Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Panthers

September 20th, 2020

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What, you thought this was going to be easy?

You’re a Buccaneer fan — the Bucs don’t do easy. At halftime, this one looked like a romp for the home team. By the fourth quarter, the outcome was very much in doubt.

That’s life in the NFL, but the important part is Tampa Bay now carries credible momentum into Denver. Despite some hiccups, the defense got the job done while Leonard Fournette earned more touches by applying the dynamic finishing touch.

Give the undermanned Panthers some credit. They played the Raiders tough last week and they didn’t quit after a horrendous opening half on Sunday.

As Tom Brady is always quick to remind us, there’s plenty of room for improvement at One Buc Place. But the Bucs upgraded in several significant areas that will serve them well going forward.

A loss to Carolina would have been devastating, so this was a step forward in a long march toward the postseason. As always, there are some things to clean up, but Buc Nation felt a lot better about its football team when the final seconds ticked off.

Here are the hits and misses:

* Brady wasn’t great, but he deserved a better fate. Some critical dropped passes would have put this game away while padding Brady’s statistics. He made some terrific throws and used his backs more effectively as targets. Those early connections with Mike Evans are a sign of better communication and let’s remember he didn’t have Chris Godwin.

* If you go by the sheer numbers, Tampa Bay’s defense had a tough afternoon. If you watched the game, you know that’s not an accurate assessment. Four takeaways and five sacks are testament to yet another impressive effort. That makes eight solid games in a row for Todd Bowles’ hungry unit.

* Let’s get this out there right now — it’s going to be difficult to keep Devin White out of the Pro Bowl. He was a relentless force Sunday with 15 tackles, including 11 solo stops. He’s becoming a speedy factor on the blitz and he’s getting better every week. Those No. 45 jerseys are going to be a hot item.

* Teddy Bridgewater played a heck of a game, dodging pass rushers to throw for 340 yards. He had a couple of throws he’d like back, but Bridgewater just completed 32 passes against an emerging defense. No wonder Carolina pounced on him in free agency and no wonder he was on Bruce Arians’ radar before Brady came aboard.

* While White was roaming sideline to sideline, Ndamukong Suh and Antoine Winfield Jr. also excelled. Suh posed two sacks, two tackles for loss and two QB hits … not a bad day for a renowned run stuffer. Winfield contributed 11 stops and showed once again he has rare instincts in diagnosing plays as a rookie.

* What can you say about Fournette’s performance, except to say the Bucs now have a new primary running back. Fournette runs with power and he’s fully capable of breaking off long gains. Ronald Jones deserves some touches, but the days of breaking Fournette in slowly should be history.

* Once again, Bowles and his disciples found a way to contain Christian McCaffrey. The NFL’s most versatile back was limited to 88 total yards on 22 touches, with a long gain of a mere 10 yards. Tampa Bay’s defensive speed, particularly at linebacker, has stymied McCaffrey in each of the past three matchups.

* Arians challenged the offensive line to be more physical and Joe Gilbert’s group got the message. Brady usually had a secure pocket and there were more expansive running lanes. On Fournette’s game-clinching dash, the interior of the line did a superb job creating a crease.

* Carlton Davis has grown in so many ways and on Sunday, he showed off his improved ball skills. Bridgewater’s pass was off target, but not many NFL defensive backs would have turned an incompletion into an interception like No. 24. Maybe Arians is right — maybe Davis is a Top 10 corner.

* Better pass rush, better run game, better special teams, better Brady. Add it all up and the Bucs made some major strides in Week 2. Admittedly, the Panthers are not the Saints, but it’s not a stretch to suggest Tampa Bay will be 4-1 when the Packers arrive Oct. 18, with the potential of some fans in the stands at Raymond James Stadium. “We’re still a long way from where we need to be,” Brady said. After Sunday, the Bucs are quite a bit closer.

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford, where the stunning offers are waiting for you. Click on Ira to visit, where GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally.


53 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Panthers”

  1. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Nice article as always IRA

  2. Ivan The Insider Says:

    The O-Line didn’t DO JACK SQUAT today.

    A Fournette big hole to seal the game doesn’t erase how bad we ran block (again) for 99% of this game.

    Our Rushing Attack is a LIABILITY. If anything is going to keep this talented team from a deep playoff run it’s the running game. It will get better when they make Fournette the primary back.

    Once again this O-Line failed to create many big holes during most of the game. This is a major problem.

