Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Falcons

December 31st, 2018

Ira’s column is meaty … and scroll down the home page for his two additional columns yesterday on the firing of Dirk Koetter.


Another close loss. Another last-place finish. Another offseason of upheaval.

At this point, let’s just pull out that infamous Jim Mora video and imagine him in pewter. Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs?

A season that began in loud and spectacular fashion ended with the thud of Matt Bryant’s right cleat on a football that sailed through the uprights at the final gun.

Welcome to the offseason, Tampa Bay fans. Hope for the best, brace for the worst and count the bodies walking out of One Buc Place for the last time, led by the head coach.

Sunday’s 34-32 setback wasn’t due to lack of effort. This wasn’t the 2014 tank job that guaranteed the Bucs would pick first overall in the ensuing NFL draft.

This time around, Lavonte David didn’t sit out the fourth quarter of a tight game. He was still trying to make plays for a gassed and gashed defense that yielded 19 first downs, 317 yards and 27 points in the second half.

“Every year, I walk in the building believing that this is the year,” said David, who just finished his seventh pro season without a playoff appearance. “I’m going to keep having that energy, having that belief.”

Gerald McCoy and Demar Dotson know the drill. They’ve been here longer than David and they’re also waiting for a postseason opportunity.

Back-to-back 5-11 finishes lets you know this franchise isn’t exactly on the rise. It also lets you know critical changes are dead ahead, starting with the dismissal of Dirk Koetter.

Here’s how the Falcons swept the Bucs for the second consecutive year and finished 2018 with a 3-game winning streak.

* The defense wore down, but Mark Duffner deserves some credit for trying new wrinkles. For much of the game, I saw Jason Pierre-Paul lined up at left end and Gerald McCoy next to him at left defensive tackle. Sunday’s pass rush was erratic, but I like the idea of moving good players around to capitalize on favorable matchups.

* The loss dropped Jason Licht a game behind Mark Dominik in the GM trivia game. Dominik went 28-52 in his five years at the helm while Licht just fell to 27-53. We know how Dominik was rewarded for his efforts. We’ll soon find out how long Licht can make a compelling case for surviving a second coaching change.

* Give Mike Evans credit for finding a way to shine through this season of darkness. He turned in his eighth 100-yard game of the season and more importantly, he found the end zone twice. Evans has twice scored 12 TDs in a season, but he had only three scores in 2015 and five in 2017. He finishes the year with 86 catches for 1,524 yards, 8 TDs and a very impressive average of 17.7 yards per reception.

* The Bucs made significant strides this season in terms of pass rush, but that absurd 72.5 percent completion rate by opposing quarterbacks tells you coverage has been way too soft. Not enough passes are contested and the only Buc who finished with more than one pick was Andrew Adams, signed as a free agent three games into the season.

* Can somebody, anybody, get in the way of Julio Jones?  In 14 career games against the Bucs, he has nine 100-yard efforts and 11 TDs. Once again, the absence of a shutdown corner against an elite WR is glaring.

* I asked Dotson about all the close losses in the past two seasons and he just shrugged his shoulders, meaning who cares? He’s right, of course, because this league prides itself on close games. All I know is Tampa Bay was outscored in each of the four quarters this season. The only period the Bucs boasted a scoring edge came in overtime, 3-0 against the Browns.

* Yes, the Bucs have taken up residence in the division basement once again. That makes seven times in the past eight years that Tampa Bay is looking up at the rest of the NFC South. This debacle is even more depressing because of that 2-0 start and the relative weakness of the division besides New Orleans.

* The Falcons credit that late first-half scoring pass from Matt Ryan to Jones as a momentum-changer and they have the stats to back it up. The third quarter was a nightmare for the home team, with Atlanta rolling up 10 first downs and 160 yards. That’s quite a change from an offense that punted on its first five possessions.

* Brent Grimes saved his best for last, turning in a solid final effort as a Buccaneer. The veteran corner registered five solo tackles and three passes defended. His time in Tampa is done and now Grimes has to decide whether he wants to put his body through the grind of a 13th NFL season. He’s had a distinguished career, but Grimes didn’t post an interception in 2018 after reeling off five consecutive years with at least three picks.

* The Browns (16 years)  and the Bucs (11 years) are saddled with the NFL’s two longest playoff droughts. The last time Cleveland went to the postseason, the Bucs were embarking on a Super Bowl run. At this point, the Browns look like the surer bet to end that streak in 2019.

Doesn’t that kind of say it all?

15 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Falcons”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It simply wasn’t enough but I am satisfied that the Bucs gave maximum effort yesterday.
    I just don’t think we had the talent. Too many rookies, too many backups playing especially on defense.
    We lost Kwon, VH3, Beckwith, Evans, Conte, Nassib,

    Carlton Davis is developing as is Vita Vea…..Vea’s play is encouraging.

    We absolutely need to invest some draft capital in our Oline. Unfortunately, Jason Licht is picking. Maybe a new HC will have some strong input.

  2. D-Rome Says:

    Jason Licht has no business keeping a job. When he took the job the Bucs were last in the division. Five years later, they are last in the division and have been last four out of five years under his watch!

    During his watch the Panthers and Falcons made it to a Super Bowl. The Saints appear to be on their way as the best team in the NFL. Two years ago the Saints were 7-9 and the Bucs 9-7.

    Shame on the Bucs for keeping Jason Licht! He should have been the first one to have his access rights to One Buc revoked.

  3. isrBuc Says:

    Why walking around the bush, kaufman? this game and koetter are history. main issue to talk about is keeping licht. that’s the burning (and very painful) issue.

  4. Pete I Says:

    When Jason Licht became the Bucs’ general manager, Tampa Bay was the worst team in the NFC South. Five years later, the Bucs are still the worst team in the South

    Updated resumes:

    Licht = 27-53
    Winston = 21-33
    Since Malcolm’s Stroke = 77 – 131
    New HC = 0-0 (but he will have to coach Licht’s picks)

  5. Phil Says:

    The one thing is the Bucs have the best offense in their history. I kind of hope we can keep Monken especially if we hire a defensive coach. We still need a running back.

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    ” Tampa Bay fans. Hope for the best,”….there ain’t NO hope in football !

  7. J Says:

    Time for glazers to sell the team. Too stupid for their own good. Can’t be bothered to hire a president of football operations. Too dumb to fire Licht. My god

  8. AlteredEgo Says:

    Imagine if the Outback Boys had bought the Bucs back in the day, they were odds on favorite until the Glazers ,( WHO ?..who are the Glazers ?????? ) blindsided Steve Story with an envelope containing 190 million dollars…..I’ve had their collective backs and have a ticket stub autographed by Malcolm as he moved the the south EZ in The Ole Sombrero…….that said I really hope they sell the team….the are inept at running a franchise….the worth of the Bucs has little to do with them…..move along G’Boyz

  9. 813bucboi Says:

    dont expect to see @realist anytime soon!!!!!

    dirk has him pulling double shifts packing that U-HAUL!!!!!!!!


  10. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    You laugh, but Dirk was the best coach since Gruden, even if the wins did not show up.

  11. Troy Says:

    I’m disappointed today. How Licht keeps his job going forward when he’s responsible for this mess is mind-boggling. We’re not good on either side of the ball after 5 years of this man’s leadership. In fact, we’re not even close to good on either side of the ball. What kind of crap did he sell to the Glazers to keep his job? He had to weave one hell of a web.

  12. 813bucboi Says:


    even if the wins did not show up!!!…lol….

    so i just we’re judging coaches by yards produced and not points and wins…. if thats the case he’s pretty decent……..

    dirk couldnt even get to 10wins!!!!….he went 5-11 back to back years…..

    thanks for the laugh but thats a foolish and ignorant comment!!!!



  13. Casey Morgan Says:

    Troy says: “We’re not even close on either side of the ball.” What in the heck have you been watching? The offense broke numerous franchise records and in at or near the top of the NFL…

  14. Buccfan37 Says:

    How much does Licht get paid deciding and overseeing the product on the field? If he got canned who else would want him?

  15. Bobby Says:

    How is Licht the problem?? Vita Vea, Carlton Davis, MJ Stewart, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, Kwon Alexander, Ali Marpet, Mike Evans, and Jameis Winston. Jury is still out on a lot of other picks but this team doesn’t lack talent. We have lacked coaching to get the most out of this talent. I’m for keeping Licht.