Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Lions

January 22nd, 2024

Click on through to shop at Bill Currie Ford GM Sean Sullivan is ready to help you PERSONALLY and give you the Ira Kaufman discount. Just ask!


Lots to be proud of, along with a few regrets.

The 2023 Buc season ended at 6:10 p.m. Sunday, but not before Tampa Bay scared the heck out of Lions fans who expected the visitors to roll over. As we’ve seen time and again, there’s no quit from a proud team many forecast to win six or seven games this season.

In the end, only four of 32 NFL teams saw their season extended past the Bucs, who dropped a 31-23 decision at Detroit to fall one win short of the NFC championship game.

Make no mistake, the favored Lions deserved to win. They won the turnover battle 2-0 and made more plays in the fourth quarter — when they rolled up 183 yards and 12 first downs to snap a 17-17 deadlock.
The Lions maintained possession for almost 12 of the final 15 minutes. That’s called imposing your will with the game on the line.

Todd Bowles held this team together through a 1-6 tailspin, but his defense came undone against Jared Goff and his array of impressive weapons. Bowles never figured out a way to make Goff uncomfortable as he completed 30-of-43 throws for 287 yards and a pair of scores.

Detroit’s stellar offensive line gave Goff an assortment of clean pockets and dynamic rookie Jahmyr Gibbs averaged 8.2 yards on his nine carries. Baker Mayfield threw three TD passes for the second consecutive playoff week before forcing a final throw to Cade Otton that was picked off, sealing the outcome.

The Bucs ran effectively, but Rachaad White and Chase Edmonds combined for only 13 carries out of 60 snaps. Dave Canales probably spent much of the plane ride home wondering whether he should have dialed up more runs.

This one stings because the Bucs never felt like they were out of the game. Dodging pass rushers all afternoon, Mayfield bought himself enough time to throw for 349 yards. After a comeback year no one saw coming, except for Mayfield and his family, No. 6 appears to have massive leverage over the Bucs heading into the offseason.

Bowles certainly wants Mayfield back under center. Why not? Mayfield has won over his teammates and the Glazers, who will have to pony up to keep their feisty quarterback from testing free agency.

There are challenging decisions to be made on older vets like Mike Evans and Lavonte David. Antoine Winfield Jr. isn’t going anywhere. Devin White is going somewhere else.

For Bowles, a 10-win season has made his return a no-brainer. At 4-7, this team was ready for a dirt nap. Ownership had to be contemplating a coaching change.

Instead, the Bucs proved to be a hard out at Ford Field after humiliating the Eagles. The Lions may have covered the 6-point spread, but the Bucs covered themselves in prestige.

After a two-month thrill ride, Buc Nation is in no position to carp about picking 26th in the draft. That’s the price you pay for success in this league.

Here’s how the Bucs went down swinging against a 14-5 Lions team that will have a puncher’s chance at San Francisco:

* The Lions earned the win in front of a raucous crowd. Their TD drives were 14 plays-75 yards, 10 plays-64 yards, 5 plays-75 yards and 10 plays-89 yards. Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson showed why several franchises are considering him as their head coach.

Under seige.

* Detroit’s pass rush was much more consistent. Mayfield was dropped four times and too many defenders came off the edge untouched. Bowles was unable to forge steady pressure against Goff, who routinely shreds Tampa Bay’s pass defense.

* K.J. Britt vs. Devin White. No contest.

* In two postseason games, Otton grabbed 13 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown. He’s not Sam LaPorta, but this kid can play, too.

* Chase McLaughlin missed a 50-yard FG try. Get over it. He had a terrific season.

* In his final eight games, Shaq Barrett was credited with a half a sack. He’s been an exceptional free-agent pickup (2019), but the Bucs have to be thinking about moving on.

* Evans made his presence felt with eight catches for 147 yards and a score in what could be his final appearance as a Buccaneer. His drops are a bit concerning, but Evans is a consummate pro and a superb representative for the franchise. It would be painful to see him in another uniform.

Youth was on the rise, writes Ira Kaufman.

* Gibbs showed what a home-run hitter can do and the Bucs don’t have anyone like him in their backfield. A speedy back should be an offseason priority.

* For the season, White latched onto 69 of the 78 passes Mayfield sent his way. That’s an 88 percent catch rate. Phenomenal.

* Buc players will clear out their lockers this week and seek some well-earned rest. This young club proved a lot of skeptics wrong, including yours truly. A lot of other teams are looking at this organization with envy. There will be changes — there always are — but the foundation is strong and leaders are in place. That’s a comforting feeling for Buc fans who sat down for Thanksgiving dinner two months ago feeling this team was cooked.

34 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Lions”

  1. Proudbucsfan Says:

    The future so bright we gotta wear shades 😎

  2. adam from ny Says:

    nice one ira…good stuff…

    yeah i kept thinking they will fix the pass rushers coming off the edge totally untouched situation…

    but they didn’t all game – why they didn’t adjust to that issue was kinda baffling

  3. CleanHouse Says:

    Interesting opinions Ira.

