Advertisement
  1. Bucs

Jones: This is no fluke. The Bucs are 4-7 bad

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter is seen during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Nov. 26, 2017

ATLANTA — One by one, Bucs players made their way down the tunnel to the locker room, limping — figuratively and literally —- after a 34-20 loss to the Falcons on Sunday.

Eyes down. Some heads shaking. All mouths closed.

"Another road loss. Another division loss. Another loss period," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "It isn't what we really expected."

It isn't what anyone expected. Not after the high hopes of last season's 9-7 record. Not after predictions of a postseason appearance. Not after HBO's Hard Knocks made them this year's cool kids of the NFL.

The sad part is, this is no fluke. This isn't a hard-luck team that can't catch a break. The Bucs are 4-7. Exactly where they deserve to be. They look like a 4-7 team.

What do they do well, other than beat the precious few teams in the NFL who are worse than they are?

They can't run the ball. They can't rush the quarterback. Opposing quarterbacks not named Mike Glennon, Josh McCown or Jay Cutler chew them up and spit them out.

They can't pick up a stinkin' yard when a game depends on it.

"This one hurts," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said.

As players like McCoy trudged their way into the locker room late Sunday afternoon, you had the sense this season can't end fast enough now. Everything about it has been bad, out of whack. It just feels off.

Blowout losses. Close losses. Now injuries are piling up. And the whole Jameis Winston-Uber mess. It adds up to one lost season.

"I wish I had an answer," Bucs tight end O.J. Howard said.

He's not alone. Sunday's post-game featured a lot of shoulder shrugs and I-don't-knows. The Bucs tried to hang their helmets on a gallant comeback from a 27-6 deficit, but who cares about ALMOST winning. Know who does that? Teams that lose.

Bottom line, this whole season smells. Even if the Bucs win their remaining five games, they can't better last year's 9-7 mark — and they aren't winning their last five.

Name a more disappointing team in the NFL. Denver, maybe? The Giants? That's about it.

"Right now, I tend it to look at it as week to week," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "I'm really disappointed in today. As far as evaluating the season, we do that at the end. We didn't get it done today and they're not cancelling the rest of the season because we're not going to have a better record."

Wouldn't it be nice to hit the fast-forward button and skip ahead to next season?

"We've got to keep playing," Koetter said. "We have to figure out what we're going to do next week in Green Bay."

Well, since the NFL is going to make Tampa Bay play out the rest of the season, exactly what is at stake for a team that is not headed to the playoffs?

For starters, jobs are on the line. How the Bucs play the rest of the season will determine the future of Koetter and general manager Jason Licht. If this team ends the season on a six-game losing streak, it's hard to imagine either coming back. But if they win a couple and play competitive football, both have a decent chance to return.

The Glazers are known for firing coaches too often. If they want to shake that reputation Koetter and Licht will get the benefit of the doubt if the Bucs show any fight down the stretch.

Then again, if Winston gets in serious trouble with the NFL over this Uber thing, Licht might pay for being the guy who, ultimately, made the call to draft Winston.

Speaking of Winston, does he play again this season? And if he does, how will he look? You would assume Winston remains in the long-term plans for the Bucs, but he needs to show a little something to prove he's a guy the Bucs should continue to build around.

The point is, there are still something left to play for this season.

It's just not what the Bucs had hoped for or expected.

And Sunday was just another rotten reminder of that.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

Sign up for our daily Bucs Red Zone email newsletter here

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Bucs running back Peyton Barber will be key in helping Tampa Bay elevate its struggling defense. MIKE MCCARN  |  AP
    New York enters with quarterback Daniel Jones starting his first NFL game
  2. Tim Tebow. [Associated Press)] Associated Press
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tom Jones and Rick Stroud debate Tebow, Dickie V, the first-place Bucs and the Rays playoff chase
  3. Paul Spicer, left, is now a defensive line coach at the University of South Florida. Skyler Fulton, right, is now a wide receivers coach at Portland State University. University of South Florida | Portland State University
    Former Bucs assistants Paul Spicer and Skyler Fulton faced accusations of violence against women before coaching in Tampa Bay under Dirk Koetter, according to a USA Today investigation.
  4. Kevin Minter played linebacker for Todd Bowles in Arizona, was released by Bowles last year when Bowles coached the Jets and is starting Sunday for the Bucs' defensive coordinator when Tampa Bay plays host to the New York Giants. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    When rookie linebacker Devin White went down, the Bucs turned to a player who keeps showing up in Todd Bowles’ defenses.
  5. Cameron Brate (84) tries to get some extra yards during the Bucs' 38-35 loss to the Giants on Nov. 18, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP
    Tampa Bay Times staff picks: What the Bucs have in common this week with the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.
  6. New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) looks up at the jumbotron as head coach Pat Shurmur and starting quarterback Eli Manning huddle before an August preseason game. ANDREW MILLS | NJ ADVANCE MEDIA/ANDREW MILLS | NJ ADVANCE MEDIA  |  nj.com
    The Bucs have lost six of their last seven against the Giants and are have lost 12 of their last 15 meetings against rookie quarterbacks.
  7. The Bucs will get their first look at rookie Daniel Jones Sunday when he starts for the New York Giants in a 4:25 p.m. game against Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. FRANK VICTORES  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Exploring quarterback changes for the New York Giants, Florida Gators and USF Bulls.
  8. Giants quarterback Eli Manning speaks to the media in East Rutherford, N.J., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. Coach Pat Shurmur announced Tuesday that Daniel Jones, the No. 6 overall pick in the draft, is replacing the two-time Super Bowl MVP as the starter, beginning Sunday at Tampa Bay. TOM CANAVAN  |  AP
    The veteran says he hasn’t thought about asking the team to waive his no-trade clause.
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn) MIKE MCCARN  |  AP
    The outside linebacker recorded three sacks in the the Bucs’ 20-14 win at Carolina.
  10. Linebacker Kevin Minter and the Bucs defense have played well. Can they keep it up? MIKE MCCARN  |  AP
    After two games, the unit has allowed only one touchdown. How do they keep it going?
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement