Five Things

September 11th, 2023

(Photo courtesy of

It’s Victory Monday!

OK, Joe is on the road in Minneapolis and is physically shot. Mentally, Joe’s awake, still buzzing from the win over the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium just two train stops from Joe’s downtown hotel.

(Yes, Joe can still hear that damn Vikings horn.)

So let’s get after it.


When Joe watched every training camp practice this summer, three guys stood out consistently.

Mike Evans was practicing above the rim, perhaps his best training camp. Chris Godwin also had a dynamite camp. He looked like the old Godwin before his knee injury. Maybe better. The third guy was Antoine Winfield. Moved back to safety, Winfield was all over the field. He got dinged three weeks into camp but before that, Winfield was on fire.

Minneapolis is Winfield’s hometown. His dad was a star cornerback for the Vikings. Winfield went to college there, too.

So Winfield admitted after the game he was stoked about opening the season back home. And he totally balled out.

Joe doesn’t know why, but in postgame reports, Winfield seems to have been overshadowed after having one of his best games. Maybe it’s because his big plays came early.

Winfield set the tone with a hard hit on a blitz of quarterback Kirk Cousins on the Vikings’ second snap. Then late in the first quarter, Winfield had a strip-sack of Cousins and recovered the fumble at the Vikings-21. That set up a Bucs field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Winfield was a terror. Here are his defensive stats:

Eight tackles, a sack, two quarterback hits, a pass defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. That is what you call making an impact.

Winfield admitted not only was he looking forward to yesterday’s game the moment the schedule was released, he just had to play well at home to honor his family’s name.

He’s been doing that ever since the Bucs drafted him in 2020.

Sad Injury To Calijah Kancey

More will be known about the injury to rookie defensive tackle Calijah Kancey later this morning when Bucs coach Todd Bowles has his day-after press conference.

It was sad that he got injured (re-injured?) because early on the Vikings couldn’t stop him.

Joe spoke with a Bucs type before the game who told Joe that in training camp before Kancey suffered a non-contact calf injury, the Bucs’ offensive line struggled to stop him Kancey. Later on the Buccaneers Radio Network pregame show, general manager Jason Licht said when Kancey returned to practice last week, “there was a lot of double-takes.” Licht said Kancey was lightning fast and Bucs officials were saying, ‘Oh my God.’

When he was on the field yesterday, Kancey was a blur. He blew past Vikings offensive linemen on stunts and was in Kirk Cousins’ face.

Joe has the feeling the Bucs may have rushed Kancey back. What rookie wouldn’t tell a team he couldn’t play, even if he was in pain and unsure of himself?

Joe hopes Kancey isn’t lost for a large portion of the season. This guy looks to be really something.

Gambling Todd Bowles

The “other Joe” coined the phrase “Big Balls Bowles” for his sudden desire to take risks, maybe crazy risks. It was very much unlike Bowles.

Bowles is nothing but a play-it-safe kind of a guy. Remember, he’s the man who took the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands when Brady was in the process of leading yet another game-winning drive last year in Cleveland. Bowles said he was afraid Brady might throw a pick.

So Joe was borderline speechless that Bowles, the epitome of a play-it-safe defensive coach, decided to go for it on fourth-and-one from the Bucs-32. In a tie game halfway through the fourth quarter!

Had the Bucs failed, the Vikings would have already been in field goal range before they took a snap. Yet Bowles threw caution to the wind.

Big balls, indeed.

There is a fine line between courageous and crazy. Joe isn’t sure which extreme Bowles was on when he made that decision. But props to Bowles for being refreshingly aggressive.

Big Leg

From big balls to a big leg, let’s hear it for place kicker Chase McLaughlin.

The Bucs, from the Lovie Smith administration through 2019 — six years — were largely a nightmare, an absolute nightmare when it came to kickers. It seemed nothing the Bucs tried worked, whether it was spending a second-round pick on a guy who decided to change his kicking style due to a washed-up golfer to spending big cash on free agents.

The Bucs literally had a revolving door at One Buc Palace for kickers, equal parts obscene and hilarious. They just couldn’t get kicker right.

It got to the point where Joe actually wrote the Bucs should outsource their scouting of kickers to an organization or a retired suit with a history of selecting competent kickers.

