Five Things

December 2nd, 2019

(Photo courtesy of Buccaneers.com.)

There is reportedly a chill in the air this morning. Joe hasn’t noticed because Joe is basking in the glory of Victory Monday. Grab a second cup of java and let’s go.

The Pick.

Bucs rookie cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting told Joe something yesterday that really impressed Joe about the young man, and the Bucs defense.

At halftime, the Bucs were in total control. With Nick Foles under center each Jags’ first-half possession was either a three-and-out series or ended by a turnover.

The Bucs led 25-0. Jags fans roundly booed their team as they jogged to the locker room. Embattled Jags coach Doug Marrone reached for the panic button and called for backup Gardner Minshew, who Jags fans chanted for in the first half.

Murphy-Bunting told Joe the Bucs defense was adamant at halftime talking amongst themselves that, to a man, they had to keep the pedal to the metal. They couldn’t act as if the game was in control.

When Joe asked him if his defensive teammates brought up the Giants loss, a game the Bucs choked away, as an example of wasting away a victory, SMB looked right at Joe and said, “That would be a good example.”

So if that awful Giants loss still irks you, you have company in your misery. It still irks the Bucs’ defense.

As for SMB’s pick, it capped perhaps the best goal-line stand the Bucs defense had this year, certainly the best since the game-saving, goal-line stand at Carolina in Week 2.

The Hargreaves Effect.

Joe must apologize. Hundreds of Twitters come Joe’s way on gameday so Joe forgot to save who asked about this: It seems since the Bucs tossed former first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves off the team, the secondary has had a magical transformation.

Coincidence? Let’s take a look:

For allegedly not hustling, Hargreaves was released after the Cardinals game won by the Bucs. Rookie corner Jamel Dean had a whale of a game and broke up the final pass attempt by Arizona to seal the win.

The Bucs got blown out by the Saints but followed that up with two strong performances by the secondary in wins at Atlanta and at Jacksonville.

This may not be a coincidence. In the final minutes of the win over Arizona, with Hargreaves on the bench, the secondary stood tall. Against New Orleans, the Bucs didn’t play Dean and the secondary was hung out to dry by Drew Brees.

The last two games speak for themselves. So there seems to be evidence that getting Hargreaves off the field for good (and perhaps, too, off the roster) indirectly helped the Bucs.

Now the question is, why did the Bucs horse around with Hargreaves if they knew he was dragging the operation down? Joe will guess coaches only put up with Hargreaves because they thought the young secondary wasn’t ready to swim on its own yet. Once the coaches became confident in the secondary, that’s when they pulled the cord on Hargreaves.

Again, this is just speculation.

But as former Bucs coach Raheem Morris famously said, “I will tolerate you until I can replace you.”

When the Bucs realized they could replace Hargreaves, they no longer tolerated him.

As for Dean, he banged up what appeared to be his left shoulder, and Joe observed trainers working on it. We should know more later today when Bucco Bruce Arians speaks at his day-after presser.

The Emergence of Devin White.

Prior to November, it was hard to believe rookie inside linebacker Devin White was a No. 5 overall pick. In fact, he didn’t appear to be the best linebacker in the draft.

That has changed.

Consider what White has done the past three weeks: 28 tackles, two sacks, an interception, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Not shabby.

Yesterday, his scoop-and-score off a Shaq Barrett strip/sack was a big reason why the Bucs rolled to an early lead. Asked about his favorite play, White said, “I don’t have a favorite play, they were all good plays. I think my favorite was not missing a tackle. I don’t think I missed a tackle. And that’s usually something I try to strive on and be my best at.”

So why is White balling out all of a sudden? Yeah, it could be he is because he is healthy and acclimated to the NFL. But White wasn’t sure.

“It’s my time, I guess.”

Indeed.

Ugly losses.

Man, the past couple of years it didn’t matter, but right now two close games are really eating at Joe. The Bucs are currently 5-7. And how ugly are those two losses to the Giants and the Seahawks. Had those been actual wins, the Bucs would now be 7-5 and very much in the playoff with four games to go.

Joe figured those would come back to haunt the Bucs, but not in this way.

