The Morning After

November 15th, 2021

A sad, chilly Monday morning. Let’s get this out of the way.

After watching the Bucs look hapless in back-to-back games against slug quarterbacks, Joe couldn’t help but remember what former NFL suit Michael Lombardi said about November football last week on his latest GM Shuffle podcast.

Lombardi said Nov. 10 is the real beginning of the season. It’s when good teams separate themselves from the chafe and wannabees. It begins the stretch run for the playoffs and arrows need to be pointing up for teams who have real Super Bowl goals. Teams that have their arrows pointing down, well, it’s time for all hands on deck.

Nov. 10 is the date the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, the largest freight ship of its time that sailed exclusively on the Great Lakes. It went down Nov. 10, 1975, in a storm on Lake Superior and lost all its 29 crew members.

“When I was in the league, we always would use the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald as the true beginning of the NFL season,” Lombardi said. “This is truly when it starts. Because, as the song goes, ‘The gales of November come early.'”

If Lombardi’s barometer of when teams begin to get in their proper lanes is accurate, then this is a bad sign for the Bucs.

If you want to extend “November” into Halloween (Oct. 31), then the Bucs have been blindsided by two awful quarterbacks that some suggest shouldn’t even be in the league, Trevor Siemian and Taylor Heinicke.

The defense, once the Bucs’ pride, has crumbled. What Heinicke did yesterday to seal the WTF win with a 19-play (19!!!), 10:26 drive, it ripped the heart, soul and will out of the Bucs defense.

They looked like lousy Lovie Smith’s defenses or a Mike Smith-led defense getting worked by the likes of Tyrod Taylor. Joe thought that nonsense was done for the foreseeable future.

Sunday was a cold slap in the face otherwise known as “reality.”

Outside of hoping the cornerbacks get healthy, Joe isn’t sure what Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is going to do. We can cross our fingers and hope Vita Vea’s injury looked much worse than what it seemed, but that’s a very bad sign to see him carted off the field and, honestly, wishful thinking he’s going to be OK.

Remember how the Bucs’ edge rush slowly vanished last season after Vea got hurt? Already Jason Pierre-Paul is playing with one arm due to a torn rotator cuff.

When Joe last night read the song lyrics of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the final two lines were haunting after the past two games.

Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

And yeah, the Bucs now find themselves in a sh!tstorm.

Bowles will have to earn his money this week. Not only does he need to fix a defense on the fly that may not be fixable due to so many injuries, he also has to find a riddle to his Daniel Jones puzzle. The Giants’ young quarterback has had his way, mostly, with Bowles’ defenses twice in the past two seasons. And he ain’t no Siemian or Heinicke.

Passing Long vs. Checkdowns

Last night Joe got a lot of feedback from Bucs fans claiming the Bucs could not throw deep because WTF was using a “two-shell” coverage with two safeties playing deep.

As columnist Ira Kaufman wrote last night, “Did I miss Ronnie Lott strolling the Washington secondary?”

The WTF has a bunch of tomato cans in the secondary. And it seemed the Bucs/Tom Brady were scared of them. Joe was listening to the Buccaneers Radio Network broadcast of the game and former Tampa Bay tight end Dave Moore really wanted to know why the Bucs weren’t trying to test WTF deep with only a couple of exceptions (and — alas! — one test was a touchdown to Mike Evans).

Moore said several times that Cam Brate and Evans were open deep but Brady elected to checkdown to Playoff Lenny.

Attempting to give Mr. Seven Rings the benefit of the doubt, Moore wondered if WTF disguised coverages enough that they fooled Brady, or perhaps Brady was hurt and didn’t want to throw deep?

Joe is not one to dismiss a straight-shooter like Moore, so it sure seems there were opportunities to throw deep but for some reason, the Bucs passed.

And remember this as you are trying to choke down Cheerios this morning, WTF entered yesterday’s game with the worst pass defense in the NFL.

Father Dungy Speaks

An old friend of Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians — the two roomed together when they were first hired by Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City — took to the national NBC airwaves last night to offer up his frustration at the current plight of the Bucs.

Yes, Father Dungy wants the Bucs to win. He’s both a resident of Tampa and friends with several on the Bucs’ coaching staff including defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and of course, Arians.

Dungy shook his head about how the Bucs got shamed by the likes of Trevor Siemian and Taylor Heinicke in back-to-back games. With the return of pouty Cam Newton to Carolina and the Stinking Panthers clobbering the previously one-loss Cardinals yesterday, Father Dungy warned that the Stinking Panthers are now lurking in the shadows and teams (coughBucscough) better be careful.

“Can they get hot and catch Tampa Bay?” Dungy asked. “Tampa is struggling. They lost their last two in kind of uncharacteristic fashion.

