Stepping Up In Class

September 22nd, 2021

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The Rams have Tampa Bay’s full attention, and that’s a very good thing or Buc Nation.

All during the offseason, Bruce Arians drove himself hoarse after constantly reminding the defending Super Bowl champs they are now the hunted. He kept telling his players and coaches that Tampa Bay needed to bring its “A” game every week because opposing teams would be amped up to topple the kings of the NFL hill.

But despite all the warnings, the Bucs proved you can’t mess with human nature.

Killer instincts must return, writes Ira Kaufman.

Noting the talent gap between the teams in Week 1 and Week 2, Tampa Bay failed to display much sense of urgency against the Cowboys and Falcons.

There were too many penalties and not enough focus during a 2-0 start, even as the Bucs ran their winning streak to 10 games. Simply put, they let their guard down and got away with it because this team is teeming with elite players.

That lackadaisical approach has to stop — and it will as the Bucs fly cross-country to face the unbeaten Rams.

Somewhere over the Texas Panhandle, this club will realize the Rams are the real deal, a serious threat to Tampa Bay’s supremacy in the NFC.

“I still think we’re scratching the surface,” Tom Brady said on his weekly “Let’s Go!” podcast on Sirius XM. “We’re leaving a lot out there and that’s an encouraging thing because it’s good to win knowing you can play a lot better.”

Arians can’t stomach the fact that Tampa Bay’s intensity wavered wildly at times Sunday against an inferior opponent. The Falcons should have been left for dead midway through the third quarter, trailing 28-10 on the road.

Instead, Matt Ryan directed a 75-yard TD drive, converting a pair of third-down situations before cashing in on fourth down.

Tampa Bay’s ensuing possession lost ground and Atlanta capitalized on a short field, prompting Buc fans to reach for the Mylanta. Again, Ryan sustained the drive with a third-down completion as the Falcons pulled within 28-25.

The killer instinct Arians preached about all summer was left behind, floating on the waters of the Hillsborough River during the boat parade.

But once again, Brady wouldn’t allow the Bucs to lose. His fifth scoring pass of the day opened a 10-point advantage and Mike Edwards took care of the rest.

Ryan played a courageous game, but he was beaten down and spent down the stretch as the Bucs overcame some bonehead plays by Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis.

More discipline will be needed as Tampa Bay steps up in class.

The Cowboys and Falcons don’t have a defensive lineman like Aaron Donald. Nobody does.

Dallas and Atlanta don’t have a corner like Jalen Ramsey. Nobody does.

Aaron Donald

In voting by his peers, Donald was recently judged the league’s No. 2 player behind Patrick Mahomes. Ramsey ranked No. 13, the top showing by any defensive back.

Surrounded by friends and family in Los Angeles, Brady expects a more focused effort by everyone on Sunday.

“I think it’s going to really reveal itself this week against a really good opponent,” Brady said on Sirius. “We’ve got to have a great week to prepare for a dominant defense.”

Of course this is the same Tom Brady who talked up Atlanta defenders like they were the modern-day version of the Steel Curtain. This time, however, Brady isn’t playing mind games.

Donald is a 3-time Defensive Player of the Year who can wreck a game plan single-handedly. Ramsey is one of the league’s few shutdown corners.

That’s not enough to beat Tampa Bay.

The Rams are slight favorites, but Ramsey can neutralize only one of Brady’s many targets. The Bucs have too much firepower and they’ve ripped off eight consecutive road wins, so consider this a business trip that concludes with a first-class performance.

Look for Matt Stafford to follow the typical game plan against the Buc defense — abandon the run early and fill the air with footballs.

This would be a good time for Jason Pierre-Paul to shake off a sluggish start and make an impact. He’s not Aaron Donald, but JPP is better than he’s shown through two weeks.

So are the Bucs, who are now poised to show the Rams it’s good to be the king.

Sage Ira Kaufman drives a 2020 Ford Escape, cherry red, from Bill Currie Ford. Ira loves that ride as much as he adores tater tots. Shop now at and demand the Ira Kaufman discount.

10 Responses to “Stepping Up In Class”

  1. Hodad Says:

    We did what we needed to do, won both games. The expectations for this team are getting ridiculous. Blowouts in the NFL are rare, yet the Bucs were supposed to do just that the last two weeks. Cowboys are a good team, and will probably win their division. The Falcons aren’t very good, but division games are always tough, and Matt Ryan ain’t exactly chop liver. We should just be happy we won, and not mope because we didn’t win by a 100.

  2. ocala Says:

    Bucs are the favorites.

  3. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Not that its fair to compare the two great Bucs defenses (even though everyone did last year), the difference between the Bucs great D in 1999-2002 was they was Sapp, Lynch, Barber and company were determined for 60 minutes every week to not let the opponent score at all. Huge pride on their part.

    This week against the Rams will be very telling.

    I liked the pick of Trask, but now I am second guess we should have taken a CB

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Great analysis Sage. I think this next game will tell us who the Bucs REALLY are. Thus far we’ve been very sloppy & undisciplined IMO (far too many turnovers & penalties especially), and that won’t fly against the Rams (or Patriots for that matter). And our ‘Bombs Away’ attack will almost surely need to be throttled back against both defenses.

    Offensively Stafford’s on fire (69.6% passing), but the Rams have used a very BALANCED attack thus far (52 runs vs 56 passes). He was 5-for-7 deep against the Bears, but only 2-for-6 deep against the Colts, so we still need to watch out for his deep ball (our safeties will get tested in this game). Kupp has been a beast in both games.

  5. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I hope we can get some pressure on Stafford.

  6. Bucfan81 Says:

    This is the one game on the schedule besides maybe the Bills that worries me. Historically we have not been good against the Rams. The defense is going to have to play like they did in the playoffs in order to win this game.

  7. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Cooper Cupp is not all that fast, only a 4.67 40 guy, but he is an awesome route runner. He has a real knack for getting open.

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Along with JPP, I’d throw in White and Shaq. They’ve done very little.

    My hope if Bowles has kept his best game plan in his back pocket specifically for this game.

    I doubt it but I can hope.

  9. Buddha Says:

    No one game defines a team. Ask Green Bay! Ask New Orleans! Ask Kansas City! This is a long season. Or if you are going to be catastrophic injuries along the way for most teams. Expectations are way too high. No matter how much they want to noting can be up every week. Give the falcons credit they came prepared and they fought hard even though they can’t match Tampa’s talent. Dallas will be in the playoffs.

  10. Darin Says:

    Despite all the warnings? Thought you were calling for undefeated. Rams might be the second best nfc team but not yet. Run the ball more this week Bruce! Dont beat em beat em up