Desperate For Grit

April 10th, 2019


Bruce Arians doesn’t need to be reminded of Tampa Bay’s road woes.

When Arians strolled along the Arizona sidelines, he watched in glee as his Cardinals crushed the Bucs early in successive years at University of Phoenix Stadium.

In 2016, Jameis Winston threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 40-7 setback at Arizona. Carson Palmer tossed three TD passes and, yes, Chandler Catanzaro added a field goal as the Cardinals assumed a 24-0 halftime advantage.

“Knock on wood, we are protecting the football,” Arians said after that laugher. “And defensively, turnovers are coming in bunches.”

When the Bucs returned to the desert in 2017, they fell behind 24-0 at the half once again before a late rally engineered by Ryan Fitzpatrick came up just short in a 38-33 loss. Adrian Peterson shredded Tampa Bay’s run defense and Winston attempted only 10 passes before leaving with a shoulder injury.

Palmer completed his first 14 passes and Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 balls for 138 yards and a touchdown.

“It was a day for the old guys,” Arians deadpanned after the game.

He could have been talking about himself.

Soft Travels

If the Bucs are serious about ending the longest playoff drought in the NFC, they have to start showing toughness on the road. They are 2-14 in the past two seasons away from Raymond James Stadium, dropping the final seven road games last year after that thrilling Week 1 shocker in the Superdome.

Road problems are nothing new for this franchise, which ranks last among all NFL teams since the 1970 merger with a mere.305 winning percentage away from home.

Jameis is riding a 12-start skid on the road

Winston is 8-20 on the road and riding a 12-game road losing streak weighed down by 31 interceptions. Buc fans won’t soon forget that he was picked off four times last season at Cincinnati, prompting Dirk Koetter to bench him for three starts.

When the regular-season schedule is announced, probably next week, Arians can start planning for a road renaissance that is long overdue. Winston’s erratic play on the road hasn’t helped, but awful defense is the primary culprit. In the past two years, Buc opponents have averaged 32.5 points in their home stadiums.

That’s a disgrace.

Since a 19-17 victory at KC that came in the midst of a 5-game winning streak in 2016, the Bucs have allowed at least 20 points in each of their last 19 road games.

That simply won’t do for Arians or Todd Bowles.

Arians has proven himself to be a confident traveler. He took over an Arizona team that was 1-7 away from home in 2012. In the next five years, the Cardinals went 21-19 on the road, including a 7-1 mark in 2015.

That’s the kind of true grit desperately needed by the Bucs, who have never won more than six road games in a season.

We’ll Get There, Willie.

Character is revealed on the road, and the Bucs rarely answer the call. Far too often, they are not ready to compete from the start, falling way behind before making the final score fairly respectable.

Nobody is demanding a 7-1 road record this fall, but a 1-7 mark makes it impossible to post double-digit wins.

Is 4-4 too much to ask?

Arians keeps telling Buc fans that this roster is bursting with talent. The proof will come when Tampa Bay faces its traditional division foes on the road — along with trips to the Rams, Seahawks, Jaguars, Titans and Lions.

The Bucs head to Los Angeles and Seattle this season.

Koetter wanted a bad-ass football team, but it didn’t materialize. Instead, the Bucs were routinely bullied on the road. There’s been too many somber plane flights back to Tampa.

The Bucs have to earn the right to party on the returning team charter. If they do, Arians will be right there with them, leading the cheers while raising a glass or two.

“On the road again I just can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Ol’ Willie gets it. Do these Bucs?

14 Responses to “Desperate For Grit”

  1. miken Says:

    I’m shocked… I thought we were just as crappy at home as on the road.

  2. Pugs&Bucs Says:

    I didn’t realize that the Bucs fell behind at the half in AZ 24-0 2 years in a row. YOu have to imagine that the second year, Coach said, “Last year was last year… forget about it….” and then they do the exact G D thing again.

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    back to back years the game was over before half time vs the cardinals under smitty’s trash defense…..

    “grit” arrived once the previous staff got sent packing….


