Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Bengals

December 19th, 2022

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It’s one thing to shoot yourself in the foot. Todd Bowles has seen that for most of the season.

It’s quite another to take a swan dive off the upper level of Raymond James Stadium.

Christmas came early for the Bengals, a gift-wrapped victory with Tom Brady tying the ribbon in Cincinnati’s 34-23 triumph. The final score was no surprise. How we got there was stunning.

Thousands of Bengals fans in attendance couldn’t believe an opening half dominated by the home team. Joe Burrow seemed out of rhythm, his targets were blanketed and the ground game generated 13 yards en route to a 17-3 deficit.

But when a new half dawned, the Bucs forgot rule No. 1 — protect the football. The Bengals reeled off the next 31 points, capitalizing on short fields and enough Buc miscues to fill the next Football Follies episode by NFL Films.

It started with a botched fake punt attempt on fourth-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 26. It was a bold call by Todd Bowles, who has been criticized for being too conservative. Gio Bernard couldn’t handle a direct snap and suddenly Cincinnati had possession deep in Buc territory.

When the Bengals had to settle for a field goal, Buc fans figured Tampa Bay had dodged a bullet, but the chamber was hardly empty. Brady was intercepted, then he fumbled. Then he fumbled again and threw another pick.

When the stench cleared, the Bengals led 27-17. On five of their seven second-half possessions, the Bengals started beyond midfield. For the day, Cincinnati’s average start drive was its own 48. The Buc average start? Their own 22.

On their best day, the Bucs were going to have trouble beating the defending AFC champs. For 30 minutes, it looked like their best day. Then Tampa Bay self-destructed in a demoralizing display that dropped the Bucs to 6-8 and heightened doubts in the locker room.

“We keep finding ways to embarrass ourselves,” said Cameron Brate.

After a dismal display at San Francisco, the Buc defense deserved better. In 62 snaps, the Bengals didn’t have a single play that gained 20 yards. Joe Burrow barely averaged 5 yards on his 39 throws. All four of his TD passes were 12 yards or less. Cincinnati averaged 2.5 yards per carry.

The Bucs squandered a chance to open a 2-game lead atop the NFC South. Instead, Tampa Bay must win out to avoid Brady’s first losing season as a pro.

Here’s how the Bengals were handed a win on a pewter platter:

* Brady played very well in the first half but then was responsible for four consecutive giveaways that undermined any hopes for an upset. After the game, he took his share of the blame. “That’s certainly not how I need to play in order to win,” Brady said. … It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. It was worse.

* Ja’Marr Chase says Carlton Davis was holding him all day. Whatever. Davis played his best game of the season, period.

*  It’s hard to imagine Tampa Bay playing a better opening half. At one point, the Bucs led 17-0 and had outgained the Bengals 261-36. Every pass Burrow threw was contested, the pass rush was strong and Cincinnati hadn’t converted a third down.

* The bobbled handoff between Brady and Leonard Fournette late in the third quarter goes as a fumble by No. 12. The Bengals said thank you as their supporters in the south end zone roared in appreciation.

* Mike Evans, who caught five passes for 83 yards in the first half, was blanked after intermission. He was the first Buc off the field.

* Brady was hit seven times, including some jarring ones, but his protection in the first half was outstanding. He enjoyed an ultra-clean pocket on the TD pass to Russell Gage that put Tampa Bay ahead 10-0.

* Lavonte David’s flag for holding was a killer, nullifying a 23-yard sack on fourth-and-3. Instead of losing possession at midfield, the Bengals continued the drive at the Buc 19 and scored three plays later.

* Chris Godwin caught all eight passes sent his way for 83 yards and a touchdown. He needs 19 receptions in the next three weeks to reach the 100-catch mark for the first time in his career.

* Still can’t believe the Bengals scored 34 points while averaging 3.8 yards per snap. Todd Bowles can’t believe it, either.

* The Bucs are 6-8 with Tom Brady taking every snap. That’s what the Glazers are thinking about. Thinking hard.

Ira with his good friend and draft guru Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford and host of the Best In Class podcast. Sean will help you personally in any way he can. Just ask!!!

27 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Bengals”

  1. freddy Says:

    Other than the PI call in the 2nd half why didn’t they throw to Mike in the 2nd half is what everyone should be asking? Terrible coaching.

  2. sasquatch Says:

    The only reason Bowles returns next year is because the Glazers historically have given coaches 2 years. But they nearly fired Lovie after year 1, and this performance is arguably worse given the talent. Bowles could be the first Bucs coach to get the boot after one year. It’s apparent that he is not up to the task.

  3. Former Bucs Fan Says:


  4. Coburn Says:

    Freddy I did see one play in the 3rd where Evans was wide open but Brady threw to Godwin in the middle. Otherwise I feel they moved Evans arounr and got him some looks over the middle in the first. In the second feels like they want back to the same old just run down the sideline and be a decoy and maybe we’ll chuck it

  5. FortMyersDave Says:

    The Glazers have to not have patience and blow it up after the Bucs finish the season either in ATL after going 6-11 or 7-10 or at home after getting boatraced by the Cowboys in the Wildcard to finish 8-10 or 7-11. The head coach in one season, along with Leftwich has eroded all the goodwill and trust from us fans. I see games right now as I did with Lovie in 2015, the team plays to lose and no lead is safe. In a nutshell the head caoch is an incompetant oaf as he was with the Jets with a stubborn offensive coordinator who can not make adjustments. All of you who hold season tickets should cancel them and say it is because of Bowels and Leftwich. The loss of coin at the gate is one thing that will get the Glazer lads’ attention.

