Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: Feels like this Bucs season is almost over (w/ video)

TAMPA — From the top of Raymond James Stadium, dark clouds were brewing in the distance.

It was still early in the fourth quarter, yet ominous weather threatened the ending of Sunday's Bucs-Broncos game. Soon, you could see a long parade of red car lights heading out of the parking lots as the skies unloaded on an empty stadium.

It was the perfect ending to an imperfect day for Tampa Bay. And it felt like the beginning of another crummy football season.

This season already feels over. Another one down the drain. It's not, of course. The NFL can be rather unpredictable. But, man, it's hard to see hope when all we've seen is overcast skies and severe storms.

The Bucs were beaten, bullied and battered by the defending champions Sunday. No surprise there. The Broncos make a lot of teams look like they should take up another profession. Let's face it, the Broncos are a better team than the Bucs. A lot better. Just like the Cardinals were two weeks ago.

But it's not that the Bucs are losing these games. It's how they are losing.

These are beatdowns. These are blowouts. Embarrassments.

The Bucs aren't competitive. They aren't relevant. What's worse, they simply don't look like a team that is getting any better.

It's hard to go from last place to first overnight. Rookies don't become stars without growing pains. You don't go from losing to everyone to beating Super Bowl champs in a span of a season and a quarter.

But where is the reason for optimism? Do you get the sense that this team is on the verge of being special? Any flashes of something positive?

"I still think we're going to be a good football team," coach Dirk Koetter said. "We weren't good enough (Sunday) in a lot of areas, starting with coaching, starting with my coaching. We've got to do better."

That's for sure.

The quarterback is going in reverse, playing hot potato with the football almost every game and at the most inopportune times. Injuries are piling up on defense, and the season feels like it's dangling over the cliff. After an opening-week victory, the Bucs have lost three in a row, including one to a team (Rams) that everyone circled as a sure Tampa Bay victory.

And, oh, the defending NFC champion Panthers, a team the Bucs haven't beaten since 2012, are up next, a week from tonight. The Bucs have won one game, and you start to wonder when the second one will be.

Already this season, the head coach has talked about something missing in the culture, and Sunday had about a half-dozen of those are-you-kidding-me moments.

Like quarterback Jameis Winston throwing an interception to former Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib on Tampa Bay's first possession. That, naturally, set up a Broncos touchdown.

Like Winston throwing another interception, again to Talib. That, of course, set up another Broncos touchdown.

Like Koetter and his suddenly one-dimensional offense — that, quite honestly, is having difficulty with even that one dimension — having another eye-blink of a drive that cost Tampa Bay points. Late in the first half, the Bucs had a 16-second drive that killed no Denver timeouts and allowed the Broncos to tack on three extra points before intermission.

Like when Charles Sims thought it would be a good idea to pitch the ball to Winston while the Broncos defense held a team meeting on his back. Sims' head-shaking play, in which he looked like he was playing the kids' game Kill the Carrier, would have been downright comical if it weren't so pathetic.

And it's those type of plays that sum up the Bucs. Koetter seems grim, and Winston keeps churning out the same cliches.

"Just keep fighting," Winston said. "It's never over this early in the year."

Not over. But it sure feels like the storms aren't letting up anytime soon.

Comments
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Published: 04/19/18
Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Is Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick a first-round fit for the Bucs?

Minkah FitzpatrickPosition: SafetyCollege: AlabamaHeight/Weight: 6-1, 201Draft projection: First roundWhy Fitzpatrick makes sense for the BucsOne of the Bucs' biggest needs is to improve their secondary. Fitzpatrick is a playmaker, arguably the best ...
Published: 04/17/18
Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

Jameis Winston set to make $21 million in 2019 as Bucs pick up his option

TAMPA — Jameis Winston is headed for a big pay day after this season, whether he gets a contract extension or not.The Bucs on Tuesday picked up the fifth-year option on Winston's rookie contract worth $20.9 million for 2019. The deal is not gua...
Published: 04/17/18
Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

Get to know potential Bucs NFL draft target Vita Vea of Washington

As next week's NFL draft nears, Bucs fans might want to learn a little more about a potential target at No. 7: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.The 6-foot-4, 347-pound monster moves very well for someone his size and could be an intriguing option...
Published: 04/17/18
DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were in perfect harmony on Day 1

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson and Jameis Winston were finally on the same page.For the first day of the offseason workout program, anyway.Jackson, 31, is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year career with 50 catches for only 668 yards and ...
Published: 04/16/18