The Other Fearsome Foursome

July 6th, 2022

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There’s something about those Tampa Bay uniforms that seems to bring out the best in certain opponents. Let’s single them out for what they are — pure, unadulterated Buc-killers.

Two of the four still dwell in the NFC South. One just beat up on the Bucs en route to a championship. The other villain remains a free agent, despite credentials that will undoubtedly earn him a bust in Canton.

Collectively, these traditional Buc-killers boast a lot of talent. Although they generally play very well against the entire league, they seem to take particular delight in tormenting Tampa Bay. Buc fans have seen way too much of the fab four.

Let’s start the festivities with Julio Jones, who is still available on the free-agent market.

For a decade in Atlanta, Jones was a reviled figure in Buc Nation. In 16 career games against the Bucs, Jones has 114 catches for 1,841 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 115 receiving yards.

It helps to actually cover Julio Jones.

That’s outrageous production, even by his lofty standards. Let’s remember that Jones ranks No. 1 all-time with a career average of 91.9 receiving yards per game. He played for the Titans last season and at age 33, Jones has been hobbled by injuries in recent years.

When Buc fans think about Jones, they usually point to a 2017 matchup that ended with a 34-20 home triumph for the Falcons. On that day, Jones was targeted 15 times, hauling in 12 passes for 253 yards and two scores. No opposing player had ever accumulated that many receiving yards against Tampa Bay.

As the game progressed, members of the Buc media in the press box couldn’t believe their eyes. The Buc coaching staff kept sending out Ryan Smith to cover Jones … without help. The results were painful to watch as Jones caught seven passes of 20 yards or more.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s best cornerback, Brent Grimes, was never deployed to shadow Jones.

“It’s not often that we get that many single opportunities in a game, but we got that today,” said an appreciative Matt Ryan.

Smith started that fateful day and was on the field at corner for all 64 of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps. He has started only one game in the past three years and is currently a free agent, coming off a torn ACL.

Another big, physical receiver who has caused the Bucs annual grief is Michael Thomas of the Saints.

In nine games against Tampa Bay, Thomas has 74 receptions for 899 yards, catching 81 percent of the targets sent his way. That’s a nice, round average of 100 yards per game.

In 2018 and 2019, before an ankle injury threatened to wreck his career, Thomas was virtually unstoppable against the Bucs. In those four games, he latched onto 46 of 53 targets, averaging 11 1-2 catches and 144 receiving yards.

Will Michael Thomas be Michael Thomas again?

It’s easy to forget how Thomas destroyed the Buc secondary in the 2018 opener, when Tampa Bay won a 48-40 shootout behind Ryan Fitzpatrick at the Superdome. All Thomas did that day was catch 16 of the 17 passes sent his way for 180 yards.

But everything changed in the 2020 season opener, when Thomas suffered a high ankle sprain at New Orleans in Tom Brady’s Buc debut.

Thomas wasn’t the same player when he returned that year and he didn’t play at all last season.

Next on our list is a recent addition from the City of Angels. His name is Cooper Kupp and Todd Bowles still hasn’t figured out how to cover him.

To be fair, Kupp did it all in 2021, earning NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors with a season for the ages. But in three regular-season games against the Bucs dating back to 2019, Kupp has 29 catches for 362 yards and three touchdowns.

And who can forget the playoff matchup last January, when Kupp grabbed nine balls for 183 yards and a score. With the game on the line, it was Kupp who got open deep down the middle for the catch that set up the winning field goal.

Including the postseason, Kupp has averaged 9 1/2 catches and 136 yards against Tampa Bay, hauling in 75 percent of his targets.

Hated Saints DE Cameron Jordan

Now we come to a marauder on the other side of the ball who loves to break Buc hearts.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan has been a big reason why the Saints are 17-5 against the Bucs under his watch. In that span, he has 17 sacks,33 QB hits, 5 forced fumbles and 6 passes defended.

No matter which Buccaneer lines up across from him, Jordan usually wins the battle.

Last year, Jordan was credited with three sacks and two forced fumbles against Tampa Bay.

He dominated the line of scrimmage when New Orleans blanked the Bucs 9-0 at Raymond James Stadium. His first sack came when he lined up inside and beat Alex Cappa. Later, he came off the left edge and manhandled Tristan Wirfs, who hadn’t allowed a sack all season.

