ve seen Dirk’s play calling…not interested. We gotta get it done this year so let’s go with the hot hand.

  20. ben Says:

    back in the day.. Miami lost ALL the preseason games and won the superbowl

  21. Tampabaybucfan Says:


    You are quite wrong sir, in !972, Miami played 6 preseason games an won 3 of them…..they later went on to win 17 straight winning the SB.

  22. Gambelero Says:

    Did you hear that the Times let Greg Auman go? I know the newspaper biz is down, but the guy is the hardest working local reporter in Florida, and an alpha dog stud with the written word.

  23. AlteredEgo Says:

    “. Nothing of consequence can occur in August, except injuries.”….if original great one liner…

  24. jmarkbuc Says:


    van down by the river … funny!

  25. D-Rome Says:

    Did you hear that the Times let Greg Auman go?

    I thought he left on his own accord. Where did you hear he was let go?

  26. kyle Says:

    Im a huge fan in taking any coaching decisions away from Koetter. He’s not a gonna win us a superbowl.

  27. kyle Says:

    *of taking

  28. Mike Johnson Says:

    We have not been able to pop Ronald Jones out of the backfield yet. Thats concerning. As is Vita’s calf injury. He’s not gonna be ready come game one. And I’m for letting out third string QB take reps with the 1st teamers
    in Case Fitz..Fizzles out. Kid can ball.

  29. SB Says:

    Great Article Ira! On Point in all facets!

  30. Dave Says:

    When you are a playoff team, and your system is working, and you have a veteran quarterback and leadership, then winning preseason games don’t matter.

    For half the league, however, winning some preseason games matters. It feeds Confidence

  31. Joe Says:

    Greg Auman resigned from the Times. He was not fired.