Five Things

January 18th, 2021

The Bucs bench erupts after safety Mike Edwards’ picked off Drew Brees to seal the win.

The last time Joe can remember a win that was sweeter than Sunday was when Chucky hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy aloft after the Super Bowl. Victory Monday? This is one of the greatest in Bucs’ fandom history. Let’s get rolling and for suits and managers and human resources officials, Joe wants to apologize for what will likely be an unproductive workweek. Deal with it.

Is this a dream?

A year ago if Joe told a Bucs fan, after watching the Bucs crumble down the stretch of the 2019 season, that the Bucs would be playing in the NFC Championship game in January 2021, you would have had Joe drug-tested.

In what a year ago sounded patently absurd if not insane, the only thing more ridiculous sounding would have been if Joe added the Bucs quarterback to lead the team to the NFC title game would be Tom Brady — and that Rob Gronkowski would be the starting tight end. And that Leonard Fournette would be the starting running back. And that Antonio Brown would be a No. 3 receiver!

So fast forward 12 months, the words of iconic Raiders announcer Bill King after the Raiders won the Holy Roller game spring to mind for Joe. “There’s nothing real in the world anymore!

There is no way. There just is no way anyone could have envisioned all of this happening. No way.

But it happened. It really did. We all saw it. And it wasn’t the beer creating some nutty dream.

The Bucs shocked the NFL world when, after the Belicheats told Brady, “Thanks but no thanks,” AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht lured Brady to come to Tampa as a free agent. Then, with the wheels greased by Brady, Licht was able to trade for foot-rubbing, car-littering Gronk. Then, after Fournette was surprisingly let go by the Jags, Licht got him to sign on the dotted line with an assist from Brady, as well.

Oh, and then the Bucs got furniture-tossing, bicycle-throwing Brown to join after Brady invited Brown to live with him in Derek Jeter’s mansion.

You cannot make this up.

Even then, and after bringing back Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh (both of whom may not be here if not for Brady), people throughout the NFL mocked the Bucs as a fantasy football team that would never gel and there was no way in hell Brady would lead a bunch of renegades and castoffs with oversized personalities to the playoffs.

You know, like she wrote and said several times?

Joe has absolutely nothing against Dianna Russini. She’s very good at her job. She was just the most visible of the naysayers given her platform. There were many others. Yes, even NFL Network’s it-girl Kay Adams.

But here we are. The Bucs are 60 minutes of football away from playing in their home stadium in the Super Bowl.

This is just crazy!

Welcome to the Bucs of January 2021!

Defense rises.

Let’s be honest here, in-between healthy gulps of hot coffee to try to massage our hangovers this beautiful Monday morning, the Bucs offense was not really good yesterday. Good enough to win, obviously.

The Bucs, for reasons unclear, decided to turn back the clock and replicate the offense that struggled before the bye week. Running on first down, no play-action passes, little to no presnap motion.

Why the Bucs decided to dumb down the offense early yesterday defies logic. Using play-action passes on first down and a lot of presnap motion, the Bucs offense was humming like it never had been before.

But when the defense helped them out, the offense rose to the occasion.

Where do you start with the defense? Three picks, two of which led to touchdowns. A forced fumble that led to a score. All Saints turnovers the Bucs forced came in Saints real estate.

And with those short fields, the Bucs made the Saints pay.

Joe called that “Bucs helping Bucs.”

But it wasn’t just the turnovers. Michael Thomas was absolutely erased. No touchdowns; no yards; no catches. Nothing outside of four targets. Nothing! That is beyond playing superb defense.

Drew Brees was held to 134 yards passing. That’s Mitch Trubisky-like.

Hell, the best play from the Saints offense came from Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston.

So props to Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his defense. What an effort coming a week after such a sloppy, embarrassing performance facing Washington.

Props to the rookies (and Jason Licht).

