Joe’s head is still throbbing. It’s Advil City since last night. And Joe didn’t touch a drop of alcohol (even though Joe felt like doing a John Belushi in “Animal House” and drinking a bottle of Jack. It’s Monday, so let’s go.
This game was such an atrocious and irresponsible coaching job by Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. It was the worst heads-up job Joe had seen since the Tennessee-Ready game to open the 2015 season.
Tennessee-Ready was Jameis Winston’s debut album. All that summer, head coach Lovie Smith preached if not boasted that the Bucs would be “Tennessee_Ready.” Ho, my boy!
Worse still for the Bucs was also the debut of quarterback Marcus Mariota, the guy drafted a pick after Jameis. The Oregon quarterback was high on the Bucs draft board if the Bucs had thrown anything untoward enough on Jameis to scare them off.
Lousy Lovie even watched Mariota play in college in person and attended his pro day at Oregon. So Joe figured Lovie, a defensive coordinator at heart, watched a lot of tapes on Mariota given the Bucs were going to draft a quarterback. When Mariota was picked by Tennessee, Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt installed an Oregon-like spread option offense to help Mariota adjust to the NFL.
But on opening day, Mariota and Tennessee ran on the Bucs as Lovie never once saw a spread option. The Bucs’ hapless and helpless defense was ripped off like it was Rice or Indiana. It was as if the spread option had taken Lovie completely and utterly by surprise. It was embarrassing.
Joe later learned that the Glazer team was so angry at the loss that they could barely speak to those who had been in football operations for weeks. It was the beginning of the end for Lovie.
A few weeks later, the Capitol collapsed, which, for all intents and purposes, sealed Lovie’s fate. Simply put, the Glazer team did not like that.
Yesterday reminded Joe of that sad Bucs story. While seven years ago Lovie got caught with the pants down by the spread option, Leftwich got caught with the pants down by all the injuries on the Steelers defense.
TJ Watt, perhaps the best passing thrower in the game, was out. So was All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, perhaps the best safety in the NFL. Then the Steelers’ first three corners were out.
Even the weakest high school offensive coordinator knows the game plan should have been to attack, attack, attack the Steelers through those massive injuries in pass defense, and with the Bucs holding an advantage. if superior to skill positions,
If Bill Belicheat had Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and/or even Russell Gage, what do you think he would have done? He probably would have put the ball in the air 40 times – in the first half alone.
No. Leftwich went to ground and pound, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his running backs — yes, *his* because he’s in charge of offense — had the worst yards per carry in the league. If the Steelers had any strength on defense, it was their rushing defense.
Six hours after the game, Joe still can’t find the words to express the disgust and amazement at how badly Leftwich botched the game yesterday. Joe loves Todd Bowles but he should share some of the blame.
At one point, the head coach couldn’t put on the helmet: “Hey Byron, knock out the two-yard runs on the first down. Let’s start by looking for their backups in the secondary. »
And if Joe is going to quibble with Brady – Joe won’t – it would be because Brady didn’t cancel Leftwich (you know Brady has that power) telling him, ‘Byron, stop running, we need to attack their secondary . “It shouldn’t have come to this though.
It felt like Leftwich was developing the game plan on Monday or Tuesday of last week not knowing who would be out for Pittsburgh. When the injury report came out on Friday with all those starters ruled out, Leftwich was too stubborn (or unwilling) to update the plan?
Joe remembers a time when his old man told him, “It’s one thing to be stubborn. It’s quite another to be stubborn and stupid. Joe feels the latter outlined Leftwich’s run-run-run game plan yesterday until the Bucs had no choice but to pitch for a comeback. And look what happened next: they scored a touchdown!
This disgrace was the offensive version of the Tennessee-Ready Bucs.
And Joe is fed up.
The difference is Bucco Bruce Arians
Joe recalls that before Bucco Bruce Arians was hired, Joe heard all kinds of NFL people — including Father Dungy and Chucky — say with firm belief that the Bucs had the talent to win.
Even Dirk Koetter said it without flinching.
Joe kept hearing this and the Bucs kept losing. It got to the point where Joe thought these people were just yelping because they didn’t want to insult the players, the coaches or the front office guys at One Buc Palace.
Comes Ariens and in two years — of them! — he’s turning this team, with its Lost Decade core nearly intact — into Super Bowl champions.
After yesterday’s debacle in Pittsburgh, Joe thought about the lost decade and those talented players, many of whom are still with the Bucs.
What turned the Bucs from losers to champions? Arians. What are the Bucs missing this year? Arians.
