Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Buccaneers-Panthers

January 9th, 2022

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No. 2 never felt so good.

The Bucs took care of business Sunday after a lethargic start, then cheered on San Francisco’s big comeback against the Rams that secured the NFC’s No. 2 playoff slot. If Tampa Bay beats Philadelphia at Raymond James Stadium next weekend, the Bucs are assured another playoff game at home, where they finished 7-1.

In setting a franchise single-season record with their 13th win, the Bucs closed with a 7-1 mark following that dreary setback at Washington. Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski all reached personal milestones and even Scotty Miller got into the scoring act as every Buc player who suited up saw action.

Once again, Tampa Bay appeared disinterested at the start as the punchless Panthers flexed their muscles early. A goal-line stand helped turn the momentum around and once the Bucs took the lead 15 seconds before the half, it was all Tampa Bay.

The injury bug hit the Bucs hard this season, so the organization has every right to be proud of a 13-4 record and a romp to the division title.

Head trainer Bobby Slater was a busy man, but the offensive line remained healthy and Brady found himself with enough time to deliver some serious damage.

The Panthers, who were once 5-5, never topped 21 points during a closing 7-game losing streak that could cost Matt Ruhle his job. Here’s how the Bucs used a second-half blitz to prevail with Carolina on their mind:

* How about a hand for Anthony Nelson? A fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2019, Nelson finished the season with five sacks, despite playing only 30 percent of the snaps. He registered a takedown in each of the last three games.

* Brady made some gorgeous throws in completing 29-of-37 passes for 326 yards and three scores. He got better as the game went on, helped by his usual stellar protection up front. Of note, six of Brady’s completions went for at least 20 yards.

* The Bucs came out flat — again. When Carolina punted with 1:55 left in the half, Tampa Bay had 48 yards of total offense on only 15 snaps. It’s a disturbing pattern that could prove decisive against better competition.

* Bruce Arians likes a clean game and they don’t come much cleaner than Sunday. The Bucs did not turn the ball over and they were flagged only twice for 10 yards.

*The absences of Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul have had a profound effect on Tampa Bay’s rush defense. The Panthers outgained the Bucs 80-19 on the ground in the opening two quarters and tackling was sloppy. Buckle up because here come the Eagles, featuring one of the NFL’s most prolific rushing attacks.

* Devin White has been credited with only 10 tackles in the past three weeks. He had 38 stops in three playoff games last season. Something’s up.

* What a time for Gronkowski to get going with another 100-yard game. He’s going to be a handful for Philly.

* When Evans comes up for discussion as a Hall of Fame candidate, that record 1,000-yard streak is bound to carry substantial weight with voters.

* The Bucs are hoping to get key players back for another Super Bowl run, knowing Chris Godwin is shelved for good. At close to full strength, Tampa Bay remains a very dangerous team. Key factor? No. 12 is healthy and hungry.

* The only other time the Bucs played host to Philly in the postseason came on Dec. 29, 1979, when Ricky Bell ran 38 times for 142 yards in Tampa Bay’s 24-17 triumph. Tom Brady was a toddler that day as the Bucs pulled off an upset and reached the NFC championship game. The 2021 Bucs have already been established as 7-point favorites in their crib. You want to really spook the Eagles? Let Ronde Barber lead the Bucs onto the field.

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Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

15 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Buccaneers-Panthers”

  1. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Any word on Fournette? Could he be back next week?

  2. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    TB12 is dialed-in. He is playing with focus and intensity. He is playing in playoff form! He is the GOAT.

    Bucs have to change it up on offense and on defense as well during the playoffs. BL could try starting “up tempo” coming out of the gate next week against Philly. Use Mike Evans in unpredictable ways a couple of plays during the game as well. Todd Bowles better be focused on stopping them on third downs. I don’t expect David necessarily to be available but I do anticipate both Barrett and JPP will play.

    OK kids … … We are going to find out what kind of Offensive Coordinator Leftwich is. We will see what kind of strategist Arians really is at this point in his coaching career. I don’t doubt we have a high level of character among all of our current players. We have the incredible field generalship of Tom Brady, the GOAT, to rely upon. If this team rises to the level of winning the Super Bowl Championship this year I really believe they will also have achieved greatness in NFL history.

    Go Bucs! You have enough momentum! Win now!

  3. Francisco Guzman Says:

    Iggles can really run the football. Gonna need to stop that running game. Mostly put a spy on jalen hurts.

  4. BucsBeBack (Artist formally known as: BringBucsBack) Says:

    I’d bet my house that the Bucs don’t run the ball 38 times next week!

  5. Jerry Says:

    Sunday 1pm

  6. PassingThru Says:

    The defense got sharper as the game progressed, and in fact I thought one of the halftime adjustments was to improve edge defense against outside runs.

    The Panthers came out blazing, but that was purely a scripted attack. As soon as Darnold ran out of script, he couldn’t find receivers quickly enough. He’s purely one read as a QB.

  7. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    I remember watching that 79 game against Philly. Ricky Bell was a work horse that year. Bell had so much potential. Such a tragic story. Sadly, we lost 9-0 to the Rams that year in Tampa on a cold night. Hopefully we do better this year at home.

  8. Jmarkbuc Says:

    All for Ronde leading the Bucs out of the tunnel!

    Great idea Ira.

  9. Ben the GA Buc Says:

    Haha! I love the idea to have Ronde lead the team out! His pick six on McNabb is still the greatest single play in Tampa sports history.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m encouraged by Perriman & Johnson’s performances…..we’ll need more of that tot take pressure off Evans & Gronk….

  11. Dubcity6 Says:

    The panick because the Bucs started slow is extremely overblown. No team plays perfectly. If they do I wanna know who. Bucs have the best record in the NFL. Any team can beat any team any week. But Bucs are in great position to repeat

  12. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I was and remain a huge Devin White fan. I was thrilled with his selection in the draft and last year in the playoffs he lived up to his potential.

    I do not know what has happened this year. Injury? He’s reportedly healthy.

    Watching the game today White was one of the worst players out there on our D.
    Guys simply ran past him…he took bad angles…he blew through on a rush and had the sack but simply missed the hit…he looks lost out there right now…the proverbial day late and a dollar short. He’s totally out of synch and that is as much as any other reason why our D has been playing poorly.

    You can’t take the QB…the middle of the D and have him suck and not believe it’s going to effect the entire D.

  13. BA4President Says:

    Rondé leading out of the tunnel… YES!!!

  14. Bucamania Says:

    Perriman will step up and Scotty.

    Something is definitely off with Devin White though.

  15. SlyPirate Says:

    Eagles, Cowboys, Packers … a tough road but doable.