DIRK SHADD | Times
“We haven’t played well enough,’’ coach Lovie Smith said of his secondary. “It’s as simple as that. No, I’m not pleased at all.
The Bucs defensive backs all wear gloves, but they are for fashion only and useless as catcher’s mitts considering how they never get their hands on the football.
In the 38-31 win over Jacksonville Sunday, the Bucs allowed Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles to throw for 303 yards and a career high four touchdown passes. In fact, opposing quarterbacks are feasting on Tampa Bay’s soft secondary and have a 105.7 passer rating, which ranks 29th only behind the Saints, 49ers and Lions.
In 33 pass attempts by Bortles, Bucs defensive backs only had one pass defensed. It’s not like they’re helping out in stopping the run, either. Starting cornerback Mike Jenkins had one tackle in 51 snaps Sunday and Tim Jennings had three stops in 57 plays.
Safety Bradley McDougald had his first interception of the season but it should’ve been a bigger day for the defense, which registered six sacks of Bortles Sunday.
But instead of closing out the game with a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bucs allowed Bortles to drive his team 86-yards in seven plays, using only 1:45 off the clock. They needed a recovery by Vincent Jackson of an on-side kick by the Jags to secure the win. …Full Story
Plenty of links to share from the Bucs' 38-31 home win against the Jaguars, and we'll start with our own Times content right here ...
-- Taking the pressure off rookie QB Jameis Winston worked again, with a strong running game from Doug Martin, Rick Stroud writes. There's a two-minute video of Stroud and Tom Jones discussing the win in postgame as well.
-- Doug Martin has proven himself to be the Bucs' most important player, Tom Jones writes.
-- Tons of great Bucs-Jaguars pics in this photo gallery from the Times' Dirk Shadd and Jim Damaske.
-- Our Bucs notebook leads with the defensive touchdown that gave the Bucs the lead late in the third quarter, plus Connor Barth's perfect season debut, Bobby Rainey's big spark and more.
-- Five Things You Might Have Missed: Another injury, Bucs offensive line keeps on blocking, plus Howard Jones' big debut, Charles Sims' catch and more.
-- Best moment from Sunday's game? Hard to top a soldier's surprise return to see his mom, a breast cancer survivor. Great story from Katie Mettler.
-- Jacksonville.com has a photo gallery of the Jaguars' "Tampa Takeover," with "thousands and thousands" of Jags fans in, er, well-cropped photos. …Full Story
Lots of leftover notes to get to from Sunday's Bucs win -- a home win, I can report for the first time in 22 months -- against the Jaguars, but we'll start with a few Bucs players ranked among the NFL's best as Tampa Bay heads into a bye week.
-- RB Doug Martin, who rushed for 123 yards and scored three total touchdowns, is now tied for second in the NFL with 405 rushing yards, traililng only Chicago's Matt Forte. Martin has back-to-back 100-yard games for just the second time in his career -- he'll have a chance to get three straight for the first time when the Bucs return in two weeks at the Redskins.
-- DT Gerald McCoy is tied for third in the NFL with 4.5 sacks, a total that leads all NFL defensive tackles. And with Jacquies Smith having four sacks -- despite none in the last three games -- the Bucs are one of three NFL teams with two players having at least four sacks. The other two -- the Bengals and Packers -- are undefeated. McCoy is on pace for a career-best 14 sacks ... …Full Story
TAMPA -- For the first time under coach Lovie Smith, the Bucs got a win at Raymond James Stadium, with everything coming together as Tampa Bay rallied to a 38-31 win Sunday over the Jacksonville Jaguars.Full Story
The Bucs (2-3) had seen a 13-point lead turn into a four-point deficit late in the third quarter, but a flurry of 11 points on back-to-back plays changed the game in a hurry. Doug Martin went over 100 rushing yards and had three touchdowns and rookie Jameis Winston played mistake-free football on the offensive side.
