Five Things

November 13th, 2023

Bucs defense celebrates Antoine Winfield’s interception, Gravediggers style in win over the Titans Sunday. (Photo courtesy of

It’s been way too long since we’ve had a Victory Monday. So here we are. Finally. Grab your coffee and belly up to the bar.

Pass Rush Makes Team Better

There just is no way around it. A pass rush not only helps a secondary, it helps a defense as a whole. And a pass rush found its way back to the Bucs’ sideline yesterday.

The Bucs had four sacks. Not a giant bunch, but that was the most this season since having six against the Bears in a 27-17 Bucs win.

Sacks are just drive killers. But it wasn’t just sacks. The Bucs were in Tennessee quarterback Will Levis’ head. The Bucs hit Levis 13 times. That’s enough to rattle a seasoned veteran.

So yeah, you put a quarterback on the ground four times and then you add 13 quarterback hits, that quarterback won’t be fully focused on his job.

That leads to wins.

And that’s exactly what the Bucs did against the Titans.

The 13 quarterback hits are the fourth-most quarterback hits recorded this year by any team.

Streaks Broken

It wasn’t just a losing streak the Bucs broke. Yeah, the Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak that, to listen to Bucs coach Todd Bowles yesterday, almost had the team crumble apart.

The streak was bad enough. It’s embarrassing enough. But there was a worse streak the Bucs put to bed yesterday. And Joe can only hope it’s not repeated in a long, long, long time.

The Bucs snapped a four-game losing streak to rookie quarterbacks. Bowles and his defense made Levis look like the rookie he is. He connected on just 19 passes in 39 attempts for 199 yards.

Previously before facing Levis, Bowles and his defense had lost to Kenny Pickett, Brock Purdy, dismal Desmond Ridder and last week C.J. Stroud.

Bowles made damn sure his defense was going to suffocate Levis. Bowles, it seemed, had enough of rookies making him look the fool. Enough was enough.

Rachaad White Quietly Entering Top-Shelf Status

If Joe were to tell you that the Bucs, by some magic wand, could have Alvin Kamara, you’d chug a cold Big Storm Brewing beer to celebrate. No doubt, right?

Well, if the same magic wand could instead plant Christian McCaffrey, you’d likely throw down a four-pack. And Joe might join you.

As receiving backs go, Kamara (50 catches) and McCaffrey (38), after yesterday’s Bucs win over Tennessee, are the only running backs to have more catches than Rachaad White (35).

In fact, only McCaffrey has more receiving yards for a running back than White (326).

White is quietly becoming one of the most dangerous pass catchers out of the backfield.

Look, as Joe wrote yesterday, as a runner White is terrible but as a receiver he is excellent. Joe refers to White as a misplaced slot receiver.

At times, Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales lines up White wide left or wide right on passing downs. So why not give him a spin at slot? White has great hands and he’s not afraid to stick his nose into a defender to block.

What do you have to lose other than losing a terrible running back? White has played 28 games and has only had one 100-yard game on the ground. Joe thinks it’s fair to say White has had more than ample opportunities to demonstrate he can tote the rock.

Put him at slot and the Bucs offense might really be cooking with gas.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Smart, smart playcall by Canales yesterday. It happened early in the third quarter.

It was the sixth play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Bucs had the ball second-and-10 at their own-49. Mayfield threw deep to Trey Palmer who with the naked eye appeared to make a clean, diving catch for a 32-yard gain down the right sideline.

Joe had binoculars zeroed in on the play and Joe thought at the time the ball hit the ground, or Palmer may have trapped it. (Joe’s good friend Rock Riley who was sitting to Joe’s right scolded Joe for thinking that way.)

Tennessee challenged and sure enough, the play was wiped out. (It helps to use binoculars once in a while.)

However, on the very next play, Canales called for a Baker Mayfield pass right at the same cornerback Palmer abused on the previous play (Roger McCreary) with virtually the same route. Only this time it was Mike Evans.

And this time Evans hung on for a 43-yard gain.

That was a dynamite call. It worked the first time (had the call not been reversed); why not call it again before Tennessee could sub out McCreary? Only use a different receiver to give the impression it’s not the same play.

Evans’ catch was not challenged. Four plays later, a Chase McLaughlin field goal gave the Bucs a 10-3 lead.

Joe liked Canales’ thinking there.

Defensive Coaches Don’t Think Aggressively

The passive, play-it-close, play-it-safe, don’t-make-a-mistake, win-the-turnover-battle mentality of defensive coaches was on full display yesterday at The Licht House as the first half came to a close.

Tennessee had a first down at their own-7. There were 36 seconds left on the clock in the half. The Bucs had three timeouts.

Why not use your timeouts to force a punt and maybe, just maybe get off a play or two before halftime?

The Bucs defense was playing very well. Not only could the Bucs have forced the Titans to punt (from their own end zone), but maybe forced a rookie quarterback in Will Levis into a mistake. A fumbled snap or a pick? Or maybe gotten a blocked punt in the end zone?

