After the shocks of Week 3, normal service has resumed Week 4 of the NFL. The Patriots won, the Browns got beat, Atlanta couldn’t hold on to a lead and the Bucs sucked.
In fact the Bucs didn’t suck. They were beyond that. In my seven years of following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I have witnessed some god awful performances.
In 2014, I was in the crowd at the Raymond James Stadium to see an insipid display by Lovie Smith’s team against Baltimore. Joe Flacco threw for five first half touchdowns as the Ravens went in at half-time up by 38 points.
Again, in 2014, I stayed up in the early hours of a Friday morning to watch the Bucs get destroyed in the Georgia Dome by the Falcons. The 3rd quarter finished with Atlanta ahead by an eye-watering 56 points. Lovie Smith’s Buccaneers team sucked.
But no Buccaneers performance matched the absolute disaster which unfolded in front of our very eyes in Soldier Field. In the 2018 season, the Chicago Bears had scored a rather meagre four touchdowns in their first three games.
By half-time, Mitch Trubisky was marching off the field with five touchdowns in his hip pocket. Tampa had done the impossible. They somehow contrived to make a mediocre Chicago Offense look like the Greatest Show on Turf.
A Case for the Defense
This game was expected to be decided by the Defense but the Bears one. With the inspirational leader of Kalil Mack on the field, Chicago’s D has been on fire so far this season. Having Vic Fangio calling the plays on Defense sure helps also.
However, in truth, it was Tampa’s Defense who decided the outcome of this game by being utterly diabolical. A never ending series of miscommunication and blown coverages resulted in Tampa conceding more than 400 yards to the opposition.
Incredibly, under the 36 games for which Mike Smith has been the Defensive Co-ordinator, the Bucs have conceded 400 plus yards an eye-watering 19 times.
Wasn’t Just the Defense Who Failed To Turn-Up
The Offense, which has been receiving plaudits all season, and rightly so, picked the wrong time to misfire. A succession of three and outs just kept putting the ball in the hands of the opposition they couldn’t stop.
In fact, sadly, this performance may also spell the end for Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Buccaneers career as he was replaced by James Winston at half-time. With the game being over as a contest, the decision to replace Fitz was the correct one. Winston needed to get some meaningful snaps under his belt.
If this is indeed the end for Fitzpatrick then it was a sad end for a man who has been a revelation in Pewter and Red this season.
So, as we live in a world of instant, and more often than not, complete overreaction, where do the Bucs go from here? Well, after their 2-0 start, an early bye week initially appeared to be a hindrance. However, after the last two losses, the bye week may be coming at precisely the right time.
It would be tempting to suggest that the Buccaneers may have been under the impression that their bye week was in Week 4 since they didn’t show up in the Windy City but I am above such trivial humour.
The Atlanta Falcons are the opposition after the bye week. If there is one team in the league not named the Los Angeles Rams which you don’t want to face with an underperforming Defense, it’s the Falcons.
Despite #FireMikeSmith trending on social media, don’t expect any changes in defensive play-calling mid-season.
But lets not get too down Tampa fans. After all, the Bucs are only one game behind the Divisional leaders whom they have already defeated this season. Winston will have two weeks of practice before the next game.
The Defense and Mike Smith, hopefully, will have to endure numerous reruns of the Chicago horror show as punishment for making the fans having to suffer through that pitiful 60 minute display.
That in itself, should be enough incentive to ensure that a performances like this one never happens again. Only time will tell.
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