“And I don’t know what has happened to that defense? They were the centerpiece last year. They’re struggling the last two weeks.”

Well, it was the last two games, but Joe gets what Father Dungy is saying. And Joe knows what has happened to the defense.

Injuries To Corners

Injuries are often an excuse from lesser teams for lousy play, unless it’s an important position is decimated by injuries.

There isn’t an NFL team that can survive in a passing league after losing virtually its entire cornerback room to injuries. For a while, Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles was getting by with bubble gum and duct tape after at one point being down his top five corners.

Guys are backups for a reason. And when you are being forced to play the likes of Dee Delaney and Ross Cockrell and the bottle of cologne, Pierre Desir, sooner or later that is going to catch up with you.

It has caught up with the Bucs. Joe is convinced Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht rolled the dice and hoped above hope he could get the team to the bye without making a move at the trade deadline for a corner because someone would get healthy.

It almost worked for Licht and the Bucs, but apparently, Sean Murphy-Bunting isn’t ready.

Sadly, before the Bucs even took a snap after the bye week, they were already down Richard Sherman who got injured in pregame warmups. Then Delaney — not to be confused with Darrelle Revis — suffered a concussion.

Cockrell, Delaney, Desir, all played OK for a few weeks, but NFL coaches aren’t dumb. They get paid, too. And this ruse lasted until Sean Payton figured them out and exposed them.

Now this is going to anger some but Joe thinks part of the defensive collapse of the last two games was the reawakening of Devin White.

People hollered that he wasn’t making an impact this year. Joe asked Bowles point-blank to his face if White’s production drop was because he had White doing some different things to help cover/hide the weaknesses of the backup corners. Bowles didn’t deny this at all. In fact, Bowles said that was one reason White’s numbers were down.

So in the past two games, White’s numbers have jumped, and the defense has been horrible. Coincidence? Joe doesn’t believe in coincidences.

This was a discussion in a recent “Ira Kaufman Podcast.” Joe was OK if White’s numbers were down if that was because he was helping out the backup corners schematically.

Be very careful demanding White make a bigger impact at the expense of helping the backup corners (which Bowles said was partly what he was doing).

Well, here we are.

The only way Joe sees this defense quickly turning things around is getting Carlton Davis and SMB back on the field at full strength. Will that happen by Christmas? Can the Bucs stop circling the drain by then?

If the Bucs cannot corral a third-string never-been (Siemian) and a recycled AAF quarterback (Heinicke), how can we expect the Bucs to control Daniel Jones, who already has demonstrated twice he knows how to slice apart Bowles’ defenses when Bowles has healthy players?


Look, Joe loves Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett. He’s one of Joe’s favorites. But damn, man, coming out of a bye week and already having lost to Trevor friggin’ Siemian, you and your teammates needed to show up.

Shaq damn near threw up a goose egg yesterday. He had one quarterback hit and that was it. The WTF snapped the ball from scrimmage 66 times. Shaq sort of had an impact on one snap. He didn’t tackle the quarterback, didn’t sack him, didn’t force a fumble or bat down a pass. Shaq hit him. Once. That was it.

Shaq, Joe loves ya man, but you cannot pull a Kyle Moore like that, especially when the defense needs all the help it can get.

38 Responses to “The Morning After”

  1. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Are these corners capable of playing man or press coverage? How much zone does this team play? You gotta be able to mix it up defensively. 10 yard cushion to these wideouts. Just brilliant Todd bowles.

  2. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Dungy roots for the Bucs to win? I don’t buy that for a second ( and I’m not sure I blame him ).

  3. Medicated Pete Says:

    3 more months till the Kyle Trask era w/ Darden as our #2 WR

  4. Crickett Baker Says:

    Insightful and well-written article although it made me sad.

  5. SOEbuc Says:


    Exactly. They are playing Smitty zone all day and it’s too easy to chew up yards on short posts and outs. Damn you Hump! It’s the same opponent offense that is working against the Bucs every week.

  6. ChiBuc Says:

    Sure players are injured, but this is coaching. Blitzing with no db press; a suck def and no ball control to limit defensive exposure; come out of a bye and lose to a league bottom feeder; WRs injured and still throw 3 to 1 run; adjustments nonexistent. There is a reason bruce and Todd don’t seem to last more than 3-4 yrs with any team. Biscuit and blitz, everyone knows their game plan

  7. Joe Says:

    Are these corners capable of playing man or press coverage?

    Joe has his doubts (outside of Jamel Dean of course). Think about it: If they could play man better than zone, why would Bowles play zone?

    Joe is pretty confident Bowles is trying to hide these guys by playing zone. You cannot hide bad corners for long in the NFL, especially without a pass rush.

  8. captiva jim Says:

    no one had the thought of using a hurry-up offense to un nerve the worst pass defense in the league ?????

