Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Lions

December 15th, 2019

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They’re young, they’re having fun and they’re wildly entertaining.

No, we’re not talking about the glee club at Alonso High School.

Amazingly, we’re talking ’bout your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay’s record may be 7-7, but there’s nothing nondescript about Buc Ball at the moment. Sunday’s win at Detroit marked the seventh time this season the Bucs reached the 30-point mark.

Yes, folks, that’s special. How special?

Between 1993 and 1996, a period that encompassed both Sam Wyche and Tony Dungy as head coach, the Bucs reeled off a span of 56 consecutive games without reaching the 30-point threshold.

Fifty-six straight games. That’s Joe DiMaggio territory.

This offense is a hoot right now and Jameis Winston is excelling in his role as ringmaster. He vaulted into the NFL record book with back-to-back games of at least 450 passing yards, completing throws to 11 different receivers as the Bucs finished 5-3 on the road.

A third-quarter lapse generated some agita among the Buc faithful sitting with me at Buffalo Wild Wings in Sarasota, but a pick-6 by Sean Murphy-Bunting led to a jubilant flight home from the Motor City. To borrow a phrase from Marvin Gaye, the rest of the NFL must be wondering what’s going on at One Buc Place.

The easiest way to explain Tampa Bay’s startling surge is to focus on new players making their mark in pewter. Shaq Barrett is about to sack Warren Sapp, Devin White is playing fast and an inexperienced secondary is teeming with confidence.

Breshad Perriman, who looked like a free-agent bust heading into December, has emerged as the big-play receiver DeSean Jackson was supposed to be.

This 4-game winning streak, the team’s longest since 2016, is generating a buzz across the league that Bruce Arians is at it again, turning around yet another impoverished franchise.

Here’s how the Bucs handed the injury-riddled Lions their 10th loss in 11 games while keeping hope alive for a winning record:

* The great Jameis Winston question has been asked — and answered. He’s coming back in 2020 and the only real remaining intrigue is whether the Bucs will sign him to a long-term deal or franchise No. 3. A club averaging 29.7 points does not let its 25-year-old quarterback hit free agency. Yes, even if he leads the league in interceptions. Winston shook off an early pick and shook up the Detroit secondary, averaging 10.9 yards per pass attempt. That number alone will win you a lot of football games.

* Perriman has stepped up his game right on time, considering Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both sidelined with hamstring injuries. The Bucs will enter Saturday’s matchup against the Texans depleted at the wide receiver position, but Houston’s pass defense is shaky with 30 TDs allowed and only 8 interceptions. In the past 4 games, Perriman is averaging 22 yards per catch, earning Winston’s trust.

* The Bucs have a chance to go 7-1 in the second half of the season and if you think that’s rare, you’re correct. The only time Tampa Bay finished a regular season in that manner came in 1999, when a 3-4 Tampa Bay team went 8-1 down the stretch behind a suffocating defense. This time around, a dynamic offense is leading the way.

* Tampa Bay’s third-down success continued with a 7-for-14 showing. That gives the Bucs a 46 percent success rate on the money down in the past eight games, bringing a smile to the face of Byron Leftwich.

* Speaking of Leftwich, his NFL profile has been elevated by Tampa Bay’s recent play. He has found a way to overcome an unbalanced attack From 2015 until 2018, the Bucs were 2-16 when throwing more than 40 passes. Sunday’s win made them 4-4 in that regard this season.

* Add another day when the Bucs rush for less than 100 yards, making it 8 times in 14 games they haven’t cracked the century mark. Once again, Tampa Bay failed to control the clock after owning a comfortable halftime advantage. The longest gain in 29 carries was 6 yards. C’mon, man.

* Donovan Smith sat out a game for the first time in his pro career, but the offensive line gave Winston ample time to shred the Lions. Josh Wells had some anxious moments at left tackle, but he wasn’t overwhelmed.

* Even if Godwin doesn’t return this season, he put together quite a highlight tape. Sunday’s effort marked his sixth 100-yard game of the year and the growth curve from his rookie season has been sensational.