The Arians had the perfect temperament. He was a grandfather type, close to his players, but he didn’t blink if anyone needed his ass chewed. Noisy and dirty. Flying F’ bombs.
Joe isn’t one to think a guy has to be Bobby Knight to coach well. Some of the best coaches in NFL history were stoic on the sidelines. Some were redars, of course. A coach’s personality does not dictate whether he is a winner or not. Former Bucs captain Greg Schiano was an opposite coach. He failed. Dirk Koetter leaned towards the stoic side. He mostly failed.
But Joe thinks there’s something about a guy who will turn up a player if needed to get a point across, to motivate. Todd Bowles will, just behind the scenes. The Arians didn’t care who was watching or listening.
The Arians have brought a bite, a standard. Production was required. For example, Joe remembers seeing former tight end Tanner Hudson drop a catchable ball during 2020 training camp. Mount Arians blasted on him, “Catch the fuckin’ ball!” Joe never heard of any of this this summer.
Joe once saw Arians kick former guard Alex Cappa off the field in practice, serenaded by all sorts of foul language for doing what Arians later said in his press conference was “real stupid play @ ss”. Joe has seen none of that this summer.
Are the Bucs losing because Arians are no longer in charge? Joe doesn’t know.
But the way the Bucs have played the last four weeks, with all their talent, they’re more like the Koetter Bucs than the Arians Bucs. Is not it?
Joe won’t blame Devin White
Again, the Bucs couldn’t start the game on defense. They were bullied on the field on the Steelers’ first possession for an 11-game touchdown.
But Joe can’t blame Bowles. The defense was off the field on that first Pittsburgh possession…until that yellow handkerchief came out. Devin White made one of the dumbest late shots you’ll see on a quarterback.
Joe had his binoculars on Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. Joe saw White go past his blocker and just then Pickett unloaded the ball. White was a far cry from Pickett.
Joe couldn’t believe White’s call. White wasn’t near Pickett when the rookie dropped the ball.
This game, if you want to be an asshole about it, cost the Bucs the game. Pittsburgh would score a touchdown on that drive and the Bucs would lose 20-18. But you know what, the Bucs had 52 minutes left to bounce back. So Joe can’t touch White.
It belonged to the guy on the Bucs sideline who was apparently calling into the void.
Mitch Trubisky’s spell
Mitch Trubisky is a trash quarterback. He was truly awful in Chicago, a big tease in Buffalo in limited action, and downright brutal with the Steelers.
Still, Trubisky came alive coming off the bench for an injured Pickett to connect on 9 of 12 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown to keep the Bucs from coming back.
Yes, this is the same Trubisky whose singular moment of glory was previously the scorched earth on the Bucs. It was a dreary, damp, cool (welcome to Chicago) late September day along the shores of Lake Michigan and Trubisky turned into bananas looking more like Dan Marino than Trubisky. The North Carolina Pride tore the Bucs apart (Mike Smith says hello) completing 19 of 26 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns. Yeah, six.
So it looks like Trubisky is living big against Tampa Bay. Joe never wants to see this guy on an NFL field in person again.
Trubisky against the Bucs is 28 of 38 for 498 yards, seven touchdowns and no picks.
Investments look bad so far
The Bucs have rolled the dice on off-season substitutions to take over some effective players. Akiem Hicks was to replace Ndamukong Suh. Russell Gage was originally slated to replace Antonio Brown. Then Julio Jones was to replace Brown. Kyle Rudolph was going to ease the pain of losing Rob Gronkowski.
The results? Poor.
Already more than a third of the 2022 season and Joe the new ones are not doing well.
Injury-prone Hicks had limited impact. He failed in his second game before being lost for what was to be five games. Game 5 is next week in Charlotte.
Jones missed that much time. Like Hicks, the Bucs knew Jones was no stranger to the injured reserve list. The Bucs believed that if they managed his practice workload, Jones would be healthy enough to play. Instead, the Bucs recently and openly discussed putting Jones on the ice until January.
(The way the Bucs play, they won’t have to worry about Jones arriving in January.)
Gauge? He’s struggled with injuries since OTAs. He’s on the injury report every week. Sure, he gets on the pitch but his impact has been meh. A possession receiver and a little more. Yesterday against a trashy secondary, Gage had two catches on four targets for 20 yards. Eh.
Rudolf? He is the fourth-string tight end and is rarely active on game days.
In total, these four substitutes have nothing to do with the impact of the guys they replaced. So far, it looks like good money to be had.