Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Panthers

December 4th, 2023

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It’s about points, not style points.

At the end of the day, the Bucs prevailed and set themselves up for a big-time game Sunday at Atlanta, where a victory would give Tampa Bay a share of first place in the NFC South.

The Panthers made the Bucs sweat a bit, even though Mike Evans was the game’s dominant force with seven catches for 162 yards, including a 75-yard TD grab only 10 seconds after Carolina took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter.

An injury-riddled defense played solidly against a Carolina team playing its first game under interim head coach Chris Tabor. Chuba Hubbard ran for 104 yards but the Panthers converted only 3-of-15 on third down and Bryce Young, the first overall pick in the draft, was sacked four times.

Rachaad White gained 84 yards on 20 carries and Chris Godwin, who didn’t catch a single pass, scored on a 19-yard run to open up a 21-10 advantage.

At times, the game was played in a heavy rain that sent thousands of fans flocking for shelter. Things got a little slick when Hubbard scored for the second time from a yard out to make it 21-16. Young was sacked on the 2-point conversion attempt, but a facemask penalty against Joe Tryon-Shoyinka gave Carolina another chance and Young ran it in to pull the Panthers within a field goal.

The Panthers played hard but came up short, thanks to an Antoine Winfield Jr. interception on fourth-and-1 from the Panthers 40. Carolina threw incomplete on third-and-1 on the snap before Young was picked off. Those were strange play calls considering Hubbard ran well between the tackles all day.

Here’s how the Bucs kept hope alive with a 21-18 triumph that dropped Carolina to 1-11:

* What can you say about Evans at this point except to point out Tampa Bay’s offense would be lost without him. He now has 61 catches for 1,012 yards and 10 TDs on the season, averaging a lofty 16.6 yards per reception. Besides his 75-yard catch-and-run, he hauled in a 40-yarder in the opening quarter to the Panthers 5-yard line, only to see the Bucs settle for a FG. Evans has seven TD catches in his last seven games.

* Winfield continues to make his father and Buc Nation proud. He finished with a game-high eight tackles, a sack, the game-sealing intercepion and all three of Tampa Bay’s passes defended. There are a lot of very good safeties in this league — none are playing better than No. 31.

* Jake Camarda averaged 46.1 yards on his eight punts, helping the Bucs win a defensive battle decided in large part by field posiiton.

* Other than the 75-yard TD to Evans, Baker Mayfield had a fairly quiet day, finishing with a QB rating of 68.5. He threw one interception and was almost picked off a second time.

* J.J. Russell, who hadn’t played a defensive snap all season, was a standout at linebacker with seven tackles and one of Tampa Bay’s four sacks. There’s a chance Lavonte David and Devin White will return for the Atlanta game, but give Russell credit — he played a critical role on Sunday.

* It took an end-around instead of a reception to get it done, but Godwin reached the end zone for only the second time this season. Perhaps that will get him going for the stretch run.

* Ryan Neal, forced to play some inside linebacker due to all the injuries, made a nice third-down stuff on Hubbard, dropping him for a 3-yard loss back to the Tampa Bay 5-yard line and forcing Carolina to settle for an early second-quarter FG.

* The Bucs did a terrific job keeping Young in the pocket. His only scramble of the day came when he converted on the 2-point conversion. Going forward, Young will hurt a lot of teams with his legs. Sunday was not the day.

* Rookie QB notwithstanding, Tampa Bay’s third-down defense was sensational. Johnny Hekker matched Camarda with eight punts.

* The Bucs have an opprtunity to avenge that brutal 16-13 home loss to Atlanta. Run defense will be a key against a ground-oriented attack. The Falcons beat the Jets Sunday, despite averaging a mere 3.0 yards on their 64 snaps.

33 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Panthers”

  1. Hodad Says:

    The division title is on the line next week. If we get swept by the Falcons it’s over, and rightfully so. I don’t think Bowles has to win a playoff game to keep his job. I think the Glazers would be happy with a division title, and home playoff game. Bowles can deliver that he’ll get at least one more year. If not, could be a complete house cleaning.