Joe really isn’t sure if the last few weeks — the Bucs have won three of their last four — is just a tease, a fluke or an honest-to-goodness corner-turning time.

Let’s just say the Bucs clearly have to keep winning, and Bucs fans have to hope the Cowboys, Rams and Bears — playoff teams all last year — continue to circle the drain in the final month of the season.

Subpar Running Backs.

Joe is just going to say this: If one deems blocking to be the most important element a running back can provide, then quit farting around and put an offensive lineman in the backfield.

Yeah, yeah. Joe gets why Ronald Jones was benched. He missed a blitz. Yesterday, Arians decided he was going to ground-and-pound in the second half and it nearly cost him (again) as the Bucs running game, despite what the Bucs try to sell you, is one of the worst in the NFL. Don’t believe Joe? Feel free to do the research on your own.

Joe has no issue with Arians benching Jones, except that meant for what Arians was trying to accomplish, he benched his best weapon.

True, Jones may have been having a worse day than Peyton Barber, who himself was having one of his worst games in his worst season in the NFL. At least Jones has a shot of breaking a long one.

If you still think the Bucs running game is feared, consider they couldn’t do anything against a garbage run defense in the second half.

But Joe knows how many fans will excuse the Bucs’ modern day version of Gale Sayers, Walter Peyton and Mercury Morris. It’s so predictable.

Sad!

The Bucs really need to upgrade this position in the worst way in the offseason. But then again, Joe’s been barking up that tree for years.

36 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. [email protected] Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    We will see Hargreaves again, when we play the Texans.
    If he plays against us, I think he will get toasted.
    Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will eat his lunch.

  2. Kobe Faker Says:

    “What happened in the 2nd half? What kind of half time game planning was that?

    Was that high school playcalling? 90s offense? Tom Osborne?

    Does BA/BL Twins actually think that we can drive downfield 70 yards by running 1st and 2nd down?

    Dont they know the defense will call a fullout blitz on 3rd down which they did?

    This is not progression

    Kobe has lived all his life being accountable, kobe will not stop till his last breath”

    Kobe Faker

  3. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Upgrade the OL to get a mediocre running attack. Upgrade the OL to reduce turnovers. Upgrade the OL if the Bucs ever expect to have a winning record. Upgrade the OL.

  4. Dewey Selmon Says:

    I do have a problem with benching Jones. What if Dare or Barber would have missed a blitz assignment? Are you going to bench all 3? Others players make mistakes, now you are in Jones’s head, now he has to worry about making a mistake and getting benched, now he will have to think instead of reacting and playing on instinct.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Ugly losses to the Giants & Seahawks……….you totally forgot about the Tenn loss……we gave them two touchdowns on turnovers inside the 20…..
    That was very ugly….

    So…..our record could be 8-4……..of course……could be.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    As far as benching Rojo…..no problem with that…..but you don’t need to pick up blitzes when you are running on most of the plays….

  7. Rosadog Says:

    Maybe the D should speak with the O on not taking the foot off the pedal!!??

    I am Optimistically Cautious on this coaching staff!

  8. SickofLosing Says:

    It’s hard to run when it’s 1st and 10 of every new possession when it’s a run up the middle and the defense sells out to stop it. At one point I believe it was some 7 new possessions started with a run up the middle. Way too easy for defenses to bottle up. How about a play action?

  9. rrsrq Says:

    How many offensive line penalties occurred in the second half to put the team in 1st, 2nd or 3rd and long. As bad as the running game appeared, the offensive line putting the team in bad situations happened way to frequently in the second half

  10. Jameis Almighty! Says:

    It’s all about the D and finding a way for this OL to open up so the Bucs can penetrate past the hand off.

  11. zzbuc Says:

    I agree JOe…..I think our running game is medicore, to vertical, and both RB are average at best……If the bucs are going to jeep JW, and everything indicates they will, its very important to get a MUCH better running game, if not things can still be ugly like have been for the last 10 years!!!!

  12. TampaBay55 Says:

    JOE,

    I’m not as concerned about a poor Bears team, an overrated (surprise!) Cowboys team, and a hot & cold Rams team as much as I am concerned about the Vikings. The Vikings only need one more win to knock us out of the playoff race. The Vikings remaining schedule:

    @Seahawks
    Lions
    @Chargers
    Packers
    Bears

    Hard to see the. I Vikings losing to the Lions, Chargers, or Bears…. Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins would both have to go down tonight for that to happen.

