Time To Face Facts

November 4th, 2023

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The path toward a winning season is wide-ass open for the Buccaneers.

Despite all the penalties, missed assignments, erratic tackling and a brutal ground attack, Tampa Bay’s final 10 games offer a grand opportunity for redemption.

Can Todd Bowles capitalize and save his job in the process?

Todd Bowles

That’s the huge question hovering above One Buc Place as the team heads to Houston for Sunday’s matchup against the surprisingly competitive Texans and rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

The Texans couldn’t have asked for much more from Stroud, who has been picked off only once.

Who would have believed the Texans would turn the ball over just four times in seven games — the fewest giveaways in the league?

In that respect, the Bucs can’t reasonably expect Houston to hand the game over with mistakes. If Tampa Bay wants to win this matchup, the Bucs have to take it. They need to break a 2-year trend of slow starts and allow the NFL’s sixth-ranked scoring defense to play with a lead.

Speaking of a defense that has been stellar in the red zone but quite vulnerable on third down, Buc opponents are averaging a mere 18.3 points per game. If that figure holds up, it would mark the franchise’s stingiest scoring defense since 2007 (16.9), when Jon Gruden was on the sidelines and Transformers I was raking it in at the box office.

A 3-game losing streak doesn’t inspire much optimism, but the Bucs should have every reason to believe they can finish with a winning record.

No. 1, they’re relatively healthy. At midseason, every team in this league is grappling with injury concerns. Tampa Bay’s key players — Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tristan Wirfs, Lavonte David and Antoine Winfield Jr., are good to go. Guard Matt Feiler is the only starter of consequence ruled out for Sunday’s game.

No. 2, have you looked at the remaining schedule? At Houston, Tennessee, at San Francisco, at Indianapolis, Carolina, at Atlanta, at Green Bay, Jacksonville, New Orleans and at Carolina.

Daunting, it is not.

The only clubs in that group with winning records are the 49ers and Jaguars. If the Bucs can’t go at least 6-4 down the stretch, shame on them. And if 9-8 isn’t good enough for a third consecutive division title, so be it. At least they gave it a decent shot.

At the moment, the Bucs have no right to call themselves a good team. They’ve allowed more points than they’ve scored and the run game is so futile, even Mayfield sounds ready to abandon any hopes for offensive balance.

Buc Nation is losing whatever confidence that remained in Bowles and you’d better believe a loss at Houston will unleash the Kyle Trask hounds in force.

It’s time to face facts.

Playcaller Dave Canales.

Dave Canales has to look in the mirror before boarding that flight to Texas and remind himself that getting the ball to Evans and Godwin is the best strategy going forward. Mayfield needs to attempt more downfield passes. Many will fall incomplete, some might even be intercepted, but there will be long gains and pass interference flags that change momentum in Tampa Bay’s favor.

Mix in some short throws to Rachaad White and you just might be able to jump-start a listless offense.

What about the run game, you say? Haven’t we seen enough at this point? You’ve got to be kidding if you expect Buc opponents to respect Mayfield’s play-action.

Trust Godwin and Evans to flourish down the stretch. Don’t take what the defense gives you — take what you want and impose your will.

That starts in Houston, where the Texans are allowing completions at a 71 percent clip.

This isn’t Week 2 anymore. If the Bucs want to change their identity, they have to change their approach.

Team Glazer is lurking, says Ira.

Like Yogi Berra once said, “It gets late early around here.” It’s getting late indeed and the Glazers are watching intently as time slips away.

Somebody is going to win the NFC South. It’s not going to be the Panthers and there’s no reason it can’t be the Bucs.

Bowles, Dennis Allen and Arthur Smith face the same challenge. All of them are trying to give their owners a sense of confidence that the future is bright.

A 9-8 finish might do just that for Bowles, whose fate as an NFL head coach hangs in the balance these next two months.

30 Responses to “Time To Face Facts”

  1. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    Ira, awesome work as always! Excited to see what we can do down the stretch. No reason for us to not make a run with this talent, especially on defense!

  2. Hodad Says:

    Joe, and Ira keep claiming Bowles needs to win to keep his job. Me, I’m not to sure. So what’s the number Joe, and Ira? How many losses will cost Bowles his job in your informed opinions?

