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Bucs fixes: Start with the defense, move to the quarterback, finish with the GM

John Romano’s Gimme Five | Now that the illusion of a happy 2019 is all but buried, it’s time to begin looking at where the Bucs go from here.
The interception return for a touchdown by New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams was the eighth pick-six of Jameis Winston's career. That moves him past Vinny Testaverde for second place on the all-time Bucs list behind Trent Dilfer's 10. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 18
Updated Nov. 18

Five topics suitable for inane debate on talk radio.

1. Talk about your Doomsday Defense: This franchise is not going anywhere until it figures out how to play defense. The Bucs have given up at least 27 points in 9 of 10 games this season. By comparison, the rest of the league gives up 27 or more points in about 3 out of every 10 games. What does it all mean? Well, the league winning percentage is .206 in those games. So, yeah, Tampa Bay is destined for a lot more 5-11 seasons if it can’t do a better job of slowing down opposing offenses.

2. They do know they’re allowed to tackle, right? The Falcons got six sacks against Drew Brees a week ago. The Bucs didn’t even get close enough to ask for his autograph. Remember in the spring when Bruce Arians was questioned about not drafting an edge rusher? He said critics didn’t know what they were talking about because in Todd Bowles’ defensive plan there was plenty of blitzing up the middle. Except that hasn’t happened. Inside linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David have combined for 1.5 sacks this season. The secondary got its first sack of the season on Sunday.

3. Just sayin’: Bucs can significantly help their draft position if they lose both games to Atlanta in the next six weeks. Right now they’re tied with Jets, Broncos and Falcons for fifth-worst record in the NFL. Probably guarantees they’ll win on Sunday.

4. Did someone mention the Pro Bowl? That fifth-round pick for placekicker Matt Gay is looking better and better. While it’s true he missed the most important kick of the year against the Giants in Week 3, Gay leads the NFL in field goals of 40 yards or more. With his 55-yarder against the Saints on Sunday, Gay is an impressive 12-of-14 on kicks of more than 40 yards. His four 50-plus kicks are the most by a Buccaneer since Patrick Murray in 2014.

5. Maybe they could rent one of those party buses: Here’s hoping Brees sends an open invitation to Tampa Bay defensive backs to attend his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Hard to imagine a more deserving group of helpers. Brees is now 18-10 with more than 7,800 passing yards and 55 touchdowns in his career against the Bucs.

A list of five

Five signs referees are out to get the Bucs

5. Deliver a double order of red challenge flags to Bruce Arians every week.

4. Keep asking Jameis why he doesn’t throw more to Breshad Perriman.

3. Still hold a grudge over the Bert Emanuel complaints.

2. Claim they were blinded by the sun reflecting off all the empty seats at Raymond James.

1. They’re not out to get the Bucs. They’re just drunk.

Five jobs on the line in the next month

1. He is the longest-tenured Buc at 10 years, but Demar Dotson’s contract is expiring. The right tackle has already had as many holding penalties as the previous two seasons combined.

2. Cam Brate is coming off his best game in two years but it’s still hard to justify paying $6 million next season for a guy who averages about 400 yards receiving a year.

3. The Bucs might have gotten a mid-round compensation draft pick if they had released Breshad Perriman a few weeks ago. Instead, they kept him and now he’s losing time to Scotty Miller as the third receiver.

4. William Gholston’s playing time has dwindled to less than 40 percent of the snaps each of the past three weeks. With two sacks in his last 40 games and a $4.75 million salary next year, he might need a strong finish.

5. Jason Licht. Any questions?

Five similar QB decisions

Sunday’s loss dropped Winston’s record as a starter to 24-40. In the last 20 drafts, there have been five other quarterbacks who have lost 40 or more games in their first five seasons. How many returned to the same team for a sixth season? Read on.

1. Joey Harrington: Didn’t even make it to his fifth season in Detroit. Went 23-43 for the Lions and Dolphins in his first five seasons. Was 3-7 the rest of his career.

2. David Carr: No. 1 overall pick went 22-53 with Houston in five seasons. Didn’t return for a sixth. Was 1-3 the rest of his career.

3. Ryan Tannehill: Almost a .500 quarterback in first five seasons in Miami. Went 37-40. Came back for a sixth season and went 5-6. Left for Tennessee as a free agent.

4. Blake Bortles: Went 24-49 in Jacksonville, although he took the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game in 2017. Released after five years, he is now a backup in Los Angeles.

5. Derek Carr: David’s brother did slightly better with a 32-46 record in Oakland. Brought back for his sixth season, he is now 6-4. He is the only one with a chance to stay with his original team for seven seasons.

Final five words.

Impeachment hearings are more jovial.

John Romano can be reached at jromano@tampabay.com. Follow @romano_tbtimes.

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