Staying Dangerous. Staying Alive.

December 23rd, 2021

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Buc fans never saw it coming.

In one horrific 3-hour span, the Bucs went from Super Bowl favorites to a battered club with major questions surrounding the weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal.

We know the Saints have Tampa Bay’s number and that number now stands at 4 — as in four key players who went down with significant injuries during a Sunday evening to forget.

Chris Godwin (knee), Mike Evans (hamstring), Leonard Fournette (hamstring) and Lavonte David (foot) all suffered serious injuries and there are no assurances any of them will return for the postseason.

Godwin’s year is done prematurely, a crippling blow for an elite receiver months before he is slated to hit the free-agent market.

It’s still hard to believe a defending champion’s fortunes can flip that suddenly.

“Whacked,” explains Sage Ira Kaufman.

In a memorable scene from “Goodfellas,” Ray Liotta is walking down the street with Robert De Niro when he talks directly to the audience about an impending murder.

“That’s how it happens, That’s how fast it takes for a guy to get whacked.”

And while the Bucs are far from dead, their wounds may prove fatal.

Just when Tampa Bay’s secondary has returned almost intact, Brady’s best weapons are on the shelf.

Godwin did all the dirty work between the hash marks, Evans is a huge red zone threat and Fournette was playing great football. David was coming off an exceptional game against New Orleans.

There’s more.

Add in the uncertain status of Antoine Winfield Jr. and the torn rotator cuff that has robbed Jason Pierre-Paul of his pass-rushing prowess and you have a depleted roster reduced to picking up guys off the street.

Remember that boat scene in “The Sopranos,” when a member of Tony’s crew warns James Galdolfini about the way their lives in the mob are destined to conclude?

“At the end, you probably don’t hear anything,” said Tony’s henchman. “Everything just goes black.”

Surviving On The Edge

Heading to Charlotte to face the punchless Panthers, the Bucs must avoid the temptation of feeling sorry for themselves. They’re not going to receive any sympathy from edge rushers Brian Burns and Haason Reddick, who have combined for 20 sacks.

A safe Sunday is critical.

Burns made the Pro Bowl and Reddick is an alternate with 11 takedowns for a defense that gets little fanfare because the Panthers are 2-9 after a 3-0 getaway. Only Buffalo has allowed less yards than Carolina, which allows an average of 39 fewer yards per game than Tampa Bay.

Health is always a major factor at this time of the season and the good news is Brady appears eager to soldier on. Antonio Brown is back and Rob Gronkowski is determined to atone for one of the worst games of his storied career. The offensive line, featuring three Pro Bowlers, remains intact and Shaq Barrett is peaking.

What else is there to generate enthusiasm?

That No. 1 playoff seed seems like a longshot, so Bruce Arians needs to think about shutting down his walking wounded in the next few weeks. Is there truly a dramatic difference between facing the 49ers or the Eagles that is worth endangering Evans heading into the playoffs?

Brady’s presence and pedigree gives Buc Nation hope amid all this adversity. In 2018, when Brady’s Patriots won it all, his leading targets were running back James White, Julian Edelman, Gronkowski, Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan. He knows how to maximize the talent around him and right now, that talent base has been severely compromised.

From here on out, these Bucs have to do all the little things better because they’re not going to bludgeon people with an overwhelming offense.

Special teams, a concern all season, need to provide a winning edge. Devin White needs to lasso a few quarterbacks and coaches have to do a better job of tailoring game plans to specific opponents.

The Bucs may no longer be the Super Bowl favorites, but they remain dangerous as long as No. 12 is upright. His birth certificate reads 44 and his 40 time reads 5.5, but Brady’s mind reads defenses better than his peers and Tampa Bay just might have the goods to suck it up for one more run.

That’s how it happens.

Yes, that warranty includes USED vehicles!
Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

18 Responses to “Staying Dangerous. Staying Alive.”

  1. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    Too much talent not to make a run to the SB. The question is are we tough enough and determined enough to maximize it down the stretch. Two teams have manhandled us this year and that’s the Saints and Rams. GB looks tough as always and the 49’ers are built like the saints and Rams. They are tough on the line of scrimmage. Gonna be a long road but it can be done. Pray for health!

