Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Bears

September 17th, 2023

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Style points are for figure skaters, not football teams.

Tampa Bay’s 27-17 triumph against the Bears was no modern art masterpiece, yet Bucs fans couldn’t care less. Except for a fourth-quarter lapse that saw Chicago march 90 yards to pull within three points, the Buc defense looked dominant in the home opener.

How important is a 2-0 start? Since 1990, NFL teams that open with two wins make the postseason at a 64 percent clip.

You can demean the Bears as a 4-13 club all you want, but there have been plenty of Buc teams over the years that would have found a way to lose games like this. Instead, Tampa Bay maintained possession for almost 12 more minutes than the visitors and those 17 additional offensive snaps were critical given the heat dome that sat above Raymond James Stadium.

Not surprisingly, the locker room was a sea of smiles. Tristan Wirfs and Mike Evans credited a stout defense, Lavonte David expressed his admiration for a turnover-free offense and over in the corner, Jason Licht almost suffered a hand injury from giving out all those high-fives.

In this league, you relish victories while you can — then you prepare for the next challenge. Here come the defending NFC champion Eagles in prime time.

Through two weeks, the Bucs are making their skeptics look foolish while instilling their fans with confidence that life beyond Tom Brady can be exhilarating.

Here’s how the Bucs extended Chicago’s losing streak to 12 games and stayed even with the gritty Falcons atop the NFC South:

* Imagine what Evans would be doing if he wasn’t still hacked off about his contract? Just kidding. As if we needed another example of his character and professionalism, Evans proved too much for Chicago’s defense on Sunday, grabbing six passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. You know he’ll be determined to punish the Eagles before a national TV audience. It’s starting to look like a fifth double-digit TD season is in store for Evans, who somehow went 11 games last year without reaching the end zone.

* What a game-sealing play by Shaq Barrett, reading Justin Fields and turning in a pick-6 with the game on the line. Barrett doesn’t get enough credit for being a heady player. He recognized the formation and he knew Chicago’s tendencies, so he was in prime position to steal a pass intended for Khalil Herbert.

* Give it up for this overhauled offensive line. The run blocking showed marked improvement from Week 1 and the Bears were credited with only one hit against Baker Mayfield. When the Bucs run behind left guard Matt Feiler, good things tend to happen.

*  It appears the light has gone on for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. After a pair of 4-sack seasons, JTS was a one-man wrecking crew against the Bears with 4 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 hits against Fields. He’s turning into a finisher and that could be the start of a long, productive NFL career.

“It’s just understanding the game more,” he said. “It’s just the mindset to go out there and want to put that dude in the dirt.”

* It’s early, yet you can’t help but notice that undrafted rookie Christian Izien cornerback always seems to be within an arm’s length of the football.

* Last week, offensive coordinator Dave Canales saw the Bucs limited to only one snap that gained more than 16 yards. On Sunday, Tampa Bay turned in six plays that went for at least 20 yards. Four were completions to Evans, who is thrilled with Mayfield’s willingness to throw the deep ball.

* Mayfield wasn’t sacked, but that doesn’t mean he was free from pressure. On more than one occasion, he deftly side-stepped a pass rusher who broke free. And while nobody will ever confuse him with Lamar Jackson or Jalen Hurts in terms of mobility, Mayfield has demonstrated impressive pocket presence.

* Canales emphasized balance all during training camp. Then the Bucs went out Sunday and ran the ball 34 times while Mayfield attempted 34 passes. That’s as balanced as you can get.

* Tampa Bay’s defensive game plan centered on daring Fields to hurt the Bucs from the pocket. After all, he ran for 1,143 yards last year. averaging 7.1 yards per scramble. On Sunday, he ran four times for minus-3 yards. How did the Bucs shut him down? After the game, Bowles told me he utilized two spies on Fields throughout the matchup.

* You can point to a lot of factors during this 2-0 start, but I’d start with one number … zero. The Bucs haven’t committed a single giveaway through two weeks. Instead of shooting themselves in the foot, this offense has provided a shot in the arm by not placing the defense in a disadvantage. Mayfield is making sound decisions, refusing to force balls into coverage while maintaining his poise. Keeping the turnover sheet clean will surely be more difficult against Fletcher Cox and that Eagle pass rush, but the early results sure look promising.