  13. Bruce Blahak Says:

    one thing is always for sure. With #3 at QB, no game is easily won – EVER. Cannot put anyone away and he never has….always keeps the other team in it with 3 and outs, turnovers and sacks….

  14. 813bucboi Says:

    Great win yesterday….

    All 3 phases showed up…

    The Bucs and VHG both needed to get away from each other….secondary playing well without him and he’s playing well for the Texans…

    We’ll see what happens when they come to town in a couple weeks

    GO BUCS

  15. jim Says:

    how many up the middle play designs must be in the playbook ? afterall isn’t it reported that ba said they only use each play once in a game ?

  16. danr Says:

    there is no way when we see hargraves again that he lines up on godwin or evans.

    He will shut down perriman in the slot, or scotty miller. We are so subpar at the 3/4 wr positions it may make him look good.

    SURE scotty may outrun him, but there is almost always safety help over the middle, to cover speed in the slot.

    I do not think they allow hargraves to cover Godwin in the slot, they cannot be that silly.

  17. View from 132 Says:

    I love that people are still posting playoff scenarios. That ship has sailed.

    However, an 8-8 finish, given that BA and Todd were still sorting out who can cover anyone weeks into the season, would be a positive step and set the Bucs up for a relevant 2020.

    If I’m an agent this offseason, I’m selling my free agent QBs to the Bucs pretty hard… other pieces are starting to be in place.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    @Joe … “The Bucs really need to upgrade this position (RB) in the worst way in the offseason. But then again, Joe’s been barking up that tree for years.”

    Bucs had PLENTY of opportunities to upgrade our RB stable this off-season, but they just fiddle-farted around. So right now here we sit, after all the personnel moves this season, with $9.4 mil in salary Cap space and mostly crappola for RBs, no OLine depth or Secondary depth, etc. IF we’d signed a quality veteran CB for instance in the off-season, does anyone think that VHIII would’ve even seen the field while our rookies got up to speed? Does anyone think that Barber or Dare would even be playing IF we’d signed or traded for any one of a half dozen quality RBs who were available before the trade deadline?

    Would EITHER of those 2 upgrades have made a difference in our 5-7 record? Personally I think so … but obviously Jason LichtWeight didn’t.

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    View from 132 … Spot on IMO, although I still HOPE that we have a chance for a 9-7 finish (that won’t make the playoffs however, and neither would a 10-6 for that matter). It’s NEXT SEASON that we’re posturing for, and thank heaven that no one bought into the ‘tank for the draft’ scenario that some proposed (that would’ve destroyed these youngsters drive to kick arse & probably convinced our 2020 UFAs to sign elsewhere). I’m still convinced that with the right off-season moves, this team COULD be a playoff team (more likely wildcard in 2020 but compete for the NFC South title in 2021).

    Your comment about the free agent QBs is intriguing. As of today there are THIRTY QBs who’ll be unrestricted FAs in 2020. Obviously many will be re-signed by their teams (like Brady & Brees?), and most others are either too expensive, just so-so or washed up. But several are viable alternatives to re-signing Jameis (who Spotrac now shows with a Market Value of $25.9 mil). In any event, whether or not to re-sign Jameis (or franchise him?) will be THE MAJOR DECISION that the Bucs’ hierarchy faces this off-season. Which way we choose to go will determine (or limit?) all the other things we NEED to do to compete for a playoff spot in 2020 & 2021.

  20. jjbucfan Says:

    Leftwich and Arians could help our RBs tremendously by not being so predictable. A play action on 1st down every now and then will help that. Teams that play not to lose…lose. This felt so much like that yesterday, shades of the Giants, though the O and the D did enough to win and ST failed. BTW, on the play in the end zone anyone see Mike Evans again not finishing his route, he is looking at the LB the entire way instead of running his route and looking back at his QB. The ball hits him in the helmet instead of an easy TD. This keeps happening, he is in self preservation mode. I love Evans and Hopes he gets out of this habit, that easily could have been another INT. This is exactly the reason for the first INT against ATL. He didn’t want to get hit coming across the middle so he rounded his route and the DB went where he should have been. Happened against Tennessee on the pick 6 too. Not sure wassup but these plays are standing out, not sure why there is no talk about it. He is a great player and we are lucky to have both him and CG12, so I’m not complaining too much but I like JW too and he needs the help because his o-line and running game suck.

