Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio.
1. Well, that was ugly: Now that the season is nearly half-over, maybe it’s time to acknowledge this is not a well-coached team. How many times do the receivers look like they are running routes unknown to Jameis Winston? How many drives are ruined by penalties? How many other teams need a traffic cop in the backfield to keep a receiver in motion from colliding with a running back?
2. This is so ridiculous, it’s hard to believe: It’s pretty rare for one NFL team to outgain another by 100 yards or more, and still lose. Since the start of 2018, it’s happened only 27 times. And – spoiler alert – the Bucs are responsible for seven of those clunkers. Seven! More than half the teams in the NFL haven’t botched even one of those games.
3. A please-trade-me clause: The trade deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday. Jason Pierre-Paul promises he won’t drive his Ferrari over 35 mph if some team will take him away from Tampa Bay.
4. Just in case you hadn’t noticed: Rookie placekicker Matt Gay has converted seven consecutive field goals since missing a potential game-winner in the final seconds against the Giants. Three of those seven field goals have been 48 yards or longer.
5. It ain’t all Jameis’ fault: It’s tempting to say Tampa Bay’s defense played a good game. After all, the Titans gained only 246 total yards and two of their touchdowns could be blamed on Tampa Bay turnovers. But good defenses do not blow late leads. And the truth is the Bucs defense allowed the Titans to go on back-to-back drives of 68 and 90 yards in the third and fourth quarters.
A list of five
Five excuses for losing to the Titans:
5. Distracted by Ryan Tannehill’s mediocrity.
4. Spent bye week sending resumes to Bill Belichick.
3. Rogue congressmen stormed the locker room.
2. It’s Dirk Koetter’s fault!
1. Do they really need an excuse?
Five questionable decisions by the Bucs
1. Presumably, the Bucs were hoping to catch the Titans by surprise when they tried to run the ball out of the shotgun on fourth-and-1 with two minutes remaining. Except they had tried running out of the shotgun on a pair of third-down plays in the first half and gained 1 yard and minus-2. This time, center Ryan Jensen got knocked backward by Jurrell Casey, who stopped Peyton Barber in the backfield.
2. Breshad Perriman was coming off an injury and had not had a pass thrown his direction since September. Yet, he was Winston’s target on four different passes in the final four minutes Sunday. The result was three incompletions and an interception.
3. Dare Ogunbowale had three carries for minus-1 yard in his NFL career coming into the game. So, yeah, let’s give him the ball on third-and-goal from the 4.
4. Winston had his second-best rushing day as a pro, but his happy feet may have cost the Bucs in the end. He scrambled four times on third down in the second half, and came up short three times.
5. Convincing themselves they were a playoff contender in 2019.
Five years of 2-minute drives for Jameis Winston
Winston has 5 fourth-quarter comebacks in five seasons, and none since 2017. Here are his numbers when trailing in the final two minutes each year:
2015: His best season in the clutch was his rookie season. Winston was 9-of-11 with three touchdowns in the final two minutes while trailing with two fourth-quarter comebacks.
2016: Had a fourth-quarter comeback against the Chargers but was only 5-of-9 in the final two minutes of games the Bucs trailed.
2017: Last fourth-quarter comeback was on New Year’s Eve against the Saints when he hit Chris Godwin for a 39-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining.
2018: The numbers were not pretty while trailing in the final two minutes last year. Winston was 6-of-14 with three interceptions and no touchdowns.
2019: His bad luck streak has continued this season. He’s thrown for 258 yards in comeback situations in the final two minutes, but Winston also has four interceptions in 32 pass attempts, including his final pass on Sunday.
Final five words
Focus on next year. Again.
John Romano can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.