Monday, May 28, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sloppiness abounds as Bears get pummeled by Buccaneers

TAMPA — Forget the talk of the Bears' close-knit locker room and the togetherness with which they promised to attack the stretch run. Pay no mind to the confidence the team believed it gathered in a 20-10 upset of the Vikings on Halloween night. In the grand analysis, that all means so little.

And any suggestion that John Fox's team could suddenly become a competitor in the mediocre NFC North? Well, Sunday's performance at Raymond James Stadium should put that fantasy to rest for good.

Coming out of a week off and facing a shaky Buccaneers team that had been winless at home, the Bears imploded for a 36-10 loss. For those brave enough to watch the whole ugly, dizzying disaster, this was evidence of a bad team offering its most miserable performance all season.

Bad news: During Sunday's postgame news conference, quarterback Jay Cutler seemed to grow tired of detailing his turnovers. There was a lot to get at, obviously, after Cutler threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Cutler's second interception was returned 20 yards for a touchdown by former Bear Chris Conte. That was a game-changer, offering the Buccaneers momentum after their own offense had sputtered through the first two possessions.

Just as deflating, though, was Cutler's first lost fumble, one that came with the Bears inside the Buccaneers 5 and threatening to take a 10-7 lead after an interception by Harold Jones-Quartey.

Instead, as Cutler was flushed left on third and goal from the 4, he failed to feel the pressure or secure the football with both hands and ultimately had the ball swatted from his grip by rookie Noah Spence.

"Didn't see him," Cutler explained. "So he stripped it."

Keep in mind, the Buccaneers entered the weekend ranked 28th in total defense and had only 11 takeaways in eight games. On Sunday, though, Cutler and Co. made them look like the '85 Bears. After allowing 1,087 total yards in losses to the Raiders and Falcons, the Bucs held the Bears to 283 yards and had four takeaways plus a safety on Cutler's second fumble.

The Bears reached the end zone just once on 13 possessions, and that required a 50-yard Hail Mary to Cameron Meredith on the final play of the first half.

Why all the sloppiness? What was missing?

"I don't know," Cutler said. "If we had that answer, a lot of teams would want to buy it."

GOOD NEWS: To be clear, finding good news from a game like Sunday's is like sifting through tornado wreckage for an intact piggy bank. So keep any praise within the proper context.

Still, the defense had its flashes. Rookie Leonard Floyd recorded 11/2 sacks, upping his season total to five. Credit Tracy Porter for limiting Bucs big-play receiver Mike Evans (four catches, 66 yards). Linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan combined for 22 tackles.

Still, even with encouraging moments, the defense isn't yet equipped to carry the team.

EXTRA POINT: A year ago, the Bears followed what seemed to be a signature Thanksgiving night win in Green Bay by losing four of their final five games. So maybe it shouldn't be a total shock that whatever momentum the team gained by thrashing the Vikings two weeks ago was nowhere to be found Sunday.

Sloppiness ruled the day as evidenced by the five turnovers and nine penalties, four of which were focus- or discipline-related.

"I didn't see it coming," Fox said. "I think we had a great week of preparation. I think we had good plans really in all three phases."

For a team that has lost a lot on Fox's watch — it's 8-17 overall — the Bears also haven't shown they're equipped to build on their occasional successes. They haven't had a three-game winning streak since 2013, and their seven losses this season have come by an average of 12 points.

The Bears will be on the road again in Week 11, traveling to face the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Giants are 5-3 and riding a three-game winning streak into their Monday night game against the Bengals.

Comments
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Published: 05/25/18
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Published: 05/25/18
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Published: 05/25/18
Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

Why interceptions are up at One Buc Place

TAMPA — If the first few days of OTAs are any indication, the Bucs secondary could be much improved.Completions may be down, interceptions should be up.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"A lot of interceptions,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday' afte...
Published: 05/25/18
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Published: 05/24/18
Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs union rep Ali Marpet questions legality of the NFL’s new anthem policy

Bucs offensive lineman Ali Marpet questioned the legality of the NFL's new  policy that requires players to stand for the national anthem if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if t...
Published: 05/24/18
Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

Licht promotes three in Bucs’ scouting department

The dust has settled from another NFL draft, and Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made three promotions in his scouting department as a new year of player evaluation begins.Byron Kiefer, entering his 14th season with the Bucs and fourth as a nati...
Published: 05/24/18