Accept No Substitutes

January 21st, 2019


We just witnessed the kind of football team Bruce Arians envisions in Tampa.

Tough, resilient, physical.

Yes, the New England Patriots just lost the turnover battle 0-2 on the road but still walked out of Arrowhead Stadium in jubilation. They just beat the AFC’s top seed, the league’s highest-scoring team, in an overtime thriller that was won on heart and muscle.

And yes, that’s the championship mettle Arians will try to build at One Buc Place.

The Patriots won because they wanted it more, because they dominated the trenches to the tune of a 23-minute advantage in time of possession.

They out-hit the Chiefs on defense while New England’s offensive line deserved the primary game ball. Tom Brady would be the first to second that motion after the Pats ran for 176 yards and kept Brady upright for each of his 46 throws.

“You play on the road and it’s going to be tough,” Brady said after the 37-31 triumph. “What travels is running the ball and playing tough. That’s good in any weather, any environment, any stadium. That was a big part of our game.”

So was Brady, of course, but Arians knows a team’s identity goes far beyond the man under center.

I asked Arians for his definition of what Buc ball should look like.

“When they walk off the field, they know they were in a battle,” Arians said. “At Temple, we didn’t win a lot of games, but the team that we played lost the next week because we beat the crap out of them. We want to be physical. We want a smart team, a fast team and a physical team.”

Physicality hasn’t been an integral part of Tampa Bay’s DNA in quite awhile. In all three of Dirk Koetter’s years at the helm, the ground game was grounded to the point of futility.

On Sunday, the Patriots posted 15 rushing first downs, compared to three for the favored Chiefs. On Sunday, New England had 48 rushing attempts, compared to only 47 total snaps for Kansas City.

That’s a good old-fashioned butt-kicking up front.

Meanwhile, the Bucs averaged 3.9 yards per rush and threw 64 percent of the time. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston were sacked a combined 41 times while Brady suffered only 21 takedowns.

“Know your protection,” said Arians. “Every quarterback starts with protection — not the route or the coverage. Our offensive line, looking from the outside in, is an area we need to work on.”

Physicality starts up front — and that’s where Arians will start his makeover.

O-line makeover on the way, says The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports.

Owning the line of scrimmage is the surest path to the postseason. Why do you think Bill Belichick talked renowned offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia out of retirement in 2016 to rejoin the Pats after a 2-year absence?

The obvious priorities for Mr. Arians: elevate Winston to the next level while forging a badass football team.

“You have to have a quarterback,” he said. “You can’t win without a quarterback. I don’t give a damn how good your defense is or how well you run the ball, you’ll get your ass beat in the playoffs to a good quarterback. Then you have to have two really good lines of scrimmage.”

That’s a tall order, but you can be sure Jason Licht and his staff will be busy in the next three months hunting down upgrades. Any future Buc needs to love football, love his teammates and love imposing his will on opponents.

Accept no substitutes.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL 40 years ago as a New York Giants beat writer. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985. The corporate leash was removed from his neck when he joined in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. They are all presented by Ed Morse Cadillac Tampa and Ed Morse Cadillac Brandon. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and local TV programming.

37 Responses to “Accept No Substitutes”

  1. Ben the Ga Buc Says:

    Having the GOAT also helped the Pats a little bit too.

  2. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    Sorry @ your Chiefs, Ira…so close yet so far. Dee Ford minus the “D”…so many 3rd & 10’s converted. It was brutal…hopefully you weren’t @ Arrowhead making the “dead man walk(ing)” afterwards. They should contend for years to come.

  3. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Glad to hear his philosophy is on getting the trenches right after Winston. Hopefully we see that bear out in FA & the draft.

  4. cgmaster Says:

    only the patriots and Tom would be lucky enough to have an offsides on the Dee ford when Tom threw what would’ve been his 3rd pick of the game.

  5. Wausa Says:

    Bucs offensive line is putrid.

    The Bucs need to improve the offensive line significantly.

  6. Mike Johnson Says:

    Wowzer there Ira! Have not heard that PHYSICAL term thrown around at Buc One place in..Ions! We want to play physical. I’m lovin it already. I know you and a few others recall the dayz when we had a..Physical team. it was rumored, teams put on extra padding when Allstott, Sapp, Lynch and Brooks were around. They..punished teams. I do think Arians will have this team playing..No excuses ball from the start. Good article usual. Lets get to work Bucs. We Buc fans want to see these playoff games.

  7. Not there yet Says:

    Just imagine playing a team with a good pash rush so what does a real coach do? Throws quick hitters and lets the receivers make plays after the catch wow we haven’t seen coaching like we did in that game around here. Two great coaches and teams. Dirk will never be associated with great coaching. That’s not a game without two good backs and good o line play on both sides

  8. unbelievable Says:

    “Our offensive line, looking from the outside in, is an area we need to work on”

    That statement alone gives me faith that BA knows what he’s doing, while many others around here think our o-line is just fine…

  9. Bucsfanman Says:

    We’ve settled for meaningless records and statistics long enough. The 4 teams that played yesterday had ONE important characteristic in common: COACHING!
    It takes more than high-flying offenses to win in this league.

  10. dmatt Says:

    Jason Litch has overlooked true grit type players that I’ve always said is missing at Buc land. He selects RoJo over beast mode Guice out of LSU. Rams tackle Havenstein is tough as nails but DSmith was selected one round ahead of him in 2015.smh
    Please let’s clean house with softie DSmith I get tired of him standing over Winston after b n beast mode by a different DE each week. Many may not agree with me but MEvans is soft n fragile. Yes he makes the long jump ball catch n made a miraculous tough catch after a brutal hit by the Falcons safety about a year ago but he’s not consistent as it relates to crunch time.When it comes to toughness n crunch time, I’ll take a Julian Edelman over Evans any day. Golden Tate is another tough cookie during crunch time. Let’s get him n please keep Humphries who is an example of “dynamite comes in small packages” BA is a professor of the business, u must have a tough OL n ur QB has to be tough which Winston is. The hits he’s taken over the past several years, not many QBs can endure the impact. I like McCoy,but he too…is soft. Ryan Smith n Isaiah Johnson are poor examples of NFL players…both r too soft. Gholston is too big n too soft. Let’s change the cultural n make other NFL teams must give us our past due respect. BA will crate a cultural of “True Grit” type players at one Buc place.

  11. Darin Says:

    Yes please upgrade the Oline with nasty run blockers.

  12. DB55 Says:

    New England Patriots just lost the turnover battle 0-2
    Eagles also beat the #1 def (bears) while losing the turnover battle 0-2. Are you guys finally waking up? Your boy McCoy is just too soft in the middle can’t stop the run can’t get to the QBs and is entirely to happy with losing.

    But hey he’s a great guy I’m sure BA will value his smile like every other real Bucs fan cuz let’s face it that’s all McCoy brings to the table a big f’ing smile and a huge cap hit for what? Not a damn thing.

  13. AlteredEgo Says:

    Dollars to donuts Licht defers to BA with every draft pick and FA this year….yeah Bruce I was thinking the same thing about that guy…Yeah Bruce I agree…Yeah Bruce I’ll take that guy if he’s sitting there….yeah Bruce….

  14. ben Says:

    After four years and after being the st pick …Winston couldn’t carry Mahomes jock

  15. AlteredEgo Says:

    ben Says:
    January 21st, 2019 at 3:31 pm
    After four years and after being the st pick …Winston couldn’t carry Mahomes jock
    Jameis is going to name his next son Patrick….

