Easy Excuses Are Off The Board

November 11th, 2023

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A 3-5 start is troubling enough for Buc Nation, yet there’s more to the story.

Whenever an NFL team struggles midway through the season, you look for the usual suspects.

Two factors naturally spring to mind in explaining a rough getaway.

The problem in Tampa is there are no easy answers because the 2023 Bucs don’t qualify in either category.

The first place to look … the injury list.

Buffalo fans will tell you the Bills aren’t the same force right now because several key defensive players are sidelined. The reeling 49ers are hoping Deebo Samuel and Trent Williams are no longer hobbled after the bye week.

What about the Bucs? No dice.

GM Jason Licht has a shorter than usual list of problems for Team Glazer. And that’s a problem, Ira Kaufman explains.

Todd Bowles, Jason Licht and the Glazers can’t pin this 4-game tailspin on a rash of critical injuries. In fact, the Bucs have been remarkably healthy through eight games.

Let’s identify five key players on either side of the ball:

On offense, Baker Mayfield, Tristan Wirfs, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Rachaad White have not missed a single game between them. Not one. In fact, neither Mayfield nor Wirfs has missed a snap.

The defense is led by Vita Vea, Lavonte David, Devin White, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Carlton Davis. And yes, despite last week’s debacle in Houston, Davis still has to be considered Tampa Bay’s most dependable corner.

Of that group, Vea has missed one game and Davis has missed two. You can stick the injury excuse where the sun don’t shine.

We turn our attention to a second common culprit — turnovers.

Sorry, nothing to see here, either. The Bucs are plus-8, a very healthy ratio. There have been plenty of takeaways and not many giveaways.

Eleven teams currently boast a positive turnover ratio. Only one is saddled with a losing record. You guessed it, the Bucs.

The bottom of the chart tells the usual story as Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, New England and Minnesota have combined for an 18-28 record.

That’s why every NFL coach harps on winning the turnover battle.

The Bucs can’t blame their malaise on injuries or turnovers. What are we left with? Ineffective coaching, suspect talent, or a combination. Those are the issues the Glazers are trying to identify ahead of a very winnable matchup against the Titans.

When you can’t blame a poor record on turnovers or a flurry of injuries, the problems tend to run deeper.

Rob Gronkowski retired himself and the run game .

When Rob Gronkowski departed, he took the Buc running game with him. Bowles doesn’t have enough legit pass rushers to disrupt the timing of opposing quarterbacks. Godwin can’t find the end zone. Tackling issues continue to plague a defense that needs an offseason overhaul.

The next two weeks could trigger major in-season changes. If the Bucs fall to 3-7 with a 6-game losing streak, a switch to Kyle Trask wouldn’t be a surprise.

YaYa Diaby is itching for his first start as a pro and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka isn’t giving Bowles much of a reason to play him extensively.

Clinging to the past can undermine your future. Half the starters from Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory are no longer on the roster. This franchise is in free fall and you can’t point your finger to turnovers or injuries.

What exactly is the problem? We’re about to find out.

Ira Kaufman Addresses Team Glazer Perspective On 4-Game Losing Streak, Dissects Two Odd Todd Bowles Comments, Talks Cade Otton, Winning Versus Tanking, And Much More

57 Responses to “Easy Excuses Are Off The Board”

  1. Hodad Says:

    Ooh,ooh I know, Bowles is a horrible coach. The G.M. likes redheads with no teeth from small schools. Ownership is clueless. That about cover it?

  2. Rayjay1122 Says:

    The problem is a lack of smarts and hearts as a whole on this team.

  3. Hammerhead Says:

    Another excellent article, Sage. Well done! Indeed, we will find out.

  4. Defense Rules Says:

    Ira … ‘ The Bucs can’t blame their malaise on injuries or turnovers. What are we left with? Ineffective coaching, suspect talent, or a combination.’

    I vote for C … All of the above.

    Bucs lack the talent to keep up with the big boys. But losing to Atlanta and Houston falls squarely on the coaches’ shoulders. If we’d won those two (like we should have), we’d be 5-3 and wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  5. Texasbucsfan Says:

    IRA explains correctly the two things that are missing, leadership & lack of good players with self motivation.