The Bucs got their first defensive touchdown of the season, as George Johnson forced a fumble from Jaguars running back Corey Grant, with defensive end Jacquies Smith falling on the loose ball, then stretching into the end zone for the lead. Tampa Bay went for two and converted for a seven-point lead, adding another Martin touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville made things interesting late, converting a fourth-and-18 with a 59-yard pass play to set up Blake Bortles' fourth touchdown with 1:05 left. But Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson recovered the Jaguars' onsides kick to seal the win.
New kicker Connor Barth went 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points, a reliable debut after the Bucs had cut Kyle Brindza after missing five field goals in the last two games. The 38 points scored is the Bucs' most in 21 games under Smith.
Martin went over 100 yards for the second week in a row, scoring three touchdowns -- a 10-yard catch from Winston and two on the ground. Backup Charles Sims had more than 100 total yards, including a 56-yard catch that set up a field goal and sparked the Bucs' late rally.
Jacksonville had scored 17 straight points to rally from a 20-7 deficit to a 24-20 lead late in the third quarter, with Blake Bortles setting a career high with three touchdown passes. Then the Bucs took over to close out the win.
The Bucs offense had stalled until Winston found Sims for a 56-yard gain on third down, setting up a Barth field goal to pull within one point. On the next play, the Jaguars fumbled and the Bucs scored for the lead.
Tampa Bay's offense had gotten a spark with some short fields in the first half, getting a 58-yard punt return from Bobby Rainey to set up a score, and a diving interception from safety Bradley McDougald to set up another.
The Bucs now have the upcoming week off with a bye, then return with a winnable game at the Redskins on Oct. 25.
DIRK SHADD | Times
Doug Martin has been the story of the first half with 13 carries for 93 yards and both Bucs’ touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.
The Bucs defense gave up a touchdown late in the first half but lead for the first time at RJS this season, 20-14, over the Jaguars. Some first half observations.
It’s the Doug Martin show: The Jags are a tough team to run against and the Bucs are playing Kevin Pamphile at LG for the injured Logan Mankins. But Martin has been the story of the first half with 13 carries for 93 yards and both Bucs’ touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.
Best way to protect a young QB like Jameis Winston is to run the football.
Who is Howard Jones: The free agent from Sheperd University in West Virginia was activated from the practice squad Tuesday. He had two big sacks in the first half against the Jags. The Bucs paid Jones the equivalent of a veteran rookie minimum to join their practice squad, more than $400,000, and it paid off.
Good game plan for Winston: OC Dirk Koetter did a nice job of getting Winston in rhythm in this game. He made some good check downs and protected the football better. Winston was lucky, however, a backward pass recovered by the Jags was ruled a sack as replay showed he was down by contact. …Full Story
JIM DAMASKE | Times
Left guard Logan Mankins is inactive for today's Bucs game against the Jaguars.
Left guard Logan Mankins is inactive for today's Bucs game against the Jaguars, with backup tackle Kevin Pamphile pressed into his starting role as injuries continue to impact Tampa Bay's offensive line.
Five other Bucs are inactive due to injuries -- CB Johnthan Banks (knee), TE Luke Stocker and WR Russell Shepard for a second straight week, C Evan Smith (ankle) and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) for a third straight week. No. 3 QB Ryan Griffin is the final inactive and only healthy scratch this week.
Mike Jenkins is expected to start again for Banks at cornerback, with Joe Hawley expect to step in for Smith at center. The only two healthy offensive line starters for the Bucs are rookie Donovan Smith (left tackle) and Ali Marpet (right guard), with Pamphile making just his third career NFL start and his first as a guard, and Gosder Cherilus filling in at right tackle while Demar Dotson remains out with a knee injury.Full Story
In a move that suggests Logan Mankins will miss Sunday's game against Jacksonville with a groin injury, the Bucs have tweaked their offensive line depth, waiving guard Matt Masifilo and promoting tackle Reid Fragel from the practice squad.
