Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Rams

January 24th, 2022

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Now, the high anxiety begins.

Before Sunday’s kickoff, Tampa Bay’s path to the Super Bowl appeared promising — beat the Rams at home and remain in Tampa all week long before entertaining the 49ers in the NFC championship game.

But despite some incredible generosity from the visitors, the Buc season ended with a defensive collapse in the final seconds. Tom Brady deflected questions about his future plans after the stunning setback and Bruce Arians indicated he’ll return as head coach, but that could change if No. 12 calls it a day.

Some Buc fans will blame the officials for the loss, but the Rams were the better club from the start. They won the special teams battle in a landslide and Matt Stafford outplayed Brady. If Cam Akers had any sense of ball security, the Rams would have won this game comfortably, instead of sweating it out.

A 20-3 halftime deficit wrecked any semblance of offensive balance and pass protection was an issue from the start. The value of Tristan Wirfs was underscored as Tampa Bay scrambled up front to keep Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd off Brady.

The ending was shocking because the Bucs had just staged a miraculous comeback. But can you call it shocking when Stafford had time to find Cooper Kupp, who is in the midst of one of the most majestic seasons by a wide receiver in NFL history?

When the disappointment fades, Buc fans will realize that a 14-5 record and a division title are worth celebrating. Injuries hit hard and Antonio Brown’s shameful disregard for his teammates didn’t help, but this remains a very talented roster. If Brady returns, the Bucs will be prohibitive favorites to repeat as NFC South champions.

That’s small solace at the moment because the Bucs had an opportunity to roll through the NFC playoffs within the confines of Raymond James Stadium. On Sunday, they weren’t good enough, despite a plus-2 turnover margin.

Brady will now weigh his options and you can bet his family will play prominent role. His football family wants him back desperately and one of Sunday’s opponents is betting No. 12 is back under center in the fall.

“The only reason not to like Tom Brady is that he wins,” says Miller, who registered a sack and strip. “He’s a great guy, hell of a leader. I don’t think this is going to be the end of it, man. He’s going to dust himself off and he’s going to be ready to go.”

Can’t you hear Buc fans shouting “Amen” in unison?

Here’s how the Rams traveled cross-country on a short week and sent the Bucs careening into the off season:

* The whole league is struggling to cover Kupp, but he absolutely torments the Bucs. In the last three meetings, he has torched Tampa Bay for 29 catches, 424 yards and 3 TDs. Let’s not forget that just before his 44-yard reception that set up the winning FG, Kupp grabbed a 20-yarder on 2nd-and-11 from the Rams 24 with only 35 seconds left as Stafford sat comfortably in the pocket.

* Here’s a nugget from the NFL Network sure to infuriate Buc Nation. Since 2000, road playoff teams who turned the ball over at least four times had been 0-20. Make that 1-20 now.

* Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski came up big as targets for Brady. Tyler Johnson did not.

Donovan Smith

* The Bucs handled Donald very well in their two previous meetings, but the All-Pro DT was a disruptive force on Sunday with a sack and 3 QB hits. Raheem Morris smartly used him extensively at left defensive end to capitalize on the absence of Wirfs, who will need surgery.

* Not a good game for Donovan Smith.

* Bradley Pinion sailed two kickoffs out of bounds, Ryan Succop missed a 48-yard FG try and the Rams returned a punt 33 yards. This was a game to forget for special teams coach Keith Armstrong.

* Antonio Brown is an immature buffoon. That is all.

* Leonard Fournette returned in style, accounting for 107 yards from scrimmage and two TDs. He caught all nine passes sent his way.

* Despite that taunting flag, Ndamukong Suh did his job very well with 6 tackles, a half-sack, a forced fumble and half of Tampa Bay’s 8 hits against Stafford.

* This might be the ultimate team sport, but Brady holds the whole Buc world in his hands. If he calls it quits after 22 seasons, the dominos start to tumble. He should take his time — but not too much time. He owes the organization that much.

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

29 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Rams”

  1. LVMYBUCS Says:

    He is gonna sit back and see what the Bucs roster plans is my guess. Either way we have problems in that secondary for the last 2 season that need fixing.

  2. LVMYBUCS Says:

    So many things I didnt understand this season which make me hate this coaching staff. One was why was Johnson in the game over miller? #18 either he is lost on the field or he cant catch the ball or run the full route. I just think we have a lot of dead weight on this roster.

  3. ModHairKen Says:

    Special Teams coach needs to be let go. Darden needs to be cut. They need to scour free agency for DBs and OL and WR. If they let Godwin leave, then the entire front office should be fired.

    If Brady leaves, they need to try to get a veteran QB. Trask is not going to be ready and their is a void of leadership (outside of Brady).

  4. ModHairKen Says:

    Tyler Johnson came in out of shape. He had a bad year. He needs to reflect on this.

  5. PassingThru Says:

    If you were the Defensive Coordinator decided to blitz Stafford with 30 seconds left (which was stupid) why wouldn’t you assign your best cover man (not a Safety) to cover Cooper Kupp?

  6. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Tony Dungy said it best about that call by Todd Bowles “I didn’t understand that last defensive call by the Bucs. All out blitz??? Why not just sit back let them complete a 15 yd pass in bounds and the game would go to overtime. I don’t understand???!”
    That call cost us what would have been the greatest comeback in Bucs history.

    Brady did a great job, considering his protection failed him most of the game. And, that includes Donovan Smith, who gave up way too many easy sacks/pressures.

  7. PassingThru Says:

    If Brady leaves, count on him telling Licht and Arians in private prior to the draft. He knows the team needs to make plans. He’ll likely make the formal public announcement after the draft.

  8. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Tom Brady is a stand up guy, so I’m sure there will be no Rodgers-like stringing along.

    Tom Brady owes this organization absolutely nothing.

  9. DBS Says:

    How much more evidence do you need. Daren goes down. They bring up a player that is getting the job job done. Then they put Darden back in. Darden needs to go! Along with Armstrong.

  10. Pepsi Says:

    Ira, can’t leave out this one – we saw the worst single defensive playcall I’ve seen my life and it lost us the game. That’s the only thing I’ve been able to think about from the loss till now

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    LVMYBUCS …’I just think we have a lot of dead weight on this roster.”

    Interesting observation LVMYBUCS. And I don’t disagree with you. When everyone’s healthy, Bucs had an impressive starting lineup plus several strong rotational players. But beyond that, we’ve now seen what happens when the starters go down.

    Yesterday provided a great example. Wirfs, our All-Pro RT, is out and we have to put Wells in his place. I’ll give Josh Wells a ton of credit for even suiting up, but he had no business being out there trying to block Miller et al with only one good leg. Jensen looked like he was struggling too. Pretty much the same with JPP & probably with Shaq & SMB also (saw SMB miss at least 2 tackles where his braced arm failed him).

    But with 26 UFAs to re-sign or backfill … half our team … how many other guys who are presently under contract can we afford to get right of BEFORE everyone starts calling it a REBUILDING. But no problem; Bucs get to pick #27 in this Spring’s draft so we’ll certainly have the pick of the litter. Well, maybe not.

  12. King C Says:

    The story of this game was LAR trying to fumble choke the game away but TB couldn’t take advantage.
    LAR was the better team.
    After the 9-0 Saints loss and injuries, it was clear this Bucs team would not repeat as champs.
    And that’s OK. I enjoyed this season just like I enjoyed last season. Go Bucs!
    All the people slamming Bowles should remember the praise for shutting down Mahomes (!) to win the Super Bowl.

  13. Mike Johnson Says:

    You guys are idiots. The game was not lost by Bowles, It was lost by the team. Penalties galore, kicking game, no pass rush, no punt good returns, Sloppy secondary, injuries, I could go on and on. We got beat by a much better team. Get over it.

  14. DBS Says:

    When you deserve praise you get it. But when you deserve the Hot seat you get that too. Goes both ways.

  15. Bucamania Says:

    Outside of four fumbles, the Rams totally outplayed the Bucs and deserved to win. The Oline got destroyed (esp Donny) and the WRs not names Mike Evans did very little. Tyler Johnson can hit the bricks. The special teams was a disaster. Two kickoffs OOB are you kidding me, Pinion?! I can’t watch Darden return another kick or punt. What a waste of a draft pick.