Then the Bucs finally found a kicker in Ryan Succop. He was so good he helped the Bucs win 29 games in two years and a Super Bowl.

But Bowles, a play-it-safe defensive guy, believes a kicker who boots 50 and 55 yard field goals is vital weapon seemingly more important than a quarterback who can throw deep and move the chains. So Bowles dumped Succop, one of the best, most reliable kickers in franchise history because he struggled beyond 48 yards (most field goal attempts are kicked inside the 40).

“This Joe” howled in protest. Never, ever fix something not broken and given the black magic hex on past Bucs kickers, Joe thought Bowles was playing with fire.

So far, so good. New kicker Chase McLaughlin booted a 57-yard field goal in the fourth quarter yesterday that proved to be the winning score.

McLaughlin has a long way to go for Joe to forget Succop. But winning a road game to start the season with a long field goal is a great way to impress your skeptics.

Strange Philosophy To Start The Game

Joe admits to scratching his head yesterday when the Bucs had their first possession.

Joe is not here to bang on tight end Ko Kieft. Joe likes the guy. And it is clear to Joe he is an overachiever.

Joe once spoke with Kieft’s dad, Jerry, who told Joe that every time someone tried to say his son couldn’t do something in football, his son would prove them wrong.

* Kieft would never be a stud high school player. He was.

* Kieft would never get an offer from a large school. He got a full ride to a Big Ten team.

* Kieft would never start on a Big Ten team. He did.

* Kieft would never get drafted. He did.

* Kieft can’t catch. He may have the best hands of all of the Bucs’ tight ends.

So, are the Bucs setting up Kieft to take the next step as an offensive weapon? On Baker Mayfield’s first two passes yesterday, Kieft was the target on both. Later in the first quarter, Kieft was also targeted again.

That was three Kieft targets in the opening quarter of the opening game of the 2023 season. Who had that on their Bucs bingo card? Maybe the way Kieft has overachieved, this is the next logical step?

Joe does know one reason the Bucs drafted Kieft was they liked the way he blocked. Yesterday Joe saw Kieft pancake a Vikings linebacker. Joe always loves to see tight ends do that.

So there you have it. The Bucs are 1-0 to start the season. Victory Monday is awesome!

40 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. Hail2dabucs Says:

    Joe , it is always fun to read your posts when I wake up for work in the mornings & it was fun to watch the bucs yesterday . I hope the bucs keep up the good work just like you Joe’s do everyday . Your good work has me on here everyday in support of making this the best bucs news site in the world & the buccaneers will always have my attention ! Go bucs !
    Joe appreciates your patronage.–Joe

  2. Buc4evr Says:

    Keift, 3 targets, 0 receptions. To me that is not overachievement. The guy has bad hands. As far as blocking the entire O line including the TEs need a lot more work. Minn was in Bakers face far too often yesterday. Good thing he is a mobile QB.

  3. godlovesbucs Says:

    Bowles coached the second half with a “go win the game” mindset. That is rare for defensive minded coaches (see Vrabel yesterday).

    Long f.g? Try it.

    4th and 1 in our own territory? Go for it.

    3rd and 10 with 2:00 and no timeouts? Get the first down, not bells the clock and punt.

    I was pumped to see that, hopefully that (and more man coverage) becomes the norm.

  4. Hodad Says:

    Bucforever, Baker had two clean pockets on both his TD throws. The O line did a great job. Not one false start! Only one holding call ! The Bucs O line was able to play keep away with over three minutes left. What O line were you watching? Ba ker had Happy feet the first half. When he settled down the O line protected him.

  5. lunchmeat Says:

    Hey, coaches! Time to tell #94 that it’s a loooong season, and we’re gonna need you at full speed when we go up against Derek Carr and the Saints, so take two weeks and get well.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Looks like Bowles learned how to coach yesterday……let’s hope he doesn’t forget.

  7. gotbbucs Says:

    Big shout out to Jake Camarda. Dude was a weapon yesterday. 6 punts, 327 yards, average of 54.5 yards per punt. That is huge when your offense is struggling and your defense is playing well.
    He’s an All-Pro level punter.