For an encore, Jordan sprinted past Wirfs and forced a fumble by Brady, who was on the move because the pocket had broken down.

Give it up for Jones, Thomas, Kupp and Jordan. When it comes to Buc-killers, these guys are Mount Rushmore.

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

15 Responses to “The Other Fearsome Foursome”

  1. Buccos Says:

    F’ ‘em. F’ ‘em all

  2. Bibfortuna Says:

    This article hurt.

  3. maxdrumsalot Says:

    great, now im angry

  4. Mr. Editor Says:

    Yes, Ira, we hate those guys. Don’t forget those other Buc-killers, who were second and third string QBs but played like All-World, All-Pro Hall of Fame players against our beloved Bucs defenses. The list includes: Case Keenum, Derek Anderson, and Paxton Lynch.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    A fifth Buc killer is Jameis Winston…..not as a Saint but as a Buc……interceptions, fumbles & pick 6s…….yep the fifth Buc killer.

  6. D-Rok Says:

    Look at Ira, going all Buc-wild on my pleasant day. LOL. Great article as always, sir.

    Here’s *HOPING* (wishing?) the Bucs figure out how to manhandle all these Buc-killaz this year.

    GO BUCS!!!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Cam Jordan is a beast, even now as he’s almost 33 in just a couple of days. Another Ironman like Suh; played in every game but 1 since he became a pro (11 seasons; 176 games, starting 175 of them). If he doesn’t make the HOF in year 1 of eligibility I’ll be amazed.

    And to think, Bucs chose Adrian Clayborn in Rnd 1 over Cam Jordan in 2011. But hey, at least we followed that up by selecting Da’Quan Bowers in Rnd 2 so it wasn’t a total loss. Oh wait … yes it was. My bad.

  8. Goatfarmer Says:

    Todd should be forced to watch film of Kupp against the Bucs with his eyes glued open for 100 consecutive hours. Make anyone else beat you, Todd.

    There’s this thing called double coverage. I know, too simple.

  9. PassingThru Says:

    Michael Thomas’ high ankle sprain was the result of vindictive greed. Sean Peyton wanted to rub salt into the Buc open wound by running up the score late when the outcome was already decided. I’m not celebrating an injury, but it was karma, pure and simple.

    Three of the four Buc killers are WRs. I’m sure Licht is working with a budget because it otherwise makes no sense to sit on your hands after losing two Pro Bowl WRs plus one Pro Bowl TE. Brady isn’t going to get it done with only Evans and a WR3 hoping to make a jump to WR2.

  10. Steven007 Says:

    The slant king will be neutered from now on by having JW as his quarterback. All about timing and feel with Drew Brees. Plus he’s been injured for a while. Also Kamara out with a suspension should help. But we still need an answer for Jordan. Thankfully the rest of the guys are no longer an issue.

  11. rashad brown Says:

    EFF all of em

  12. Darin Says:

    I’m not giving it up for any of em

  13. Kenneth McClary Says:

    Jesus Ira, you sound like Joe Biden on his 4th of July. Address! Doom and gloom on that! Thanks for the downer man. Lol

  14. Buczilla Says:

    I agree with all of them Ira with the exception of Jones. 61 is the most important number when it comes to Jones. Why? That’s the pathetically low number of touchdowns this man has scored so far in his 11 year career. Just as a reference, Michael Irvin played for 12 years and caught 4 more td’s than Jones has thus far during an era when you could actually touch receivers. Jones is very good, but if he’s worthy of the hof than so are Alstott and Nickerson. Hell, Mike already has 75 touchdowns in just 8 years! I’ll never get the infatuation that some have with Jones and the hof should be reserved for the best of the best like Barber.

  15. Brandon Says:

    Sad to me was that we drafted Adrian Clayborn after we passed on Jordan dominated at the Senior Bowl, while Clayborn declined the invite, he had better final year stats than Clayborn, he measured bigger and tested far better in all tests at NFL Combine than Clayborn, and he didn’t have any serious health issues unlike Clayborn. What a terrible draft pick by Dominick. He should have been fired on the spot for that blunder. Cam even has NFL pedigree. Clayborn just had a bum right arm that made him a RDE only but the kind of speed that should have made him a LDR only.