Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Steelers

October 17th, 2022

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They never led, not for a single second.

They never played with any enthusiasm, not for a single second.

The only passionate moment for the Bucs in Sunday’s travesty came when Tom Brady reamed out his offensive line late in the opening half. He should have tossed a tablet instead because the guy under center wasn’t playing any better than the guys up front.

While the Buc defense faltered in the final moments, the Steelers went nowhere for most of the afternoon. After marching 66 yards on their opening drive, the Steelers spent the rest of the half gaining 38 yards.

And they STILL led at intermission.

For the sixth time in six games, Tampa Bay could not find the end zone in an opening quarter. The red zone is a black hole and the Bucs just went 4-for-14 on third down against a defense missing T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick and three cornerbacks.

This was one of the worst losses of the Tom Brady era in Tampa. Given the quality of the opposition, it may have been the worst. Pittsburgh is not a good team, even when healthy. But the outmanned Steelers relied on hustle, better coaching and yes, better quarterback play, to engineer a mammoth upset.

The Buc ground game lived up to its reputation. In other words, it stunk. Brady’s protection broke down more than usual and when Brady had time, his throws were often erratic.

Facing a beaten-up secondary, Byron Leftwich forgot to test Pittsburgh downfield. If Mike Evans wasn’t such a good teammate, he probably would have had to be separated from Leftwich on the team charter back to Tampa.

Sunday’s result reflected poorly on Todd Bowles and his coaching staff. The Bucs knew Mike Tomlin would have the Steelers ready to play after last week’s embarrassing effort at Buffalo, but Tampa Bay didn’t match Pittsburgh’s energy.

It’s early in the season, but it’s not too early for the Glazers to wonder about the direction of this franchise. Brady is cutting corners and Bowles may be cutting his players too much slack.

A 3-3 record and a share of first place in the NFC South may not trigger alarm bells, but there are some troubling issues at One Buc Place.

Most of the problems are on offense, where the Bucs are averaging 20 points per game. Want some perspective? A Tom Brady-led attack is being outscored by the Jets and Giants. The Jaguars have more points — and so do the Falcons. Yes, Marcus Mariota presides over a more productive attack than Brady.


Here’s how the Steelers shocked the lethargic visitors on a Sunday Buc fans will try to forget.

* Prayers go out to Cameron Brate as he deals with yet another serious injury.

* Leonard Fournette averaged 3.0 yards per carry. Rookie Rachaad White could do no better, matching Fournette at 3.0 yards per carry. The revamped interior of this offensive line isn’t getting much push.

* Stop dreaming about Rob Gronkowski’s return. Not happening.

* Lavonte David roamed sideline to sideline, registering 13 tackles, and Jamel Dean played a strong game. Dean’s hustle on an 89-yard kickoff return saved four points.

* Mitch Trubisky replaced an injured Kenny Pickett and looked like Ben Roethlisberger in his prime, completing 9-of-12 passes for 144 yards. Trubisky frustrated the Bucs by converting several third-and-long situations en route to a 142.4 passer rating.

* Raise your hand if you’ve seen the Bucs try a screen pass or a draw. You can put your hands down now.

* Hope Brady had a great time at Robert Kraft’s wedding. What’s it going to be this week — a bar mitzvah?

* Brady and Chris Godwin are struggling to recapture their previous chemistry. There were some forced passes while Evans patiently awaited his turn. He’s still waiting.

* Up next is a matchup at Carolina, where the 1-5 Panthers are saddled with the worst record in the league. Ordinarily, this should be a gimme, a midnight run, but given the way Tampa Bay is playing, Buc Nation would be thrilled with a 17-16 triumph.

* Still think Bruce Arians was simply along for the ride the past two years?

Ira loves that lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles!

30 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Steelers”

  1. firethecannons Says:

    Please stop assuming the Bucs are going to win any game. You were projecting about future wins in your last column–very irritating. Your statement Ira “the Bucs lead the NFC South and should be sitting nicely at 5-2 before the Ravens come to Tampa Oct. 27 for a Thursday night matchup.” Going forward how about we stop thinking this team is going to win anything besides enough games to go to playoffs. Nobody has any business thinking we are a good football team. We will be lucky as hell to win against the Panthers. No more assumptions Ira and Joe!

  2. dmatt Says:

    Can u imagine what this team n record would look like with Sean Peyton at the helm. Shame on Leftwich n Bowles for not knowing how to put points on the board n stop opponents from picking up 3 n long. Devin White is not what folks make him to be. He overrun the play n miss tackles. Our offensive line is an embarrassment. Russel Gage hasn’t proved nothing more than how to drop a pass. And Darden, forget him, he’s not worth a conversation. Bring on Devin Thompson for pr. My prayers goes out to Brate but I think it’s time for the Harvard kid to retire n go corporate America.

  3. SlyPirate Says:

    Even if the show improvement, this is the last season for this team. TB12 isn’t returning.

    SO … Let’s rekindle an old Tampa tradition: Start talking about the draft mid-season.

