Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Cardinals

December 26th, 2022

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The Bucs are one win away from making Week 18 irrelevant.

With one victorious effort next Sunday at home against Carolina, Tampa Bay can get a break from this grind of a season and rest up for a first-round playoff matchup against America’s Team.

It wasn’t easy for Tampa’s team at Arizona, where the Bucs scored the game’s final 13 points in an OT triumph as the Cardinals finished 1-8 at home. Once again, the defense kept the Bucs close before Tom Brady found a way.

There were times Brady looked lost Sunday night as one of the NFL’s worst defenses allowed only one touchdown. Steady Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including the game-winner for the 7-8 Bucs, who snapped a 4-game road losing streak.

If Tampa Bay can neutralize a Carolina ground game that Brady duly noted “ran the crap out of the ball” against the Lions on Saturday, the Bucs will likely repeat as NFC South champions. Should the Panthers prevail, they would tie the Bucs at 7-9 and own the tie-breaker edge by virtue of a season sweep.

Nothing came easy Sunday evening as Brady tossed two more interceptions to continue a disturbing pattern. Although the run game was productive, Brady threw 48 times. Most of them were quick, short passes as Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin caught 17 of the 20 throws sent their way.

Trace McSorley, making his first NFL start, had decent moments for Arizona under center, but he averaged less than 5 yards per pass attempt. Todd Bowles did a good job disguising coverages and mixing in some effective blitzes in an effort to confuse an inexperienced QB.

Against a better opponent, the Bucs would probably have lost Sunday evening. Falling behind and going to a 2-minute offense helped jar Tampa Bay out of its lethargy and Brady responded with late magic — just as he demonstrated against the Rams and Saints.

Here’s how the Bucs did just enough to avoid a setback that would have ensured Brady’s first losing season:

Sean Murphy-Bunting gets a little Ira love.

* Tampa Bay’s secondary deserves credit for a blanket job on DeAndre Hopkins. Yes, it was McSorley delivering the football instead of Kyler Murray, but Hopkins was targeted 10 times and caught one pass for four yards. Sean Murphy-Bunting, in particular, played a strong game.

* Special team miscues continue to be an issue. Andy Lee victimized the Bucs on a fake punt and Tampa Bay also allowed a 28-yard punt return. On the bright side, Succop has been terrific.

* Brady has now been picked off at least twice in each of the past three games. Carolina’s defense is markedly better than Arizona’s and the Bucs can’t keep giving opponents short fields.

* J.J. Watt was a force, especially in the opening half. The 3-time Defensive Player of the Year finished with 2 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits. Five years after his retirement, he’ll be fitted for a gold jacket.

* Tristan Wirfs wasn’t close to 100 percent — and it showed. That gimpy ankle robbed him of a step, but he gutted it out on a night left tackle Josh Wells was carted off with a knee injury. Protection off the edges could be a problem against the Panthers.

* Carolina’s offensive line overpowered Detroit and the Panthers ran wild. That’s a problem because James Conner just hurt the Bucs on the ground, averaging 5.3 yards on his 15 carries, including a 22-yard TD dash that put the Cardinals ahead 16-6 with 10:47 remaining. The defensive game plan for Bowles is obvious: stack the line of scrimmage and make Sam Darnold beat you through the air.

* Mike Evans and Brady have no chemistry … none. Evans was targeted 8 times but finished with 3 catches for 29 yards. In the past five games, Brady has completed less than half the passes intended for Evans. Evans’ streak of consecutive games without a TD catch has reached 11. How is that possible?

* With Lavonte David and Devin White leading the defensive charge, the Cardinals converted only 5-of-19 on third down. They weren’t going to score in overtime unless Arizona came up with another takeaway.

* The league somehow declined to flex the Panthers-Bucs game, keeping it a 1 p.m. start. A divisional showdown and Tom Brady’s presence wasn’t enough to switch the matchup to prime time and make Bruce Arians wait a few more hours for his Ring of Honor induction ceremony?