  6. SufferingSince76 Says:

    There’s more that ails this team than a QB change can fix. Having to start over again just stinks.

  7. Bucs since 76 Says:

    Todd Bowels clock management is a big reason we have a losing record

  8. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Todd Bowles idea of clock management: Setting his clocks back 1 hour, in the fall.

  9. Jerseybuc Says:

    Coaching! More than enough talent on this team! Should be sitting at 5-3 right now. Radios clueness shows every week no adjustments ever!

  10. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    Coach Constipated and Coach “like me everybody I need your acceptance” Canales

  11. Cobraboy Says:

    One word: Bowles.

    A team takes on the personality of the HC.

    Bowles is passive.

    Does not “passive” describe this Bucs team?

  12. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    People keep clamoring about the talent on this team. I don’t see it. This ain’t no all-star team.

    Could they play better? Sure. Can always play better.

  13. BucU Says:

    Until Todd Bowles and his 5 plus straight seasons of losing records is relieved of his duties then everything else is white noise. No disrespect intended. Todd Bowles’ product sucks. Todd Bowles product has always sucked as HC.
    So who cares whether you bench this guy or switch out this guy? The common denominator is ALWAYS the same. A completely incompetent HC that never has his team prepared to play a complete NFL game except by pure dumb luck on a rare occasion. (See NO game).
    Last week was the very last straw to me. The embarrassment of an all time historic game by a rookie QB against the “defensive genius”. I feel sorry for these writers that have to cover this franchise. I hope they’re well paid.

  14. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    You cannot say it is a lack of talent on the roster if you are Jason Licht as Licht made O moves before the deadline and has made 0 moves to bring in free agent help and there is some available.
    Anxiously awaiting the mid season Poll on Mr. Licht.

  15. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    This team is full holes, except what? Punter? Left tackle? The best receiver duo in football, some believe (I don’t)?

    A store owner won’t be in business long, without taking an honest inventory.

  16. Statistically Insignificant Reader Says:

    My vote goes to Bubba and Forest Gump on the sidelines.

  17. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Drafting players out of college is so hit and miss. Some teams haven’t hit on a draft in forever, lol

  18. Bucfan37 Says:

    The Bucs are just not in sync when competing. Too incompe far into the season to begin fixing the problematic mishmash of bungled tomfoolery.

  19. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Bucs fans idea of a bad draft: Drafting a guy missing 2 front teeth.

    Don’t quit your day-jobs, just yet, lol

  20. FlBoy84 Says:

    Agree @BucU,

    Coaching across the board (HC on down) as well as game planning/lack of adjustments seems to be the major things holding this team back. Never been a fan of the move to Bowles as HC, agree with many that his ceiling is a solid Coordinator and nothing more. This isn’t a team of All-Stars, but there’s enough talent to get the job done. And as a few others have stated, Bowles’ timid coaching mentality and decision making is felt by the entire team and their play reflects it.

  21. matthew a veal Says:

    Ira, do you not think the cap is an issue?

    the rays can dump veterans because they have guys in the minors waiting that look pretty good. i dont see football as being like that.

    we have our center and #3 receiver gone with injuries. barrett and godwin are recovering.

    and we have 8 other new starters since the super bowl as well plus close to 100% of the special teams

    Is Bowles a great head coach? no, he’s not tony dungy who the glazers fired.

    i say let bowles etc keep fixing things, the offense is looking better and clancey proves we can still draft good players.

  22. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Say what you want about Bowles, but he did run a very stout defense last year. I’m assuming Bowles didn’t all of a sudden forget how to coach defense.

    At the end of the day, Jason Licht has final say on all roster moves and let a top 10 strong safety in the league walk for Ryan Neal.

    Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, Sean Murphy Bunting, Nassib, Nunez Roaches were all value contributors to the Bucs defense last season. Those guys are no longer Bucs but most are contributing to other teams now.

    It’s really simple, while the offense took a small step forward from last year, the defense took a giant step back.

    This is a bad defensive roster that would take a masterful coaching job to overcome. It’s clear the Bucs don’t have the coaches to overcome a weak roster construction by the GM. Licht did a horrid job this off-season especially with the defense and seems like he doesn’t care to fix it.

