Tampa Bay couldn’t get out of their own way in the red zone
Between the twenty yard lines, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put on a display offensively against the Washington Redskins on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 406 yards. Peyton Barber looked sharp, shedding tacklers and extending plays to extend drives. Nine Tampa Bay players caught passes in the loss, including 103 receiving yards from Chris Godwin and 102 from Jacquizz Rodgers. Fitzpatrick even ran for 35 yards, taking what the Redskins gave him for the most part.
Despite all that, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the game—one in which they gained over 500 yards on offense—with just three points. They were able to move the ball extremely well between the twenties, but when push came to shove they could not get points on the scoreboard.
It is pretty clear, at this point, that there is an enormous gap between the team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be and the team they are. For the moment, Tampa Bay is a team that shows some flashes, mostly in the passing game. Unfortunately, those flashes are fleeting, and Tampa Bay comes across as a one-dimensional offense followed by an undermanned defense.
The loss sends Tampa Bay to 3-6. Most of the intrigue that remains in the season revolves around the status of embattled quarterback Jameis Winston.
The following things are true:
-Peyton Barber averaged 4.7 yards per carry and only got the ball thirteen times. His last carry came with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter. Keep in mind the Buccaneers were never down by more than two scores.
-Dirk Koetter took playcalling duties back from Todd Monken for the first time this season, and the former offensive coordinator turned offense-minded head coach put together a game plan that produced three points.
–Chandler Catanzaro was 1/3 on the day, including a miss from 30 yards. He is now firmly in the bottom third of the league in field goal percentage, and near the absolute bottom of the league in extra point percentage.
=Tampa Bay had the ball five times in the second half. The end of those possessions: Missed field goal, interception, two fumbles, and the end of the football game.
-The Buccaneers entered the red zone five times on Sunday. They did not score a single point in those five trips.
-Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two interceptions, including an unforced error that ended the Buccaneers’ first drive. He fumbled in the red zone in the fourth quarter. He also got called for an illegal forward pass after scrambling for a first down when he tried and failed to throw a lateral to extend it as though the clock were about to expire.
-Former Bucs linebacker Mason Foster led the game in tackling, being part of ten tackles.
-The Washington Redskins employ a football player by the name of Jeremy Sprinkle.
This is how a team racks up over 500 yards of offense without scoring a single touchdown. Missed opportunities piled up on the Buccaneers on Sunday, and Washington was able to take the teeth out of the Tampa Bay offense every time they reached scoring range.
It was a miserable loss all told. The passing offense, which had been the one dimension Tampa Bay had working in their favor this season, could not spot the defense a single touchdown on the defense’s best game of the season.
The crowd at Raymond James Stadium was frustrated, perhaps angry, but this is not Philadelphia or northern New Jersey. There was no cascade of boos for the team on their way into the tunnel after another disappointing final. The closest thing the Bucs got was getting to hear what crowd remained late in the fourth quarter chant “let’s go Redskins” that could be heard over the television broadcast.
In Tampa Bay, the sports fans rarely boo. Instead, with Florida’s weather and a number of other local options, they simply vote with their time and money. This is not a place that has time for a team that they do not feel is doing enough. The fans will just stay away, which is tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the team. They’ll be back again before long, and hopeful talk will once again be the order of the day next summer the way it always is.
There is a strong sense, however, that the fanbase is no longer interested in watching the organization as currently constructed. Whether it’s Dirk Koetter’s coaching, the players selected by Jason Licht, the on-field disappointments, or the off-field incident that sidelined Winston for the first three weeks of the season, it seems as though Tampa Bay has had quite enough.
All of that aside, of course the fans are not going to be the ones making the decisions. The Glazer family is pretty much inscrutable. They stay out of the public eye by and large, and are not considered the kind of owners that easily cave to fan pressure.
That is to say that the Glazers might not see things the same way the fans do, or the analysts for that matter. They’re sure to see the emptying stands, and the worsening record, but what they make of it is anybody’s guess. It’s not hard to guess that the Buccaneers are likely to make some drastic changes after this season, but even after a game like Sunday’s there are no guarantees on that end.
It is unclear what this game means, if anything, for Jameis Winston’s status moving forward.
Certainly nobody would say Ryan Fitzpatrick was at his best on Sunday. He threw two picks, one of which should have been a first down pass inside the five. On what could have been his highlight reel play of the day he chose to throw a very illegal forward pass.
At the same time, the areas where Fitzpatrick was lacking on Sunday are by no means strengths for Winston. If Tampa Bay’s quarterback was held back by poor decision making and untimely interceptions, Jameis Winston might be the last person in the NFL one would turn to and ask to fix those problems.
Really, it could be said that Fitzpatrick had a very Winston-like performance on Sunday. He threw for a lot of yards, but turned the ball over to negate most of that yardage. That is exactly what fans have come to expect from Winston, so turning to him would be tough.
Dirk Koetter was non-committal about the quarterback situation after the game, suggesting that Winston has not been ruled out for their trip to play the Giants but stopping well short of naming him the starter or relegating Fitzpatrick to clipboard-holding.
For now, then, the Buccaneers remain in a sort of limbo with their offense, torn between two quarterbacks with different skill sets but similar bad habits.
Next week, the Buccaneers travel to northern Jersey to take on the New York Football Giants. This is not the kind of game one can expect to shatter records.
If this season has been a disappointment for Buccaneers fans, it has been a disaster for people who follow the Giants. “Big Blue” has just one win to its credit, and outside of an impressive highlight reel from rookie Saquon Barkley there is little for New York to cheer about this season.
The meeting with the Giants is one of just two games on the schedule where the Bucs would not be overwhelming underdogs. Despite being on the road, it is really Tampa Bay’s best chance for another win this season.