    Respectfully, my opinion is that Bowles is not the answer. He has a ceiling- this game was winnable if not for lack of defensive strategy and poor personnel decisions.

  4. Nicholas Carlson Says:

    Very good season. Well-covered by you, Ira. Thanks!

    They need to upgrade the interior of the o-line, LG and center specifically. They need more pass rush. A lot more. They should consider a WR early in the draft.

    They should look at RBs early and late and in FA. White is going to break down fast at this usage level.

    No need to waste a pick on a QB. Mayfield is a good option for another four or five years, and Trask is a fine still-young backup.

  5. Jeagan1999 Says:

    Nicholas Carlson Says:
    January 22nd, 2024 at 3:48 am

    Very good season. Well-covered by you, Ira. Thanks.
    They need to upgrade the interior of the o-line, LG and center specifically. They need more pass rush. A lot more. They should consider a WR early in the draft.
    They should look at RBs early and late and in FA. White is going to break down fast at this usage level.No need to waste a pick on a QB. Mayfield is a good option for another four or five years, and Trask is a fine still-young backup.

    BINGO, Nicholas! Exactly what I would do! Come on Jason Licht, let’s make it happen!

  6. BucU Says:

    Coaching kills us every time when OTHER teams make halftime adjustments while Bowles naps. If we had a real HC who has his teams actually prepared we would of won that game.
    He gets outclassed every time.

  7. OHBucFan Says:

    Good recap. Fully agree on the run game and our pash rush.

  8. Bucs Guy Says:

    Continue to build the trenches. Proven G in FA. DE/OLB and C should be our first 2 picks.

    Just throwing this out there. Godwin has one year left on his contract and I don’t see the Bucs re-signing him due to $. Should the Bucs trade him and draft his replacement? Not sure what they could get, but at least a 2nd. Maybe an extra day 3 pick added in or swap in some rds to move up.

  9. nick houllis Says:

    if you don’t like Bowles, you don’t like him, fine. but don’t say stupid things. the Bucs had no business being in that game against that excellent Detroit team. we didn’t get pass pressure on him because A our d line is not good enough and B their O line is better than ours. Thats why. not out- coaching. its BECAUSE this team believes in Bowles is why we made this game look like we could win it.

  10. Hodad Says:

    Will be an interesting offseason. Bowles earned the right for another year. Baker did too, but at what price? It’s hard to find an impact edge rusher picking that late in the first round. You get a JTS picking there, not a Bosa. So just because you need an edge, finding that player at 26 will be hard. A lot of changes coming, but it’s good Canales, and our players will know what they’re doing day one next year.

  11. ModHairKen Says:

    The tepid comments about the importance of bringing Evans back is noted. Evans is this team’s Derrick Brooks. Let him go, and the team will falter. Period.

  12. Beeej Says:

    Would cost us TWO picks to draft one of these top shelf prospects, don’t see the point in that when we have so many holes. Not having a pass rush has been our downfall for 3 seasons now, since JPP hurt his shoulder. Mebbe we sign a free agent edge? Dunno

  13. matthew veal Says:

    We probably aren’t as good as we think, but are better tgan others thought.

    Still some big issues left. Keep fighting

  14. PowerOfPewter Says:

    “4 of 28 teams”? Ira is showing his age, its been nearly 50 years since the NFL had 28 teams.

  15. Ed Says:

    This offseason is very much on Jason Licht, he has to shed some of the expensive veterans that are not making any impact in tight games. My eyes see Vita Vea and Shaq Barrett as unworthy of what they take up in salary cap.

    Chris Godwin is still a good receiver but as long as the Bucs offense goes through Evans, White and even Otton, then he is a luxury that has enough value to trade if the Bucs can work out something with his contract. In the playoffs Otton got more targets than Godwin. He was once a #1B WR. Not any more.

    Hansey and Stinnie can be upgraded. Second tight end that is more athletic and blocks is needed.

    Dean is still a heck of a corner and probably has some value. If the Bucs can get a #3 draft pick and get a lineman that can play right away, he should be traded. His health is questionable year in and year out. When he plays he’s good but his availability is not consistant.

    Licht is the wild card in the rebuild. He needs to be a wheeler-dealer this offseason and unload all of the those players that have value and write off the ones that nobody wants.

  16. Cobraboy Says:

    Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems.

    I hope the core of this team thinks they have “unfinished bidniz” and choose to stick around.

    They were a fun bunch to watch, especially when fighting for their playoff lives.

    I’m no Bowles fan, but he earned another kick at the cat.

    I will also be mortally disappointed if Evans, David, and Mayfield are not part of the future mix.

  17. DebbieD Says:

    Great take on the season, Ira! Thank you. Wish everyone would give Baker more credit. His end result was better than Brady’s last year. My biggest beef is special teams can’t run back a punt or kickoff. We fair catch ourselves out of a lot of starting yards!! Good luck to us all on offseason moves!