  23. Bobby Says:

    Big changes are coming, coaching is bad, high paid players on the team are not not contributing to the level of pay they are receiving. C.Davis, Dean, D.White is getting paid 11 mil and his play has shown he isn’t even worth that, Godwin is not playing up to the level of his contract either. Sad to say but Godwin may not be the old Godwin after the torn acl injury anymore. Barret, poor Barrett is mot the same after returning from his torn achilles snd he lost his son this year. I really feel for him. Just a massively rough year for him. But the NFL is business at the end of the day. Barrett is not performing up to the level of his contract. Vea plays about the half the snaps per game and this he might not be playing up to the level of his contract as well. Bucs should keep David and let D.White walk and go find put he isn’t worth the 11 mil he is getting paid now. Hopefully this turns around and I’m wrong. Let’s Go Bucs!!

  24. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Ask Chiefs fans how much they like Mike Edwards. Can’t blame the salary cap for that one cause Licht literally paid more for Mr perfect passer rating Ryan Neal.

  25. Bobby Says:

    Winfield is going to be one of the highest paid safeties in NFL and he deserves it too. Winfield shows up and outperforms his contract every game. Hopefully Winfield remains a Buccaneer. Bucs are going to have to pay Wirfs a 100 million dollar contract this offseason. And Bucs are going to pay Winfield too. So that means D.White is gone, Davos or Dean, one of them will be gone. And the shedding of salaries will continue this offseason.

  26. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    edwards has a great nose for the ball, and when he made a pick Edwards wanted 6 and often got it.

  27. optimisticbucsfan Says:



  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Bobby … ‘Bucs are going to have to pay Wirfs a 100 million dollar contract this offseason. And Bucs are going to pay Winfield too. So that means D.White is gone, Davos or Dean, one of them will be gone. And the shedding of salaries will continue this offseason’.

    Spot on IMO. Bucs will be shedding salaries this off-season (to include possibly Shaq despite the Dead-CAP hit).

  29. Bobby Says:

    To all of you dogging Licht. Your completely wrong. Licht is a good GM, Bucs very fortunate to have him. Our recent SB Trophy was worth all these salary cap problems we have now. I’d take it all over again just the same way too if we had a redo.

  30. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Bucs are years removed from Superbowl and life as a GM is all about what have you done for me lately , and in Lichts’ case the answer is not much. When you have glaring weaknesses that could be addressed and you do nothing , you are the problem and not the solution. Just wait till you see the mid season GM confidence poll that is probably going to come out after the Titans game, it will be enlichtening.

  31. HC Grover Says:

    Da problem is El Bowlzo.

  32. Since76 Says:

    With the exception of last week the defense has been pretty good. Last week Mayfield played his first decent game. Bad timing tho. To me it’s very in your face. Mayfield. Can’t see the forest because of all those trees. Those first 3 wins were lucky. Because the defense played well and kept us in it.

  33. Crickett Baker Says:

    IMO Baker is doing exactly what we wanted and expected from him. IDK if Trask or Wolford could do better but Baker is doing a fine job. We also have one of the best GMs in the entire NFL.

  34. Bobby Says:

    Hey Tampa Bay Bucs Fan 1976. Disagree with you regarding Licht and what have you done lately comment. Licht came into season with what 56 million in dead cap money. That would be difficult for the greatest GMs in history to overcome and put a competitive team out there. Licht is a good GM and I bet lots of other teams would love to have Jason Licht, Mike Greenberg, and John Spytek making decisions in there front office. You got to be realistic here. We need a another coaching staff here that can develop our young players and know how to set up our current stud players for success and can clean out the DWhites from this team. Salaries will be shed this offseason for sure. Got pay Wirfs and Winfield. Those guys will be expensive.

  35. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Licht had a 2 year run where he helped build a contender with Arians and Brady.

    What has Jason Licht been without Arians? A historically bad GM. So I disagree with the “one of the best GMs in the NFL label” let’s see him do it without Arians help and without Brady luring the top athletes to come play for Tampa.

    You can’t blame the salary cap issues for letting key affordable players walk and replacing them with Neal and Greg Gaines.

    I’ll at least give Licht credit where credits due, it at least seems he figured out his kicker issue.

