The Tampa Bay Buccaneers looked like the team on the rise so many fans and experts have said about them in the off-season when they went to Atlanta and pretty handily beat the Falcons in Week 1. Many of those same fans and experts were split on whether the Bucs could go to Arizona and get to 2-0 against a Super Bowl favorite in the Cardinals who were coming off a late game loss to the Patriots at home.
Welp, we all saw how that debacle went in the desert.
The question now arises. Is it time to panic in Tampa Bay? Our own Brooks Roland and Ryan Adams weigh in this week.
Nothing To Worry About In Tampa Just Yet
by Brooks Roland
If you’re a regular listener to The Scrum Sports podcast, you probably heard us make our game-by-game predictions on how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 season would go. When we got to Week 2, it was unanimous among Ryan Adams, Trevor Grout, and myself that the Bucs would drop their game against the Arizona Cardinals due to the Cards’ being a very talented team with Super Bowl aspirations. However, none of us thought they would get steamrolled the way they did. Maybe we shouldn’t have been surprised. This was an angry Cardinals team coming off a last-second loss at home on Sunday Night Football to the New England Patriots, and they took out their frustrations on the Bucs. That 40-7 final score was as lopsided as it looked. Five turnovers from Jameis Winston, injuries to Doug Martin and Robert Ayers, a pass rush that was almost non-existent, and a secondary that had no answer for Arizona’s receivers all contributed heavily to the Bucs’ first regular season loss of 2016.
But let’s pump the brakes for a second and not get too bent out of shape about what we saw. Keep in mind, this is a Bucs team that ran into an absolute buzzsaw in the desert, so the level of competition has to be taken into account. Not to mention, it’s only Week 2. As we’ve learned in the past, one game should never be enough to cause you to jump off the bandwagon, and if it is, then you’re probably not really a fan to begin with. Tampa Bay had a lousy day out in Arizona, but even the best teams in the NFL put up a clunker every once in a while. This week’s home opener against the Los Angeles Rams will be a great test to see where the Bucs are mentally. It is a tremendous bounce-back opportunity, especially against a Rams offense that has put up a grand total of nine points in their first two games, and that’s with Todd Gurley in the lineup. Take a look at the rest of that Rams offense. Does anyone else besides Gurley scare you? Didn’t think so. Now the Bucs could be in for a bit of a defensive struggle as Los Angeles’ defense rebounded from an awful performance in Week 1 to shut down a gimpy Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 2. In their first home game of the season, I expect the Bucs to bounce back and get back in the win column against a team that struggles to put points on the board. If they don’t, then it’ll be ok to start worrying since their following two games after this one are against the two teams that played in last year’s Super Bowl, the Broncos and the Panthers, followed by a bye in Week 6. Get out of this one with a win, and they’ve got some positive momentum going into those two highly-anticipated games.
Plenty to be nervous about if you’re a Bucs fan.
by Ryan Adams
Sunday’s drubbing was an embarrassment. Plain and simple. The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if it took place here in Raymond James Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of Buccaneer faithful. Yes, it’s only two games. No, the Bucs aren’t a bad team. However, for one week at least, they looked like the worst team in football. Now, there’s absolutely no shame in losing to a team most have picked to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in February. There is, however, plenty of shame if you lose the way the Bucs did. It was ugly pretty much top to bottom. Five turnovers by your franchise quarterback. Zero running game. Limited pressure on the opposing quarterback. Oh…and ZERO turnovers by your defense that looked like a siv for three quarters of football.
I haven’t even mentioned injuries to Doug Martin and Robert Ayers. The number two rusher in all of football a year ago has a bum hamstring. It doesn’t appear to be serious and Martin’s status for Sunday’s game at home against the Rams is still questionable. But even against the hapless, offense deprived Rams, missing your starting and stud running back is killer, especially when Jameis is coming off a game like last week. You don’t want Jameis Winston throwing the ball 40 times against anyone. You don’t want most quarterbacks to have to resort to that many drop backs against anyone. If Doug Martin is out there, they have a chance to get back over .500 against LA in their home opener. If Dirk Koetter has to resort to a patch-work running game – they might be in trouble.
The defense must step up if this team is going to even flirt with .500 this year. Jameis has to put last week behind him and I think he will and probably already has. But lose Ayers and Martin for any prolonged length of time and that hurts.
Oh…and can we agree the Chris Conte experiment is nearing it’s end?