Speaking of things you wouldn’t believes a few months ago, how about if Joe, back in February, would have said Licht would have drafted a guy who finished with 10 votes at right guard for All-Pro, a safety who had a key forced fumble in the second half yesterday that may have turned the game around, and a wide receiver that made a Cris Carter-like spinning catch along the right sideline to keep a scoring drive alive in the fourth quarter?

In an NFC divisional round playoff game!

It’s one thing to draft decent players, but Licht damn near hit a Powerball lottery in the draft.

Hell, if it wasn’t for the Bucs being knee-deep in receivers on the roster, Tyler Johnson likely would be making a bigger impact than he already has. And that crazy catch he made of a pass behind him in the fourth quarter on the right sideline was just spectacular.

It’s great to draft a rookie class where the rookies have an impact on a game. But playoff games? Nice job, Mr. Licht.

Donovan Smith, established LT.

Joe knows a vocal sect of Bucs fans, though fewer lately, constantly hollered how rotten a left tackle Donovan Smith is for no good reason, and these same folks had wet dreams over the thought of Smith getting cut and Tristan Wirfs movingg to left tackle.

Might want to find a new dream to keep you going at night.

Smith has been dominant during the playoffs against right defensive ends who are either hyped as the Second Coming or have given Smith fits in the past.

Last week Washington’s Chase Young had three tackles and nothing else. That’s Pro Bowl level compared to what Smith did to New Orleans’ Trey Hendrickson last night.

Go ahead, check out the NFL official gamebook. Hendrickson didn’t do one damn thing. Worse than Michael Thomas. If you didn’t see Hendrickson on the field you would not have known he played.

Smith completely and totally manhandled Hendrickson; hhe registered a big fat goose egg on every statistical category for a defensive player other than a snap count.

That is the pure definition of dominance.

Smith is projected to be the ninth-highest paid left tackle next season (before other left tackles get raises and or sign as free agents). Maybe that will move to 12th-highest after free agency.

So Smith could be an average-paid left tackle. If he continues to play like this, and factor in his durability (trust Joe, NFL teams very much see that as positive), it’s very likely the Bucs will be getting a helluva bargain with Smith.

Joe is sorry to inform the haters that it is unlikely Smith is playing elsewhere in 2021.

And no, not even right tackle, which will likely never happen in a Bucs uniform.

Joe apologizes for destroying some folks’ Victory Monday.

A magical NFC title game.

Joe is a child of the halcyon days of NFL Films. Before cable, NFL Films was you got NFL highlights, a 30-minute show of all games featuring the now-iconic super slow-motion replays and the booming NFL Films music. And after the weekly highlights was a 30-minute “Game of the Week” feature.

Awesome, awesome stuff.

So when Joe hears “Green Bay Packers” and “Lambeau Field” and “frozen tundra” and “Vince Lombardi,” Joe doesn’t think of that self-serving slob Chris Berman. Joe hears the voice of God, John Facenda, and his dramatic readings of Steve Sabol’s scripts. Those guys made Lombardi into the NFL’s John Wayne and the NFL into the cavalry of the 20th century.

So for Joe, there is something magical about the Bucs facing the Packers for the right to play in the Super Bowl.

Lambeau Field.
Frozen tundra.
Vince Lombardi.
The. Green. Bay. Packers.

If it wasn’t for this GD virus, Joe would be there in northeastern Wisconsin on Sunday. Alas, Joe is in Florida. Could be worse.

The last time Joe was at Lambeau Field was when the Bucs faced the Packers in 2017. That place is a shrine to the NFL and if anyone ever gets the chance, go there. You won’t be disappointed.

Joe remembers that crisp sunny morning (frost on the windshield!) about two hours before kickoff, Joe was talking with WFLA’s Dan Lucas up in the press box and looking at the Packers’ Ring of Honor across the field.

There along the facade, on either side of the old high school gym-like clock were the names: Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr,  Curly Lambeau, Don Hutson, Paul Hornung, Reggie White, Brett Favre, Willie Davis, Jim Taylor. Ray Nitschke. James Lofton, Forrest Gregg. Jerry Kramer. And on and on.