  9. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    Things are a bit grim but far from hopeless. The roster is still very talented and capable of righting the ship, but it is gut check time. Much like it was last season around the 7-5 mark. How bad do these guys want it? Will Brady start laying down the hammer on those that are slacking? A guy like JPP is usually one to count on for leadership, but he’s not even practicing and barely getting through the games. BA? He seems like more of a figurehead than actual leader.

    Whether or not these guys truly want to win another championship, we’ll know next Sunday.

  10. Will Says:

    Ask why the corners are playing 10yds off all the time. I don’t care that they’re backups they are on the team obviously can’t play zone so why not put them up close and get physical with the WR off the LOS this would help the pass rush. Watching the game at the firehouse with my crew was embarrassing. Even the guy that doesn’t know football was asking why are those guys so far away. Smh

  11. Buczilla Says:

    This game hurts me more than last year’s loss to Chicago. Good teams just don’t lose to scrub quarterbacks and one of the worst defenses in the NFL that are minus two of their best pass rushers. Brady hasn’t been himself for two games in a row either. I’m not reading up on draft prospects yet, but our guys need to get get it together.

  12. Joe Says:

    I don’t care that they’re backups they are on the team obviously can’t play zone so why not put them up close and get physical with the WR off the LOS this would help the pass rush.

    Couple of things here.

    1. You should care that they are backups. Backups are backups for a reason: They can’t play that well, or at least cannot play well consistently.

    2. Asking guys who cannot (presumably) cover well, or consistently well to play press-man at the line of scrimmage is like throwing lit matches at a bucket of gas.

    Joe is convinced Bowles is trying to hide guys. He’ll never say that, of course.

  13. Rod Munch Says:

    The Bucs allowed some guy named DeAndre Carter have a career game at WR… Tells you everything.

    The even late in the game had Mike Edwards out there playing 1-on-1 against WR’s as a corner – safeties and corners are not the same position for a reason.

    If the trash we had at corner was fast I think they actually could accidentally run into the football on some of these plays and maybe get a stop — but when you can’t cover AND you’re slow…

  14. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Hope Kyle Trask has some great handwriting, otherwise it was a complete waste of a pick.

  15. ChiBuc Says:

    If you can’t run with em, hit em and hiding is better in a crowd, not 10 yds off los in space. Opponent’s entire play is developed 6 yds from scrimmage before a buc reacts to it. Adjust

  16. Will Says:

    Joe come on yes they’re back ups but hiding them 10yds off the LOS isn’t working let them get up there and get physical. At least gives them a fighting chance and would actually help the rush. We might find out that they can actually do it. If someone is faster than me the worst thing I can do is give them a head start with nothing in front of them. Heck even if they played 2yds off would have to be better than the 8-10yd cushion they’re playing at now. You can get hands on the guy at the LOS and still drop into your zone. You’ve been around enough football to know that.

  17. HC Grover Says:

    My expectations have been lowered. I just hope we can somehow win our division. It ain’t gonna be easy.

  18. OldDirtyCouch Says:

    Well written Joe… Thank you for adding Dungy’s comments from SNF.

  19. Bucsfanman Says:

    Well said Joe, it’s finally rearing its ugly head. DBs need to start getting healthy and contribute.

    Shaq was a complete non-factor and the possibility of losing Vea for any length of time scares me.

    I was perplexed as Dave Moore on the drop-down passes. What happened to the intermediate stuff?

    It was a bad game, IMO. We have more talent than our 6-3 record suggests. I expect a Brady-lead team to handle the Giants better.

  20. Bobby M. Says:

    With JPP limited, teams will focus on Shaq and our QB pressure will be limited unless we blitz. If we don’t get to the QB, our secondary is too weak to hold up. If we blitz, a back up CB is on an island and losing that battle every single time.

    What we are seeing is the reality of Bowles as a DC…..he’s not good. Bowles is effective when he has a healthy unit of all pro bowl players and even then he gets occasionally torched by no name back ups. Great coaching is what the Saints are doing with career back ups at QB…..that’s great coaching.

    Offensively….we have enough to win games, we just keep turning the ball over. Our team’s success is a pretty simple formula……control the ball and simply outscore opponents over and over and over until we double digit leads and force them opposing team to have to throw every down. If that’s not happening, we will continue to struggle.

  21. Bird Says:

    Sick to my stomach this morning. Could have been the tacos yesterday but doubt it

    Bucs looked disinterested
    No one had a good game. I disagree the oline played good. Brady thru 3-4 in the dirt cause of pressure. Players sucked. But what was even worse to me is the coaching. It seems like teams figured out our tendencies on both sides.

    Now of course injuries play a big part but cmon. That was not a good football team who was out their 2 best players in chase young and sweat.