  2. Swampbuc Says:

    Having AB back is absolutely critical, as he can beat double coverage while none of the other guys look able to beat single man coverage. As long as Jensen Cappa and Marpet can pull together and protect the middle push the Saints had all game long during the Bucs shutout loss at home when the division crown was there for the taking and the defense played as well as they can play — well maybe Scotty’s Miller and Tyler’s Johnson can help contribute a few first downs and the Bucs might get 20 points.

    Or the D will just have to pitch a shutout of their own. And our idiot kicker maybe can make a FG, we clinch with 3-o like hosting KC in 1979.

  3. fern Says:

    God you are so dramatic.

    You got AB, RoJo will run all over and we go from there.

  4. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    The Panthers are dangerous because this is basically their Super Bowl!
    If they win, they will still have slim playoff hopes, and may save Matt Ruhle’s job!
    Who said there isn’t much difference between Philly and San Francisco ?
    Not sure that is true because San Francisco has a much better pass rush.

  5. godlovesbucs Says:

    The big difference is between those 2 and the Rams. Good chance we play Rams, that would be really bad.

  6. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Chris/The Apple of Our Eye is right…2nd week in a row Bucs face a desperate, hated division rival. I’m pretty sure the Panthers won’t be bounty hunting though. Thinking back early and often…Brady was probably truly afraid for his career with one kill shot to the knee/legs. They did it to Godwin…they kept hitting Fournette excessively and borderline late when he was all but defenseless. A win Sunday would alleviate the pressure/begin the healing process. Call it sour grapes/homerism if you’d like…but last Sunday night’s game had a sinister vibe to it…one that only the VooDoo Taints can brew up.

  7. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Bucs have a better D than the Panthers.
    With all the injuries, this is not the game for no risk it no biscuit.
    Run the ball, win the time of possession, don’t turn it over.
    Nothing fancy, just play smart football and come away with a win.
    Did I say run the ball?

  8. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    People need to start being more realistic. Losing Godwin is our biggest loss and our run game will suffer. AB is scared to block so it will suffer because of that. Brady more than likely will be gun shy in making down field shots after what NO did to him. We know they can’t trust our running backs and BL won’t lean on them if they did because all they want to do is pass pass pass. I don’t expect much game planning for the last three games because it doesn’t seem they do much for any games. They seem to do what they want whether it works or not. We will be one and done in the playoffs.

  9. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucs won it all last year largely because we were healthy while other playoff teams were not. This year the tables are turned. You ALWAYS have a chance, but beating the NFL’s best 4 games in a row playing a bunch of subs & injured starters is asking a lot of any team.

  10. Bucfan Says:

    Brady’s 40 time is more like 9.8. Anywho, this team can still dominate on offense and defense but I think the biggest thing that needs to happen belongs on the coaching staff.
    They, like you said need to game plan for each team differently. They also need to start relying on the run game more.
    That will create more opportunities for play action which Brady is a master at.

  11. Listen Linda! Says:

    Nice work Ira. Thank you

  12. unbelievable Says:

    ^ Yup.

    We were very healthy outside of 2-3 guys last year. This year is the complete opposite. Gonna be very difficult to even make it out of the wild card round at this rate.

  13. Francisco Guzman Says:

    They still have plenty of weapons. No excuses. I just hope they can win out. Have a chance at that second seed.

  14. Swampbuc Says:

    We are in a six quarter drout. There aren’t any beat downs of opponents coming. Get real fanboys.

  15. adam from ny Says:

    guys riding the pine and in limited back up roles now get to be part of something bigger than themselves…

    hopefully they understand that and get down with the potential to fill those holes and keep the team rolling…

    there’s still enough significant time for players who were out of the mix to become a vital part or of a championship run…

    there’s no time like the present…lets go bucs!…

    the time is now…

    i hope we get the saints in the playoffs in a round 3 this year…


  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Our backup receivers will play better down the stretch….having AB back is huge and there is very little drop off if any in the run game with Rojo….passing to him will be limited….
    The key is our defense…….our secondary is mostly healthy and our front 7 is very strong…..we can win with our defense if it continues to play well.

  17. Bojim Says:

    Starts with Brady. He is the best at wringing the talent out of somebody. Feel good about our QB.

  18. Crickett Baker Says:

    Well-written and interesting article, Ira.