Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Panthers report card: Grading the Bucs' 17-16 victory

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — The only games left at Raymond James Stadium until the fall are a less-than-exciting Outback Bowl today and a more-than-exciting college national championship game next week.

As soon as Sunday's 17-16 Bucs victory over the Panthers was complete, bulldozers started clearing the field for the colleges. Too bad they won't be back to get Ray Jay ready for some NFL playoff action.

Still, the Bucs finished 9-7 for their first winning season since 2010. Here's a report card from the finale.

Crossing the line

Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis is not known as a dirty player, but he leveled Bucs receiver Russell Shepard with a cheap shot in the fourth quarter. As Shepard was gliding across the field with the ball nowhere near him, he was blindsided by Davis. Talk all you want about the league protecting players from injuries and concussions, but players also need to have enough respect for one another to protect themselves. Playing hard is one thing. What Davis did was gutless. To Davis' credit, Shepard said after the game that he apologized to him. GRADE: F

Pound-for-pound champ

Question: Is punter Bryan Anger pound-for-pound Tampa Bay's best player? He had another sensational day with five punts for a 45.5-yard average and five downed inside the 20-yard line. No wonder the Bucs signed him to a big, fat extension. He's worth every penny, unlike the team's other kicker (more on that in a second). For as good as Anger is, no, he is not the best player on the team. Receiver Mike Evans is. His winning touchdown catch with 3:13 left was an appropriate finish to the season. GRADES: A and A

Oh, Roberto

I've tried to defend moving up in last year's draft to take kicker Roberto Aguayo out of FSU in the second round. I might have to give up and say it was a mistake. Aguayo started the season by missing half of his first eight field goals. But since then he is 18-of-23. Unfortunately, two of those misses came Sunday. One was blocked. The other was 46 yards that sailed wide. Come on, a 46-yarder? In near-perfect conditions? Gotta makes those. In a rather odd circumstance, Aguayo's longest field goal this season was only 43 yards. Even odder is how few opportunities he had to kick anything longer than that. He attempted only one field goal of 50 or more yards. That was a missed 50-yarder. What makes the draft pick bad, aside from Aguayo's struggles, is the Bucs' need for so many other things. GRADE: D

They tried

The Bucs entered the game with virtually no shot at making the playoffs. The Panthers went in eliminated. This game had every chance to be a real dog, and no one could've blamed either team for not going all out. But both teams deserve praise for their competitive play. There was chippiness, smack-talking, hard hits. The game wasn't played well, but it was played hard. It came down to the final few seconds, when Carolina went for a two-point conversion and couldn't convert. The game was — hard to believe — entertaining. The best part might have been the Bucs' kicking unit dancing around to the House of Pain song Jump Around and jacking up the crowd after Tampa Bay's go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter. Real emotion! GRADE: A-plus

Men in stripes

Game officials have a tough job. At all times, 22 players are running like deer and hitting like Mack trucks. It's hard enough for them to stay out of harm's way, let alone get every call right. So the last thing we'd want to do is pick on them for having a lousy game. So this is the last thing we're doing: We're picking on them for having a lousy game. Their goofed calls are too many to list here, but trust us, they had a bad day. Even the replay person seemed to miss a couple. GRADE: D

 
Comments
Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says team has not turned the corner yet

TAMPA ó The Bucs have some positive momentum with back-to-back wins, but DT Gerald McCoy said itís too soon to say his 4-6 team has turned a corner."We havenít turned a corner yet," McCoy said Wednesday, preparing for Sundayís game at Atlanta. "Itís ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

McCoy is only Bucs player in Pro Bowl voting top 10s

The Bucs aren't faring well in early Pro Bowl fan voting, with DT Gerald McCoy as the only Tampa Bay player ranking in the top 10 at his position.McCoy, seeking his sixth straight Pro Bowl selection, ranks seventh among NFL defensive tackles, one wee...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macyís parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.ííItís a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Published: 11/22/17

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winstonís off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Published: 11/22/17
NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 12: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Happy Thanksgiving! It's already week 12 of the NFL season, and the football feast is set to begin. It all starts at at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, when the Lions try to win their fifth straight Thanksgiving Day game against a Minnesota team out to bec...
Published: 11/22/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucsí Hall of Fame semifinalists

Cannon Fodder podcast: Examining the Bucsí Hall of Fame semifinalists

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman takes a closer look at the three former Bucs who are semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.He also looks at the constant churn on the Bucsí practice squad and why Julio Jonesí stats have dropped off this season,...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucsí Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Bucsí Barber, Lynch, Rice among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Simeon Rice — teammates on the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl championship team — are among the 27 semifinalists to be considered for this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame class.Lynch is a semifinalist for the sixth st...
Published: 11/22/17
Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Rick and Tom podcast: USF vs UCF is the biggest game in Florida this weekend

Itís a Thanksgiving Football Wednesday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones preview the Bucs-Falcons game, USF-UCF, Alabama-Auburn, Ohio State-Michigan and more.The guys agree on the Bucs game outcome with Rick saying they canít win. They also agree that Tha...
Published: 11/22/17
Bucs-Falcons: Itís time to start believing Miko Grimes

Bucs-Falcons: Itís time to start believing Miko Grimes

TAMPA ó The most valuable player for the Bucs is Brent Grimes.It felt odd typing that, but itís time to say it.In Grimesí two seasons in Tampa Bay, the Bucs havenít won a game without him. This season they are 4-3 when he plays, 0-3 when he doesnít.H...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

Bucs journal: Defense struggling to get off the field on third and long

TAMPA ó Third and long, normally an ideal situation for an NFL defense, continues to be a problem as the Bucs try to get opposing offenses off the field.In the second half of Sundayís game, the Dolphins converted six third downs when they needed 8 ya...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17