The publishers would like to apologize for not getting this edition of TLP out in a timely manner. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get right to the fun. From the Tampa Tribune:
Bucs ‘in a dark place’ after loss, coach Lovie Smith says
By Roy Cummings | Tribune Staff
Published: October 26, 2015 | Updated: October 26, 2015 at 08:53 PM
TAMPA— Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has suffered through some tough losses as an NFL coach. Few, he said, were as tough as the 31-30 loss Sunday at Washington.
“We’re in a dark place,’’ Smith said Monday. “We’re miserable around here.’’
Few could have been more miserable than Smith, who had to admit poor coaching was among the biggest contributors to a loss in which the Bucs blew a commanding 24-0 first-half lead.
Whether it was the onside kick that sparked Washington’s comeback, the failed run that kept the Bucs from putting the game away late or the touchdown that decided it, coaching factored into every facet of the outcome.
Start with the onside kick.
After cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 24-14 in the third quarter, Washington executed the first successful onside kick in the NFL this season. The Redskins scored again, cutting the lead to 24-21.
“We didn’t line up properly on that play,’’ Smith said. “We didn’t execute it the right way and that starts with us as coaches. We didn’t have the guys lined up in the right position on that play.’’
Smith would not detail the mistake, but the ball was kicked into a gap created when linebacker Danny Lansanah lined up 20 yards away from the ball and 5 yards behind the players on either side of him.
“You can look at it and see we weren’t lined up right,’’ Smith said. “…Obviously it was a big play in the game.’’
So was the fourth-quarter running play the Bucs called on third-and-goal from the Redskins 1-yard line with 2:31 remaining and Tampa Bay leading 27-24.
Thinking the Redskins would expect a run into the line, the Bucs opted for an outside toss to the left in which Charles Sims would follow the lead block of his fullback into the end zone. From the moment the teams lined up, though, the play was doomed as the Bucs failed to account for two outside defenders who quickly broke the play up and dropped Sims for a 2-yard loss.
Tampa Bay kicked a 21-yard field goal for a 30-24 lead, but the opportunity to take a two possession lead was squandered.
“We would like to have back that sequence. It’s as simple as that,’’ Smith said. “Ideally, the ball should go a different place. I’m just going to say we didn’t handle the situation. It wasn’t on (quarterback) Jameis (Winston for not checking out of the play) or anything like that. it started with us as coaches. We didn’t put the guys in the best position to be successful in that situation.’’
On the Redskins’ winning touchdown, a 6-yard slant pass to tight end Jordan Reed, the Bucs were positioned properly. The problem was their execution — or lack of it.
Just as they had earlier in the game, when Reed scored on a 3-yard slant, the Bucs failed to execute the proper technique against the quick pattern Reed ran against them. Instead of blaming his players for the mistake, though, Smith shouldered the blame.
“On a quick throw like that, you’re supposed to take it away,” Smith said. “Once you get down into the red zone, every team throughout the league, that’s what you do. You make them throw the hard throw, (which) is more of a fade, which is a harder throw to complete than the quick slant. It’s very frustrating. You continue to ask it and I continue to keep talking about, but with our players we haven’t gotten that point across yet.’’
The point Smith has tried make with players about penalties hasn’t gotten across yet, either. The Bucs were penalized 16 times for 142 yards during the loss and continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the league.
“It isn’t resonating yet, but it will in some kind of way,’’ Smith said of his message on penalties. “And some of the penalties you see you can live with a little bit. But you shouldn’t have that many. It can’t be that. But we’ll keep working on it, just like we’ll keep working on everything else.
“We had a six-point lead at the end of the game and all we needed was one stop. But that’s what we’re missing right now. Whether it’s composure or just somebody stepping up and making a play in the situation, that’s what we need.
“So, today, it’s miserable around here. It’s a dark day. But it won’t be for long.’’