32 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Bears”

  1. Herbiebuc Says:

    Great article Ira the 🐐

  2. HC Grover Says:

    The 2 spy defense.

  3. Infomeplease Says:

    You nailed it Ira! This team is doing a lot of good things. The Monday night game will be another test. We’ll see how that goes! So far so good!!

  4. Dan Says:

    Bucs are a joke man, they will win 3 games this season, Baker sucks, 2 cupcake teams and thats it man, some of you need to get a girl and get out a little on nice sunday evenings instead of wait for every joe bucs article to comment on, sad really

  5. CHRISTOS Says:

    Congrats for the win but the team needs lot of improvement.
    The running game needs a lot of improvement.
    I know a win is a win even if it is ugly but that was the talk all of last year too.
    We had 430 yards and the Offense scored only 20 points.
    We had 200+ yards more than the Bears who got smacked last week and had lost 11 straight and still with 2 minutes left these Bears had the ball with the opportunity to win the game.
    I dont think the OL had a really good game to be honest, Mayfield to his credit avoided 3 to 4 sacks.
    Glad we got the win but i dont like the over reaction, this game should not be that close. You cant mask everything just because you win.
    The team needs time for sure but it needs improvement.
    Go Bucs

  6. Addb Says:

    Special Teams has been a surprising force this year.

  7. Brandon Says:

    Dan… trying to implore Bucs fans to get a life after they win. What does that say about you, little IQ man? You can’t wait to crap on them after yet another win. Talk about no life. Your life evolves around them losing and here you are sharing your sadness. Pathetic. 10+ wins in full swing as predicted.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We sure had some untimely penalties that slowed us down…..that needs to cease.

    We are not getting enough production out of our TEs….

    And, again….Jake Camarda was outstanding….booming punts…3 of 4 inside the 20….

    Looked like a complete team effort to me.

  9. gotbbucs Says:

    Another big shout out to Jake Camarda. Dude flips the field every time he boots it. He’s a major weapon.

  10. Ugotrobbed Says:

    Go Bucs!!

  11. Matt Says:

    good job as always Ira, The Bucs are making me believe a little…

  12. orlbucfan Says:

    Camarda and the ST are playing like a nuclear bomb even with a blocked play. Camarda’s long punt in the second half which pinned da Bears back behind their 20 was unreal to watch. McLaughlin delivered again. Scratching my head. I expect the Defense to play like they did, but ST is answering the call, too. Bring on the other dirty birds!

  13. Buddha Says:

    CHRISTOS, you likely don’t follow the NFL closely. There were 14 games on the schedule this week and only three games were decided by more than 10 points. In fact nearly 80 per cent of game are decided by one score, seven points or fewer. If you are looking for blowouts start following Clemson vs. Florida Atlantic.

  14. Red86 Says:

    All this team have to do is get 21 points or more and keep up the defensive production. This is a solid Bucs team this year. Those 6.5 wins odds are about to be broken.

  15. Oxycondomns Says:

    Whether or not how successful you think bucs will be this year give the players owners gm and the coaches for not tanking . The bucs are competitive be happy about that.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Spot on Ira. There were a number of very significant improvements in the Bucs’ offense today over last week, but the most impressive in my estimation were the improved running attack (120 yards on 34 carries … 3.5 YPC), improved 3rd/4th down efficiency (9 for 16 this week), and the awesome ballgame control (our TOP today was 35:56 which definitely helped the defense in today’s heat). Winning the Turnover Differential for the 2nd week in a row (2-0 today & 3-0 last week) was huge also.

    Eagles will no doubt present an even bigger challenge, but if we play like we did today they’ll know that they’ve been in a dogfight. We showed excellent improvement IMO, and I’d expect us to improve even more over this next week. Since next Monday night’s game is in our house, I like our chances.