But no. Bowles let the clock run out. You know, bad things might happen like Tennessee might get a first down or Levis could complete a 93-yard touchdown.

Never mind the Bucs are 4-5. How dare anyone want to be aggressive to try to secure a win and break the four-game losing streak?

The decision to let the clock run out without trying to force Tennessee into making a mistake was so, so lame, man.

It is simply not in defensive coaches’ DNA to be aggressive. That’s not who they are. That’s not what they do. It is very frustrating to watch.

33 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. Daniel Dream Says:

    I still think that’s a catch. In any event it was nice to see us go right back to the same play call and see Evans make the big catch and most of all to see us overcome the adversary of a few bad calls and finally get back on the W track!

  2. Jerseybuc Says:

    Play calling midway through the 3rd to the 4th also was super defensive minded. Run run run punt over n over. Love the win but come on. Move it a little this is who he is and always will be

  3. Hodad Says:

    Defensive coaches, or just bad coaches?

  4. Dlavid Says:

    Bowles will never lead this team to a Super Bowl !! Fire him after the season !

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    Just an observation but man there were a lot of dropped INTs yesterday. I counted three that hit defenders in the hands.

    Speaking of drops! While he redeemed himself, Mike sure did have a day. Is it me or is Trey Palmer dropping a lot of balls?

    Lastly, it still looks like Baker is finding himself. The number of incomplete passes to wide open WRs seems to be narrowing. But man, we leave 2-3 TDs on the field every game.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    That is not the first time Bowles was impotent.

  7. Salary Cap Hell Says:

    ” Joe refers to White as a misplaced slot receiver ”

    Couldn’t agree with you more Joe , you called that a while back . Its obvious in space he is unstoppable . Ask him to run up the middle and he stops, looks and waits for a hole. Square peg round hole hopefully they will follow the mans gifts and allow him to excel.

  8. Show Me the TDs Says:

    I would love to see a stat of who has the most timeouts left at the end of each half

  9. Salary Cap Hell Says:

    Joe liked Canales’ thinking there….

    IMO with time and experience I beleive Canales will be a very good O. C.

    Hopefully he doesnt get flushed out , with the needed change at end of season.

  10. bob in valrico Says:

    I don’t believe White is terrible, his blocking wasn’t all that good on the repetitive runs up the middle. Joe often makes a point about yards after contact.
    I will call your attention to the play where he was nearly stuffed in the backfield,
    he broke the tackle and reversed direction for a gain of about 10 yards. If they
    keep running up the middle they are going to need a fullback that can help open
    holes that the O line isn’t.

  11. Beeej Says:

    Catching a swing pass in stride and running precision routes are two different worlds

  12. SufferingSince76 Says:

    One of the most unsatisfying wins I’ve ever witnessed. I’m glad they won, but it feels hollow. Bowles has worn me down.

  13. orlbucfan Says:

    It sounds and looks like Canales and his Offense are getting more acclimated to each other. He’s getting more creative with his passing game. He has the receivers, no doubt about it. Still, Tampa Bay went through a boatload of changes this past off-season. Looks like salary cap hell or no, they’re starting to bear some fruit.

  14. Zoocomics Says:

    @ bob in valrico… correct, White isn’t all that bad, and he’s finally getting starters touches in order to see what we’re working with. Kamara isn’t exactly lighting up the stat sheet with his running either, I know he missed the first few games of the season, but his averages are good but he’s excelling in the passing game still. Point is, the Saints know what they have in Kamara. He’s shown he can run the ball well.

    Our interior Oline is not good. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but that first series we had, where we were moving the ball well until the middle got blown up and Baker ate a HUGE sack… I think that was Hainsey’s guy, he certainly came through the interior, and it was so fast, I don’t think it was a stunt that generated the pressure? That interior is really clouding what is or isn’t working. Additionally, White’s average wasn’t helped either when we were trying to take time off the clock with a 2-score game. I know so many on this board hate that move, and they just want to sling the rock around the field to try and score more points, but this was not the Texans game, this was not a back-and-forth battle. Bowles wasn’t playing to lose, his strategy was sound, his defense was in control, feasting on every Titans series, up 2-scores. This offense is still getting ironed out with Canales playing calling, and I got to say White looks like a baller, he’s trying to get it done anyway he can. Now, as for the 49ers game, how exactly do we get back to back years in San Fran?

  15. bob in valrico Says:

    Also have to credit Baker on that screen pass. His timing and ball placement was perfect. He does bring some intangibles that gives the team a chance.

  16. realistic-optimistic Says:

    When Joe has trapped himself inside his own false narrative he will troll us to death just for the giggles. “America’s Quarterback?” “Misplaced Slot Receiver?”

    @bob in valrico pointed it out already. White turned a 4 yard loss into a 10 yard gain. The interior OL (*cough* Hainsey *cough*) got whipped several times by Teair Tart.