  36. WyomingJoe Says:

    Let Baker sling it and the Bucs will win tomorrow and at least 6 out of the next 8 games after that. And, surprise, if we lay a beating on Tenn tomorrow, we’ll carry that over and knock off SF. Gotta have faith guys…

  37. Obvious Says:

    Bobby, it’s the same 2 guys just repeating themselves over and over..Probably optimistic has 2 or 3 accounts and is rotating them.

    Optimistic,.his mom, and the mouse in his pocket.

    Everyone else that is an adult is aware that Jason Licht brought us our second Super Bowl Roster, Trophy, and RESPECT.

    EVERYBODY KNOWS that we started almost 80 million dollars in the hole.

    Now if you want to blame Jason for hiring Bowles….. YOU CAN’T BLAME HIM FOR THAT EITHER! That Privilege BELONGS TO the OWNERS!

  38. Tbbucs3 Says:

    2 of the main reason the Bucs have seen a dropoff in run defense was by letting Keanu Neal (a hammer) walk and also trying to replace a stout run defender in Rakeem Nunez Roaches with undersized Greg Gaines who literally gets pushed around like a ragdoll.

  39. Obvious Says:

    Jason Licht went out an found, and CONVINCED Bruce Arians to Coach this team to start with. That was HIS. The OWNERS had to give the approval on Bowles.

    The Owners AND Licht didn’t have much choice when Bowles was hired however SINCE the season was ALREADY UNDER WAY when Arians MEDICAL PROBLEMS took the Front seat in his life.

    Could have hired Leftwich instead BUT THAT WHOLE FIASCO IS DEBATABLE!

    I believe they picked what they had to chose from, and picked what they thought was the lesser of two bad ideas…




    GO BUCS!

  40. TonySoprano Says:

    For you Licht slurpers, re-read Ira’s last paragraph:

    “Clinging to the past can undermine your future. Half the starters from Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl victory are no longer on the roster. This franchise is in free fall…”

    Licht hit the lottery with Brady. It’s not a replicable situation. We rented that SuperBowl team. We went from a bottom feeder team to champions and immediately back to a bottom feeder team.

    Licht has done a terrible job restocking the talent since the SB. He hasn’t drafted a single difference maker in 3 years. And all his recent FAs have been absolute failures.

    Over his 10 year tenure Licht has by far more misses than hits in the draft. He has overseen 5 coaching regimes, 3 with losing records. The Bucs have the 9th worst winning percentage in Licht’s tenure.

  41. TonySoprano Says:

    *4 coaching regimes

  42. unbelievable Says:

    While we do have suspect talent at a few positions, there is still enough across the team to easily be 5-3 right now.

    Too many breakdowns and soft, sloppy playing- on both sides of the ball. And at a certain point, it comes back to coaching. This has been the trademark of Todd Bowles teams. I like him as a DC and really wanted him to succeed as our HC, but I’m just not seeing it. The team’s identity looks just like his public personality- timid, boring and stubborn.

  43. unbelievable Says:

    “ Over his 10 year tenure Licht has by far more misses than hits in the draft.”

    This is objectively false. Most of the guys he’s drafted in the first 4 rounds have gone on to get 2nd contracts as starters, either us or with other teams. That’s actually better than most GMs, as the average success rate in the 1st round is only 50%, and it goes down each round from there.

    That said, 2016 was a very bad draft class. And the 2021 class is looking that way too.

  44. Jmarkbuc Says:

    I’m sure it’s just a communication issue.

  45. Duane in Sanford Says:

    We all know its Bowles. He is in over his head as a HC. I give him credit for his run as a DC for this franchise, but when you think about it, BA should be given credit for pushing the offense hard enough to make the best use of an aggressive defense. Bowles has never figured out the right balance for the team to best succeed. I cant judge the talent, because I know their leader is a paper tiger.

  46. TonySoprano Says:

    “This is objectively false.”

    Haha ok pal. Let’s keep it simple and only look at Licht’s 1 and 2 round picks, as those should have a higher success rate. Not counting this last draft, he has 8 hits and 14 misses, and I’m being generous by counting players like Donavan Smith and Goedeke as hits. But go ahead and tell me “that’s objectively false.”

    Btw, how many 2nd round draft picks have stayed with a team their entire 4 years and only played 9 snaps?

