Bucs in Disarray as Playoff Hopes Fade Yet Again

2018 has been more of the same for the Bucs and their fans despite a good start.

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Bucs in Disarray as Playoff Hopes Fade Yet Again

The Redskins took advantage of an inept Bucs team despite being the lesser talented squad.

The Redskins took advantage of an inept Bucs team despite being the lesser talented squad.

The Redskins took advantage of an inept Bucs team despite being the lesser talented squad.

The Redskins took advantage of an inept Bucs team despite being the lesser talented squad.

Bennett Carollo, Staff Writer

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It’s hard to believe that only a month or two ago all of us Bucs fans were buzzing about a 2-0 start to 2018. And let me remind you, this wasn’t just any 2-0 start; Tampa Bay was dominant in beating the Saints and Eagles in September. However, in a cruel twist of fate, the superb play early on appears to have been fool’s gold, as the Bucs have now lost five of their last six games and sit in their usual position in the cellar of the NFC South. To confuse and frustrate Bucs fans even more, the team at the top of the division, and the entire NFL for that matter, is the 8-1 Saints, the very team that FitzMagic and the Bucs picked apart week one. Where did it all go wrong?

The Bucs’ demise has been due largely to three factors: kicking, quarterback play, and most importantly, defense. The team’s glaring weakness in their defense could be seen even in the 2-0 start, but it was pushed aside due to the prolific offense. However, with Fitzpatrick off his game a bit in week three against the Steelers, the Bucs weren’t able to overcome their revolving door of a defense. In week 4 in Chicago, there was nothing Fitz could do as the Bears had their way on offense, winning 48-10. It was during this game that Coach Koetter made a big mistake in my opinion by giving Jameis Winston back the starting job. Largely due to Winston’s untimely turnovers and Chandler Catanzaro’s equally frustrating extra point miss, Tampa Bay lost a very winnable game in week 6 to the Falcons, falling to 2-3. Following this game, Koetter made a bold, yet justified, move by firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith midseason. Although the Bucs did win their week 7 matchup with the Browns, this was a painful game to watch as the defense blew a 14 point fourth quarter lead, Catanzaro missed a pair of kicks, and Winston made countless poor decisions in overtime. Tampa Bay’s defense and Jameis Winston were again poor in a week 8 loss to the Bengals. The Bucs almost came back to win this game after Koetter grew tired of Jameis’s turnovers and gave Fitzpatrick another chance. However, a comeback came up just short. It was more of the same in a week 9 loss to the Panthers. However, it was with their most recent loss, 16-3 to the Redskins, that the Bucs have clearly hit rock bottom. Tampa Bay was the better team throughout the game, outgaining Washington 501 yards to 286. It was four turnovers and two missed field goals that did them in, as the Bucs, as they’ve done for over a decade now, found a way to lose yet again.

So where does Tampa Bay go from here? 2018 is all but a lost cause for the Bucs, as they sit a full five games behind the Saints and their recent run of play has been far from inspiring. They should be looking ahead to next season. It is true that Catanzaro was mercifully given the boot after the Redskins game, but it’d be foolish to pin all of the season’s woes on the kicker. The Bucs, even after a decade of losing, are a quarterback and a defense away from being a good football team. Ryan Fitzpatrick, while still being the best QB on the Bucs roster, has proved that he is no savior, and he shouldn’t have been expected to be one. However, what Fitz can be is an ideal placeholder and mentor for the Bucs’ QB of the future, and I’m not talking about Winston. The Bucs must move on from Winston sooner rather than later and either draft or trade for a good young signal caller. As for the defense, Tampa Bay has a few good pieces to build on, such as Kwon Alexander, but the group as a whole needs to be overhauled through the draft. The coaching staff and front office can’t escape blame either, and at this rate they may all be looking for work by season’s end. Simply put, Bucs fans deserve better than this.

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Bucs in Disarray as Playoff Hopes Fade Yet Again