  3. bucnjim Says:

    7-10 or less will get him fired. Actually if he loses this week against Houston it will be the end of the road. 10-7 will get him another year.

  4. Fred McNeil Says:

    Hodad, I don’t think it’s so much a hard number as it is a sign that things are under control and Bowles has the arrow pointing up sufficiently that we can have hope for a good future. So far that decision seems a bit murky from my chair. He’s got ten more games to show us some inspiration.

  5. BrianBucs Says:

    No matter what the win total is, if the Bucs can’t win their weak division with this very undaunted remaining schedule then Bowles should immediately and automatically be fired.

  6. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Just Win

  7. Beej Says:

    I doubt ownership was expecting a whole lot from this season, unless they lose like 10 in a row or something, I don’t believe he will get fired

  8. Since76 Says:

    You have to wonder how the glazers feel about the way Arians forced their hands on bowles. It was underhanded manipulation. I think Bowles has a shorter leash than a coach who went through the hiring process fairly. How long do the glazers give a coach that was pushed on them.

  9. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    Hodad Says:
    November 4th, 2023 at 10:38 am
    Joe, and Ira keep claiming Bowles needs to win to keep his job. Me, I’m not to sure. So what’s the number Joe, and Ira? How many losses will cost Bowles his job in your informed opinions?
    I DO very much believe the seat of the HC is getting hot but don’t know that one can pick a definitive number that will determine the Glazer’s course of action.

    The Glazers like the feeling that comes with winning Super Bowls and want to build a team that can win another one. They’ll evaluate the HC at the end of the season and if they believe Bowles can lead them to the promised land he’ll keep his job. Fortunately for Bowles, the Glazers tend not to make changes during the season. The pirate ship may be taking on water but there’s still time left to bail it out and make repairs.

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

    “Mayfield needs to attempt more downfield passes.” -You mean like Trask did in the pre-season? Mayfield, per the demands of the HC & OC, is playing it safe & “protecting the ball”. They’re also protecting the scoreboard. When he does throw deep, it’s often a 50/50 ball to Evans. That is lazy.

    Scheme these guys open! For the love of all things holy, run the ball OUTSIDE of the tackles, since there is nothing on the inside. FB anyone?

    I want to win but, does anyone imagine us ever winning a SB with Bowles as our HC or Mayfield as the QB?

  11. matthew a veal Says:

    i agree with joe on the downfield passing. all florida teams, college included. the downfield passing game is more exciting so thats what the governing bodies want. the weather is good for receivers and dryness and lack of wind helps qbs here. longer passes open up the running game, ask the former bucs qb steve spurrier.

    I like mayfield to throw deeper and buy time

    i also agree that bowles has a good chance in the second half of the year

  12. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    Part of throwing downfield is having a line that can protect long enough for the receivers to get there.

  13. Crickett Baker Says:

    “Don’t take what the defense gives you — take what you want and impose your will.”

    That quote needs to be repeated!

  14. JD Says:

    this team looks like a team that worked hard, won a superbowl, got paid, went to sleep.

  15. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Let’s be 100% real right now….

    #1. Run block sucks bad…..so you might as well abandon the run, cause not a hall of fame QB can get decent yards with this O-line horrid play.

    #2. Canales inexperience is showing BADLY! His inability to adjust players the offense to the tempo/scenarios of the game is clearly evident now….Iike Byron Leftwich bad.

    #3. Todd Bowles is bad as a HC, but great as a DC.

    …..nuff said.

  16. HC Grover Says:

    The scedule is as easy as it could be. But we have a Bowles problem.

  17. AtlBuc Says:

    Hodad Says:
    November 4th, 2023 at 10:38 am
    Joe, and Ira keep claiming Bowles needs to win to keep his job. Me, I’m not to sure.
    I agree. This is Bowles’ first season with his coaches and QB. The Glaziers don’t expect Bowles to make the playoffs with Baker Mayfield as the starter.

  18. GumboIsForWinner Says:

    I am not in the Glazers’ heads so I don’t know what it will take to fire Bowles, but I do know what I can see. And what I see is a coach who will consistently underperform. His offense will always be bad even with superior talent. His defense will always fall apart in the clutch and against good teams. His team will get outcoached 90% of the games and be one of the most undisciplined teams in the league.