  6. CleanHouse Says:

    I predicted 6-11 prior to the season and got lots of hate. Could it be? Hope not, but a lot of contributors seem to be typing my screen name in the comments.

  7. captivajim Says:

    bowles will NOT be fired at the end of this season ….

  8. BucsfanFred Says:

    If bowelzo is not fired the stands will look like another covid epidemic.

  9. BucsfanFred Says:

    Our only saving grace is the NFC South

  10. steele Says:

    Brady was pressured in the second half because Bengals made adjustments—adjustments that were not countered. Brady was not blameless, but he was attacked= 2 picks and a strip sack. He was good in the first half with a clean pocket. The fumble was on Lenny.

    The second half was a complete team collapse, not just Brady. Bowles, Bowles, Leftwich. Failure to adjust (everyone knew Bengals were going to change things up, why didn’t Bowles and Leftwich?), failure to adjust to momentum swings, regression in play calling (on O and D), stupid fake punt, and, yes, defense that had been doing well was picked apart. Short field? No excuse.

    The reality with Brady is that he is 45, and needs to have an offense tailored to his game, at 45. Which is still viable IF the team had spent the offseason and resources towards that goal. BUCS DID NOT. Brady is by himself in a lot of ways. Doesn’t even have Gronk, doesn’t have an OL, receivers are hit or miss, running backs are mediocre.

  11. Onetrickpony Says:

    I’ve got a headache

  12. Randall Says:

    This game was a glowing example of how the Bucs have played all season. They either play like an awesome SB team or the worst team in the league. What they never do is play consistently good football through an entire game.

    How it’s possible they can be so radically different in their levels of play is a true mystery to me, but I’m sure it has a lot to do with coaching, focus and team spirit.

  13. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Turnovers – 1 thing

  14. BucU Says:

    Fire EVERYBODY. Sickening. Pathetic. Incompetent. Disgusting. Awful.
    I despise the 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

  15. gotbbucs Says:

    Evans had over 70 yards in the 1st quarter. The dynamic duo of Brady and Leftwich lost that game obviously, but Evans is so much better than what this offense is giving him.
    Bowles might survive this mess at the end of the season, but the offensive staff needs to go, along with the QB. Turn the page.

  16. ClwJB Says:

    The first half showed what we can be the second half is what we are with this staff

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    That fumble was not on Lenny…..the ball was not handed off cleanly by Brady….there is a reason why Brady is credited with the fumble….

    Of all the plays that changed momentum…..the botched fake punt and the holding call on LVD absolutely killed us.

    If Bowles can’t get us into the playoffs….I think he very well may be in jeopardy……unless, he has a solution he can present to the Glazers……part of which will be to replace Leftwich.

    If Brady keeps losing, his only option may be to stay with Tampa next year.

  18. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    The officials weren’t calling a lot. Evans was being interfered with on every pass and they didn’t call it. Several late hits on Brady didn’t get called.

  19. Ed Says:

    Besides the fact that the Glazers have never fired a coach after one season can anyone give a reason why Todd Bowles deserves another year?

  20. Bosch Says:

    The Glazers are thinking hard? They don’t do anything hard! They are a group of spoiled little boys who had their wealth handed to them. And how bad did Arians play them for suckers? Let’s see. “I am going to retire but I will stay on as a consultant if you retain / promote this garbage staff I have assembled. “

    Now tell me. What value has he brought to the table as a consultant?

  21. Bucamania Says:

    Bowles and this coaching staff is a joke around the league. Imagine other teams watching Bucs film. Gotta be hilarious to them.

  22. mark2001 Says:

    So what you are telling us, Captiva, is that the Bucs will start Trask, or Bridgewater, have even a much worse offense than this season, and when the smoke clears the Bucs will be tanking for the top pick in the draft, and the stadium will be empty for the last home game but for visitors and a few crickets.

  23. mark2001 Says:

    Ed… the Bucs have never had a team so highly touted at the beginning of the year that crashed and burned so badly. Desperate times call for unusual measures.

  24. unbelievable Says:

    I had to leave my house at halftime… when it was 17-3. I was like dang, this team has finally figured it out… got to a bar about 30 min later and was like WTF happened? 3 turnovers in a row and all of the sudden it was 27 – 17.

    What happened at half time? Where did the 1st half team go? Was it as simple as the Bengals made adjustments, and we did not? (Because we never do, cuz we have the most stubborn asinine coaching staff in the world?)

    Don’t even get me started on the fake punt…

    Once again- totally pathetic.

  25. Lakeland Steve Says:

    Why wait until the end of the season. Send a message to everyone in the Tampa organization and fire Bowles now. What do we have to lose? We suck azz, if we get in the playoffs we don’t deserve it and we are probably one and done. Someone has to shake somebody up. This is a travesty with the talent we have here.

  26. Randy Bowers Says:

    When we win it is all Brady,when we loose it’s everybody else but him.No defense in the NFL could have stayed on the field as long as we did and played any better.Wake up all you Brady worshippers.He’s like Babe Ruth at the end of his career,he could still knock one out of the park every now and then ,but couldn’t run the bases anymore.

  27. Soto Says:

    It sounds logical but when one of your kids has more A+ grades than anyone else, ever, it is sensible to look at others as culprits.

    It looks to me that he can make any throw and quicker than any qb EVER! And no matter how you look at this team/coaching staff/record this season, he is the only reason others don’t completely count this team out.

    He has that kind of reputation.
    I’ve watched every snap of his career and I know he needs very little to do a lot.