Something’s Gotta Give

October 8th, 2018


Move over Mike Smith, you’ve got company.

When the Bucs return from their bye week and head to Atlanta, Smith won’t be the only embattled defensive coordinator in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Former Gator defensive back Marquand Manuel is also under siege as the Falcons prepare for what could be their final stand.

Sunday’s lopsided loss in Pittsburgh is the latest proof that the Falcons can’t stop anyone. That bodes well for a Tampa Bay attack now under the control of Jameis Winston the rest of the way.

Let’s see if Smith can capitalize on extra time to fix a Buc defense ravaged by injury and lousy execution.

Dirk Koetter says he is sticking with a coordinator who can’t understand why opposing quarterbacks are thriving to an absurd degree.

The passer rating against the Bucs through four games is 130.5, the worst in the league. For perspective, the NFL has been operating for almost 100 years and the best single-season passer rating in league history is the 122.5 put up by Aaron Rodgers in 2011.

A “W” From Rampant Optimism

For Buc fans, this bye week hasn’t erased the ghastly memory of Chicago receivers running wide open all over Soldier Field. And here come the Falcons, with Matt Ryan instead of Mitch Trubisky, and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley rather than Chicago’s nondescript targets. Yet all is not lost for the Bucs, slight underdogs as they attempt to take down their second division opponent on the road.

Should Tampa Bay extend Atlanta’s losing streak to four games, the Bucs would give their supporters reason to believe this will be a season to remember.

Make no mistake — the Falcons are a mess. Manuel’s defense is allowing a startling 55 percent conversion rate on third down, keeping Ryan and company stewing on the sidelines.

You think Mike Smith is dealing with injuries? The defensive depth chart of the Falcons is being tested and so far, Atlanta is flunking.

Starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are already out for the year. Grady Jarrett, the team’s best defensive tackle, didn’t play at Pittsburgh due to an ankle sprain. The most crushing blow of all came when in Week 1, when elite middle linebacker Deion Jones suffered a foot injury that will keep him sidelined for at least another six weeks.

By then, the Falcons could be toast.

Jones isn’t as good as Luke Kuechly, but he’s not far behind. He’s that good and that important.

“It’s a challenge,” says Atlanta’s most dangerous pass rusher, defensive end Vic Beasley. “We are down. Guys are playing injured, fighting through a lot of pain. I feel like we’ve been hit pretty hard here lately. We have to keep going. They’re not going to cancel a game from week to week. You have to go out there and play with the guys you’ve got.”

The Bucs are yielding 35 points per game, two more than the Falcons, so Sunday’s matchup figures to be a shootout. The Bucs have already won one of those in the noisy Superdome, so brace yourself for another aerial extravaganza.

Smith and Manuel are determined to stop the bleeding. At 1-4, the Falcons are in full desperation mode. At 2-2, the Bucs are at the crossroads.

Something’s got to give … probably a ton of yards and points.

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. …WATCH IRA AND DERRICK BROOKS on the new TAMPA TWO show from The Identity Tampa Bay and JoeBucsFan.

18 Responses to “Something’s Gotta Give”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    yeah the falcons are missing a lot of fire power and the QB of their defense but every team has injuries….wont see me crying a river for them…..

    regarding smitty, I hope he can muster something up that resembles an NFL caliber defense…..

    been saying this since 2016, its the coaching & scheme not the talent & players….


  2. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Best cure for the falcons are the bucs….ridley & jones may set nfl records, daily fantasy players load up on the falcons this sunday

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “That bodes well for a Tampa Bay attack now under the control of Jameis Winston the rest of the way.” BIG assumption there Ira. With Koetter’s career on the line, he won’t hesitate to pull Jameis & put in Fitz if Winston ends up being the weak link in this offense. Thus far Jameis has played 2 quarters & put up 7 points. Fitz played 14 quarters & put up 105 points. Not hard to do the math.

    @813bucboi … “been saying this since 2016, its the coaching & scheme not the talent & players.” Wow, that’s a long time to have your head in the sand bucboi.

  4. 813bucboi Says:


    how can you say that when smitty has 4 former 1st round picks along the dline, 2 PB LB’s, and 2nd rounders in the secondary and we have a last place defense……

    ive been right buddy…..looks like smitty’s defense has been in the sand for quite some time now!!!!!!