  4. miken Says:

    I go to a road game every year. Last year Chicago and Minnesota the year before. Beware… I’m headed to Seatle or LA this year. I can’t imagine it being any worse.

  5. Anonymous Says:


    “grit” arrived once the previous staff got sent packing

    Well said.

  6. D-Rome Says:

    Yet, there are a few people around these parts that think Koetter should have been given another year…

  7. '79 Defense Says:

    “…since the 1970 merger with a mere.305 winning percentage away from home.”

    How about an all-time winning percentage of .385? The worst of any team in the four major pro sports in the US. Man, this franchise has been bad. It once took them FOUR freaking seasons to win TWELVE games.

    ’83 2-14
    ’84 6-10
    ’85 2-14
    ’86 2-14

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    ’83 2-14
    ’84 6-10
    ’85 2-14
    ’86 2-14

    Man – those were the start of some dark years for the Buccaneers

    – Racist owner runs Doug Williams out of town over a small amount of $
    – Trade 1st pick in the draft for Jack Thompson (’83)
    – Lee Roy Selmon suffers career ending injury in the Pro Bowl
    – Bucs hire car salesman Leeman Bennett – who goes 4-28 as HC
    – Bucs select Bo Jackson #1 overall – he never plays a down as a Buc
    – Trade future HOF QB Steve Young for a ham sandwich
    – Field the worst secondary in the history of the league (’86)

    This 4 year span initiated the start of THIRTEEN straight losing seasons by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Dark Times man.

    Younger Bucs fans have no idea what pitiful and inept even looks like….

  9. martinii Says:

    Well said. I have taken so much ridicule from younger fans when I say I’Ve learned to enjoy the sport and game of football win or lose. When you have run the full gambit of Buccaneer football like we have over it’s history you get excited when they simply play a good game. Enjoyment is often as simple as convincing yourself that this could be the year when they go .500. You learn to root for what you got if you’re a true fan.

  10. Clw JB Says:

    As dark as it appears today, with so much uncertainty, at least there is a degree of hope….

    as many have alluded to -for many of us old schoolers going 8-8 is like the playoffs we were so numbed from the decades of disgustingness that was Bucs football

    Even though, I begged my Mom to renew my Bucs Report Magazine every year just knowing Ray Perkins or Sam Wyche, or well you get it

    Same spit, different day 🙂

  11. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Ah, the 80’s, you would walk up @12:55 and get a decent seat or move closer to the field. I loved opening day, the only time we were undefeated and not in last place. And for the youngsters, the only way to watch the Bucs at home was to buy a ticket. We all prayed on Thur morning that some corporation or Mr C. would buy the remaining tickets before the 1 pm blackout deadline. The Bears usually sold out and Packers once in a while. Lot of Sundays at the beach listening to the game.

  12. Dewey Selmon Says:

    If Jameis is that bad on the road, imagine him on another continent. He really has a chance to endear himself to the English/Euro fan base . If he plays lights out we might pickup some younger fans who are on the fence on what team to root for.

  13. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “Winston is 8-20 on the road and riding a 12-game road losing streak weighed down by 31 interceptions.”

    @Ira … “Winston’s erratic play on the road hasn’t helped, but awful defense is the primary culprit.”

    Oh Ira, I can tell Joe’s getting to you. Over 2.5 INTs per game average in the 12-game losing streak, BUT … “the awful defense is the primary culprit”. You cite 2 games where we’re behind 24-0 in just the 1st half, but it’s “the awful defense is the primary culprit”. Not the ZERO points scored by the offense. Not the 2.5 INTs per game that impacted the defense’s field positions AND time-on-the-field. Nope, it’s the “awful defense”.

    Whatever happened to COMPLIMENTARY FOOTBALL Ira? I THOUGHT that you were a big proponent for that. Well, COMPLIMENTARY FOOTBALL works BOTH ways.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Have mercy those ‘83-86 stats bring back horrid memories . At least we got a taste of glory with the SB year ! Hoping Arians is as advertised .