Lucas looked at the names, then looked at Joe and said, “Now that’s a Ring of Honor.”

And in the shadows of those hallowed names in an NFL shrine, the Bucs will play for the chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. In Tampa.

How freaking cool is that?

For the first time in forever, it’s amazing to be a Bucs fan!

30 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. james west Says:

    damn straight

  2. Darin Says:

    What a game. And don’t be so sure Joe. Especially if they win the SB. Salaries will go up and players will walk. They could be forced to let Smith walk. Wait wait why we talking about this already. Let em test the pocket warmers first. Go Bucs!!

  3. All lives matter Says:

    One more game and we can play the Super Bowl on our own home turf!

    This is turning into a dream season.

    Thanks Tom Brady!

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe……how can you possibly write this article without even mentioning Devin White’s name?…..I’ll chalk it up to a huge hangover…..surely the “Savior” deserved some credit!!!

  5. Listnfrmafar Says:

    Hansen destroyed Goldie Locks, tossed Saints linebacker around like a rag doll. Joe I think that spectacular catch you are referring to was supposed to be a sideline curl and Johnson went in. Nevertheless unbelievable catch. The Oline was off the charts, NO defense got to Brady once all night. Where was Jordan? My guess getting his teeth whitened for his next big OFF SEASON interview. I to didn’t get the old offense but it worked and Bucs were first to 30 points. Too many players to congratulate. Not looking forward to the injury report though, Brown went out in third qtr with a knee Injury., Davis in the 4th BUCs!

  6. Lunchbox Says:

    I for one was one of those that was lukewarm about D Smith at Left Tackle, but no more. When you are making a run for the playoffs, players make plays. And for O-linemen, that means keeping the QB upright and creating lanes. Smith has done that against tough competition. We need to keep him.

    About NFL films, man I couldn’t agree more. Thinking about John Facenda’s voice, the great music, every single episode was a story being told. And every single episode was worth watching, whether you liked the team or not. Nothing like it.

  7. AtlBuc Says:

    Michael Thomas stats in 2 games he played against us this year: 3 catches for 15 yards. He used to do better than that in one drive!!

  8. mg Says:

    The Tobin Bridge needs mental health professionals now!!!
    lmao at the coach bill rump swabs.

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Sean Peyton stole that play with Jameis from Chicago. That was Brees last game, so maybe we will be facing Jameis next season ?

  10. BucDan Says:

    Props to Donovan for having a hell of a game! I also want to give a game ball to the whole Oline for their on the field attitude. They were being straight bullies out there! Playing through the whistle and as soon as that thing was blown, turning around and heading right back to the huddle for round two.

    Jensen and Marpet had a few of their guys crying the the refs after every play while Bucs o linemen quietly walked back to the huddle. It was great!!!

    Go Bucs!

  11. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:


  12. Roy T. Buford Says:

    There was not as much play action as I would have liked, but it did seem to come in later on. Many had said, incorrectly, this would be shoot out. I’d figured a game in the 20s range with Brees hobbled and a good D to stifle the Bucs. Don’t forget, while the Bucs have one of the best Offenses in the league, with loads of yards and TD passed, TDs second ONLY to Aaron Rodgers, the Saints D is a Top 5 and played very well yesterday. I think the Bucs O will do some serious damage in GB. White and Succup were among other heroes here.

  13. All lives matter Says:

    Maybe all the criticism on Donovan’s past work ethics has finally sunk in and he’s motivated to prove his critics wrong. Whatever the reason he has raised his game. Maybe being with Brady is a huge factor as well.

  14. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Sean Payton has said “The Saints QB of the future is in the building.” That is some weak sauce. Pretty clear it will be either Taysom Hill or the Turnover Machine. Could be both, as Taysom is getting old but has a lot of utility that was missed yesterday. I’d love for the Turnover Machine to get the starting gig…loads of yards; one more reason to hate the Saints–the guy who wasted five years of Bucs fans’ lives and screwed his team, coaches, TB areas, etc. But, Winston may finally benefit Bucs fans given his penchants for loads of yards to go with loads of turnovers to lose most games. His offseason starts today…not Ws to eat yesterday.