    A lot of good QBs coming out this year. I wouldn’t mind having a top 10 pick. Only two losses away from #1 pick.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Okay bruh chill the amount of teams in the NFC with our record is insane so just chill out. We have tie breakers over both the other division teams and likely getting a third one with Panthers. Ravens and Rams also look just as bad as we do.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    TB12 is not gonna go to another team, so he retires or he stays put. Relax y’all geez the NFL is very weird this Sunday was very weird and we were a victim of upset Sunday it happens. The Bucs will probably be humbled after this performance.

  6. Onetrickpony Says:

    Leftwich and Bowels were riding Ariens coat tails. Neither are worth a flip.
    B.L. game plans are a joke with no imagination except run on 1st down and if that don’t work, run some more.

  7. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Nailed it Ira.

  8. steele Says:

    This was not an upset. It was a surprise only to outside analysts who don’t really pay attention (who still think it’s a SB contender “because Tom Brady”), and to the “trust OneBuc” optimists.

    Instead of overreacting to every win and loss, just look at the substance and it’s clear. This is a middling team full of coaching and roster issues, without an identity or direction, stuck with a hellacious schedule that allows little or no room for stumbling. Its one true superstar is a 45 yr old going through his own rough patch, capable as ever, but can’t do it alone. It is a team badly missing leadership at every level, and most of all, missing a unifying energy.

  9. Iamabuc Says:

    “Still think Bruce Arians was simply along for the ride the past two years?”
    I hear you Ira. I’m laughing now at the so call “true fans” on this site that kept saying that “he just rides around in his gulf car and drinking and going along for the ride”. They couldn’t wait to run him out of town.

    How you like him now?

  10. FortMyersDave Says:

    I am glad that Ira pointed out how Brady is cutting corners. He is not zoned in on winning that is for sure. I get Joe’s take on not to “Blame Brady” and I also sympathize with the many who blame Leftwich for losing ths game via a horrific game plan with nada adjustments.

    Leftwich’s performance as OC in Pitt was pathetic, rivalling Mike Smith as DC in 2018 in the 2 games before he got fired by the Glazers when Koetter refused to sack him. Could the Glazers do the same with stubborn Lord Byron and his one dimensional game planning?

    However I do have to blame the GOAT for complacency as if we as fans can realize that Leftwich’s calls on first down were predictable, pathetic and below average, well then TB12 ****ing knew this as well! Why didn’t Brady just say eff this and change the call to Evans on a slant or a screen or even a draw????? Seems like Tom was content just to eat an L along with the coaching staff. Brady is supposed to have a lot of influence across the board concerning this team, yesterday he seemed content to sit back and lose. BTW, it seems to me that TB12 running off to NYC on Friday was a telltale sign of him not being 100% invested in winning this year, the team was flat and that reflects on coaching and leadership thus I think TB12, Bowles and Byron all deserve Fs today.

    If the Bucs lose in Carolina (a distinct possibility given how the team is playing), the Glazers might have to force Toilet Bowles to make an example out of a certain OC and also somehow and someway give Licht the green light to go after OBBJ as Ira is correct in that the Gronk coming out of retirement is a pipe dream. The NFC is soft this year: Bucs, Rams, Packers and Niners all seem mediocre and the NFC East may have Philly, Giants and Dallas out in front but man, how good are they? The Bucs worked over Dallas while they struggled against everyone else! The season is still salvageable but Joe might be right from another post earlier tonight: this team could limp into the playoffs as NFC South champ and be one and done in the playoffs just like NFC East teams of recent years. Given the talent on the roster, that falls on coaching.

  11. Crickett Baker Says:

    I haven’t seen an exciting or good game from our Bucs, yet. Including preseason. There were some I could hardly watch. AND now the players seem to be shaking their heads and not even having an inkling about what is wrong.

  12. Christos Says:

    Anonymous the criticism is not about the record. Its about the performance of the players and the coaching of the coaches. Just like the debate about ugly wins. It does not matter how many other teams are 3-3.
    The team 6 games into the season has not played one good complete game.
    The Offense in 4 of those 6 games has scored only 1 offensive TD.
    More times than not we cant get 1 yard in a 2nd 3rd or 4th and 1 situation.
    Redzone Offense is atrocious, we cant get a TD
    The Offense cant find a rhythm and a feel good game against the Steelers who were 30th in points allowed and were missing half of the Defense.
    The Defense has played some good games but giving 3 3rd and 10+ to Trubisky is mindblowing.

    These things are now beyond concerning, 6 games into the season

  13. Hodad Says:

    Todd Bowles lasts two years tops. I’m not talking two more years tops, I mean this year, and a losing season next without Brady. Bowles did not have his team, or his coaching staff ready for this game. So far Bowles has started as our HC just like he left as the Jets HC. Not good. If this team cares at all about the man, at least show effort even if the coaching sucks.

  14. WillieG Says:

    The Bucs looked pretty average for the first half of the Super Bowl 55 season, then they took off, closing out the season with an impressive string of wins. Come to think of it, they didn’t look like a Super Bowl team for most of the season before the Super Bowl 37 win. They had two fiery offensive minded coaches. Now they have a pretty laid back defensive coach…….