* Should the Bucs prevail Sunday, there’s no reason to play Brady at Atlanta the following week. Tampa Bay would be locked in as the NFC’s No. 4 playoff seed, so let Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask have at it. Brady needs a break more than he needs the work in this hard day’s night of a season.

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!!!


23 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Cardinals”

  1. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Well said, Ira! I can’t wait for the podcast with the guys. You need to work your sources over at One Bucs Place to find out what’s going on with Brady’s shoulder and finger. I smell a coverup. Brady has his own trainer. Does he even communicate with the coaching staff about his body? I need answers, Ira! Check the tape. Brady’s deep accuracy went to crap when he took that big hit on his shoulder in KC. Ask the coaches and receivers if Brady is hitting the deep ball in practice. Maybe call up BA and find out the what problem might be. No way BA wants to get embarrassed next week for his ring of honor.

  2. Oxycondoms Says:

    Run game may have produced yards but it did not produce points. The run game was a non factor in the comeback. It was all brady

  3. Vancouver Buc Says:

    For sure Brady will have shoulder surgery after this season…there’s no other explanation for his drop off.

  4. Tucker Says:

    Something is up with Brady for sure.

  5. steele Says:

    Brady at 45 with half an injured arm is the most reliable thing this team has. Think about how nuts that is. The occasional sputter manages to cough up wins like tonight’s, but that does not bode well.

    On the other hand, I hear Dumb and Dumber: “…you’re saying there’s still a chance?” Could this team that is barely breathing team on fumes somehow stumble through the next couple of games, get very lucky and find themselves just a few quarters from the promised land?

  6. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Steele nails it, as usual. This team was doomed as soon as they thought it was a good idea to start two unknowns on the interior line. What has been Brady’s weakness during his career? Heavy interior pressure! What a failed plan from the start! If the line was even above average for most of the game, Brady would be better. Licht has skated from any blame, but his lack of moves on the OL, besides Mason, has been exposed.

    There’s also a serious disconnect between the HC, OC, and QB. I see no connection between Bowles and Brady. Bowles is too busy running the defense. I remember Brady, Belichick, and McDaniels were always huddling together. Folks, Brady wants to be coached hard. No, that doesn’t involve screaming. It involves input and communication. Bowles wants to run the ball and throw screens. Leftwich want to run and set up the deep shot. Brady wants play action, motion, and seam routes. It’s a mess. No identity whatsoever.

  7. Hodad Says:

    Please no more prime time games IRA. A 1 PM start sounds just fine.

  8. BucU Says:

    Hodad amen to that! I’ve seen enough out of this garbage team at 8:30pm. Or 1pm for that matter.

  9. kaput Says:

    This is perhaps the worst offensive coaching that I’ve ever watched as a Bucs fan, and that’s saying something.

    Leftwich’s job prospects aren’t all that good. Sure, he’s working under a defensive head coach that doesn’t want to risk forward passes very often, but he has not adjusted. It’s the same movie every week.

    The offensive line is beat up, and just plain terrible. Losing Jansen is one of the biggest non-quarterback injuries I ever recall seeing.

    Bowles is a very good defensive coordinator, but his days as a head coach in the NFL need to be coming to an end. Making the playoffs in this division isn’t a real accomplishment, and he doesn’t deserve credit for reaching them.

    Evans looks slow.

    I love watch Godwin play. Dude just balls out every week.

    This is an abortion of a season. Even in bad Bucs seasons, I always felt the need to watch. This team is just miserable.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Lots of luck getting Brady to sit out a game no matter what the situation….

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

    “The defensive game plan for Bowles is obvious: stack the line of scrimmage and make Sam Darnold beat you through the air.” Yeah, no worries!?

  12. Boltsfan17 Says:

    The Bucs are awful. The Cardinals are just really awful and they barely won. There are zero positives to take from this. If Murray had played it would’ve been a route.