    There’s always the question before firing a coach–Is there something better available? And that’s a legitimate question, but the answer is it can’t be much worse.

  19. Mostly Peaceful Trask Fan Says:

    “Buc Nation is losing whatever confidence that remained in Bowles and you’d better believe a loss at Houston will unleash the Kyle Trask hounds in force”

    LOL you think it’s bad now? Just wait.

  20. orlbucfan Says:

    This ain’t no Stupid Bowl team, but it sure is NOT one of the stinkers from the 1980s. Godalmighty, someone should have shot Culverhouse and the NFL ownership who forced him down central FL fans’ throat. If Canales gets on the same page-finally-with his offense, Bucs will win. Ira, you know precisely what I’m talking about. If you don’t, better go back and do some research. Go Bucs!

  21. Lombardi Lenny Says:

    Teams already have our offense figured out. We are dead man walking with Bowles and Canales leading the charge.

    The best thing for this organization right now is to implode, it’s just that simple. The sooner we accept and admit this isn’t in the franchise or city’s best interest to be led by these two inept coaches, the sooner we can move on.

  22. TonySoprano Says:

    Feel like I’m taking crazy pills here listening to all the people saying Bowles shouldn’t be on the hot seat. THIS year is his redemption year. We went all in last year and mortgaged the future for another swing at the Super Bowl. How did that go? Bowles immediately proceeded to turn a Super Bowl contender into a loser.

    Now, this year, with his hand selected coaches the team looks even worse. Not only does Bowles not know what to change, he doesn’t WANT to change. This sleepy-eyed zombie only wants to play it safe, and the results have been predictably pitiful.

    GTF outta here with this talk that Bowles shouldn’t be on the hot seat.

  23. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Bucs were a good team, that went off the rails after the Head Coaching change. Can blame whatever, but they keep getting worse. Just coincidence?

  24. Davenport Says:

    Finishing 9-8 or 6-11 should carry the same result: Bowles getting canned. His career record is terrible and this Bucs team isnt better than last years.

    If mediocrity is what you’re after, Todd is your man, but either you’re a SB contender or you are not.

    The Bucs under Bowles will never be.

  25. Texasbucsfan Says:

    Fans need to remember one thing; winning fills seats, sells merchandise & creates large audiences watching TV. Losing does the opposite. Enough said..

  26. dbbuc711 Says:

    I’ve just reached the point in having no confidence in them

  27. Voice of Truth Says:

    The only coach that got some leash was Gruden and we all know why

    Todd better have a winning record or he is gone and from what we have seen thus far, it appears to be a foregone conclusion

    There is time to turn it around, but there hasn’t been much to make anyone believe it will.

    A few lineup changes could go a long way-

    Delaney for Neal
    Leverett for Mauch
    Nelson for JTS

    Not sure how the coaches don’t see this, but just about everyone else can

  28. Bobby Says:

    Todd Monken for next Bucs HC in January 2024, he has over 30 years of coaching experience and use to be HC at Southern Miss and was OC at Georgia University 2 yrs ago and they won a National Championship that season. Is currently the Baltimore Ravens OC and Baltimore’s offense is doing well this season.Todd also use to be on Clevelands staff when Baker was there too. So if Todd Monken came back here. Baker would already be familiar with that offense too and the coach. Todd Monken use to be our OC here from 2016 – 2018. Todd Monken for your next Tampa Bay Buccaneers HC in 2024. I’m excited thinking about it.

  29. adam from ny Says:

    i said 2-2 at the bye

    5-5 after 10 games…we could get that still…

    then go on a bit of a run – like a 5-2 finish with that fairly soft schedule…

    we are still on adam from ny’s “target numbers”…
    (yes i just talked in the 3rd person)

    the next 2 are must win get back on track games…then to sf for a likely bump down to 5-5…

    then let’s get on a f’kin roll for the final 7 games !

  30. Mike S Says:

    I’m tired of trolling and complaining.

    Tomorrow will either be one of three things.

    Death blow to the season.
    Temporary reprieve
    Springboard to a playoff run