Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Falcons

December 21st, 2020

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How sweet it is. How sour it could have been.

If the Bucs hadn’t rallied from that 17-0 halftime deficit in Atlanta, they’d be clinging to a one-game wild-card lead over Chicago with two weeks remaining, knowing the Bears own the head-to-head tie-breaker.

That scenario would have led to a very nervous Christmas week for Tampa Bay fans.

It didn’t happen because Tom Brady threw for 320 yards in the final two quarters and Devin White provided a pass rush that was woeful for most of the afternoon. Another lousy start, another frantic finish.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Buc Ball 2020.

The short flight home was jubilant because the Bucs need only one more win to end that ghastly postseason drought. Up front, near the cockpit, Tampa Bay coaches looked at each other, hoping someone had an answer for all these early holes this team is so adept at digging.

Those late comeback bids fell short against playoff-bound teams like the Chiefs and Rams. On Sunday, facing a going nowhere club playing out the string, the Bucs were tied into knots by Matt Ryan.

Noting that Private Ryan had ample time to survey the field through three quarters is a little like saying metro Atlanta has some traffic issues.

Why state the obvious?

The Bucs still have a chance to finish the regular season 11-5, with a 4-game winning streak. If they can straighten out their early stumbles, they’d likely be a very tough out in the playoffs.

But “if’ is one of the most diabolical words in sports. If the Rays played in a better stadium closer to Tampa, they’d draw more fans. If USF landed a big-time quarterback, the Bulls could be competitive. If Tony Romo would shut up once in a while, he’d be a better listen.

The last time the Bucs stood at 9-5, the year was 2008 and Tampa Bay was in the midst of a December swoon that ushered Jon Gruden out the door at old One Buc Place. They’ve upgraded the facility and upgraded under center, so there’s no reason to believe Bruce Arians is about to be jettisoned.

Here’s how they handed Raheem Morris and the Falcons yet another crushing setback:

* Even with all of Brady’s second-half production, the Bucs don’t win this game without their dynamic second-year inside linebacker. White’s 10 solo tackles were three more than any other player on the field and even more importantly, he dropped Ryan three times in the fourth quarter. Add in two passes defended and this may have been White’s signature game as a pro. The Bucs needed every bit.

* Trailing 17-0, the Bucs were on the balls of their ass until Mike Evans did some heavy lifting. The Falcons had no answers for him in the second half as Evans finished with six catches for 110 yards. He’s still got a credible chance to keep that 1,000-yard streak going.

* This early malaise is no joke. Tampa Bay hasn’t led after the first quarter since Week 5 at Chicago. In the past nine games, the Bucs have been outscored 83-17 in the opening 15 minutes. That’s called living dangerously. That’s called an early playoff flameout. The Bucs don’t respond until they’ve been punched in the mouth. What’s wrong with coming out of the corner like Mike Tyson?

* In a game this close, little things count. Take a bow, Bradley Pinion, for placing three of your five punts inside the Atlanta 20.

* Antoine Winfield turned in the defensive gem of the day by deflecting Ryan’s pass in the end zone intended for Calvin Ridley. White registered a sack on the next snap and the Falcons had to settle for a FG and a 27-24 advantage. Winfield never gave up on the play, saving four points.

* While Jamel Dean broke out of his slump with a strong effort, Jason Pierre-Paul took the afternoon off. He and Ryan were in different area codes most of the day and JPP failed to make the post-game stat sheet.

* The Falcons pushed the Bucs around for 30 minutes, but Tampa Bay didn’t self-destruct. There were no turnovers and only one flag for 10 yards.

* How dominant were the Bucs in the third quarter? How about 15 first downs? That was quite a turnaround after Tampa Bay’s first four possessions generated 62 yards and ended with four punts.

* As well as Brady played, Ryan was no slouch. He finished with a passer rating of 110.6, compared to Brady’s 110.4, as two veteran quarterbacks aired it out 94 times. Evans was very good — Ridley was even better with 10 catches for 163 yards. He looked like the second coming of noted Buc-killer Julio Jones, who didn’t dress due to injury.

* Before next Sunday’s slate of games, the Bucs should be resting easy with a playoff berth guaranteed. All they have to do is go into Motown Saturday and win a matchup that should be signed, sealed and delivered. Tampa Bay is an early 7 1-2 point favorite and Brady figures to enjoy another big day. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., so the visitors should be ready to rumble about 2:45.


15 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Falcons”

  1. Bucsfanman Says:

    Stating the obvious here but, we simply cannot keep waiting until the 2nd half to play football. I mean there was nothing, no offense, and no defense. The pass-rush was a joke until the 4th quarter and we couldn’t get out of our own way on offense, no run-game, zero separation from WRs, and an off-target QB.
    Hit the switch and…BAM!
    Please Bucs, can we play a full 60 minutes just ONCE this season…PLEASE!
    I’d like to be able to stretch a fifth of Crown Royal at least until dinner this football season!
    Pretty please!