  21. Sleepy903 Says:

    TampaBay55 – I was looking at the same thing regarding the Vikings. one thing I noticed though is the Vikings arent doing so well in their own division. Even though they are 8-3 they are 1-2 in their division. They have the Seahawks tonight which I think they lose.

    Unfortunately they have the Lions and Chargers after that. Those are the two games that will determine if they make the playoffs. They got paired up w/ the NFC east and took care of business.

    Looking back at our schedule only 3 teams up until the last two weeks have a losing record and we went 2-2. We have to have the hardest schedule in the league plus the extended period of time away from Tampa.

  22. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    “It’s NEXT SEASON that we’re posturing for, and thank heaven that no one bought into the ‘tank for the draft’ scenario that some proposed (that would’ve destroyed these youngsters drive to kick arse & probably convinced our 2020 UFAs to sign elsewhere). ”

    This is the Quote of the Day. Tanking is the last things you want to do in the midst of the possible eleventh year of losing for a franchise. (Yes, we have had only two winning seasons out of the previous ten years.) You cannot possibly achieve a turnaround in attitude AKA as culture change if you do that!.

    I can’t even begin to understand any football fan or any real sports fan who has that kind of mindset.

  23. Brandon Says:

    The Giants game was lost from a terrible kick. The Seahawks game had blown officiating calls… but none was as bad as the blown call as in the Titans game after the stuffed fake FG attempt, the crooked official blew his whistle and the play dead on a clear scoop and score TD for the Bucs…. forget 7-5, this team SHOULD be 8-4 with competent officiating and an easy chip shot FG.

  24. pick6 Says:

    i’m with sparkybuc. the OL has not been terrible but they have been the culprit in some of the team’s worst showings in New Orleans and London. the front 5 are not playing to the standard of a group where the 4 veterans are probably taking a combined $50 million in cap space

  25. jjbucfan Says:

    D Rules- surprised to see how against JW you are and have been. I get your frustration but without an o-line and running game and generally the worst defense in football, what do you expect? We win when the defense plays even decent. I’d pay him 3 yr/ 75 mill, with team option for a 4th. 25 mill for a top 10 QB is cheap nowadays. Then pay Suh, Barrett and Nassib and invest heavily in o-line and D-line in the draft and FA. Restructure Brate and D Mith to more cap friendly deals.

  26. pick6 Says:

    “JimbobBucsFan Says: Tanking is the last things you want to do in the midst of the possible eleventh year of losing for a franchise.”

    i’m with you. the biggest boost would be if this group on the roster, the sidelines, and front office prove they can play at a high level vs these final 4 opponents and represent a solid core. this team tanked in a sense when they eliminated all the veterans and embarked on the Raheem Morris era, and they tanked in a fairly obvious manner late in year 1 of Lovie’s reign. In both cases all it did was set up coaches to fail and give the bucs a drafted core that has know idea what the playoffs feel like or how to get there.

    Matt Ryan is regressing. Cam Newton is probably gone. Brees is probably not far behind. The entire devision will be rebooting their rosters and redefining their franchises.

    This is not the time to root for more\higher draft picks, it is the time to root for our young studs to be young studs

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    I dont believe in benching players for making one mistake, and if it’s a pattern and it wasn’t the first time then it falls on coaching. You either coach that player out of those mistakes or you don’t put them in the game. It’s as simple as that.
    Jones is basically a rookie this year. He came in last year very green and didn’t see the field. This year they are counting on him to add a spark but he’s not being allowed to learn. Most college RB’s come in having a hard time picking up NFL blitzes, but they won’t learn anything by being benched and scolded to the pen and mic after the game.
    Blount couldn’t block either but he was a threat to break off a 40 yard run at any time, and almost every game he did if given enough carries. Jones isnt being given enough volume for us to see that potential. It’s a play calling issue.

