Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Steelers

September 25th, 2018


Grit, but no glory.

It was a tale of two halves at Raymond James Stadium Monday night and while the Bucs displayed character and resolve, the Steelers won a close game on the road by capitalizing on some sloppy play.

Pittsburgh hardly played a clean game, incurring 13 penalties for 155 yards, but Mike Smith’s defense didn’t make enough stops.

A 2-1 record should be a point of pride, especially considering the rugged schedule, but the prevailing sentiment in the Tampa Bay locker room is this was a game the Bucs should have won.

Here’s how it went down in prime time:

* After offering Ryan Fitzpatrick stellar protection through two weeks, Tampa Bay’s offensive line wasn’t stout enough against the blitz-happy Steelers. Fitzpatrick was sacked three times and hit on 13 other occasions, Ex-Gator Jon Bostic was a pest all evening, registering 6 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and a critical tip that caused an interception.

* No sweat. Not a drop of perspiration could be seen on Noah Spence as he walked toward the locker room after the game. You know why? Besides Ryan Griffin, Spence was the only Buc player who dressed and did not play. He’s healthy and he didn’t get a snap — despite 41 passing attempts by Ben Roethlisberger. Tell me that’s not a problem.

* The return of Brent Grimes will pay dividends for this young secondary, but he whiffed on a key tackle against All-Pro WR Antonio Brown, resulting in a 27-yard TD. Grimes is a pro’s pro and he will work hard to get back into football shape, but he’s had better games.

* Roethlisberger went down three times, but Brentson Buckner won’t be happy with the overall pressure, especially when you consider 3-time Pro Bowl guard David DeCastro didn’t play for Pittsburgh due to a fractured right hand.

* A national TV audience witnessed the mother of all stiff arms when 267-pound TE Vance McDonald lowered his right hand to the helmet of 203-pound Chris Conte. The play resulted in a 75-yard TD that gave Pittsburgh momentum after an early 7-0 deficit.

* Steeler Nation was out in force. Yes indeed. I was in the tunnel near the end of the opening half, talking to some of Tony Dungy’s former players, when I heard thunderous cheers. Just when I figured the Bucs were on the comeback trail, I realized the screams were for two Pittsburgh touchdowns.

* Chris Godwin’s fourth-quarter scoring catch came after a nifty double move that befuddled veteran CB Coty Sensabaugh. Watch it again on replay and you’ll think it was future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald running a precise pattern.

* Perhaps the Buc pass defense can catch a break in the Windy City, where Mitch Trubisky is in no danger of being compared to Drew Brees or Roethlisberger. Something has to change because opposing QBs arecompleting 78 percent of their pass attempts against Tampa Bay.

* Jameis Winston is now eligible to return to One Buc Place and Mike Evans anticipates that the presence of No. 3 will add a little more energy to the building. Let the Fitzpatrick/Winston debate begin in earnest, but it’s not going to be easy to bench a guy averaging 11.1 yards per pass attempt.

* When you’re 2-0, you’re hungry to make it 3-0. That didn’t happen for the Bucs, but a 2-1 mark at this point is more than their supporters could have asked for. A victory in Chicago would make it a very sweet first quarter of the season.

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 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. Also a TV star, Ira is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday NFL show at 10:30 a.m. He’s also on BayNews 9 Mondays & Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. He enjoys beet salads, Riesling, tennis, Bette Midler, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

16 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Steelers”

  1. lambchop Says:

    Agree on all points. The toughest thing to watch, apart from that porous secondary, was losing those 3 TDs (Godwin drop, Godwin roll and romp, and DJax PR). 3 TDs!!!!!

    I don’t like the incidental touching the WR and he’s down rule. Make it a legit hand and the WR is down. It should be a “football move” to make sure the player is down.

  2. THETRUTH Says:

    Starting feel kotter and Smith are in same position as dungy and Shula , a different scheme or idea has to come from the DC. blitz maybe !!!!

  3. Gene Deckerhoff is my hero Says:

    ***Jenson was under the weather and played like it. He’s the key to the OL.

  4. lambchop Says:

    Ira, Tony Dungy getting into the RoH deserves a mention. Apart from a Bucs loss, this was the perfect night for him with his former team as a coach and as a player on MNF.