The Bucs had worked backup tackle Kevin Pamphile at left guard after Mankins' injury, but if he starts there, the Bucs would have no backup tackles on the active roster. Fragel would be the team's backup tackle if Pamphile played left guard -- if he were to play, it would be his NFL debut. He was on the active roster briefly last week but was cut before the Panthers game.
Pamphile has started two games at right tackle and has played this season as a sixth lineman; the Bucs are choosing to start him out of position rather than plug in Masifilo or backup Jeremiah Warren, both of whom have only played special teams in their short NFL careers.
Mankins has the third-longest streak of consecutive games played among current Bucs players at 40 games, topped only by receiver Vincent Jackson (72) and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (42). He did not practice Thursday or Friday after injuring his groin in Wednesday's practice.Full Story
The Bucs again look to be without key starters on both sides of the ball Sunday, as left guard Logan Mankins didn't practice again Friday due to a groin injury and cornerback Johnthan Banks remains sidelined with his knee injury.
Mankins hasn't missed a game since 2012, and if he can't go Sunday, the Bucs are likely to plug in backup tackle Kevin Pamphile, opting for a more proven player out of position ahead of young backup guards Jeremiah Warren and Matt Masifilo, who have never played offensive line in an NFL game.
Mankins said he wasn't sure if he would play Sunday.
"I don't know yet,'' Mankins said. "It's day by day right now. I would love to, but we've just got to wait and see.
"We'll see on Sunday before the game how it's progressed. If I can go, I'll go. If I can't, I can't.''
In addition to Banks, the Bucs were without center Evan Smith, who is likely to miss a third straight game with his ankle injury, and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury.Full Story
Bucs guard Logan Mankins was held out of practice Thursday with a groin injury, with backup tackle Kevin Pamphile getting work at left guard in his place.
Mankins, who was listed as a full participant in Wednesday's practice, watched Thursday's practice with injured center Evan Smith (ankle) and tackle Demar Dotson (knee). The Bucs' only backup guards on roster -- Jeremiah Warren and Matt Masifilo -- have never played offensive line in an NFL game, and only sparingly on special teams.
"He hurt his groin a little bit in practice yesterday, so we held him out today,'' coach Lovie Smith said.
Also held out Thursday with injuries were CB Johnthan Banks (knee), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), WR Russell Shepard (hamstring).
Smith would not say whether Pamphile is an option to play guard if Mankins is unable to play.
"Pamphile has had reps at tight end, at the wing, he's had reps a lot of different places so I wouldn't put too much (into it),'' Smith said. "We would never even talk about where one of our players was going to play that hadn't played there. But we like him as a player.''
Sunday's home game against Jacksonville is the Bucs' Breast Cancer Awareness game, with players and coaches wearing pink apparel, but for players who have had close brushes in their family with breast cancer, the game means much more.
Before the game, safety Keith Tandy's mother, Joyce Jordan, a breast cancer survivor, will come out of the tunnel with the team, a proud moment for mother and son.
"It means a lot after all she's been through," Tandy said. "It's an unbelievable feeling. Seeing her run out -- that's probably nothing she would ever dream about, to have a chance to run out of an NFL tunnel. She was texting me and calling me all night about how happy she is, excited is about that."
Jordan, who lives in Kentucky, said she found on she'd have the chance to run out with the team Wednesday, adjusting her work schedule as an insurance coordinator for the local Board of Education from a business conference to South Carolina to get to Tampa for the game.
"I'm very excited," Jordan said. "When they called me about it, I had to do it for him." …Full Story
Key starters remain out for the Bucs as the team returned to practice Wednesday to prepare for Sunday's home game against Jacksonville.
CB Johnthan Banks (knee), C Evan Smith (ankle), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) and WR Russell Shepard (hamstring), who all missed Sunday's loss to Carolina, remained out during Wednesday's drills. TE Luke Stocker, who missed Sunday's game with a hip injury, was back practicing in a limited capacity.