* Barrett and Sapp are joined at the hip pad with two games remaining. Barrett doesn’t intend to share that Buc single-season franchise record for sacks with the Hall of Fame defensive tackle, so he has his sights set on dumping Deshaun Watson and Matt Ryan. It would be fitting if No. 99 is in the house and able to congratulate Barrett personally should he stand alone in Buc annals.

* Arians said it himself after the game. If you would have told him that the Bucs would finish 5-3 on the road, he would have expected a playoff berth. That didn’t happen, but a winning road record is a testament to the character of this team — especially given the harsh nature of the schedule.

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Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the league and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at The Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. You can hang out with Ira during every Bucs road games at Buffalo Wild Wings. His schedule is linked here.

28 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Lions”

  1. Rod Munch Says:

    Nothing against Shaq, he’s been great this year and I want to keep him around… but Sapp is a generational talent, a 1st ballot HOF, a guy who is used as THE standard. I want Shaq to keep up his production, but it will still pain me to see Sapp lose that team record. Doing what Sapp did as a DT was an incredibly special feat.

  2. Mort Says:

    Oh man, look out! Ira is excited! And it’s not about the Chiefs, but it’s the Bucs!

  3. Thisisouryear!!! Says:

    I have been for letting go of Jameis forever. But he’s hitting receivers in stride for the first time. I think Arians is getting through to him. With as big and strong he is, i think he’s going to continue getting better and be one of top 3 in the league. I think the ints are going away. Hopefully he’s grown up off the field. Go Bucs!!! Win out.

  4. Buc believer Says:

    This winning streak and maybe going 9-7 or 8-8 is SO bittersweet. Yeah it’s much much better that 3-13 or 5-11 but where does it get you! Nowhere except a lower draft pick. Damn if only….

  5. ‘79Defense Says:

    56 straight games without scoring 30? Damn….

    I understand not liking interceptions, but you have to wonder about the strong opinions of some (some) people today. “Hey, let’s get rid of our QB!”

  6. 541Buc Fan Says:

    I really hope Godwin can make it back and finish an excellent year.

  7. Ndog Says:

    Ira please let me be the first to thank you for the full jinx. Since you decided to open your mouth we have lost Donovan Smith, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Jordan Whitehead and our QB has a broken thumb. Thanks Ira!!!!!

  8. Miller5252 Says:

    It’s really too bad about all the injuries to the team right now, I really wanted to see them play the Texans with their full weapons. I’m still concerned about them playing a good team and the Texans are going to be a good test. If the Bucs can hold their own 2020 might have some playoffs for the Bucs. I really want to believe they can compete against a good team so they can carry it next year. I got both fingers and toes crossed that they can thump the next 2 opponents. Gotta give them credit with all these wins of late, that offense is really going strong!

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    The Texans are the Bucs Super Bowl game.

  10. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    I’m sold
    Bring Jameis back

    He won’t protect the ball but he’s exciting and there is no qb better

  11. Buczilla Says:

    Awesome article and an awesome win.

  12. firethecannons Says:

    Crazy season, there were so many times I was certain it was right to take a hard pass on Jameis and now even more I am convinced he is the answer! Unless we could get Joe Burrow without trading up I am glad to keep Jameis. I can see we stand a great chance with better defense. Hope we beef up offensive line and resign all of our defensive guys. we need better offensive line.

  13. TampaTown Says:

    11 different receivers. Think about that. Godwin, Perriman, Watson, Miller and some guy named Hyman. All 3 running backs, all 3 tight ends including Tanner Hudson. Was that literally every available receiver active today? Pretty cool
    I feel the same as Rod Munch, I’m super happy for Shaq, but my heart wants Sapp to retain his title.

  14. JAB83 Says:

    Let the 2020 MVP talk Start Now.

    You heard it hear first.

    2020 MVP Jaboo

  15. snookman Says:

    Relax! Tampa’s 4 game winning streak is pretty much a mirage. We have played the same all year except now we are on the soft part of our schedule.

    We are what we are. It is encouraging but remember teams like NO, and SFO showed that we have major holes still.

    This little run is nice but it doesn’t happen against better talent. What we do next year will change my impression of what we are doing right now.

    My point is proven if we play like garbage and lose next week.

    I am cautiously optimistic……..and a realist

  16. Ocala Says:

    The Bucs should not franchise Jamies. They need to sign him to a long term contract.