  28. gotbbucs Says:

    Our Offensive Coordinator is green as hell around the gills and he is getting the opportunity to learn on the job, why is it different for the players?
    Papa Smurf listens to every play call and could intervene at any time, but he seems to let Sluggo call whatever he wants without a spanking after the game when he calls 50 pass plays and 6 runs.
    Somehow with Arians, when the coaching staff screws up it’s a “we” problem, but when a player screws up it’s a “they” problem. That kind of mentality will catch up with him here.
    It did in Arizona, look at the last couple years he coached there. They tuned him out in the end. Players will listen as long as they don’t think you’re full of sh!t, but as soon as they see through the BS you’ll lose the team.

    Arians is walking a fine line already. When things are going good he’s usually fine, but if they go bad he is quick to throw players under the bus.

  29. Defense Rules Says:

    jjbucfan … Contrary to your conclusion, I’m NOT anti-Jameis at all. I am however very much FOR proper TEAM-BUILDING, and believe that the direction JL has taken this team in will never lead to a playoff contender (offense $98 mil vs defense $59 mil). The only reason our defense is performing as well as it is right now IMO is because of this DEFENSIVE coaching staff. That same DC & staff that so many have bad-mouthed all year without considering the mountain they had to climb with this VERY young Secondary.

    When it comes to TEAM-BUILDING JJ, it’s not just what management does IMO; it’s just as much about what they DON’T DO. NOT acquiring a veteran CB & Safety earlier this year was very detrimental to this team’s development IMO (that the VETERAN VHIII is now gone should tell ya something?). NOT acquiring a veteran RB earlier this year to pair with RoJo has also been very detrimental IMO (and there were several who could have been signed very reasonably). Same thing with not acquiring a solid OLineman for at least depth.

    Re-signing Jameis for $25 mil SOUNDS NICE, but JL has backed us into a corner in terms of salary Cap far as I’m concerned. Next year’s salary Cap is projected at $200 mil, plus our carryover (almost $10 mil). Look at who we’ve already got under contract for 2020:

    o Mike Evans – $18.4 mil
    o Donovan Smith – $14.5 mil
    o Ali Marpet – $11.0 mil
    o Ryan Jensen – $10.0 mil
    o Cam Brate – $6.0 mil
    o OH Howard – $3.5 mil
    o Ronald Jones – $1.9 mil
    o Ryan Griffin – $1.6 mil
    o Chris Godwin – $1.0 mil
    o Alex Cappa – $0.9 mil
    o Justin Watson – $0.7 mil
    o TJ Logan – $0.7 mil
    o Aaron Stinnie – $0.7 mil
    o Scott Miller – $0.6 mil
    o Zach Bailey – $0.6 mil
    o Dare Ogunbowale – $0.6 mil

    Those 16 players total up to $72.7 mil all by themselves. We’d STILL need to sign another 8-9 players to get up to the 24-25 that we typically carry. Even IF we allocated our offense $110 mil next year (Bucs were the NFL’s most expensive this year at $98 mil), that ONLY leaves us $37.3 mil to sign 8-9 offensive players. And included in those 8-9 offensive players would be:

    o Your starting QB
    o Your starting RB
    o Your starting #3 WR
    o Your starting RT
    o PLUS 4-5 others for quality depth (OLine, TE, WRs?)

    As I’ve said before JJ, IF you pay Jameis $25-$30 mil, we’ll again have the NFL’s most expensive offense … BY CONSIDERABLY MORE NEXT YEAR (and that’s BEFORE we talk re-signing Godwin a year early). And worse, we won’t be able to build (aka, pay for) the DEFENSE & the offensive upgrades that we desperately NEED to make us a contender.

    It’s all about CHOICES. My preference for next year is to BUILD THE DEFENSE (focusing on the DLINE), plus BUILD A QUALITY OLINE, add a stud RB to complement RoJo, AND re-sign Jameis only IF it’s a team-friendly re-signing. IF not, sign a quality ‘bridge QB’ for next year then draft a rookie QB in 2021 (there are several really good ones BTW who’d be available in 2021 it looks like).