  2. German Buc Says:

    Are you sure, Ira, that the Bucs sent out the field goal unit yesterday? According to my eyes (and the stats on it was a 1 yd-TD-run three plays after Mike hauled in the 40 yarder – fittingly after a PI call when a defender grabbed ME13.

  3. ModHairKen Says:

    Hodad, do you seriously think a win and a playoff berth changes the analysis? Two years of losing games that any decent team would win? The constant penalties stopping the Offense? The embarrassing pass defense? Davis and Dean? White? Multiple losses in a row? Barely beating the worst team in the league and at home? Empty seats? Fans who have given up?

    Just look at decrease in volume in comments on JBF.

    No. Bowles is gone. Gone. Gone.

    What would it take for him not to be thanked and excused? Come on. It’d be a joke to suggest it when they won’t even win 2 in a row against the worst team in the league and the division leader which is a sad sack group of clowns.

  4. It's Corn Says:

    I feel like the Bucs have the stupidest coaches in the league.

  5. danang Says:

    Another useless article failing to address why the Bucs have kept their 2nd-round QB for 3 seasons and not yet played him in a single game with the starters, not even in a losing season like this one to asses draft needs? Is the Bucs organization the dumbest in the NFL?

  6. Lets bring the Hammer! Says:

    Super Bowl is around the corner!!!!
    Who’s with me?!?!??

  7. NJbucs23 Says:

    5-7 and talking about playoffs like we’re 9-3. I wish we could look at the big picture long term. This team is a few years away from challenging again. First step get the QB.

  8. dmatt Says:

    Tony Dungy was fired after years of failing to reach the conference championship game. The eagles embarrassed us back to back years. Dungy had the same philosophy as Bowles, bring in an “On The Job” learning OC in Canales, Dungy had student body left n right Mike Shula as OC who was outta his element. Playoffs or not, Bowles gotta go. Also, just from the body language, I believe he’s lost the locker room. Players don’t respect him because he doesn’t know how to relate to players. He pick n choose which players he wants to call out n hold accountable. The moral on this team doesn’t exist. Baker is arrogant, nonchalant, n all about himself n some of the players know it. MEvans n LDavid are the true captains on this team.

  9. Ed Says:

    Squeeking by a 1-11 team with no offensive weapons in a league which most teams have multiple weapons is not seeing the big picture. The Bucs are hardly an improving team under Bowles.

    Baker Mayfield is tough as nails but his skill set fits the NFL I used to watch as a boy in the late 60’s and 70’s. He plays with grit and and “moxie” but he can’t hit a timing pass and has no clue how to see the field.

    All his good throws are when he sees his first read and throws bullet passes. If that receiver is covered, he panics and can’t reset and reload. The Bucs have a mediocre rental at starting quarterback. 2024 will be all about finding a the next Brock Purdy, Jalen Hurts or CJ Stroud out of the college ranks. The Bucs have to find a young guy that can process a modern offense and get rid of the Bowles-Caneles system. Its way too easy to defend. 14-20 points a game with
    Evans and Godwin on a team is unacceptable.

  10. VATom Says:

    I love Winfield. His tackling seems to be off the last few games. Or maybe I am just more keyed in on him and being picky. Dude is fantastic though. That INT was great. He has been a highlight reel all yr. Hope he makes the Pro Bowl for the recognition. He is fantastic all around from attitude to playmaking. Love watching that guy.

  11. AMI_Chris Says:

    We were at home and we barely beat a 1-10 team. Had to come back in the 2nd half to do it. Thank God I had some outdoor furniture to assemble so I could do something while this game was on. Watching the Bucs is like watching paint dry. BTW, Winfield should have just knocked that ball down. It was fourth down. I guess stats aren’t for losers.

  12. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “It’s about points, not style points.”

    Unless it’s the corrupt joke that is College Football. What a freaking travesty man. Worst thing I’ve ever seen in sports in my lifetime

  13. Mike C Says:

    NJ buc you do realize if the Bucs win next week they are in 1st place? I think playoff talk isbok when you are one game out…..