    And there’s a big difference between leaking out of the backfield for passes and running precision slot routes. Also, if you move him to slot full-time, which of the other high-performing RBs on this team do you suggest lug the rock?

  17. Bucs2023 Says:

    If we all haven’t figured it out yet, that’s just who Bowles is. Per a report, Markees Watts was wreaking havoc on the offense during practice the weeks of these games, and Bowles waited 11 WEEKS to give the kid a chance. This after his edge rush was the joke of the league. That alone should disqualify from coaching this team in the future.

    Only coach I know who won’t play someone, who can help him. His stubbornness and lack of understanding of his personnel is sad. Hard to believe this is a “Parcells guy” as he’s known here in Jersey. Parcells tried to beat you in all 3 phases of the game, and he never refuse to use a player who could help him here and now.

    He coaches scared and that’s how this team has been playing. Being aggressive won’t make them a powerhouse, but it at least give them an identity to build on. What’s the point of drafting and signing rookies and free agents, if you don’t believe they can contribute? This makes Licht accountable to, as he sits there on his you know what and says nothing to insure the young guys get a chance.

    I understand they only beat the Titans, but it has to start somewhere.

  18. realistic-optimistic Says:

    Despite our disagreement about Rachaad White, I love this site. Nobody pumps out more (and more honest) articles about our beloved Bucs.

    And WTF Bowles. CALL TIMEOUT!!! His oldschool defensive coaching is beyond frustrating. Win or not, I’m sick of him patrolling the sideline.

  19. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Thanks Joe for finally calling out the clock mismanagement, as it has been a consistent problem all year. If you BELIEVE in your defense and their abilities , you HAVE to call those timeouts.

  20. bob in valrico Says:

    Also have to credit Baker on that screen pass. His timing and ball placement was perfect. He does bring some intangibles that gives the team a chance. His ability to avoid sure sacks deserves a name , I gonna call it “Shake and Bake”.
    And this is coming from a guy that Trask to start, but I don’t think Baker play
    will let that happen, if Canales can get both the running game and running
    game complementing each other in the same game.

  21. HC Grover Says:

    The Titans were worse than the Bucs.

  22. Brendahadababy Says:

    Great read, Joe. I agree with everything you said.

  23. ScottyMack Says:

    Joe asks what do you have to lose by making Rashad White a slot receiver? Well, for one thing, you have to run the ball with an even worse running back who can’t possibly be as good as White at catching the ball. And, of course, a real slot receiver is going to be faster than White.

    He’s a third down/ change of pace back, not a slot receiver.

  24. Bojim Says:

    Good all around game. I enjoyed it immensely.

  25. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    That’s the crap you get with a Defensive head coach. The Bucs have a limited ceiling, no matter who the players are, as long as a D coordinator is calling all the shots.

  26. Sacker58 Says:

    @Zoocomics, You nailed it Whites a baller and is seemingly getting better.He still hesitates a little when running the ball but the middle of the O line is below average and teams know it.
    Yesterday was the first time White really showed some speed on the screen.He will be fine.
    Fix the line and the offense becomes much betterf

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    Leave White right where he is. He’s able to do this work in the passing game because he’s being covered by linebackers and not slot corners. He just needs a running mate in the backfield and then he can be moved around the formation to create mismatches. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

  28. Joe Says:


    First, thank you for the kind words. Much appreciated.

    When Joe has trapped himself inside his own false narrative he will troll us to death just for the giggles. “America’s Quarterback?” “Misplaced Slot Receiver?”

    Joe really believes White would be better off both for career, and for the Bucs, if he was a slot receiver. If Joe didn’t believe that, he wouldn’t write it.

  29. BakerBucs Says:

    as I watch this season many of u call this team below average I see every team capable of winning in this league so when u say this team or that team sucks you see some bad records but those teams still beat the so called good seems every week is a guessing game hoping u r key guys play above average so while the bucs haven’t beaten top tier like a lot of u have said I think Vikings r top tier & that’s was an unbelievable win for us. give these 1st time together as a team including baker some breathing room they will shine in the end even if they don’t win the SB.

  30. unbelievable Says:

    Joe have you not figured out that Todd Bowles LOVES keeping all his first half timeouts in his pocket every week? He literally does it every single week, when we have a chance to take a few shots at the end of the half.

    He’s saving them up to cash in at the end of the season for a giant stuffed teddy bear prize to go along with his walking papers

  31. BakerBucs Says:

    Lwhu does canales run up middle when I know it’s the worst time to run up the middle I wish they would let baker make more of the play calling from the line & side step canales up the middle when these teams know it’s coming my grandmother cud predict this & she is dead

  32. JK Says:

    Joe, your thoughts on Sean Tucker? Why no burn??

  33. garro Says:

    “The decision to let the clock run out without trying to force Tennessee into making a mistake was so, so lame, man.”

    Agreed Joe! If it was the first time Bowles had done this sort of thing it would not be so frustrating.

    We have weapons that can score points quickly and we choose not to use them. Very irritating!

    Go Bucs