  30. jjbucfan Says:

    Was not implying you were a “Jameis hater” . You made it clear you are in the replace Jameis crowd, which kind of surprises me. IMO Jameis main deficit is his drive to win. He has really had no time to throw since he got in the league. He really has had no running game either so he is doing everything he can to win, not just lose by 14. He never believes they are out of a game and doesn’t care if he throws INTs if they are gonna lose anyway. You have to have a good to great QB in this league in today’s game as you know. We are 96 mill under the cap from what I read. I think you can fit everyone depending how you structure the deals and how you draft. If we don’t plan on O-line in the first round- blow it up and let Jameis walk. Signing D Smith to that deal was a huge mistake, Jensen makes too much, Dotson, though a great warrior, was old when JW3 was drafted. Now that Smith got LT money, maybe he will be willing to move to RT. Need to draft a LT and a Center. I agree on the RB completely. We got Ellington remember, lol. Licht is just terrible and I wouldn’t trust him to do anything that either of us suggested. He will probably draft CB or S in the first round. I also draft that RB from LSU in the 3rd or 4th. That kid is unbelievable. Could be our own Kamara (who we passed on a couple times, I believe).

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    jjbucsfan … Personally wouldn’t mind re-signing Jameis to a 2-3 year deal in the $15 mil per year range, with incentives of course. IF he had a strong defense, an improved OLine, a better RB combo (RoJo plus a horse like Derrick Henry) he’d do VERY WELL here IMO.

    He’s NOT a game manager, and he fits BA’s Bombs Away offense nicely. But to cut down on his turnovers, he needs much better protection (to buy him time), a better RB stable (to keep the defense off-balance), and a strong defense to clean up his messes (he’ll always have a sizeable number of turnovers in this type of an offense … THAT’S JAMEIS).

    BUT with the right support around him, I do believe he could get us to the playoffs. And once in, anything’s possible IMO. The BIG question is whether we ‘buy’ that support FIRST, or pay Jameis big bucks and HOPE that we can negotiate all the rest of the pieces down to where we can afford them.

  32. jjbucfan Says:

    DR- to start over gives you such an unknown. At least with JW we know what we have to do. BTW, I think you meant a defense that can get a key stop or hold a lead (as well as clean up his mess, lol). I am totally okay with you not wanting a 25 million dollar QB as to the reason you would not re-sign Winston. Not just some blind hatred for a dude that has a chance to throw for 5000. If we franchise him, we know that is about 30+ a year. If you franchise him again next year probably about 38. You have to sign him now as cheap as he will allow but give multi year deal. We have way too many 1 year deals. Should have signed Barrett after week 3 and if we didn’t have money, you re-structure Jensen and Brate and Marpet and maybe D Smith. Cut Hargreaves which we all knew was coming. Same with Nassib, needed to lock these guys up before they did what they are doing. We will never pay Barrett what he will ask for, especially with Rosenhouse as his agent.

  33. Jurevicius Circle Says:

    It was disheartening last night, listening to Al and Cris on SNF discussing Hargreaves. They seemed surprised (shocked even!) that VH3 was cut and the former first-rounder was just “on the street.” They even said (TWICE) that he was released for “not hustling”, but the way they phrased it made it sound like the Bucs were out of their minds for moving on. I guess that’s what we get for being so bad recently and not getting invited to play on Sunday nights on NBC: the announcers don’t even realize that we’ve had an historically bad pass defense, and that young Vernon was a leading culprit in those atrocities.

  34. RODNEY ALLEN Says:

    Joe said-an honest-to-goodness corner-turning time. Lol definitely has been a “corner” turning time. I just hope we keep the momentum through out this season and continue it next year n beyond

  35. LongSeason Says:

    The Bucs run game what is most feared. Is what strikes fear into the Bucs themselves. They be skeered they won’t move the ball on the ground or ye backs can’t pick up those blunderbuss blitzes. Shiver me timbers and hoist the the golden Toilet Bowl. ‘Tis our trophy for the year.

  36. LongSeason Says:

    Devin White is coming into his own. Dang! What a three week run. And I think he is just getting tuned up. I hope this amps up Lavonte.