    Geez. What a sh!tashow

  22. Cchead Says:

    Rush 3 and drop 8. The secondary is that bad.

  23. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    I think they got gun shy when in the first few minutes of the game they had 2 interceptions! They tried to go to Mike down field early and threw their second pick… They played it “safe” from then on which is always a losing strategy in the NFL

  24. Hodad Says:

    It’s not the secondary’s fault Heinke had all day at times to throw. You also can’t blame them when he escaped the pocket to make plays. Best way to cover up for a bad secondary is with a good pass rush. When your outside pass rushers have no sacks, and one QB hit all day no secondary is going to hold up.

  25. D-Rome Says:

    Lombardi said Nov. 10 is the real beginning of the season. It’s when good teams separate themselves from the chafe and wannabees.

    Lovie Smith said the same thing years ago and he was blasted for it on this site.

  26. Bucamania Says:

    Michael Clayton said it best. The Bucs were there to participate not dominate.

  27. Joe Says:

    If someone is faster than me the worst thing I can do is give them a head start with nothing in front of them.

    Actually, the opposite is true. What’s worse, giving a guy a cushion and maybe giving up a short pass where the rest of your teammates can help out and get a tackle, or get fried for a bomb?

    Six yards is much better than six points.

  28. Joe Says:

    Lovie Smith said the same thing years ago and he was blasted for it on this site.

    Because he was getting his tail kicked in September and October.

  29. unbelievable Says:

    D White and LVD are both liabilities right now.

    Most overrated linebacker tandem in the league.

    But hey keep celebrating those 1st down stops! Too bad you forgot about stopping them on 2nd and 3rd…

  30. View from 132 Says:

    Most overrated Bucs team since 2003. They’ll be lucky to be an early playoff exit, which means they made the playoffs. What a joke.

  31. Oneilbuc Says:

    I told yall the 2019 team wasn’t good but you told me I didn’t know nothing about and it was the quarterback fault regardless how many games the defense gave up. Then last year yall told me Brady came in and took the same team the last quarterback had and won a superbowl. I told yall it was a different offense and team . But yall call me a Brady hater and a Jamies fan and yall told me I knew nothing about football. Brady played with the same team from 2019 2 games in a row and you got the same results both games.. But all I heard was Brady was the reason why we won. I told yall it was the team they put around him and some of yall said I was worng . But now look you don’t blame Brady for nothing even though 1 of those picks wasn’t his fault . But now yall want to blame the defense and the coaching staff and I’ve been telling yall that BA is overrated and I like BA that’s my guy but facts or facts.

  32. James Walker Says:

    The refs are not calling penalties against teams playing the Bucs. I clearly saw Horse Collar on Lenny right in front of the ref and no flag.

  33. Oneilbuc Says:

    And by the way I go by what my eyes tells me not what the media say . Yall don’t even make comments against Skip Bayless when he call us the suckanerrs. But I told yall Brady couldn’t have won with the bucs in 2019 and he just proved it just imagine if Payton Barbara was the runningback and Dotson was the right tackle it would have been worse. But now teams are going to pile up defensesive backs in the middle of the feild and Brady is going to struggle. Brady can’t get Evans the ball but why Jamies could and McCown could 🤔! Because Brady can’t throw 50 50 passes to Evans like they could.

  34. D-Rome Says:

    Most overrated Bucs team since 2003.

    I disagree. I think the 2017 team was way overrated. Some people thought that team was going to make a deep playoff run.

  35. unbelievable Says:

    @James Walker-

    A horse collar and a face mask both uncalled against Lenny.

    Blatant PI against Brate and Johnson also not called.

    Not too mention endless amounts of holding all game long.

    I tried to tell ya’ll a few weeks ago, the league has gone back to hating the Bucs. We are playing 2 teams every week from here on out. Add in a QB who seems to have suddenly lost his confidence and a sorry, soft defense… and we’ll it’s not looking good.

  36. Eddie Marz Says:

    Still think the first interception should have been ruled a completed pass and fumble. Not an interception. GO BUCS!

  37. Wideleftandright Says:

    The losses fall squarely on the secondary they cannot defend a pass to save their lives.
    How many three n outs have the bucs had on there opponents. I bet they rank nearly last in the league percentage wise.
    There is good pressure up front and run stopping is great ,there is phenomenal linebacker play.
    Aside from some very bad passes thrown bye our opponents this secondary isn’t even close to the receivers to bat or defense a pass.
    However they do know how to grab receivers as they are being run past.That ,they have mastered .

  38. Jaybuc Says:

    Joe, i will say it again: Shaq is only great when playing against Backups and Strarters who have moved to a new position due to injuries… See Green Bay and KC games in playoffs…