  47. Jmarkbuc Says:

    It’s the whole bloated staff. And Bud Licht. Dude is the biggest poser in the NFL.

  48. BucaneroJim Says:

    Robert De Niro from from Ronin… “Weapons man?… Oh. you know, it’s a toolbox. I don’t care, you put the tools in for the job, that’s all.

    Licht gave Bowles a box of tools – professionals make what’s given work.

  49. unbelievable Says:

    You’d only ignore rounds 3 and 4 because it proves me even more right. And it’s idiotic because then you’re ignoring players like Chris Godwin, Jordan Whitehead, Alex Cappa, Mike Edwards, Jamal Dean, Jake Camarda, etc. etc.

    But okay, let’s just look at rounds 1 and 2:

    Mike Evans
    D Smith
    Ali Marpet
    Vita Vea
    Ronald Jones
    Devin White
    Carlton Davis

    That’s 11 out of 21 picks, which is higher than 50%

  50. TonySoprano Says:

    Lol. So Ronald Jones, SMB and Devin White are hits in your book? That tells me everything I need to know about you and your measuring stick for what constitutes as a success. Pretty low bar has been set in Tampa Bay.

    And you really think I’m doing Licht a disservice by not including rounds 3-7? Sure, let’s add those in and see if it improves Licht’s batting average. For every 1 Chris Godwin, there’s been countless Caleb Benenoch, Ko Kieft and Kenny Bells.

    And maybe I’m in the minority, but just because a draft pick starts, it doesn’t mean that player was a successful draft pick; it just means the team was too thin on talent to start anyone else.

  51. unbelievable Says:

    I said rounds 1 – 4, but there you go again trying to change my words to bolster your argument.

    RoJO, SMB and Devin White were all critical our 2020 playoffs and SB wins.

    Not every guy is gonna be an all pro. It’s about whether they play their role and help the team win. All those guys did.

    But I’m just a realist.

    If you wanna criticize Licht for his picks- focus on D line / OLB. Now those have been ugly!

  52. TonySoprano Says:

    @Unbelievable – I understand, and that’s fair. His 3-4 round picks have been relatively good. Again, I give him credit for assembling the SB team. I don’t think he’s the worst GM in the league, and he’s Im not even calling for him to be fired. I just think too many treat him as if he’s infallible and untouchable.

    I’m frustrated with how many resources he’s poured into the dline and oline and how bad they still seem to be. I think he’s built up enough goodwill to buy himself one more chance with a new coaching regime, but that’s it.

  53. unbelievable Says:

    Totally reasonable, and I agree. Def not infallible, I just think Arians is the only good HC he’s been paired with.

    I suspect the coach after Bowles will be his last try, if they still continue to lose at that point.

  54. Darin Says:

    It was easy to see some of you missed it. No way they were gonna win the turnover battle by three every game. You drank the early season cool aid. Shame on you

  55. Rod Munch Says:

    Your quarterback just had his best game of the season, and he got you 250 yards and 2 TDs.

    That’s your issue.

    You see, in the NFL you win by scoring more points than the other team – and the Bucs haven’t been scoring many points – then last week in an offensive explosion (which was like 330 yards total), they kicked three FGs when they needed touchdowns.

    Your problem is you have a backup QB starting and you’re not giving yourself much of a chance to win.

    I don’t believe Trask is going to be any better, but I do know Trask has a contract for next year, while Mayfield does not, and isn’t going to be back on this team.

    Dragging out the benching of Mayfield does nothing to help this team as it’s not going anywhere, and they need to know what they have in Trask.

    I mean anyone with a brain has known that since the beginning of the offseason, but nah, just keep sticking with the loser QB who gets all his coaches fired for as long as possible, which will result in all the coaches getting fired. So in that regard, maybe we should thank Baker for his service.

  56. unbelievable Says:

    Rod you need to have a talk with Coach Bowles.

    He’s under the impression that turnover differential plus the number of timeouts you don’t use is what gets tallied up to decide the winner.

    Someone should explain to him it’s just points. Simple as that.

  57. Oz Len Says:

    I know there are a lot of QB genius ‘ on here.Can anyone tell me who we should have signed who would be better than Mayfeld in the off season?