  17. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    Firethecannons – if we had the #1 overall pick I would sprint to the podium and take Chase Young. Why take a flyer on a rookie QB when our former #1 overall pick is playing at a level worthy of that pick. League leader in yards, and top two in points and TDs. Even more amazing when you factor in they have no running game.

  18. miken Says:

    O.j Howard over Dalvin Cook is the only reason we aren’t going to the playoffs.

  19. AMI_Chris Says:

    My enthusiasm — which is real and fun — about this team is tempered by the fact that I’ve seen this before. Start the year 2-6, put the season in the toilet, then win a bunch of games that aren’t meaningful. Then do it again next year. Victory Mondays feel empty after you’ve been eliminated from the playoffs.

  20. TouchDownTampaBay Says:

    AMI, Jameis is putting this team on his back and lighting it up. If they can improve the line with some run blockers, pick up another RB and continue to improve on defense this team has a chance to be very good next year. When they went 9-7 a couple of years ago it still seemed like the team was missing several pieces. If they can keep this D Line intact and make some tweaks I think this time it is not a mirage.

  21. nicholas Houllis Says:

    let me correct some negative positivity from well named positive named people, THISisOURyear and Buc Believer; first , This is OUR year, I want you to think about something regarding Jameis. You want him to clean up his off the field stuff… do you know how Long its been since he’s done something bad OFF the field? you may be surprised to know how many bad decisions he’s made since being benched his last year at Florida State vs Clemson when he was 20 years old? 1. The Uber incident which happened March of 2016 just after his Rookie year at the age of 22. HOW BAD IS JAMEIS OFF FIELD RECORD REALLY? and finally BUCBELIEVER, where does it get you? For most teams, the draft pick is more important. But most teams dont need to learn how to win, the BUCS NEEDED TO LEARN HOW TO WIN. Just like in 1996 after 14 straight losing seasons, 13 of them Double Digit losing seasons, the wins were more important. Tony Dungy started the year 1-8, Arians was 2-6, 3-7. The Parallels between the 1996 team and our 2019 team are remarkable. Both coaches needed home wins over their former teams; Dungy over the Vikings, Arians with win over Cardinals 30-27. Each win came within a game or two of close heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks!! The last game was home win over division opponent Bucs have lost to for over a decade (Chicago then, Atlanta now) that sent a message to players, fans, NFL.. the Bucs are losers no more. From 1-8 to 6-10 after a 5-2 finish in 1996, from 3-7 to 7-7 with 2 games to go. Trust me, winning is more important than draft picks.

  22. ben Says:

    So Winston can take a team to the super bowl with all his fumbles and interceptions ? Is he a top qb in his own division? I will say i hope so but playing against a good team may be a different story .

  23. Bucsfanman Says:

    Rod Munch- And that’s the key, Sapp did it as a DT. No matter what, Sapp will remain one of the best Bucs of all time.
    It’s interesting to look at all the sack “legends”. A lot of people think of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Interestingly enough, it was their LBs who led the team in sacks over the years, over their DL.
    What Barrett has done and continues to do is amazing. I hope the Bucs are smart enough to lock him up.

  24. Runnerdoc Says:

    I’d like to beat the Texans, too, and it’s possible . Does it have any bearing on 2020? No, it doesn’t. You’re a passing offense playing without your top 2 receivers

  25. orlbucfan Says:

    But Luck woke up. Look at the injuries. Still, it’s been a LOT worse! All three guys who have hamstring problems are great young players. Let them rest. I hoped to go to the game next week. Won’t happen. Bucs defense is for real and the special team is improving. I stick by my belief that the Bucs will win their last 6 and go 9-7. Wonder who the backup WRs will be?

  26. bigdaddy58 Says:

    Hands down ,the best team that’s not in the playoffs.I bet the NFL hates seeing the Bucs put up 30 points a game and not having them in the playoffs and having to watch the whole NFC east stink it up every week.
    Including DALLAS.Who wouldn’t even be close to a playoff spot if they played in the south.

  27. Bucamania Says:

    How is Shaq NOT in the conversation for DPOY?

    All I hear about is TJ Watt, who has 3 less sacks.

  28. SB Says: