Blessing Or Curse?

May 20th, 2020

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Establishing a home-field advantage has never been more critical for the denizens of One Buccaneer Place.

On the surface, Tampa Bay’s out-of-division schedule is stocked with road patsies and home juggernauts. The 2019 NFL standings suggest the Bucs will need to be at their best at Raymond James Stadium this fall.

And while it’s true that team fortunes change every season in this league, it’s hard to make a credible case that the 2020 slate is evenly divided home and away in terms of challenges.

Some big-time opponents are rolling into Tampa this year and franchise history says that means big trouble. The Packers, Rams, Chiefs, Vikings and Chargers combined for a 49-31 mark last year. Green Bay  reached the NFC title game and Kansas City won it all.

The road schedule looks like a comparative stroll in the park.

Home blues have to end immediately, Ira Kaufman details.

The Broncos, Bears, Raiders, Giants and Lions posted a cumulative mark of 29-50-1. None of them made the playoffs and in reality, none of these five underachievers came close.

You would think such a lopsided slate would be welcome for any organization. Over the NFL’s 100-year history, home teams have won 56 percent of the time. But when it comes to this cursed franchise, home field hasn’t meant a darned thing since Chucky departed the scene.

The last time the Bucs registered a winning home record (6-2), Jon Gruden was wrapping up the 2008 season before receiving his walking papers. Since that point, the Bucs are 31-57 at home and 31-57 on the road.

That’s perfect symmetry … and perfectly awful.

Last year was particularly galling as Tampa Bay went 5-3 on the road, only to finish with a losing record.

“No, not in a million years,” Bruce Arians said of the home travails. “That’s a thing we really have to look at and evaluate. The kicker at home — how do we fix that? He’s struggled here and hasn’t really struggled anywhere else.”

Although Raymond James Stadium isn’t exactly known for its howling winds, rookie Matt Gay made 14-of-17 FG attempts on the road and only 13-of-18 at home. The low point came in the season finale as Gay misfired on three kicks from inside the 50 in an overtime loss to Atlanta.

Driver Change

One reason for optimism in this home/road conundrum is the change under center.

Whether he was playing in Foxborough or in a hostile stadium, Tom Brady simply didn’t throw picks. His 1.8 percent career interception rate ranks No. 4 in NFL history.

Jameis Winston couldn’t stop throwing picks, especially at home. During his 5-year Buc career, Winston completed 63 percent of his throws on the road, with 63 TDs, 37 interceptions and a healthy passer rating of 93.1.

It was that bad, writes Ira.

At home, it was a different story — a dark, disturbing tale of self-destruction. Winston was a 60 percent passer at home, with 58 TDs, 51 interceptions and an 81.5 rating.

Big difference.

Perhaps Winston was too stoked before a home crowd, believing he needed to entertain the paying customers. The fitting end came In the final two weeks of the 2019 season when Winston sealed his fate by throwing six picks in home losses to Houston and Atlanta.

“The quarterback struggles here and he doesn’t struggle other places,” Arians said in summing up a bizarre season. “When you go 5-3 on the road, you’re supposed to be playing in the playoffs.”

The Bucs face their toughest opponents at home. By all accounts, that should be a blessing.

So why does it feel like a curse?

Ira with his good friend Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford, Tampa’s first family of ford. Sean will help you personally in any way he can.

16 Responses to “Blessing Or Curse?”

  1. Swampbuc Says:

    Matt Gay needds to go. He can’t make extra points either.

  2. JP09 Says:

    Everyone should thank Matt Gay, had he made those kicks and the one against the Giants that other guy probably would’ve got another year.

  3. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Get ready for chants of ‘chowdah” and Tompa Bay.

  4. Darin Says:

    Dewey if they’re rooting for the Bucs they can chant whatever they want. Otherwise put em up, its go time.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    A losing culture starts at home……and, a winning culture will begin there.

  6. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    It’s funny the article is about Winston but let’s go ahead and blame the kicker. Even all the other times Winston let his team down.

    …’s a shame this comment will probably summon Ndog

  7. stpetebucsfan Says:

    “At home, it was a different story — a dark, disturbing tale of self-destruction. Winston was a 60 percent passer at home, with 58 TDs, 51 interceptions and an 81.5 rating.”

    AKA CHOKING!!! Or put more gently as you said IRA…”Perhaps Winston was too stoked before a home crowd, believing he needed to entertain the paying customers.”

    Then again perhaps he’s just a choker. Or in fairness to JW…he doesn’t seem to see the field…process information…such as where defenders should be…maybe he’s just a football cement head. At home he certainly played like one.

    I do not think JW is dumb…he’s certainly not lazy or unprepared which is why “choker” seems to be the only explanation,

  8. Barbosa Says:

    31-57 records at both home and away. Losing starts at the top and the glazers have no one to blame but themselves. Firing Gruden, going cheap with Morris, overreacting with Schiano, wishful thinking with Koetter, and now Arians. This just in: poor personnel descisions lead to poor results.

  9. Mike Says:

    IF and when we have fans in the stands, we need to be championship level fans and bring the energy to the stadium. IF you are one of those golf clapping, sitting on your hands, complaining about the heat, wish you had your 70′ TV in front of you Fans, STAY HOME! I have had tickets for 25 years and I work my ass off every game trying to make noise for our defense. I have traveled to several other stadiums and I will take the noise my 35 to 40 thousand Die Hards make over any amount of fake fans. WE the fans need to decide whether or not we are all in for a run at a super bowl. Because I can guarantee this team will need us if we are to make any sort of run. Be ready to put work in on game days everyone, I know Tommy boy will make Damn sure they are doing it on the field.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    @Ira … “The Broncos, Bears, Raiders, Giants and Lions posted a cumulative mark of 29-50-1. None of them made the playoffs and in reality, none of these five underachievers came close.”

    I’m disappointed Sage. You make it sound like those 5 games will be gimmes and I’d contend that they’re anything but that. Check the Broncos home record since 2012 (they’re close to unbeatable at Mile High). Chicago went 8-8 last year & had the #4 defense. Raiders I’m not at all sure about, but they have added a lot of talent. Giants were 2-8 at home last year (4-12 overall), and yet … they beat us. Lions were also terrible at home, and terrible overall (3-12-1).

    Still, on any given Sunday any team can beat any other team. I take absolutely NOTHING for granted in the NFL.

  11. DBS Says:

    I think it’s time for some people to quit trying to constantly stir up trouble. Move on. 2019 is over. You are doing things intentionally now just to cause trouble.

  12. ClwJB Says:

    Good take above – had Gay made one against the GMen and one against the Falcons – we are 9-7 and JW is likely still here on a 25 mil per yr contract

    Everything happens for a reason


  13. rrsrq Says:

    Then on top that, NFL network shows Devin White tackling the Titans player that fumbles and the ref blows the play dead, another win that keeps JW here and no chance at getting Wirfs.

  14. Buczilla Says:

    Good article Ira. If the greatest player in NFL history is as bad as Jameis was at home, we’ll know that it truly is a curse.

  15. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Barbosa, you are dead wrong about Arians.

    You are in for a shock this year.

  16. gotbbucs Says:

    So turnover differential matters? Don’t tell the dense Joe this Ira, he was fine with the interceptions so long as they were entertaining.

    Hopefully dense Joe will be able to stomach watching methodical offense that wins football games. Brady isn’t ever going to wow that Joe, he’ll just deliver the ball on time and give the fast guys a chance to make plays.

    I’m eager to see what Evans and Godwin can do with an accurate in stride pass.