  16. Loyaltotheend Says:

    Jameis will never accomplish what Mahomes has in 19 games


  17. Not there yet Says:

    After four years and after being the st pick …Winston couldn’t carry Mahomes jock

    People were saying the same thing about Carson wentz before Nick Foles changed that story. Rams quarterback was a playing like a bust until he got a new coach. Don’t know why people think it would have been any different with another quarterback, we’d still lose without a defense regardless of the quarterback with dirk and Lovie coaching but dream otherwise if you like.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Brady threw 2 INTs, and as we know you CAN NOT win when you throw INTs. This wasn’t a win for the Pats regardless of what the score is, what matters is winning the stat sheet, and Brady LOST there since, as we know the ONLY thing that matters in football is winning the turnover battle.

  19. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Can we teach our DL to NOT lineup in the neutral zone?

    The Chiefs LOST that game as much as the Pats won….Brady should have had a 3rd game losing int but some moronic DL lines up a foot inside the neutral zone. That DL literally lost that game for the Chiefs! A real display of Buc ball. How many times did we blow games due to boneheaded penalties.

    I get penalties of effort…holding etc but lining up offsides…NOOOOO…again if the QB jerks a guy offsides with a talented count…dumb but nowhere near as stoooopid as lining up offsides. That’s something you can control if you’re not a mental midget.

    Gawd I hope we’ve seen the last of that against the Bucs!

  20. Jameis “Will” Win-A-Ton Says:

    More coachspeak…. has anyone EVER heard a coach say, “I want our team to fast and smart, but NOT physical” or, “I want our team to be fast, physical,
    and full of idiots”. That said, the Bucs in 2018 were fast, but stupid, and soft. One step at a time there Bruce.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    @Rod Munch … “Brady threw 2 INTs, and as we know you CAN NOT win when you throw INTs.” Don’t personally know of anyone who believes that Rod, so why contrive an either-or argument? Patriots won because their TEAM effort surpassed that of the Chiefs, plain & simple. Yes Brady threw 2 INTs, but he also completed THIRTY passes, many at critical times (TWENTY first downs passing). And the Pats rushed for 176 yards on 48 carries (an average of only 3.67 YPC BUT they they got FIFTEEN of their 36 first downs by rushing). Third-down efficiency? Try 13-for-19 (over 68%). Oh and TOP? Try 44 mins to 21 mins (there was OT). What about sacks you ask? Hmmm, 4-0. Total plays? 94-47 (a 2-to-1 ratio). But ya, let’s focus on INTs to prove some meaningless point; that’s the ticket.

  22. Bird Says:


    Yah. Mike Evans is terrible. Youngest player to 6,000 yards. Pretty much broke every buc receiving record in just a few years already. Only one of 3 players in nfl history to have consecutive 1,000 yards receiving each year …

    Rarely misses games and doesn’t complain like a diva. Tops in the community. No trouble outside of game – role model and involved in multiple charities
    Let’s get rid of this bum ?

  23. Buccfan37 Says:

    The Pats always in the playoffs diminishes overall interest in the NFL.

  24. tmaxcon Says:

    Loyaltotheend Says:
    January 21st, 2019 at 3:48 pm
    Jameis will never accomplish what Mahomes has in 19 games

    But he was able set a bunch of buccaneer franchise records….

    Jameis is most talented and most important buccaneer of all time…. not that says much outside of selmon and sapp

  25. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense – As we’ve learned from the Winston haters the only thing that matters is turnovers. It doesn’t matter if the defense gives up 800 yards and 55 points, it doesn’t matter if you score 9 TDs, it doesn’t matter if you win the game – all that matters is winning the turnover battle. Everything else is fake news, and the biggest fake news of all is that KC lost on Sunday, because they didn’t, they won the stat sheet turnover column and that’s literally all that matters.

  26. stpetebucsfan Says:

    OK I’ll bite because many of you are tossing around a term I’ve never seen defined and I’m not even sure what point you’re trying to make.

    What is a “Winston hater”?

  27. stpetebucsfan Says:

    “More coachspeak…. has anyone EVER heard a coach say, “I want our team to fast and smart, but NOT physical”

    Agree JameisWill

    Sam Wyche was my favorite coach because of his wit. I was lucky enough to do his commercials when he owned Sam Wyche Sportsworld a sporting goods store in Greenville SC.