  8. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    M1k3 is on pace for 102 catches for 1122 yards and 17 tds pay the man

  9. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I just Love the new, aggressive Todd Bowles

  10. Colonel Angus Says:

    Didn’t Bowles say he was looking into Analytics more? That was a game winning decision right there. If we punt it in that spot, I believe we lose that game. Hopefully that kind of coaching continues.

  11. Duane Says:

    Maybe Todd Bowles’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1 from his own 32 was influenced by Dave Canales, who is said to be a big believer in next gen stats and the fact that coaches throughout the NFL are starting to learn that punting on fourth and short is actually not the better risk than going for it. The stat heads have made it clear that fourth and 1 is at least a 50/50 probability, while a punt introduces a variety of risks that nullify much of its former attractiveness. Such as a bad snap, a blocked punt, and touchbacks that take away half the yards gained by an average punt.

    Todd may make the final decision on the field, but he has to be influenced by Dave Canales now.

  12. Duane Says:

    Also, I would add that if Todd Bowles is confident in his defense’s red zone efficiency. that would also influence a decision to go for it in his own territory.

    Indeed, today’s generation of college coaches now consider anywhere from their own 35 yard line and beyond to be “fourth down territory”. All due to next gen stats.

  13. It's Corn Says:

    * Kieft can’t catch. He may have the best hands of all of the Bucs’ tight ends.
    uh reality check here… he caught 0 of 3 targets, for 0 yards. Couldn’t believe he was being targeted so much.

  14. Lord Corn Says:

    Baker was missing his throws early in general. Kief should have had a TD but was way overthrown . I doubt he’ll be a target hog but that specific play design had him running wide open in the seam towards the end zone so I can’t criticize it

  15. Beej Says:

    And a 6th thing: only 3 penalties for 19 yards. I don’t recall a single offensive gain being called back. Imagine a holding penalty by the left tackle on the Godwin first down..

  16. Mike C Says:

    Beej, I think that happened in the KC game…..

  17. Joe Says:

    uh reality check here… he caught 0 of 3 targets, for 0 yards. Couldn’t believe he was being targeted so much.

    Someone didn’t watch the game. Targeting is one thing. Throwing a catchable ball is another. Mayfield whiffed badly on one of those early throws to Kieft.

    Joe saw each and every training camp practice. Kieft had/has the best hands currently on the team.
    Now that may not say much. Otton and Durham consistently dropped passes throughout camp.

  18. Buc4evr Says:

    Hodad, when the Vikes came with six the line couldn’t pick them up. Canales did a great job using “speadout” routes and adjusting in the second half. The OLine still needs lots of work, especially the right side.

  19. David Says:

    Let’s clarify this…
    Everyone is saying how they love the new aggressive Todd Bowles. No, you don’t. You love the fact that an aggressive, 4th & 1 from your own 32, late in the fourth quarter, in a tie game, worked.
    If it had failed, you’d be calling for his head.

  20. SteveK Says:

    Kancey is going to be eating quarterbacks like candy as soon as he’s healthy. My goodness, he is a very twitchy, quick, strong, and instinctual defensive tackle. He’s about to line up next to Vita and wreck shop.

  21. SirClicksAlot Says:

    Keift may have great hands but the ball has to be on his numbers for it to matter. He must have the worse catch radius I’ve ever seen at TE. All three of those throws he got would have been catchable to an average TE, but Keift has the dexterity of a rock. Love his blocking, just didn’t love trying to scheme the ball to him so often.

  22. Danthebucfan Says:

    Nothing about Jake Camarda?!? Are we so used to his booming punts that it’s become mundane? Besides his booming punts he nearly landed one inside the 5 yard line.

  23. Craig Says:

    The loss of Kancey was the biggest thing for helping the Vikings offense on a roll, while he was he they could get no momentum. I hope he get well soon.

    Kieft was the outlet pass. Baker was getting no time, so he dumped it to the outlet. I don’t think Kieft was ready for any of them because it all happened so fast. His blocking will be a key for them, so cut him some slack, he will be a big part of the game this year.

    Hot Toddie surprised me, but that is the reason Baker is here, to fight for such things. I think he was the deciding factor on that 4th and 1.