  18. Drunk Bucs Fan Says:

    Not that edge isn’t a huge need to address, but there is still one glimmer of hope for Shaq. I have read in the past that people with Achilles injuries aren’t themselves until another full season. That would be great if next year some burst in his step returned because of that, because I read where his cap hit makes him a tough one to cut.

  19. First Name Greatest Says:

    Good season, just need to build off it with a good draft and smart additions in free agency.

    Can’t keep everyone need to improve the interior OL, RB, EDGE & Secondary

    Bowles also needs to readjust the way he approaches the game, he’s very predictable play calling and not going for it on 4th downs

  20. Lord Cornelius Says:

    Bowles has won me over.

    Extend him / Baker and refortify the trenches.

  21. Why Not Says:

    I agree Ira that the Bucs need to draft an impact running back. Gibbs is a difference maker and the Bucs need a similarly skilled athlete at that position. Just as important, the Bucs need to improve the interior of the offensive line. If we sign Evans and the build our offensive around Mayfield’s strengths and to Bowles’ preference, the defense should also improve. Great season overall! I guess I’ll renew my season tickets for the 27th year.

  22. Bosch Says:

    Mayfield and Canalas are keepers. FA’s not named White are keepers. Bowles needs to be publicly discredited and dismissed! “No sense in prolonging the obvious.” What an insult to his players! Especially considering the drive they pulled off at the end of the first half. Even a .1% chance if you try is better than the 0% chance of not trying. Or… did he think he was out of time outs, so he reached for a CYA excuse. Even worse because not owning up to your mistakes = LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY = LACK OF CHARACTER.

    And don’t even get me started about Bowels the DC.

    Just when he begins to show hope he might grow a little as a HC, he reverts back to the Bowel Movement that needs to be flushed.

  23. infomeplease Says:

    Good season. Something to build from. JL and his people need to work their magic this off season. Might consider trading Dean. Can’ t seem to keep him on the field. He can play but is not sound physically.

    Thank you Bucs for playing hard and keeping it close.

  24. JimBobBuc Says:

    Ira really nailed these points.

    My only difference is with Otton. His stats improvement had everything to do with Canales/Baker targeting the TE’s more. I think we forced the ball too much to Evans all year while the TE’s were much easier targets. However, Otton was dropping too many passes earlier in the year so we had little confidence in him. Through the year his drops decreased but were always there. He’s an average TE that still drops too many balls.

  25. MegaFailure Says:

    bowles will be on a short leash next year. win us the division and get us to at least the nfc title game

  26. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    I think we had a good year, we’re going to bring back Mike, Lavonte, and Baker. We will be probably win this TRASH division again. GO BUCS!

  27. Bobby Says:

    Bowles didn’t use final timeout and get the ball back with final seconds left to attempt to score in a playoff game why is this acceptable to people???

  28. Bobby Says:

    National outlets are talking about this didn’t call a timeout by bowles. It’s the playoffs!! You play till the final second. Anything can happen, a fumble. Let’s say Lions missed a 47 yard field goal. Bowles said Bucs would have gotten ball back with 12 seconds left. Let’s see if Brady was here, if he would be ok with allowing a 12 second opportunity to make 2 big throws to win the game. Even Joe Bucs Fans boy Florio said this a bad look on bowles. Another bad coaching move by Bowles.

  29. itzok Says:

    the blitz bowles dialed up never got home. Where was winfield . he didn’t make a play all game. Defense buckled late and couldn’t stop them

  30. J Glazer Says:

    I don’t get the overall optimism. They really didn’t beat many teams with a winning record. Yes they beat the Eagles but the Eagles lost several in a row and it would seem were a total mess in the clubhouse. It was an ok season. But if you thought that team was really good…I’m not so sure

  31. GumboIsForWinner Says:

    nick houllis Says:
    January 22nd, 2024 at 5:46 am
    if you don’t like Bowles, you don’t like him, fine. but don’t say stupid things. the Bucs had no business being in that game against that excellent Detroit team. we didn’t get pass pressure on him because A our d line is not good enough and B their O line is better than ours. Thats why. not out- coaching. its BECAUSE this team believes in Bowles is why we made this game look like we could win it.

    By my count almost all of the sacks on Baker were unblocked, i.e. coaching issues. Even our anemic DL can get a sack if nobody tries to block them.

  32. Boltsfan17 Says:

    They were 9-8 in a terrible division. Holes all over the roster. Need a new HC at the bare minimum.

  33. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Let ME walk and drop passes for another team. To say his drops were a bit concerning is an understatement. His tipped pass resulting in an int changed the entire game. Then he makes catches during catch up/ desperation time. They should have targeted Godwin much more. With what Bucs will have to pay Evans, they can sign an edge rusher, another RB and pay LVD, Wirfs and Winfield.

  34. garro Says:

    Great stuff Ira!

    We earned a lot of respect from the Lions as well as the entire NFL fan base on Sunday!

    I expect those apology letters From Peter King and the rest of the goobers to be on my desk no latter than COB Friday!

    Go Bucs!