    He could work the language….describing a football team…

    “We may be small but at least we’re slow”.

  28. dmatt Says:

    I never said MEvans is terrible. I agree with his stats n accomplishments but truth b told what have his stats done for the team as it relates to winning. He’s a receiver that had more offensive pass interference flags than just about any receiver in the league n he’s not trying to change that. This behavior has lead to a few losses for us. BA will change that. IMO,MEvans is too fragile. Again, based on consistency,during crunch time, I will take a chance on throwing a slant over the middle to GTate, JEdelman, n even Humphries before throwing to Evans. That’s not saying he’s terrible.

  29. Defense Rules Says:

    @Rod … “the biggest fake news of all is that KC lost on Sunday, because they didn’t.” And yet Rod, SOMEHOW New England pulled off yet another win & KC ISN’T going to play in the Super Bowl. And that’s NOT fake news. Everyone who’s ever played sports has heard the old saying “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    @Defense – Total BS dude, if what you were saying is true then it would mean the most important thing in football isn’t the turnover column on the stat sheet, and that would mean the Winston haters would be wrong. So obviously, you’re wrong, because they can’t be wrong. Turnovers are all that counts – and if you win the turnover stat, you’re the real winner, regardless of the score. I’ve learned well from the Winston haters and I’m not going to let you ruin what they taught me.

  31. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    cgmaster Says:
    “only the patriots and Tom would be lucky enough to have an offsides on the Dee ford when Tom threw what would’ve been his 3rd pick of the game.”

    Something tells me Tom wouldn’t have thrown that ball had he not seen the offsides/flag.

  32. Anonymous Says:

    Rod Munch Says:
    “Brady threw 2 INTs, and as we know you CAN NOT win when you throw INTs. This wasn’t a win for the Pats regardless of what the score is, what matters is winning the stat sheet, and Brady LOST there since, as we know the ONLY thing that matters in football is winning the turnover battle.”

    Just ask Lichtweight. Didn’t we just field one of the greatest offenses in NFL history?

  33. Bird Says:

    Rod munch

    Dude. Get over yourself . I mean you are a grown ass man…
    We get it Jameis is the lead singer in your favorite boy band.

  34. Eric Says:

    Had Winston played the exact game Mahomes played the haters would be crying bloody murder over the 10 yards over his head overthrow of the wide open receiver in the end zone in first half, plus taking all the sacks, and the pick.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    stpetebucsfan Says
    “What is a “Winston hater”?”

    In regard to Winston haters, these are the people who never accepted him, either because of his college, his accusations, or because they wanted Mariota. Therefore, nothing he ever does will ever be good enough.

    These are separate from fairweather fans, who turn on players when the wind changes direction.

    Or skeptics, who want to believe, but have faced disappointment so often that they now need to see it to believe it.

    In regard to Haters overall, these are people who are just this side of trolls. They just have to focus their hate on a team player, coach, gm or owner. Ever if we are winning (though it’s been so long since we’ve been winning that it would take some digging to prove).

  36. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Personally, I think Winston is the best starting QB this team has ever had. Had we a good offensive line, a run game and a decent kicker, he would probably be considered elite by now.

    Sack totals increased each of his first three years because of bad oline and no running game. This resulted in high picks, high fumbles and an eventual injury…which led to more fumbles.

    Another issue was Dirk Koetter. I loved the guy but his handling of Jameis was all wrong. Winston looked great his first year. He passed. He scrambled. He made impossible plays. Then from the next year on, Dirk started trying to force him into becoming a pocket QB. No more running, not even QB Sneaks.

    I get it. Dirk was trying to develop Winston. It had some pluses. But it also forced Jameis into not doing the things that made him great.

    Arians seems to use player’s strengths, so hopefully he’ll use Jameis right.

  37. Crabberbill Says:

    I agree with BA. Build the line on both sides !! I like the kid from Texas. A DT one mock said that could of been the first pick. Go for an offensive tackle or guard with the second pick.