    I hope Bowles is up to the task, but I think Joe’s next confidence poll will show that many of us no longer have faith in Bowles. I’ve gone from very confident to confident but will be voting “not very confident” this week.

  15. gotbbucs Says:

    Leftwich has no feel for the game, that’s been obvious the entire time he’s been a coordinator, even when we were scoring points. His play sheet is just the playbook from Tecmo Bowl.

    Hainsey is worse than Goedeke up front.

    Brady is either showing his age, or he’s injured.

  16. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Memo to Brady – BE A PHUCKING LEADER!!

  17. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    MEMO TO BRADY-BE A FREAKING LEADER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. LOL Says:

    The one screen pass the Bucs ran was so bad. I understand why they aren’t running them now. The Steelers knew it was coming IMMEDIATELY because the like did a terrible job selling it. Even the announcers were calling them out. This offense is not gelling one bit. Reminds me of the 1st half of the 2020 season

  19. Ed Says:

    Bucs offense is the biggest issue on the team this year. Goedeke needs to sit and watch someone else try not to miss assignments or get blown up on 3rd and 1 running plays in the red zone.

    Leftwich should be put on notice by Bowles that our kicker cannot be the offensive star of the team. His offense is outdated and without Marpet, Cappa, Brown and Cappa, he cannot expect the same results as 2020/2021 offense. Its his job to set up the offense for success and that means keeping the opponents defense off balance.

    Bowles has to be much better in motivating his team. After 6 games the Bucs should be coming together, not coming apart.

  20. D-Rome Says:

    Still think Bruce Arians was simply along for the ride the past two years?

    Nope, not at all.

  21. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The most egregious error was to practically leave Mike Evans out of the offense…

    A couple of silver linings……

    Dee Delaney got some valuable playing time.
    Ryan Succop matched his career high.
    We will get a better draft pick with the loss.

    That’s about it.

  22. Says:

    Bring Arians back now. Demote Bowles and fire lefty.
    Idc what we gotta do at this point. Bring back suh

  23. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Not once was Luke Goedeke mentioned, but sure let’s mention the wedding. Such an easy and lazy narrative.

  24. A Says:

    I was thinking that this feels a lot like 2020 – but we don’t have Gronk to save us at the end of the year, this time.

    We really don’t have anyone to attack the middle of the field when teams play cover 2…teams know to double team Evans (plus it takes him longer to get open) and to jump on Godwin early in the route…Gage doesn’t get open enough or catch the ball to justify being a 3rd option. We don’t have a 3rd option outside of a check down to Lenny.

    I’d rather go with 3wr sets, White / Lenny, and let Brady call the play. You can split out a RB to create a 4wr set, you can run or pass out of this set…Wr screens, draws and go up tempo. We may need to move Evans inside to play the Gronk down the middle threat..

    At the end of day, our team has to play harder, watch other games…we just don’t play with the same passion as other teams.

    Go Bucs!

  25. Mike Johnson Says:

    Please guys. Knock it off OK? Yesterday’s loss was proof On any given Sunday in this NFL, you can have your Superbowl rings shoved down your throats. Both our O and D lines have glaring deficiencies. It showed yesterday. The Steelers played hard and aggressive. They deserved that victory. Brady is not himself. He is getting more irritable because he knows his line is weak and he cannot run 3 yrds. So he needs almost max protection. He will not have it this year. And he is going thru a big event in his life..DIVORCE. Say what you want but it affects you. Especially him because he’s gonna pay out of the ying-yang. So be thankful we have our Superbowl for the decade. They are hard to come by folks

  26. Bucamania Says:

    And after the game Bowles throws players under the bus with his fantasyland comments. Todd – your team is playing horribly and that’s on you.

  27. LakelandSteve Says:

    I didn’t like Bowles comments either. If you noticed that the Bucs lost their focus during practice because they are living off a Super Bowl two years ago, then say something then. Don’t wait until the game is over and come up with this excuse. That’s on Todd Bowles and only him. Don’t blame the team, blame yourself and quit laying it all on the feet of the players. Sure they didn’t execute but you didn’t coach.

  28. Buczilla Says:

    Zero arguments from me Ira the Great. We have a bad team right now that’s not all in, with bad coaching being the icing on this putrid cake. Fishing and listening to us get whupped on the radio is far more enjoyable than going hoarse from yelling at the tv. I’m doing the former this Sunday since it’s far better for my health and my family’s sanity.

  29. fred Says:

    Todd bowles is not a football player its not his fault the o line gets 0 push up front nor did he give up 4 3rd and long plays we saw no effort from the defense and no push from the o line and for the ones blaming brady we have 0 chance of winning any game without him he makes subpar lineman look good because he doesn’t hold the ball perfect example look what Mr Cappa is doing in cincy

  30. garro Says:

    Ira love all your fine work. really.
    But they ran 2 screens that I saw … both netted nothing and were somehow telegraphed. Maybe try that old WR screen to Scooter?