  14. Toad Bowels Says:

    We absolutely blew out the Panthers today dominating the entire game.

    Toad Bowels

  15. Buccos Says:

    If the Bucs win the division Bowles will be back. Russell played like a stud. Winning any game in the NFL without your top 3 inside linebackers is impressive, especially in the rain against a running team with a very good back. It keeps hope alive and sets up a huge game for the division next week in Atlanta

  16. Sly Pirate Says:

    It was Carolina. They looked like the worst team in the league. We didn’t look much better for most of the game.

  17. Mike Says:

    Although there were some good plays, overall, I felt that watching this game was rather painful. The Bucs barely pulled out a win against a 1 win team. That’s not good.

  18. Arn platz Says:

    Surprised Goodell hasn’t banned the NFC south from the playoffs this season. Every team in the NFC south is horrible. Whoever wins will just be a scrimmage game for the visiting wildcard team.

  19. CleanHouse Says:

    Agree w Lord Cornelius-
    Go Noles!

  20. WyomingJoe Says:

    Baker, just keep winning baby! I’m certain that it’s driving all your haters crazy. Lol…

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    Beat a 1-10 team by 3 points. In a perfect world this team would be out of playoff contention and looking to the future. Instead we’re still wasting time and draft position trying to win a lousy division so we can get spanked in the playoffs and be saddled with the #19 pick again.

  22. R. Strader Says:

    To Modhairken

    These downer comments won’t inspire anyone to play better.

    Some think piling on negative insults will wake up players and coaches to do better.

    Actually, they dont. Encouragement for what they did right will inspire and produce. By the way, we won. There is much to like in the game
    Ira did a good and fair analysis.
    His comments will
    bring light to our team. I am not trying to bash you, just lift you up.

  23. RSJCheapseats Says:

    The usual “Fire the coach comments” here.
    It’s boring.

  24. Cobraboy Says:

    The current season ticket holders were extorted to a two-year term because of Brady.

    That expires at the end of this season.

    If Bowles is retained, how many season tix do the Glazers think they will sell?

    This team squeaked by a bad team with no real head coach. Think about that.

    The Falcons are licking their chops for Sunday because if they put the Bucs away, they will likely cruise into the playoffs.

  25. Lakeland Steve Says:

    I don’t care if they do win the division. If Bowles wants to keep his job they better win the division and that home playoff game or it’s house cleaning time. The Glazers may not want to fire a coach mid season but don’t think they are stupid. They know what’s going on here. Bowles is a D-Coordinator not a head coach.

  26. matthew a veal Says:

    Ira, you’ve written better articles than this, which is pretty much one thing.

    Rightly or wrongly, bowles can keep his job if the bucs make the playoff. there is currently a 27% chance of that happening.

  27. Cobraboy Says:

    @Lakeland Steve: The NFL should pass a playoff rule that states a division winner under .500 cannot host a playoff game. That game goes to the wildcard with the best record.

    No more rewarding stink teams in stink divisions.

  28. Boltsfan17 Says:

    @R. Strader – His comments were spot on. It may be rainbows and unicorns where you are but this team stinks and needs to be gutted. This team is wasting everyone’s time and ruining draft position.

    Sorry but it’s the truth whether you like it or not.

  29. RGA Says:

    Nobody in this division deserves a playoff spot

  30. Mr. Editor Says:

    dmatt: I hear what you’re saying, but you might be misremembering the history of Coach Dungy. They brought in Les Steckel who had plenty of experience, and he created an offense that broke team records at the time. Dungy showed him the door because he “wasn’t a good fit”.

  31. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Monte Kiffin demanded Steckle be fired so Dungy obliged.

  32. Obvious Says:

    @dmatt and Ed
    Well, put

    @R. Strader
    Well Said

    @Mr. Editor

    @Red Pen
    Politics sure do suck. Sometimes louder than a screaming owner. How was his career after being shown the door?

  33. garro Says:

    Ira, you are not one of those who ran away from a little rain I am sure.

    Go Bucs!