Strangest play calls
I'm still trying to figure out the Bucs' play-calling. They throw when they should run. They run when they should throw. And while coach Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan put in way more hours than I do concocting ways to move the ball in the NFL, here's the deal: The Bucs are 1-3 with the three losses coming by seven, six and two points. In other words, they keep coming up one score short.
On their final offensive drive Sunday, the Bucs were down by two and had second and 9 from the Redskins 33. They tried a pass that resulted in an incompletion, stopping the clock with 1:52 left. A wide receiver screen on the third down produced only 5 yards, and the Redskins called their second timeout with 1:47 left. The Bucs kicked a 47-yard field goal, but the Redskins got the ball back with 1:42 left and one timeout.
So if the Bucs' plan all along was to kick a field goal (Schiano suggested as much in the postgame), then why not run the ball on second down and force the Redskins to use up all of their timeouts?
Either the second-down call was too risky or the third-down call was too conservative. But leaving the Redskins with 1:42 and a timeout wasn't the best idea anyone ever had.
The announced attendance was 58,191, but it was stunning just how many empty seats there were, especially in the upper decks. Hey, maybe if the Bucs could schedule Florida State, they could get a sellout.
Worst labor agreement
The Bucs were penalized 10 times for 107 yards. Safety Mark Barron was called for a sketchy personal foul for tackling Redskins QB Robert Griffin III too hard. Bucs linebacker Mason Foster was called for a not-all-that-rough roughing-the-passer penalty. The officials missed what appeared to be an illegal forward pass that gave the Redskins a big first down.
Is it too late to bring back the replacement officials?
Schiano bemoaned all the penalties, particularly those for illegal blocks on punt returns, a couple of offside infractions and those personal fouls on Griffin.
"That's me," Schiano said. "I got to get them to understand the situation."
It's admirable that Schiano wants to accept responsibility, but if NFL players need to be taught critical moments, perhaps they shouldn't be NFL players.
Three things that popped into my head
1. Good thing the Bucs are not in the NFC East, eh?
2. If, before the season, I told you the Bucs would be a game ahead of the Saints after four games, you'd probably think the Bucs were off to one heck of a start.
3. What a weapon kicker Connor Barth is. He has made 25 field goals in a row, and we're not talking chip shots here. Of those 25, 12 are from more than 40 yards and five are from at least 50 yards, including a 57-yarder Sunday. With Barth, the Bucs are practically in scoring position when they cross midfield.
I don't know who is worse at closing out wins — the Bucs or the U.S. Ryder Cup team.