  5. 813bucboi Says:


    and make no mistake about it, dirk will get canned if he cant get Winston to produce wins….not stats…..having the best passing offense in the league mean nothing if you have a losing record…..he got this job because of Winston not fitz…..

    and if fitz entered the bears game being down 21, we still would’ve lost so holding 7points in 2quaters against Winston is laughable…..just like all your excuses for smitty!!!!!


  6. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    813, it could be because those players on the defense aside from JPP are not as great as everyone tells you they are, the eye test doesnt lie….those players are just not that good which goes to licht and his dart board drafting ability….dont foregt he drafted a kicker in round 2 of the NFL draft, that alone should have got him canned

  7. pelbuc Says:

    We forget that every team that is struggling always gets well when playing the Bucs. Hard to believe Smith will improve the D over the bye week when he’s had 3 years to improve the defense. Atl 41-21. Bucs will also lose to the Browns.

  8. John Sinclear Says:

    Never overlook a wounded bird of prey. It can still come back and kill you if you’re not careful.

  9. Pete Says:

    48 – 47. Neither team will have to punt!

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I guess the only way we receive the ball on the kickoff is if they win and defer.

    Somehow, we keep winning the coin toss….

  11. 813bucboi Says:


    so, if those players aren’t that good, when did they become so bad?…….

    cough cough under smittys guidance….or lack there of….


  12. Mike Johnson Says:

    I’ve got this being a great game in the ATL. You know both Koetter and Smitty want to win against their former team. And the Falcons are looking to..get off the snide. We this game..rested and coming off of a bye. Should that is. I’m more worried about the New and improved Clev Browns. They are flat out ballin. If our Defense is flat, I say Leave Smitty right there in Atlanta in his comfortable pressBox!!!

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    I’m with you Tbbf – stop deferring the damn kickoff if you win the coin toss coach!

    Put your best unit on the field first and thus – give your team the best chance to build a little “Mo” to start the game.

    Its not that hard of a concept…

  14. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Is Monken still calling the plays?

    Kobe sniffed alittle stench of turtlitis from Klueless vs Chicago”

    Kobe Faker

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    @Pelbuc … ” Hard to believe Smith will improve the D over the bye week when he’s had 3 years to improve the defense.” You gotta think positive Pelbuc, or you’ll end up like soured like Bucboi. I think that the Bucs can improve on defense, especially if they get some DLine beef back in the lineup; just not sure how fast & how much they can improve because of their very young Secondary.

    Hoping that Beau Allen makes it back against Atlanta; a 3-man DT rotation with Allen-GMC-Vea with JPP & Curry healthy would go a long way to get some pressure up-front. And it might free up our LBs to do some decent blitzing. If I were Smitty I’d play the youngsters in the Secondary & use a LOT of press & man-to-man. It’d be really hard to stay with Julio, Sanu, Ridley & Hardy, but it’s obvious from last year that zone doesn’t work against those guys. Might as well go for broke & hope that our DLine delivers some real pressure on Matty Ice.

  16. Dlavid Says:

    This team is toast ! After the beat down in Chicago … and the D has stunk it up constantly since a five game stretch in 2016 . I still can’t believe Smith is coaching this D ! Koetter has sealed his fate . No way this team breaks 500 ball this year . What a sorry state of affairs ! JW better find his long ball to Jackson , Fitz sure as hell knew where it was , Fitz has outplayed JW thourougly ! But he is gone after this season and probably #3 also . This team is in shambles again , a constant theme except for the few short years Dungy was at the helm .

  17. Not there yet Says:

    Lol 😂 oh ira you really have a way with words but your talking optimism not reality. Reality is what you said in your article, the bucs are underdogs to a 1-4 injury riddled team and why? Because the offense is still potent and the bucs can’t stop the bears with like one decent receiver a guy who was a backup in Atlanta. Bucs just aren’t consistent enough on offense to win. Every game is a loss until this team proves they are tough enough to make a playoff run

  18. Resurrection of Fitz Says:

    It is really on the hands of Winston. Hit DJax deep and often and sunny days are back in Tampa, Florida! Don’t and Hurricane Michael might do a u-turn Sunday and park on top of One Buc Palace for the rest of the season.

    Help from Jones could be the key if Winston can’t find DJax deep.