The Bucs had a different look to their defensive secondary Wednesday, with Sterling Moore, the team's nickel defensive back for the first four games, working with the cornerbacks, and Alterraun Verner, who opened the season as a starting cornerback, now working at nickel. The move suggests Banks is unlikely to play Sunday and the Bucs are shifting Moore to upgrade their depth at corner behind starters Tim Jennings and Mike Jenkins.Full Story
JIM DAMASKE | Times
Jameis Winston has thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions, including four picks and a lost fumble in Sunday’s 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Rookie Jameis Winston entered the league with a reputation of a quarterback prone to throwing interceptions and the Bucs rookie has done nothing to dispel that label after a 1-3 start this season.
Winston has thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions, including four picks and a lost fumble in Sunday's 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers. For the second time at Raymond James Stadium, his first pass attempt resulted in a pick six.
But offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter says it's too early to paint Winston as a turnover machine.
"Playing in college is not playing in the NFL,'' Koetter said. "It's just different animals. Did we throw too many interceptions in this game? Yes. Can we base the whole rest of Jameis' career on that? No. It's bad.
"Unfortunately, when you have four interceptions, there's a lot of explaining to do. We had four interceptions, it's a fact. Two bad decisions, one tipped ball and one great play. That's what I wrote on my sheet.''
In the Bucs two road games, Winston has been much more careful with the football. He had no INTs in a 26-19 win over the Saints Sept. 20 and had only one pick in a 19-9 loss the following week at Houston. …Full Story
EVE EDELHEIT | Times
Jacquies Smith's four sacks through the Bucs' first four games are tied for second in the league, behind only Denver defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
The emergence of Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith - from undrafted rookie to NFL journeyman to one of the league's sack leaders - isn't a shock to the man who coached him in college.
"First of all, it doesn't surprise me," said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who coached Smith from 2008-11.
Pinkel said Smith had potential when he joined the Tigers, but he got off to a slow start there. Eventually, he developed a great work ethic and began to improve consistently. He had five sacks and nine tackles for a loss during his senior season, and Pinkel knew he would eventually get a chance to play professionally.
"I really thought when he left (Missouri), he had more in him," Pinkel said. "He's kind of a late maturing guy, anyway. I thought if he kept at it, he'd really have a chance to make a team..."
Smith, of course, has done more than that. His four sacks through the Bucs' first four games are tied for second in the league, behind only Denver defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Dan Campbell, the Dolphins' new interim head coach, is young enough at 39 that current NFL players can remember him as a teammate, like Bucs tackle Gosder Cherilus, who overlapped with Campbell as a rookie with the Lions in 2008.
"He was extremely smart, accountable," said Cherilus, who said Campbell, as a tight end, worked closely with the tackles in Detroit. "Even then, he was always teaching me the steps, the smart things about the game."
Campbell played only one game for the Lions in 2008 before he was placed on injured reserve, but Cherilus said he never took a step back from the team. He remembers a team dinner in training camp, when rookies were asked to stand and sing in front of the entire restaurant -- Cherilus did so without hesitation, and remembers Campbell telling him he was rare to know his place as a rookie without letting anyone push him around.
"He was always like a third offensive line coach, helping out around the team," Cherilus said. "He's a hell of a guy."
Cherilus said he was "excited" to see Campbell promoted from tight ends coach to interim head coach in Miami, though it was sobering to realize at 31 he could have a teammate now working as a head coach.
"Tells me I'm old," he said.Full Story
Undrafted rookie receivers Adam Humphries and Rannell Hall, two of the Bucs' most promising players in preseason camp, are both back on roster, filling the last two spots on Tampa Bay's practice squad.
Humphries was waived Monday to make room for another undrafted rookie receiver in Donteea Dye, but cleared waivers Tuesday and was signed back to the practice squad. Hall was cut two weeks ago, but the former UCF star gets another shot, rejoining the team Wednesday.
The Bucs continue to churn through the bottom of their roster and the practice squad, with tackle Reid Fragel re-signed to the practice squad Tuesday, as well as defensive end Josh Shirley, who had two sacks in preseason with the Raiders.Full Story