  24. Buddha Says:

    David, that is why it was a ballsy call. If they don’t make it, the Vikings likely win the game and the fire Bowles crowd goes wild. That was a great confidence booster. I haven’t seen the Buccaneer sideline this excited since they held Green Bay on third and goal in the 2020 playoffs.

  25. orlbucfan Says:

    Camarda has been one of Licht’s nuclear bombs since he was drafted. His brilliant punting psyches up the entire Special Team when they come on the field, too. Kudos to the D and ST on the win, and shutting up Jefferson’s loudmouth (even if he does deliver).

  26. GumboIsForWinner Says:

    For Keift running him on seam routes seems like a bad idea. Bad catch radius, poor body control. Not sure his hands are the issue but adjusting to the ball in air to get his hands on the ball. Of his 3 targets one was a bad throw, the other two should have been caught.

  27. Watch More ALL22 Before Commenting Says:

    To be fair to Kieft, based on rewatches, all the targets to him did not look to be first reads, and Mayfield was high on both of them. So either that’s QB inaccuracy, or a timing/route miscommunication between them, or the TE lacks the athleticism.

    Based on tape, I’d say it looked more likely to be QB inaccuracy or miscommunications.

  28. Mike Says:

    How about Mauch? You didn’t hear his name called all game, and that’s a great thing! And he bounced back from the back spasms and played, which bodes well for us since availability is the best ability.

  29. Bucs Guy Says:

    Kieft’s hands are not good. Lots if room for improvement there. He does not have the best hands among the TEs. That distinction belongs to the TE on the practice squad.

  30. Crickett Baker Says:

    Bowles saw our kicker make every single +50 yard kick in practice. Why would he think he would whiff one in the game? He also had to prove that his firing of Succup was a good move. Bowles has gotten more faith in his players, it seems.

  31. Ultra ClodHopper Says:

    The first three plays of the game from Winfield:

    1st down: Solo tackle
    2nd down: QB hit that effected the pass
    3rd down: Pass defended/almost picked

    He was studding it up from the get go.

  32. Red86 Says:

    6th things Nickelback. Christian Izien. He played great overall and need a pat on the back for the int and not making too many mistakes which became a thing. I was forced to watch Saints v Titans and I seen SMB getting burnt and missing tackles. Sooo… great job rookie.

  33. Red86 Says:

    Kancey and Vita “Yard work” Vea are a dangerous combo. Get well soon Kancey.

  34. BakerFan Says:

    I have been amused reading the comments throughout training camp and after the game. Buc Fans, take the win and be happy. With a little bit a a stability Baker Mayfield will be a good quarterback that will surprise you in the likes of a Kurt Warner type. BTW, there was 17 teams that scored 20 or less points in Week 1. Sure there can be lots of improvement and there will be. Consider yourself lucky to be involved with something special being built.

  35. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Nothing about Tompkins? Proved his worth definitely on punts. When he juked that player’s soul from his body like Chronicles of Riddick I was hyped! Finally someone who doesn’t automatically look for the sideline but knows how to get north to south real quick and makes some good cuts. Glad they stopped him from taking the kicks from out of the end zone because our kick off blocking is no bueno!

  36. Larrd Says:

    I saw Kieft get away with an obvious hold and drop all those passes.

  37. JoeyJoeJoe Says:

    My 12 year old asked “why is that fullback back pedaling like a defensive back”. Kieft may be able to catch a ball between the numbers but he moves like a lineman. The touchdown pass he whiffed on would have been an unremarkable catch from an average receiver or tight end.

  38. BakerBucs Says:

    hay what about the little no look shuffle when he was getting sacked behind the line for a 1st down all baker.brady wud went down like a sack of spoiled potatoes

  39. garro Says:

    “Joe does know one reason the Bucs drafted Kieft was they liked the way he blocked. Yesterday Joe saw Kieft pancake a Vikings linebacker. Joe always loves to see tight ends do that.”

    Another site claimed Kieft dropped three passes.

    Don’t know who they were watching but zero drops and 3 poorly thrown passes.

    Go Bucs!

  40. garro Says:

    I saw potential there last season and was just hoping Canales had some ideas for using this dude. Apparently he does. Kieft can catch the ball! I think H-back stuff maybe as well.

    Go Bucs!