Rapid Reaction: Saints 24, Buccaneers 17


Words cannot express how exhausted I am of writing about penalties. I talk about them every week. But apparently believing that Lovie Smith would focus on curtailing the penalties that is asking to much! So, without further ado, here are the four biggest things I took away from the Buc’s 24-17 loss to division rival New Orleans Saints to fall to 6-7 on the season as well as put a damper on the Buccaneers playoff hopes.

1. Did I mention how Exhausted I am of writing about penalties?

Just when everyone thinks that the Bucs can turn the corner, gain some ground in the NFC Wild Card race, and have a record that’s over .500 for the first time all season (Many Seasons), Mike Evans as he has done all year kills drives not by dropping the ball, this week, but with penalties.  We are not a team “Yet” that can overcome undisciplined mistakes. Coach “Lovie” Needs to place a higher level of accountability and discipline across the Team!

The Saints miscues provided the Bucs plenty of opportunities to get back in this game. The offense capitalized on a few of those mistakes, most notably in the first half. But the teams that are consistently some of the best in the league, and the ones who will make the playoffs this year, are the Teams that won’t shoot themselves in the foot every opportunity the receive. The Bucs continue Until they can fix this severely undisciplined team, they will continue to be a below average team, Not a playoff Team. Plain and simple.

2. The injuries are really starting to pile up.

The Bucs came into today’s game without starting defensive ends Jacquies Smith and George Johnson due to injury, as well starting right tackle Demar Dotson and tight end Brandon Myers. Furthermore, starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander will miss the rest of the regular season due to his PED suspension.

Today, the Bucs’ list of key injuries grew even more. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson, arguably rookie quarterback Jameis Winston’s biggest security blanket, missed the rest of the game following a knee injury sustained in the first quarter. Defensive tackle Akeem Spence missed the rest of the game after being shaken up in the third quarter. Linebacker Bruce Carter, starting for the suspended Alexander, was hurt on the last series of the game. Fellow defenders Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David were also banged up.

Injuries have plagued this team all season long, showing a serious lack of depth. One of GM Jason Licht’s top offseason priorities must be to build that depth all over this football team. Because if injuries strike again this badly next season, the Bucs will be in big trouble once again.

3. Can someone please get Doug Martin a new contract already?

On a day where the Bucs played from behind almost the entire game, Doug Martin continued to show his elite form. The fourth year back ran the ball 11 times for 81 yards and a touchdown, including two runs of over 20 yards. He has 13 yards of over 20 yards on the season, which leads the NFL. Another Pro Bowl berth is almost certainly in his future.

Much like stud linebacker Lavonte David, a new contract for Martin must be one of Licht’s top priorities come this offseason. He his what gives offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s offense balance. And it appears Martin wants to stay in Tampa for the long haul. So get a deal done, Mr. Licht. The future of your franchise may depend on it.

4. Weekly Winston Watch: Steady and unspectacular. But still improving.

His final stat line read 18 of 32 passing for 182 yards and a six yard scoring pass to wide receiver Adam Humphries. So maybe his stats don’t jump out at you. But make no mistake: at a time when almost his entire team was screwing up around him, Winston kept the Bucs in the fight.

Earlier this month, the MMQB’s Andy Benoit (an accomplished X’s & O’s guru) wrote an article detailing how Winston and fellow rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota have played leaps and bounds better than anyone expected so far this season.

Week after week, I have talked about Winston’s continued improvement. It continued to show against the Saints. He was smart, decisive and in total command of the offense. His future is bright at the helm of the pirate ship. The time to believe is now, Bucs fans. That is, if you haven’t already.

Quick Hits: Key drops through the game repeatedly killed Bucs’ chances on offense. If even half of those balls were caught, the Bucs’ chances of winning would have gone up immensely….Kicker Connor Barth missed a 47 yd attempt in the third quarter, but made both extra points and a 39 yarder. Mixed day for him…Right tackle Demar Dotson was a surprise inactive today after starting his first game last week in the win over Atlanta. His situation is one worth keeping an eye on moving forward.