BUCS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : CARDINALS
By Leo Haggerty
Wow. I know I may have been the only media member in the Greater Tampa Bay Area that picked Arizona to beat the Bucs. Also, I predicted a close contest with the Cards emerging victorious 27-24. I sure as heck didn’t foresee the shellacking that the Cardinals were going to dish out to the Buccaneers.
Sure, the final score was 38-33 but that was the closest Tampa Bay got to the Cards. The Buccaneers fell behind early and couldn’t stop the Arizona onslaught as the Cardinals built a 24-0 lead by intermission and, for all practical purposes, the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Let’s try to put this in the proper perspective. First, let’s examine this debacle from the offensive side of the ball. When your starting quarterback gets injured and cannot answer the bell, there’s almost a 100% chance that you’re going to get beat and there’s a logical reason for that.
Before we get to that tidbit of knowledge, let’s just look at the situation Green Bay found themselves in Sunday at Minnesota against the Vikings. All Universe QB Aaron Rodgers goes down in the first quarter with a broken collarbone. Backup signal-caller Brett Hundley was forced to take over the reigns and, as expected, played like a reserve. The Vikes prevailed 23-10 as Hundley was intercepted three times and sacked four while throwing for one touchdown.
The same scenario happened to the Bucs but, hopefully, not a severe as #12 who is probably on the shelf for the rest of the 2017 regular season. QB Jameis Winston goes out with an injury to his throwing shoulder early in the first quarter. #3 tried to play through it but to no avail.
Enter backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick who did play a bit better than his Green Bay counterpart. The good news is that #14 threw for three touchdowns and engineered a late 11-play fourth quarter drive to get the Buccaneers within striking distance of Arizona. The bad news is he threw two picks with one deep in Bucs territory that Arizona turned into their last seven points.
Keep this in mind. At practice, the starting QB gets 90% of the reps and the backup getting the other 10%. So Hundley, as well as Fitzpatrick, were minimally prepared because, in all likelihood, they weren’t getting in the game.
Defensively, for the first half, no excuse. When aging RB Adrian Peterson wasn’t running over Tampa Bay defenders, it was QB Carson Palmer carving up the Pewter Pirates secondary.
Arguably, and maybe not, this was the worst beginning 30 minute defensive performance in Bucs history. And, to throw gasoline on this dumpster fire, the 24-0 halftime deficit extended to 31-zip early in the third quarter.
Poor tackling plus no pass rush in the National Football League on a majority of occasions equals a loss. DC Mike Smith will have his hands full trying to resurrect the Tampa Bay defense and get ready for another road contest.
A trip to Buffalo is next for the Pewter Pirates and this will be no cakewalk. The Bucs better bring their A game because, to put it simply, this ain’t your Daddy’s Bills and we’ll cover that later in the week.