Pointing Fingers

February 18th, 2019


Dirk Koetter’s in Atlanta, Mike Smith is in the broadcast booth and Vinny Curry is looking for work.

So much has transpired since the 2018 Bucs reported to training camp to begin the organization’s annual quest for NFL relevance. We know what happened, but we still don’t know why it happened.

What in the world went awry after a stunning 2-0 start with a backup quarterback? Had the Bucs dug an early hole during Jameis Winston’s suspension, that 5-11 finish would have been easier to digest.

Instead, the Bucs pulled off the upset of the season in New Orleans, then outplayed the defending Super Bowl champions.

For a brief, shining moment, Tampa Bay was the talk of the town. Then all that talk turned into a death rattle. And when the carnage was complete, I asked Demar Dotson what went wrong.

“We left a lot on the table,” he said. “I thought in training camp that this would be a good football team, that we had all the pieces we needed. But we beat ourselves in a lot of football games. We just couldn’t get over that hump of beating ourselves.”

Ultimately, the Glazers agreed.

Incredible Dive

In dismissing Koetter and sticking with Jason Licht last month, ownership spoke loudly. That was a tacit admission the coaching staff didn’t get the most out of the talent. Nobody at One Buc Place anticipated a 1-7 slide that plunged Tampa Bay from the top of the NFC South to the basement. There were a lot of culprits, but one issue took center stage.

Better grab a seat, people: during the 8-game tailspin that wrecked a promising season, the Bucs took the football away only twice while committing 27 turnovers.

For those of you who flunked third-grade math, that’s a big, fat minus-25. That is simply incomprehensible … even in Pop Warner.

“The biggest thing is we should have been better,” Dotson said. “We competed hard in training camp and we had every piece that we needed. I swore I thought this was the year, especially after we beat New Orleans in New Orleans and came home and beat Philly.

“I said now this is probably my opportunity to go to the playoffs. Then we hit that slump. I didn’t know what it was. Most talented team? Hands down. Best offense I’ve been on. We could have put up points with anybody, but we got in our own way.”

The primary culprit was lousy defense, but let’s not forget that the Bucs averaged only 21 points during the second half of the year — despite an intact offensive line and all those weapons.

Buc fans are curious to see if Bruce Arians can supply some needed juice. He turned around the Cardinals in a flash that first season in the desert and he deems this an easier reclamation project.

We’ll see.

Missing Edge

Arians likes the talent base here and he likes Winston’s ceiling.

What’s been missing is the winning edge, a confidence to make plays when the game is on the line. If you’ve been around Arians for more than a few seconds, you realize he has enough personal confidence to make up for any shortfall.

“You compete hard and you come up short,” said Dotson. “You don’t get any moral victories in this league. Fans don’t care. Nobody cares really.”

Buc fans care. They keep coming back for more, thinking this will be the year.

One of these years, those prayers will be answered.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985. The corporate leash was removed from his neck when he joined JoeBucsFan.com 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. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV.

20 Responses to “Pointing Fingers”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “In dismissing Koetter and sticking with Jason Licht last month, ownership spoke loudly. That was a tacit admission the coaching staff didn’t get the most out of the talent.” I’m surprised Ira, I don’t see the Glazers’ motives being like that at all. Koetter & company had to go … period. They simply weren’t getting it done, and NFL owners don’t retain HCs with that level of performance. Convinced that Jason Licht was retained solely because the Glazers were afraid to blow up the entire ship, and very possibly that Bruce Arians would agree to replace Koetter. That ‘suggestion’ MAY well have been put into their heads by … tada … Jason Licht, who MAY have inferred that he’d be an integral part of making that happen.

    Since we’re on conspiracy theories (aren’t we always?), I still think that the Glazers gave BA full authority to ‘right the ship’. Coach is saying all the right things at present about the talent on the Bucs and about Jameis Winston, but we’ll see over the next several months how much of that talent is retained and re-signed. And we’ll see this time next year how the Bucs REALLY feel about Jameis. Will he get rewarded with a huge contract OR will the Bucs capitalize on what looks like a very promising draft for QBs in 2020.

  2. Not there yet Says:

    Championship type stuff IRA. Big time failure by the coaching staff which is why they get fired so easily. It’s their job to make the players they have better and if they can’t identify replacements but didn’t matter who we brought in they all underperformed. That’s on Koetter and his band of misfits and we will see if that’s true now that Real coach is in place.

  3. Bill1949 Says:

    The Bucs did start off surprisingly well going 2-0. Nobody saw that coming. Then the wheels fell off. There is no doubt in my mind, Joe, that is was the defense. Game 3 was Pittsburg vs. Tampa Bay…at home. The offense wasn’t their best. Goodwin and Fitz struggled. Being down 30-10, Tampa came back and made a game out of it. With the score 30-27 and five minutes remaining Pittsburg had the ball at their own 25 yard line. First down saw Conner run by GMC for 25+ yards. The second play saw Conner run right by GMC, again, for 11 yards. It was too easy. Earlier in that game GMC was flagged for roughing the passer. GMC apologized to Big Ben and helped him up off the field. GMC’s stats for the game were one tackle, a shared sack with Curry. I’m tired of losing. The Bucs defense is the problem and the problem is soft play. Run GMC out of town and replace him with someone who wants to win. TMax is right. Get rid of cancer 93. The Bucs have tried and tried to improve the defense. Why not try getting rid of cancer 93. What have they got to lose

  4. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    I just hope Arians can “Bring the Grandpa Juice”!