  5. Rod Munch Says:

    Biggest take away is Dirk had more faith in his defense, the worst in the league, to stop the best offense in the league- Dirk had more faith in that than he had in Fitz, who threw for over 400 yards and 3 TDs, to get 10 more yards. Nope, Dirk ripped the ball from Fitz’s hand because he trusted the defense more.

    Tells you everything about Dirk and how much faith he has in Fitz.

  6. richbucsfan Says:

    The Bucs offense started like Koetter set the game plan rather than Monken. It was a slow start, poor start. It lacked aggression that we saw against the Saints and Eagles. Whoever made the game plan wanted to beat the Steelers at their own game…ground game. The Bucs have no ground game. Why they started that way is beyond understanding.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We had the usual problems that result in a loss:

    Couldn’t run the ball
    Pass protection broke down
    Dropped passes
    Poor red zone play
    Untimely penalties

    No pass defense
    Little pressure

    Other than that….we made it a close game and played very hard…I can be proud of this team.

  8. Hodad Says:

    Ira, Grimes played like he did last year. His coverage skills are gone, and he can’t tackle anymore. Thinking at his age he’ll get into better shape, and play better moving forward is delusional. The youngsters can’t learn anything who plays coverage 15 yrds from his receiver.

  9. Skywalker0028 Says:

    Richbucsfan I said the same thing! I was watching the sideline to see who was making the calls. We came out the gate different than we did the first two games. Koetter wants our team to be a balanced team but that’s not the reality.

  10. Evolvingbucsfan Says:

    I expected better o-line play, which is key, you give any quarterback time to throw he’s gonna make ’em. O-line was getting abused by the blitz but saw Marpet, and the o-line getting beat on a few one on one’s too, also noticed Jensen being not quite himself, you could tell he was fighting through his illness. Grimes looked rusty, Fitz got in his own head early, Pittsburgh’s pressure was very consistent, wet conditions made it harder to throw and catch just ask Godwin, Sloppy play in the first half after Conte talked to the hand of TE McDonald and was downhill from that in the first half, the turn overs….jeesh.

    Tampa should have had the upper hand in playing in those conditions, it didn’t show, running game worked-ish till it didn’t and they had to start throwing to catch up from being behind, turnovers killed any momentum we had going a few times. It was a very winnable game last night but all of us should be happy about 2-1 start that many of us didn’t see us pulling out.

    I’m just gonna put this out there….that the throw Fitz made that got deflected off the helmet for a interception wouldn’t have happened with a taller quarter back at 6’4″ or taller, just sayin’.

  11. Ndog Says:

    I said it last night this defense is better without Grimes. He’s weak against the run, plays 10 yards off most if the time and flat is not as good as Davis or Stewart as an overall player.

  12. Jim Says:

    267 lb. guys have no business catching passes and running down the field with the ball.

  13. Dano220 Says:

    I’m simply amazed how paid professionals like Chris Conte still try and tackle high. WTF? Hit him in the knee’s, wrap him up and they go down 100% of the time. Does anyone at One Buc teach proper tackling?

  14. pelbuc Says:

    How bout the great GMC whiffing on a tackle of Rothesburger that could’ve given the ball back to the offense. Wasn’t this the year GMC was supposed to break out cuz of the new additions to the Dline. Still waiting 9 years in for him to make an impactful play in the 4th qtr, What a Fraud!

  15. INSPIRED Says:

    What I saw (besides amazing amounts of turnovers, blown coverage, and a game plan that wasn’t Monkens) was Fitz giving what he had and in the end after it looked like Monken started to call the plays – Fitz just Gassed Out…. His Age was showing big time! In the last drive every through he threw “3 and Right Out Of There” we’re on the ground. He just didn’t have the energy…. It was a valiant come back but he was just too tired and mentally gassed out. OLD AGE SUCKS and that’s why it has to be a younger man next up…

  16. Etzel Says:

    The three throws of the last offensive drive for Fitz all were near INTs. For some reason, if a Steelers catches that, everyone would be seemingly more down on him. Jameis plays better on pressure, Fitz sh*ts his pants every December.