The 5 things to watch for.
5 Things I Want to see from the Buccaneers with 3 games remaining:
With 3 games left in what has been a disappointing season, there are a few things the Buccaneers must touch on if they want to avoid the self destruction that happened this season. After starting 2-0 and winding up 3-7 after almost 6 straight losses. Here’s what I want to see:
1. Jameis Winston: Throw the Deep Ball.
He has gotten “Somewhat” better with the deep shot but if he was going to hit 25% more of them, the Buccaneers would force teams to be consistently afraid of being beat over the top, leaving shorter routes open underneath. That happens often. Jameis Winston, in general has had a very up and down season, especially at the worst time. He’s been benched more than once, he’s had multiple interception games, some say he may have lost the locker room earlier but he’s also shown many glimpses of just how great he could be. Pulling the ball down and running for first downs, checking down receivers, eluding defenders and making immaculate throws on the run and most importantly since he’s came back halfway through the Giants game: Protecting. The. Football.
The Buccaneers have a decision to make at the end of the season. Is Jameis the future of this team? Is it the coaching staff? Is it the GM? Does he need a better support cast? If he is the future, he needs to continue to keep his stat sheet free of turnover free and showcase every ounce of talent and trickery he has. Most importantly, the Buccaneers organization, as well as its fans, want wins and a consistent winning football team… That starts with a teams QB.
2. Peyton Barber: Run The Damn Ball
I’ve heard that Barber doesn’t have what it takes to be RB1. I don’t agree. The Buccaneers Offensive-Line is the worst it’s been in a long time. Demar Dotson and Caleb Benenoch especially. Donovan Smith have not been able to set the edge ALL SEASON. This means Peyton Barber hasn’t been able to bounce his runs to the outside without getting met with by a rushing DE or LB and getting tackled for a loss. Even with the running holes not being available, at only 183 carries on the season, that’s a avg of 14 a game, that’s not enough of a workload for him to get it binds going. That’s RB2 worthy.
Each game we have had Peyton Barber getting rotated with Quizz’ Rodgers, and RoJo has barely seen the field. Peyton Barber has the elusiveness and footwork to run between the tackles when he’s been running behind the two most-consistent Offensive Linemen we have with Ryan Jensen & Ali Marpet. When so, he runs up the middle behind them and breaks for 15-20 yard gains. The skill set, patience and speed are there, the opportunities are not. Establish the run! GIVE PEYTON BARBER THE FOOTBALL!
3. The Young Secondary Takeover
The Buccaneers secondary for the most part is/was abysmal. The early defensive setbacks could be attributed to the scheme of Mike Smith and rightfully, but it wasn’t just the scheme but the players. Miscommunication, no sense of urgency, some would say that it was the “Will” of the players. Some of the worst tackling I’ve personally seen in the recent years for the Buccaneers. So why not get Brent Grimes help coach the young guys, pass your mantle down. To be quite frank, he has not done much this year.
Let’s see more Davante Harris, M.J Stewart, Javien Elliot, Carlton Davis and breakout Andrew Adams who all have 4 interceptions between them. We saw Davante Harris LAY OUT to breakup a sure touchdown pass against the Panthers; that effort is something we haven’t seen all year! Andrew Adams also had 3 INT that game with a beatific read on Cam Newton’s eyes where he fell back into coverage undercutting a pass. Not to mention stud safeties Jordan Whitehead and Justin Evans. Jordan Whitehead: Who had 10 tackles in a game this season as well as some highlight reel hits. His progress has been coming along, he is someone who could be very ferocious in the years ahead. Justin Evans: second year safety who seems to be all over the field. Also signs were pointing up for Vernon Haragreaves III earlier this season, hopefully he comes out in 2019 healthy & better. The future is now in Tampa Bay.
4. Route Combinations: Digs, Slants And Mesh Routes
This is something that has bugged me ALL SEASON. The Buccaneers have a Top-3 WR in the NFL with Mike Evans. A stud Second-Year WR in Chris Godwin and an emerging “X factor” in consistent Adam Humphries who are all sneaky fast… but from what I pick up is that the Buccaneers offensive coaches never seems to have specific plays designed for their skill sets. The Buccaneers need to get them into open space and let them turn the jets! We saw Chris Godwin run a slant against the Panthers.. that went for a 48 yard gain. Chris Godwin was able to catch the slant in stride and dart across the field before turning it Upfield and flipping the field which resulted the Buccaneers in prime scoring real estate. Quick, open space routes would take more pressure off of Jameis as well as spread the defense and cause confusion.
“Mesh” routes are another route that is used to free up a receiver by having 2 WR’s, one on each side, run a sort of drag route meeting in the middle of the field, crossing each other in an “X”. This typically frees up a man for a decent gain. Also Many other route combos such as “Digs” are 12-15 yard break to the inside of the field which comes with zone reads to either sit in the zone. The Buccaneers only used with DeSean Jackson in a limited way. Which was a range of routes that did not fit his style within this offensive scheme. “Vertical” routes to create space to open up the middle for other players. “Out” Routes are in which the WR would just break to the sideline at 5-12 yards. Or the tradition hook or screen. The Buccaneers needed to get this man across the middle too. But he has disappointed many this year with his attitude.
5. A Complete Game
Through 13 games, the Buccaneers have have had one complete game. When I say “complete game” I mean all 3 facets of the game being solid: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. Remember guys, all Special Teams are a third of the game. Once again, for what has seemed like eternity, the Buccaneers have had an unbelievable problem: kicking the football. The Buccaneers have missed enough kicks in the last few seasons to make any football fan want to never see another field goal. #GoForIt ….. Was an actual hashtag passed around social media at times during the season because fans would rather try for 6 every drive instead of be heartbroken with another missed kick… and I don’t blame them. The “Kicker Curse” is upon us at crucial game moments. Then comes an issue just as frustrating: it’s seemed every time the Offense shows up, the defense goes MIA. And vise versa. When both Offense and Defense comes together, the kicker is the reason for the loss because of the missed kicks. It’s as if both groups can’t come with the same fire or execution at the same time, usually resulting in losses in games that the Bucs had no business losing.
“The Buccaneers are sitting at 5-8. They have lost 4 games within 5 points. That goes to show how close we actually could be if we all executed.” – ATB Twitter
The Buccaneers will face the Baltimore Ravens, who are fighting for a playoff spot. The Dallas Cowboys next week, who are unfortunately atop the NFC East, and the Atlanta Falcons who still are struggling but have one of the top WR’s in the league in Julio Jones. Julio Jones has 1,400 yards on the season. To beat any of these teams, they’ll need to replicate the second game they played against the Panthers; where the Buccaneers were perfect on the day in the Kicking game, the Defense had 4 takeaways, Jameis Winston and company had no turnovers to go on to put up 28 points. With this season, barring a remarkable NFC collapse, being all but over, the Bucs need something positive to head into the off-season. With a win or wishfully thinking, having all three groups clicking would do just that.
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