Five Things

December 25th, 2023

(Photo courtesy of

Welcome to Merry Victory Christmas Monday! You probably have presents to open and liquor to drink, so let’s get going so you can enjoy your holiday. Grab your hot chocolate or egg nog and let’s roll.  

Joe Has A Case Of Playoff Fever

Joe defies anyone to claim they saw that coming. If you did, let’s see your betting ticket.

The Bucs absolutely clobbered one of the better teams in the league with one of the better young quarterbacks in the league. The Jags were a playoff team last year and Trevor Lawrence went toe-to-toe with Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs in the playoffs before the eventual Super Bowl champs prevailed.

It wasn’t like the Bucs seal-clubbed the Jets.

Taking a 20-0 lead into halftime? Leading 30-0 in the third quarter? That, folks, is an ass-kicking.

Joe is not trying to get drunk with excitement here, but entering Christmas the Bucs are on a four-game winning streak and just played their best game. That’s exactly when you want to start playing your best ball.

And yeah, Joe isn’t thinking the Bucs are a sure thing to be a one-and-done in the playoffs at all. The Cowboys are not playing well. The Eagles have proven to be vulnerable. If the Bucs face either team in the playoffs, Joe isn’t saying it will be easy, but the way the Bucs played yesterday and the way the Cowboys and Eagles are playing, well, those teams sure don’t have the feel of immovable objects right now.

The Bucs are one win away from an unprecedented third-straight NFC South title. Bring it, you slimy Saints!

Playoff Fever — catch it with Joe!

Going Strong At 30

Most receivers when they reach 30, if they reach 30, start to decline. Most receivers aren’t Mike Evans.

In his first year with Canales and Mayfield, Evans is having one of the best seasons of a Hall of Fame career. At 30. Evans leads the league in touchdown catches with 13. His personal best is 14 touchdowns in 2021.

That’s with a new offensive coordinator. With a new quarterback. At the age of 30.

Damn impressive if you ask Joe.

(Evans only needs 37 yards to reach 1,200 receiving yards this season. Only three other times in nine previous seasons has Evans reached 1,200 yards.)

Todd Bowles Is Spooked

If you think Bucs head coach Todd Bowles is going to give his players any rest between now and the end of the Stinking Panthers game a week from Sunday, you can forget it.

Yesterday, Joe had a hard time believing Bowles didn’t pull Mayfield, Evans, Antoine Winfield and other starters to rest them for a monster game next Sunday and, of course, to dodge an injury.

Mayfield took a dirty hit to his helmet and could be seen getting his neck/shoulder area massaged on the sideline. Rachaad White got dinged up as well and Winfield was feared to have suffered a concussion — he cleared concussion protocol after the game and before reporters were even let in the Bucs’ locker room.

Why didn’t Bowles let Kyle Trask and others play in the fourth quarter? Well, Bowles said he has a lot of youngsters who start games and need the work.

More importantly, Bowles said he remembered how he pulled people off the field last year in Atlanta. Bowles believes the Bucs lost any momentum they had entering the playoffs. Of course, the Cowboys plastered the Bucs in the first round at The Licht House.

What Bowles didn’t say was the Bucs had played their best game of this season prior to yesterday at the slimy Saints in Week 4, and pounded them to enter a bye week at 3-1.

That bye week screwed up the Bucs. They lost whatever momentum they had. The Bucs returned and played lousy football until they buried the Titans at home in Week 10.

So to sum it up, Bowles doesn’t want a repeat of what happened in Atlanta last year and whatever happened during the bye this year. So don’t bank on Bowles pulling any starters for the rest of the regular season.

Bowles thinks he got burned twice in the past year by resting guys or having a break. Bowles has no desire to repeat that.

So unless Mayfield gets hurt, Joe doesn’t believe Kyle Trask will play one snap this winter.

Playoff Odds Increase; Draft Slot Slips

So per the New York Times playoff probability calculator, the Bucs are really close to becoming a cinch for the playoffs. The Bucs, per the New York Times, have an 84 percent shot of making the playoffs after pounding the Jags yesterday.

For Joe’s draftnik readers, the draft slot for the Bucs has slipped. Currently, the website has the Bucs selecting at the No. 20 slot in next spring’s draft.

The best draft slot a playoff team can have is No. 19.

A Gronk Sighting! Well, Not Really

So the Bucs were marching inside the Jags-27 early in the third quarter when Baker Mayfield went back to pass and hit a big ol’ tight end wearing 87 near the right sideline. The tight end got behind Jags’ corner Devin Lloyd.

He just couldn’t stay inbounds as his momentum carried him out at the Jags-2. Joe started to look around to make sure he didn’t time travel back to 2021. Was that really foot-rubbing Rob Gronkowski?

It was not, but the number was the same. It was rookie Payne Durham. Damn if he didn’t look just like Gronk on that play. The only difference is Gronk likely keeps his balance and scores.

That play was sensational. It was Mayfield’s longest completion of the day — 25 yards.

If Durham can get into a groove with plays like that once every two games or so, that will make this offense that much better. And currently, the Bucs offense is humming.

And about that dominant win yesterday: Merry friggin’ Christmas indeed! Ho, ho, ho!

22 Responses to “Five Things”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Yesterday was precisely the type of win that I was hoping the Bucs could achieve to keep our win streak alive: Bucs controlled the game from start to finish. Solid on fundamentals, consistent smash-mouth football for 60 minutes. A very impressive TEAM win; we’re peaking at the right time.

    The stats really do tell the story of yesterday’s game …

    o Bucs won the Turnover Battle 4-0 for a PLUS 4 Differential
    o Bucs won the Time of Possession 37:07 to 22.53 minutes
    o Bucs used their signature ‘balanced attack’ and it worked perfectly … 36 rushes – 35 passes – 2 sacks (49.3% run-pass)
    o Bucs won the 3rd/4th down efficiency battle … we were 11-for-21 while the Jags were only 4-for-12.

    Our run game wasn’t all that productive (35 rushes for 70 yards … 2.0 YPC) but it did a great job of keeping the Jags defense off-balance, and allowed our passing attack to chew them up (Baker was 26-of-35 (74.3% on completions) for 283 yards & 2 TDs against no INTs. He continues to play ‘within the system’ IMO and it’s all coming together at the right time. Everyone’s making BIG PLAYS and contributing to the TEAM wins.

    That was a nice present to open on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas Joes & to everyone out in JBF World.

  2. WillieG Says:

    “ Most receivers when they reach 30, if they reach 30, start to decline. Most receivers aren’t Mike Evans.”

    Brady effect? Didn’t Evans hire Brady’s trainer as well as adopt many of Brady’s methods? If so, did other Bucs do the same?

  3. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Great game yesterday. Merry Christmas, everyone!

  4. Rriddler Says:

    Joe, I never bet on the Bucs during the season. Watching their games is stressful enough.

    I did bet them over 6.5 wins, over 8 5 wins and to win the NFC South, so I’d like to think I saw this coming back in August.

  5. HC Grover Says:

    SUPER BOWL Here we come. Bucs v Fish

  6. Yar Says:

    I didn’t know we played the “Panthers” next week.

  7. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    I took out a flyer at 70-1 in October on Bucs to win it all. I’m not holding my breath but I do have a pulse. First things first. The ain’ts.

  8. Jerseybuc Says:

    Yar they don’t. Play the saints. N it’s going to be wonderful clinching the division against that a$$ team with big mouth Jordan watching

  9. Dave Pear Says:

    Cram it up the Aints’ 5 hole, Bucs. Keep it going. Please keep the foot on the gas, Todd. Please get your secondary and LBs to know their zone assignments. Please.

    Keep throwing on first down. Please.

  10. SB~LV Says:

    Merry Christmas Joes
    and to all the knuckleheads posting here 🎅🎅🎅

  11. realistic-optimistic Says:

    That’s 2 straight complete games. Good QB play, good defense, even good game management from Bowles. I’m impressed. Definitely did not see it coming after the first 13 games of the season.

    That INT from DWhite was probably the greatest play of his career. Even better than the goal line INT in the 2020 playoffs. This one looked like he could actually understand zone defense. I was shocked. Kudos.

  12. adam from ny Says:

    i’m kinda thinking there’s a shot that once we lose a game it’s over or we lose momentum…for the year…

    i gotta agree with bowles mindset on this…

    gotta roll into the playoffs somehow on a 6 game winning streak (which is totally possible) and keep the ball rolling until we lose and get knocked out…

    momentum and a winning streak just might carry us for a minute or two…you never know…

    buc fans can wake up, and all of a sudden we’re sitting on like an 8 game winning streak and in the nfc championship game…

    you never know…

    (are we becoming the darlings of the nfl again)

  13. bucluck Says:

    MERRY CHRISTMAS Joe, thank you for all you do hosting this site. Go Bucs!

  14. Beeej Says:

    I saw a few plays (such as I could see on my phone) where 45 did a very credible job in coverage

  15. Crickett Baker Says:

    I was one who said we would have no trouble beating the Jags. It was so obvious that they had been playing badly. The Saints, though, may be hard to beat but I hope we clobber them. Just think. If we win the Division we will kind of be on a mini dynasty! 🙂

  16. unbelievable Says:

    Most compete game of the year, without question. Total domination from start to finish. Followed closely by the wins against Green Bay and New Orleans. Let’s do it again next week against the slimy taints! Go Bucs!

    Merry Xmas / Happy Holidays to the Joes and Buc Nation!

  17. SlyPirate Says:

    ‘Playoff Odds Increase; Draft Slot Slips”

    Math and Floridians is a never ending source of humor for the west coast.

    Wait, we make the playoffs and our draft spot slips? Whoa!

  18. Koala Says:

    Here’s my “ticket” Joe:

    [Eh. Joe wants to see how much cash someone put up. Very easy to talk and write. Folks with conviction back their statements up with cash. 🙂 — Joe]

  19. orlbucfan Says:

    Talk about a Christmas Eve surprise. 🎄👍

  20. Duane in Sanford Says:

    This was a house money season all long. I hoped this team could play spoiler in the division, and these guys have surpassed expectations. If this team wins Sunday, does that mean Todd Bowles is undefeated against Nawlins and has won 4 in a row? Just keeping the rest of the division out of the playoffs would deal such a huge blow, there would be personnel resets throughout the divison. Not taking anything for granted, but if it comes down to a playoff matchup at home with the Cowboys, I will take my chances. Not saying these guys are champions, but they seem to be rehearsing to play Cinderella.

  21. Joe Says:

    Brady effect? Didn’t Evans hire Brady’s trainer as well as adopt many of Brady’s methods?

    Yes. Evans said it changed his career. There were a bunch of Bucs players that hopped on the TB12 bandwagon. Not sure exactly who but Evans spoke openly about it.

  22. Pewter power Says:

    Panthers, Falcons, Packers and Jags! They actually should win out but let’s not get carried away. The level of competition matters. Win the wildcard game and the season is a success.