  5. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    There is about to be a major overhaul of this defense. There are many versatile FAs on defense and the draft is also very deep on defense. I believe in Bowles and think the offense is good enough to cover for a new developing defense. Fix this defense by midseason and the Bucs could be in the wild card hunt.

  6. Lamarcus Says:

    Those guys just couldnt handle success or the spotlight. MNF against the Steelers was a blowout followed with the Chi Town blowout and to say Demar you have a lot of experience in the losing steaks ….. You could of made a difference!!!!

  7. BigMacAttack Says:

    I hope BA can do it too, but I’m not holding my breath. I left season tickets after the 2017’ mess and I’m not wasting another dime on Bucs’ tickets. Single games are way overpriced. Season ticket holders are forced to pay full price for preseason. They won’t let you resell for less than face value, which sucks, so you have to eat it. And the number one reason I won’t come back is: The Tampa Bay Lightning are just too good and worth every penny of what it costs to go to their games. I can’t remember the last time I left the Arena as a loser, and it was definitely called the Forum when I did. TV is fine for the Bucs. Threw away enough money on them.

  8. Figures Says:

    I hate it when people copy and paste part of the article into their comment.

    We just read it. We don’t need to sift through what we just read to get to your comment. So stupid.

  9. DB55 Says:

    What I love about the TB fans is how vividly they recall the 2-0 start but have completely developed amnesia about week 3+4.

    Week 3 Fitz threw 3 ints in the second qrt one of which was a pick 6 AND gave us a great 30-0 deficit at the half.

    Week 4 Fitz had a whooping 50% comp percentage and 1 int 0 TDs AND a 38-3 deficit

    Week 9 wasn’t any better with 60% comp 2 picks and a 35-14 deficit at the half.

    Shall I go on?

    Week 10 70% comp YEY! 2 picks 0 points at home against a team with an oline that came off the streets the week prior.

    Week 11 60% comp 3 int and yanked in the 3rd qrt.

    But yea man Fitz is the man too bad HE didn’t have a defense to hold the 4th qrt leads oh wait fitz never gave them a fourth qrt lead after week 2.

    That my friends is what you call privilege, fitz has been the hero all season and Winston the scapegoat but film don’t lie.

  10. DB55 Says:

    If Winston threw 3 ints in a qrt of football on PRIMETIME TELEVISION then followed up by getting blown tf out by Mitch Travinsky he’d never hear the end of it. Period!

  11. Jeffbuc Says:

    We need to get Irving in free agency. Dallas is letting him hit free agency. If he can keep out of trouble he is a beast on the field. I am sick of other teams always giving these guys one year price it deals. And watch them have monster seasons for 5-8 million. We need to start signing guys like this.

  12. BrianBucs Says:

    When you are 5-11 there are plenty of places to point fingers. Especially on a team with a very overrated roster.
    Licht should have been the first one to go. After 5 years your team goes 5-11 2 years in a row, you stink at your job.
    Arians is a very good coach, but he’s not a miracle worker. With the offense averaging only 21 points per game the second half of the season with a healthy O-Line , you have to look at the QB play. Decent numbers were put up but points werent scored and games weren’t won.
    Arians has a LOT of work to do .

  13. Howard Cosell Says:

    A sports literature masterpiece!

  14. DB55 Says:

    The 21 point avg in the “second half”, does that include the 3 points Fitz put up against Washington in week 10?

  15. JA Says:

    On occasion, I’ve thought your posts to be pugnacious without merit.
    Not today.
    Well researched and worth a compliment: great job!

  16. The Realist Says:

    Is BA really committed, or is here just for one last payday.
    And will Jameis really evolve as a QB or will he drag BA down with him.
    If it goes bad early we could be looking at a real house cleaning next season.

  17. Howard Cosell Says:

    Given that this is th Glazer run Bucs:
    * BA is probably here for one last paycheck
    * Winston will self destruct and drag BA down with him.
    * We’ll get a complete house cleaning
    * Glazers will make more money and care less

  18. DB55 Says:


    Thanks for the compliment and the SAT word.

  19. The Buc Realist Says:

    Until you point fingers at the Glazer’s and GM then you are just wasting time!!!!! But it looks like another “patch” job that will end in failure!!!!!!! No plan at all!!!!!! hiring coaches to “fix” players!!!!!!!!!!!! Creating distraction for their own team!!!!!! Constantly building and scheming around the “wrong” players!!!!!!!!

    The 2019 season will reveal answers to the sheep, that the “real” fans already know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Bucsfanman Says:

    DB55- Where is the supposed indictment of Jameis? I missed it. Ira’s talking TEAM turnovers, I think. That includes Fitzy.
    And, believe me, Fitz is no hero. I’m not sure what your point is. We weren’t good enough as a team, 5-11 says so.
    NOBODY expected the first two games for Fitz to come out like that. He came back to Earth shortly after.