  13. Darin Says:

    Not sure how the Bucs are favored at all over Carolina. They’re the worst coached team in the league now just blew past Lovie smiths team. Two win team without Tommy. Yuck let’s get rid of this poopy show

  14. Sumosam Says:

    It’s hard for me to watch this team. I sit there emotionless the entire time. This coaching philosophy is old school and doesnt work in today’s game. Good luck here on out.

  15. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Once again Ira, to you and the guys behind and infront of the information you provide us with, thank you. I will definitely be excited to listen to this weeks podcast. Even though I live in North Carolina (Home of the stinkin Pathers) your daily articles keep me going. We have underachieved as a team but this website is family to a lot of us and appreciate the expert information. I have been following this team since 1979 and I have tasted all kinds of ups and downs from this franchise. The cure all are people like you, thanks.

  16. ClwJB Says:

    Really only need one thing – we still suck

  17. Ed Says:

    Glazers need to pull some Eagle offensive coaches to replace Lefty and Licht needs to fire Bowles or if he survives this season, heaven forbid that, but if Bowles wins division and a playoff game he will save his job.

    New offensive system and coaches cannot be allowed to be influenced by Bowles. He is from the Stone Age. Knows nothing about having good offenses.

    What I love about Philly’s offense is that it improved from last year and how well they put together a good offensive line. The Bucs destroyed them in playoff last year but now their offense is unstoppable.

    Backup Gardner Minshue puts up 34 points vs a good Dallas D and throws for 355 yards and game goes down to the wire. That is great coaching, getting that kind of production out of a backup.

    Bucs need coaches like that to get points. Bucs were winners in ‘20 and ‘21 scoring over 30 prog and now they can’t get but one TD out of TB and a good set of receivers because the system is bad to the core

  18. BigBucs Says:

    It could be an absolute disaster in Tampa this Sunday with the bad o line continuing to get worse and more banged up. Meanwhile the panthers have a good o line and Bucs likely will struggle to get any pressure. Either they load the box to stop the run and make Sam Darnold look like the next Joe Montana, or they get gashed for 200yds on the ground. Hopefully the Bucs offense can put up more than 3 pts this time on the panthers.

  19. Buccos Says:

    Bunch of wannabe fans. Bandwagoners for sure. Any real Bucs fan would be grateful for a 7-8 record with a chance to clinch a playoff spot at home on Sunday, 2 years removed from a Super Bowl. If we make the playoffs we will play Dallas at home, a team we have already beaten this year. If our health continues to improve and we can win out we will have some momentum along with the greatest QB of all time. We are awesome at closing out close games. I know, as a season ticket holder that we haven’t been disappointed with this team. They compete until the final whistle, unlike many teams that we have fielded in the decade of depression. This is a team whose defense keeps them in games and that when they need to can score points. They aren’t the offensive juggernaut of recent history but I do believe they are trending up.

  20. orlbucfan Says:

    Tampabaybucfan Says:
    December 26th, 2022 at 8:10 am
    Lots of luck getting Brady to sit out a game no matter what the situation….
    What a shame, too. He’s too old, and it’s showing. What’s his problem? His overinflated ego? I’m not a BL fan, and Buc Luck hit again as in injuries. But an old QB past his prime? He’s making a mockery out of his legacy. The defense is the reason I have hope next Sunday cos it’s sure not Methuselah 0.

  21. adam from ny Says:

    @Sumosam nailed it…

    i’ve become “emotionless” while watching the bucs…

    it’s never been like this…i fall asleep during the game that i wait all week to watch…

    is that crazy or what?

    i get the heebie jeebies before the game as usual, and then go to sleep while watching the game…

    it’s a totally wildly boring performance every week…

    i tell you it’s the “zombie effect”


  22. unbelievable Says:

    “The league somehow declined to flex the Panthers-Bucs game”

    Gee, I can’t imagine why. I mean doesn’t everyone salivate over watching 2 pathetic teams with losing records?

    O-line is going to get destroyed by the Panthers btw

  23. Buccos Says:

    Armchair QB’s and GM’s. Cmon, cough up some dough and go to a game. That way you won’t fall asleep. Idiots