  2. aFEDupBUCfan Says:

    😭😭😭😭 2:45 is about the time they wake up I’m lmmfao

  3. No Risk It No Biscuit Says:

    “Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m., so the visitors should be ready to rumble about 2:45”


    Sage keep them coming!

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Don’t sleep on the Lions…..that’s what the Rams did with the Jets…..anything can happen….

  5. Mr no rings Says:

    Agree with most of the takes i. Your column Ira except for the one on Romo. He is an EXCELLENT broadcaster and I really enjoy his insight and how he breaks things down. And I am the most Cowboy hating fan on the planet so I’m def not being a homer. What do you have against Romo?

  6. chris L Says:

    IRA – THANK YOU for the video message you gave to zach for me! much appreciated. love the buccaneers and thanks for taking the time for the message. one day we will meet!

  7. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Because Romo rambles about things that are inconsequential to the broadcast. I don’t care about his family, his kids. He tries to be too jokey, he oversteps Jim Nantz, and he doesn’t ramble in a lovable way like John Madden – he does it in a “loves to hear himself talk” kinda way. He’s semi high pitched, raspy excitable voice also annoys me. Give me Aikmans professionalism any day. Aikman is also a lot more funny with his sarcasm, unstated humor instead of Romos juggling monkey on a unicycle humor. I think that sums it up. I agree with Ira, sometimes Romo should stfu

  8. Clean House Says:

    I’ve noticed Romo has been wearing on me, he’s got some new competition with Aqib Talib.

    I believe Devin White was awarded someone else’s sack on the third one.
    I have to watch but I think Shaq grabbed him by the shoulder to knock him of balance and to the ground before White touched him which should be a tackle to his credit. These things matter when it comes to Shaqs contract endeavors.

  9. Mike C Says:

    Thanks TBBF, we never would have figured out that the lions Could beat the Bucs.

  10. stpetebucsfan Says:

    This “collection” has not been a team for that long. I know Joe rails at folks who use the lack of preseason etc as an excuse. And I understand…ultimately it is an excuse.

    But could it also be an “extenuating” circumstance that has some bearing on our situation?

    How many teams rose to prominence one season only to take several more before finally getting to the SB. Can you say the Buc SB team. I think it takes a while for a team to truly jell and form an identity.

    What if the second half yesterday was truly our identity and it just took us awhile to find it.

    BOTH AB and ME were able to star in the same game. CG also played well.

    Our OL seems to have been built to pass block. Gee wonder why. Sign a 43 year old GOAT at QB and it’s pretty obvious which direction the OL needs to be built…protect the franchise.

    But Fournette didn’t suddenly become a mediocre back…ROJO could be a lot better IF our pass blocking line could at least learn to open a crack or two.

    Our run game still stumbles and is not able to play smashmouth at the line of scrimmage. What about teaming Gronk and Wirfs and becoming a right handed running team. With CG coming back for “legal” crack back blocks on LB’s perhaps we could create a little space for ROJO and Fournette.

  11. Godlovesbucs Says:

    St pete- this is the same o line rojo is averaging 5.0 ypc behind. They cant be a terrible run blocking line. I think the bigger problem is run plays are pretty obvious.

  12. unbelievable Says:

    Ready by 2:45 LOLOLOLOLOL you nailed that one, Ira.

    Agreed with the poster above, the run blocking is decent- not great, but decent. The problem is there is ZERO disguise or misdirection. Every single run play is soooooooooo obvious before the snap. Godwin motions inside? Guaranteed run every single time.

    Look at the running schemes employed by the Rams or 49ers or Chiefs. They are something to behold. Ours is as basic and predictable as it gets.

    Glad we got the win but we have SO MUCH to improve on if we want to even have a chance at winning a single playoff game, let alone making a run to the super bowl.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    Also, it goes without saying for us fans, but someone should tape the following words to Brady’s locker:


    Everything else opens up when he is involved.

  14. TampaTown Says:

    Omg Ira you’re killing me! Funny stuff right thar! I like Romo and Aikmen both for different reasons. Ready to play at 2:45 is probably your best line all year.

  15. orlbucfan Says:

    I listen to Bucs Radio. It would help if fossilized Brady would get it in the first half that there are other players besides Gronkowski to throw to. Both Evans and Godwin were wide open several times and didn’t have balls thrown their way. It’s not the first game Methusaleh has brain freeze in. Bucs are 9-5 cos this is the most talented team in all three parts in Bucs history. That’s in spite of mental lapses on the HC and goat’s part. They should be retired. I am amazed Brady hasn’t been major nailed in the backfield yet. Glad Julio Jones didn’t play. He’s getting old but major Bucs killer.