  17. Miller5252 Says:

    Dan Says:
    September 17th, 2023 at 7:02 pm
    some of you need to get a girl and get out a little on nice sunday evenings instead of wait for every joe bucs article to comment on, sad really

    Isn’t that what you’re doing Dan?!?! Every article I read you are in the comments. The only thing different in your comments compared to others is you do a heck of a job trolling away. And here I am taking the bait and answering the Joe Bucs Fan troll. You sir have a good night knowing the Bucs are 2-0! I know I will! Monday is always better after a Bucs win!!! Go Bucs!!!

  18. Darin Says:

    Oh boy they’re getting crowned. 36% don’t make the playoffs. And those stats are a 16 game season. Let’s talk at the halfway point

  19. SlyPirate Says:


    CAMARDA – He’s a weapon!
    ZYON – He stepped up. Didn’t miss CDIII.
    HALL – Another .5 sack
    R WHITE – TD. On pace for 1000 yards
    GOEDEKE – Getting better.

  20. WyomingJoe Says:

    @Dan: Baker is is just beginning to turn it on and his success is absolutely driving you crazy! We repeatedly told you and other trolls on this site that you had greatly underestimated Baker’s skills. And the best is yet to come for Baker, and more importantly this team. Go Bucs.

  21. DoooshLaRue Says:


    I always look forward to your takeaways. You always nail it.

  22. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Camarda easily the MVP of this game.

    52 yd avg
    Long 72
    3/4 inside 20, 1 inside the 10.

    Dudes a baller.

  23. dmatt Says:

    Week one n week two Vikes n Bears only had one wr the Bucs had to contend with n they both DJMoore n Justin Jefferson had over 100 yards receiving, respectively. However, Bucs will have their hands full with Eagles vets AJBrown, Devonta Smith, n Quez Watkins on the field at the same time. Who will JDean cover? I don’t think Jamal Dean was worth the pay, he’s average cb at best, he’s still inconsistent n play passive.We should have paid aggressive,ball hawk, n hard hitting Jordan Whitehead. Let’s not get too pumped up over JTS. Please watch the film on him, he doesn’t play with fire. He’s doesn’t play with the same intensity n aggressiveness as MParson,n NBosa does. JTS two sacks today didn’t impress me.

  24. adam from ny Says:

    nice read ira…

    the bucs are playing good ball right now…

    if wins keep compounding, things keep building…

    but it’ll be interesting how the team responds after a loss, because after all we aren’t going undefeated this season…

    and i personally wouldn’t bet bucs for next monday night…

    can we go into the bye week 3-1……………i think so

  25. Joe Says:

    Let’s not get too pumped up over JTS. Please watch the film on him, he doesn’t play with fire. He’s doesn’t play with the same intensity n aggressiveness as MParson,n NBosa does.

    Let’s not be stupid. You could throw JTS into a fireplace and he still won’t have the God-given ability Micah Parsons or Nick Bosa have. Intensity doesn’t mean jack shiite if you don’t have the ability.

  26. David Says:

    They utilized spies on Fields to force him to stay in the pocket… Was that White and LVD taking turns with that?

    I ask because they seemed invisible this game in the stat line compared to week one. I was wondering if it was a defensive strategy. White was definitely making his presence known, but didn’t do a lot. LVD was definitely invisible most the game.

  27. David Says:

    The 3 biggest reasons they are undefeated…

    1. Their turnover ratio is all positive. I believe 5 take away 0 giveaways.

    2. The D line is getting after it against the run and pass

    3. The O line is performing better than anticipated. Improving in the run and doing very well and pass protection

  28. Fred McNeil Says:

    I don’t know why I’m bothering to try to comment here. Ira writes a great column.
    , but even stalwarts like Defence Rules get moderated here. JBF shouldn’t even bother to have a comment section if it works so ridiculously bad.

  29. Fred McNeil Says:

    In other words: JBF might actually be based in China.

  30. Joe Says:

    In other words: JBF might actually be based in China.


    Nope. Pinellas County.

  31. Power Of Pewter Says:

    With Ronde being honored next Monday nite, it would be a great time to show his highlights against the Iggles on the Jumbotron.

  32. garro Says:

    Great points Ira!
    I would add only one thing… Intensity!

    No comparison as a team to last years just show up attitude.

    Go Bucs!