    Having Gronk, who is supposed to be a solid blocker, in many of the formations… it’s inexcusable that this team doesn’t have multiple 10+ yard runs.

    The RoJo TD run was a misdirection run where he happened to beat his one-on-one with a stiff arm. He gets tackled there the O-Line’s ineptitude is further exposed.

    The last thing we need to be doing is praising this O-Line for their run blocking. They haven’t earned ANY praise yet this season.

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    Nothing about BL and the play calling?…


  4. 813bucboi Says:

    If not for TOs this offense would’ve put up 40+….

    BL is cooking up something special….


  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The eleventh thing:

    Our kicker didn’t miss a kick….

  6. Lamarcus Says:


    BL is garbage.

  7. Pete Says:

    Happy with Whitehead and Succop!

  8. 813bucboi Says:



    Garbage is your place of residence and JW!!!!…



  9. Sumosam Says:

    One of the takeaways that I had from this game is that this team has the possibility of being very very good because they’re loaded in a lot of and you can now see it. If they put this thing together they’re going to be super hard to beat.

  10. FortMyersDave Says:

    Great article Ira! Always terrific content!

  11. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    How do you NOT trot Fournette out on the first series as starting RB next game?

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Agree with everything IRA. While Fournette is the better back RO is not chopped liver. The first TD was a thing of beauty. He combined speed and a solid stiff arm to get into the end zone.

    We do not have to put down RO in order to elevate Fournette. I suspect they’re both going to get plenty of touches.

  13. Tampabuscsbro Says:


    so you can keep him fresh to punch down the opposing teams throat late game to keep a lead.

  14. Greg Says:

    @Ivan I am not sure that was a big hole that Fournette ran through to score that TD. With all due respect I saw it as a crease he recognized and accelerated through. When was the last time we saw that from a TB back? IMO that was refreshing and something we may get used to seeing.

  15. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Tampabucsbro – not arguing as that strategy worked today to perfection. Going forward having a RB threat who can bust it opens up the play action option. Win is a win, and expect an easy win next week vs Broncos with same game plan. Driskel is QB and no Von Miller. 2-1 after next week. easy peasy.

  16. mark2001 Says:

    I like this running back group… alternate them until the fourth quarter…and then it is Fournette time. He is fresh, powerful and fast…and they are tired and gasping for air.

  17. Tbbucs3 Says:

    I think we’re just gonna have to accept that this offense with Brady is not going to be the explosive downfield offense that it was with Winston…..

    But if we can get the run game going then the offense can work with Brady.

  18. Ivan The Insider Says:


    It was several one-on-one isolations which essentially creates a hole when one has enough room to go between them. Our line hasn’t created many of those this season. There has often been defenders getting penetration before the back even gets to the line of scrimmage. On that Fournette play all the blocks were held at the line of scrimmage and there was no double team where the play went, thus Fournette slipped between blocks and was in the clear.

  19. mark2001 Says:

    Tbb…when these guys get on the same page, I think this offense will really click. I think it can be explosive as it was with Winston, but might not be as “exciting” and “chancy” as it was with Mr. Excitement.

  20. Ivan The Insider Says:


    I do think Leftwich is a WEAK coordinator. He seems to lack the ability to ADJUST and also seems to lack the ability to maximize the usage of the assets you have to work with.

    Scotty Miller, for example, has WORLD CLASS SPEED. He’s small, slippery, and incredibly fast.

    Why not run Miller on a reverse? Or throw more WR screens to him? Or have him drag across the middle with a LB covering him?

  21. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Sitting here watching the game was trying to think of what would describe This team in its current state. All I can come up with is muddy, it was very muddy game nothing very crisp nothing very sharp. Hope things get better soon.

    Oh, and I hate prevent defense.

  22. stpetebucsfan Says:


    I like your idea about the rotation of RBs. RO did not have an easy trot into the end zone on that first TD…speed and a good stiff arm…and then the run where he should have been stopped at the line of scrimmage only to leap over the tackler and turn no gain into a decent pickup.

    Keep Fournette fresh into the 4th Quarter.

  23. Craig Says:

    The O-line was much better and when, finally, some zone blocking and pulled guards were called they did it well.

    The Bucs need to call true run plays a little more often.

    Brady seemed to be doing things his own way. That is an improvement over running Leftwich plays for the Saints game. Leftwich builds plays like he used to quarterback them, slow with a long windup. He needs to adapt. If he can this team can go far.