  15. Miller5252 Says:

    Heck of a write up Joe. Great read.

  16. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Devon White

    Right now January 18, 2021

    The best defensive player in the NFL

    Who is better?”

    Kobe Faker

  17. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Joe, since you like to pick on some of the dumb opinions we have as fans (Smith, for example), here is picking on you…

    How many sacks did we have last night? ZERO But those defensive pressures that “do not matter”? Yes, the DBs and White played one heck of a game; amazing; awesome. But if it were not for all the pressure that the D-line put on Bress – making him throw earlier than he wanted to – the Bucs D does not get those TOs. Lots of IMPORTANT “pressure” was put on Bress.

    We rightfully cheer White, Davis, Winfield and company, but lets raise our glasses to The Bucs extraordinary D-Line!!!😁😎

  18. SKBucfan Says:

    Smith has defiantly been playing better. Knowing that you don’t necessarily need to find a LT makes this years draft a little easier. Although I would still like to see some depth on the O-line and a little competition is a good thing.

  19. Joe Says:

    Thank you Miller.

  20. 813bucboi Says:

    Eat crow haters


  21. Locked In Says:

    But where are the ‘real fans’? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. @Hands2theface Says:

    “Joe hears the voice of God, John Facenda, and his dramatic readings of Steve Sabol’s scripts. Those guys made Lombardi into the NFL’s John Wayne and the NFL into the cavalry of the 20th century.”

    TRUTH….I was just talking about this the other day. Man, how I wish those were still able to be produced.

  23. 123urout Says:

    Just wike up and I thought it was only a dream. Started watching the pundit haters eat their comments last week and it came to realization that it was for real. LOVE IT. GO BUCS !!!! Game ball to evrybody in defense, o-lline, rookies, succop coaches. Lets do it again next week!

  24. Bucsfanman Says:

    “Victory Monday” and a trip to the NFC Championship!!!
    I think this should just about quiet the naysayers once and for all.

    The defense showed up big and we did just enough on offense to win. We were the more physical team last night and we did it in the trenches.
    Next up, Green Bay!

  25. Buc1987 Says:

    Locked In…lol

  26. chris L Says:


  27. m0j0 Says:

    The Packers D doesn’t scare the Bucs. If the Bucs can deal with the cold, they will dominate!

  28. 6throundpick Says:

    The Bucs added all the right pieces. No, TB12 is not broken; did not wiggle out of NE with arrows down. No, his arm is not wonky. No, Gronk is not washed up- neither is AB. And a regular preseason might have certainly left the Bucs with a better record.

    The attendance thing is working in the Bucs favour. What is home field advantage this year? Although, the Bucs will have to deal with a much colder scenario in Green Bay. Just do it!

    Yes, Tampa Bay is now a Top 4 team, and proved it. They are playing as hoped; up arrows all over. The should continue to improve. Take note: if the Bucs just won the Super Bowl, Brady would be talking about how much better they’re going to get, and he’d be starting his workouts for the upcoming season- tomorrow!

  29. TampaTown Says:

    AWJ31 had the biggest play of the game. If he doesn’t punch out that ball the Saints could have gone up by two scores and maybe we lose. Most under-rated play was that Tyler Johnson catch.

  30. Cobraboy Says:

    Play-action and motion were not as important against the Saints D because their D didn’t try to disguise anything. They ran a man-2 all game. No need to freeze LB’s since they were locked on. The Saints decided to win on D on the strength of the DLine, not strategy and deception.

    That was all man-to-man in the trenches on both sides of the ball for both teams.

    What’s the post-game story on Brown and Jones? Brown left hobbled, and announcers were talking about Jone’s quad. Those are two big pieces.