  16. Razor Ramone Says:

    That Berrios kid from The Jets is a FA. He’s like a young Edelman and Tommy was talking to him after Jets game.

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    PassingThru Says:
    January 24th, 2022 at 10:17 am
    If Brady leaves, count on him telling Licht and Arians in private prior to the draft. He knows the team needs to make plans. He’ll likely make the formal public announcement after the draft.

    I would think Brady’s decision would come before Free Agency…..that’s well before the draft….

  18. Cobraboy Says:

    It was a tough loss, but the reality is the injuries and AB nonsense cratered the season.

    It was a fine season, one of the best ever by a Bucs team. It’s sad to end that way. I’m sure Buffalo fans feel the same way, maybe even worse.

    It’s not shameful to admit the Rams were the much better team Sunday and almost blew it.

    This will be an interesting offseason, for sure, one completely different from “keep the band together.”

    Let it begin…

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    @Razor: I like that idea. An Evans/Godwin/Berrios combo would make for some interesting offense.

    And I am all-in for a complete restructuring of ST’s, from coach to specialists.

  20. Will Says:

    ST coach needs to go that is a fact. Yes Pinion put 2oob and that should never happen but he normally puts them through the end zone so why was Armstrong telling him to angle kicks in the 1st place? Rams were purposely kicking short to force Darden to have to run it. He needs to go he’s terrible and can’t make the 1st guy miss which is another problem with coaching why does it seem we’re the only team that can’t block a gunner or even set up a return in any aspect of the game? ST should not be an after thought heck that’s why the 49ers beat Green Bay.

  21. Your Mom Says:

    I would have liked to see Shaq or Devon White matched up against the backup left tackle the Rams were playing. JPP was just too ailing to be effective with that opportunity.

  22. D-Rome Says:

    Nice article. Donovan Smith was beat like a drum yesterday. He could not contend with Von Miller’s speed. I mean, it’s no surprise as Von Miller is a future hall of famer.

  23. Cobraboy Says:

    I feel badly for JPP.

    He was playing with literally one arm.

    On pass rush downs, he attacked with one arm by his side. No jab, no stab, no swim, just an arm by his side.

  24. Bucamania Says:

    Donovan Smith was getting destroyed mostly by #45 Okoronkwo not Von Miller.

  25. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Durable Donnie and his signature back peddle/patty cakes move was no match against true defensive talent.
    He’s not the reason we lost, but he’s not the all-world LT some of you have been claiming he is.

  26. Joe M Says:

    Where in the hell was the double team on Cupp???
    Arians himself said Cupp was the best in the NFL. Last two vatches of the game for 65 yards. Idiot defensive coordinator. You guys are getting paid too much and should be ashamed of yourself..

  27. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Defense was poorly prepared for this game. Giving up 20 1st half points in a playoff game at home with 0 turnovers helping the opponent – absolutely pathetic. They ( Bucs coaches ) knew who the Rams were and did a terrible job getting the defense ready.
    Tell me again how great the Rams offense is when the 49ers beat them next week.

  28. Boltsfan17 Says:

    Brady holds all the cards to this team’s success. He hides the huge worts that are all over this roster. The D is significantly overrated with gaping holes at DL, and secondary not to mention the weak OL. If he doesn’t return which is quite possible given the issues stated above the dark days will be returning. Arians is simply delusional if he thinks this team is anything other than mediocre without Brady.

  29. Bob Davis Says:

    I gave up watching right before the miraculous two touchdown come back. When I saw the final score it hurt all more ( no attempt at poetry with the ryme). It made it all the more painful. I believe Brady will retire. Giselle has wanted him to for quite a while now. She went along with the move to Tampa because she knew Belicheck was a jealous turd who always resented Brady’s popularity. He led the Bucs to a Super Bowl championship at 43. Injuries and poor coaching could not be overcome this time around. Tom’s wife still has her beauty and she wants to return to the fashion runway before her time runs out. Honestly, I can’t blame her.