    I would like to see Fournette saved for the second half, maybe even just the forth quarter. I think that if true run plays get called, RoJo will even look good, if he would quit doing stupid stuff.

  24. Is it true Says:

    Ira is it true that you also write for the Kansas City Star about “your Chiefs?” Can’t believe Joe allows duel fandom with his employees.

  25. Bucs Fan Since ‘76 Says:

    Uuuuuh, we scored 31 today, right?

  26. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    ^^^^ THIS – and next week will be ugly for Broncos. And that is assuming Bucs keep Godwin at home.

  27. Ed Says:

    Some observations:

    Bucs secondary was playing soft zone and allowing too many easy comeback receptions on the sidelines. The Panther completions in the middle of the field were met with immediate tackles.

    Defensive front seven as the announcers keep saying is very strong, they played well. Ira is right about the defense, this is a year that multiple Buccaneer linemen and linebackers will be in the Pro Bowl. Carlton Davis is also a potential ProBowler.

    The offense isn’t in sync yet. There were some great things that you never saw between Evans and Winston, on the timing Brady threw some great balls to Mike. As a matter of fact he threw a touchdown pass to Scotty Miller that he flat out dropped, an easy catch, one on one, ball right to and threw his arms. Then he threw one down the sidelines and it hit the receiver in the helmet. WTF! Finally LeSean McCoy helps his quarterback and Brady floats a beautiful touchdown pass, but wait, McCoy doesn’t make that easy catch. That garbage has to stop, they need to catch it when they are open.

    A work in progress. Now that Fournette has shown hes the best back and Brady and Evans have the chemistry, its just about all of the other guys making plays on the offense when they get the opportunity. The defense is at this point better than the offense, they just have some catching up to do.

  28. Howard Cosell Says:

    Great posting!
    It reminds Howard of reading Ira’s articles in the old newspaper on Monday morning after a Bucs victory back in the Dungy/Gruden days

  29. Miller5252 Says:

    I agree with everything except for White’s performance today. I’m a big White fan but he did have some misses today that I hope he’ll continue to clean up. If you’re claiming to be ballin the over pursues and coverage needs to get better. I agree to what he’s going to be in the future, just keep putting in the work.

  30. Rod Munch Says:

    Before people get carried away with the Fournette bandwagon, you need to watch more than just his highlights — there’s a reason he was cut from what was believed to be the worst team in football. He showed great burst on the last run — but also had fantastic block, Rojo would have also scored a TD on that play. But Fournette still looked indecisive on a number of runs, which was his issue in Jacksonville. He either has an issue with vision, or he’s just not an aggressive runner, but anything going sideways was ending with him being stopped for no gain or losing yardage since he either doesn’t see holes or waits too long to hit them. If you can get him going straight north/south, he looks better. That was also his rep in Jacksonville, and after 2 games I can 100% see what they were talking about.

    That isn’t to rain on the Fournette parade, but if the Bucs want him to be the primary back, then run him north/south, not east/west, and he seems to be a lot more effective.

    As for who to play? Play whoever has the hot hand. I don’t care if it’s Fournette or Rojo, but those appointing Fournette as the every down back need to actually know what they’re talking about – including his issues.

  31. JayWill Says:

    People act like Winston didn’t deal with drop tds last year Evans and Perriman dropped tds in the 2nd game of the season last year. At least Brady has Fournette to close out Carolina unlike Winston last year in Carolina. Brady has more turnovers than Winston did after 2 games.

  32. Bucsfan951 Says:


    “You can throw ints when you’re third on the depth chart!”

  33. ©MadMax Says:

    @Ivan, very well said

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    JayWill – Winston was dealing with drops late in the year, its why getting a 3rd WR should have been a big part of the offseason. In the Houston game, stupid Watson didn’t drop it, but was wide open for a TD and tripped over his own two feet (after earlier in the game cutting off a route early and leading to an INT). In that same game, Brate dropped a critical 4th and 2 at the Houston 35 with only about 4 mins left. In that same game OJ dropped an easy deep pass that would have, at worst, put the Bucs in FG range in a 3pt game – but might have gone for a TD.

    Drops were a huge issue last year once you got past Godwin and Evans.

  35. Broy34 Says:

    Rod munch – what r you watching dude. Fournette by himself bailed the receivers and tired defense out. Brady was just fine. You can’t drop three touchdowns and expect Brady to be perfect aside from that. Drops that would’ve extended drives and a sudden attack by Carolina got the d tired and honestly it seemed to be more Bridgewater making some throws against perfect d. But Rod-you’re high if you think any team other than Jacksonville, a team whose ownership and management wants to see lose to get Trevor Lawrence is cutting Fournette. Funny to think that belicheck and the chiefs extended an offer to him that late in camp but yeah -he struggles with decisiveness. The man ran for 1000 and caught 76 balls on an absolute garbage offense and has been a force since high school. If you can watch him and think he’s not a huge improvement over EVERYONE this team has had since Dougs rookie season then we are done here

  36. 813bucboi Says:



    Leftwitch created an identity today…..we stuck with the run game, showed some creativity and made big plays off the play action….

    Ya boy Scotty for example had a chance to cash in but he dropped a TD….lol…BL called the perfect play for him….

    BL worked the CAR defense silly in the first half which made them gassed in the second half…evident by fournette breaking loose to seal the deal…..

    It’s a 16 game season….Why throw the kitchen sink at a defense every week?…..


  37. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    The offense is getting better since last game. They put up 24 last week 31 this week with help of the defense. Brady gets his picks down to 1 every 3 games then we’ll be rollin

  38. Mirrormirroronthewall Says:

    The Panthers are a terrible team. It does not look good for the Bucs.

  39. Rod Munch Says:

    Broy34 – Did you miss the part where every team in the NFL could have grabbed Fournette off waivers and didn’t? If he’s an all-pro, like you’re appointing him, why didn’t anyone want him?

    Fournette, when running outside and trying to read the blocking looks indecisive and slow – that’s why he passed through waivers without being claimed. That was his tape last year, that’s been his tape for 2 weeks this year. No, that doesn’t mean on every single run that’s how it looks, but runs at the tackle or outside, he often is being dragged down for no gain or losing yards when he could have gotten 3 or 4 yards instead.

    However when they don’t ask him to do that, when they say run straight ahead in hole x, he looks dramatically better. So simple solution, just ask him to run straight ahead most of the time.

  40. Bucsfan951 Says:


    If jw was so great, why didn’t anyone else sign him? Why is he third on the saints depth chart?

  41. Lamarcus Says:


    Your delusional

  42. Anonymous Says:

    Hey joe did u c the fournette TD run replay where Mike Evans plays “Handsy” with DB to spring it?

  43. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Todd Bowles is almost certainly going to be the one who replaces Arians when the big man retires after winning the Superbowl this year.

  44. Dubcity6 Says:

    What a breath of fresh air you are Ira. Great article.

  45. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    DaYam…..Russell Wilson is going to be hard to beat….. in the playoff game.

  46. SB Says:

    Anyone still out there?

  47. SB Says:

    There is zero way I could concur with you more REDZONE

  48. 541BucsFan Says:

    Game 1 – ugly loss
    Game 2 – ugly win

    Now let’s …

    Game 3 – solid win

  49. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    @SB – Wilson is the BEST QB in NFL…..including Mahomes in that mix. And the QB we have to beat to get to SB game. Our D should be better by playoff time than Pats D on TV tonight.

  50. Rod Munch Says:

    While I’d have hated to see the Pats win, and all the “we don’t need Brady” stuff that would follow and how the Pats are 2-0, etc – I still would rather have an AFC team beat the Seahawks.

    But what a terrible last play call by the Pats. That is where Brady is missed. Everyone knew Cam was going to carry it, and they just zeroed on him. With Brady in that situation you have no idea where the ball is going to go. With Cam, they just did an all-out run stuffing blitz. Also, in fairness to Cam, I thought he made a really weak attempt at a dive that had no chance, but on replay you see he is getting submarined and appeared to be already being hit as he tried to dive, making it look really pitiful. Not a good playcall.

  51. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    @Rod – right on the mark! Everyone should quit the Brady/Pats crap comparisons. Not relevant to our season! Seahawks and Wilson will be our target for the year in terms of being as efficient and formidable. The playoffs – our target – will go through Seattle in some way. And BA/BL have to construct an offense that will be as unstoppable as a Russell Wilson-led offense.

  52. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Send an oxygen mask to Dan Quinn…. He is DONE as HC. Chalking up 2 wins vs Birds.

  53. Sesteprenelicus Says:

    Had the dropped passes been caught this would have been a rout.