Bucs’ defense collapses in Redskins record-setting 31-30 comeback
By Roy Cummings | Tribune Staff
Published: October 25, 2015 | Updated: October 25, 2015 at 10:29 PM
LANDOVER, Md. — The question asked most often of the Buccaneers this past week — and it was asked even by some of their own players and coaches — was were they really as good defensively as their No. 5 overall ranking suggested.
The Bucs gave everyone their answer on Sunday during a sun-splashed afternoon at FedEx Field. And as their devastating 31-30 come-from-ahead loss to the Redskins proved beyond any doubt, it is an emphatic no. Not even close.
After all, top-shelf defenses don’t let a 479-yard effort by their offense go to waste, and they certainly don’t let a 24-point lead evaporate. But that’s what the Bucs defense did in creating yet another indelible mark on what is now a 2-4 record.
“All loses really hurt, but you have some that really leave a deep scar and this was definitely one of those,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “This one hurts about as much any I can think of. But, it’s supposed to hurt when you finish the way we did.’’
Hoping to protect a six-point lead with 2:24 to play, Tampa Bay allowed Washington to drive 80 yards in 11 plays. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a 6-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Reed with 24 seconds left, and the extra point by Dustin Hopkins capped the biggest comeback win in Redskins franchise history.
But it was the way the Bucs started that made the finish so painful. With their running game humming yet again (30 carries, 190 yards) and quarterback Jameis Winton pitching at near-perfect levels (21-for-29, 297 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), the Bucs dominated the first half.
They took a 10-0 lead in the first 10 minutes, and after a 43-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Howard Jones took a seemingly commanding 24-0 lead with just more than eight minutes left in the first half.
They peaked there, though, particularly on defense. Their inability to harass Cousins, adequately cover receivers or avoid drive-extending penalties, including four for roughing the passer or unnecessary roughness, slowly did them in.
“I don’t want to say we got complacent,’’ linebacker Lavonte David said. “They just found a rhythm offensively and were able to execute and make plays and capitalize on the mistakes we made, especially all those penalties. It was probably one of the worst losses ever.’’
It some ways, it was. Tampa Bay’s 479 yards on offense were the fifth-most in team history and most ever in a loss under Smith’s two-season reign. As for the 24-point lead, it matched the second-largest lead blown by the Bucs, who blew the same edge in a 31-27 loss to the Rams on Dec. 6. 1992. The largest blown lead in team history was 25 points in a 31-28 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Nov. 8, 1987 at old Busch Stadium.
But that’s no consolation to anyone on this this Bucs team.
This was the third time in as many games and fourth this season the Bucs, who were only ranked fifth because they had allowed 322.8 yards per game, surrendered more than 30 points.
“It’s one of those things that makes you wonder, ‘What’s the problem?’” defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said. “We had a great opportunity today, and we failed to take advantage of it.’’
Most troubling is the fact the Bucs spent the better part of the past two weeks working to correct many of the very mistakes that cost them their lead and eventually the game. After Jacksonville scored 31 points in a Tampa Bay win before the bye week, the Bucs re-evaluated the play of their secondary and made a couple of personnel changes back there. Included in that mix was the benching of veteran starting cornerback Tim Jennings, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday.
Clearly, though, the problems in the secondary run far deeper.
Even with cornerback Johnthan Banks back in the starting lineup, Cousins had the time and the space necessary to carve up the Bucs in completing 33 of 40 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
“To me, this game came down to us not contesting the ball when the ball’s in the air,’’ said cornerback Alterraun Verner, who played his second straight game at nickel corne. “We’re not coming down with the ball and the other team is. Either we’re not in position to make a play or we’re not making the play. That’s become the trend. We have to get our hands on the ball.’’
They have to get their hands on the quarterback, too — and legally. Though the Bucs hit Cousins seven times, they sacked him only once as Cousins used short drops and quick throws to offset the pass rush. Tampa Bay also was called for two roughing the passer penalities.
“I was moving around a lot, trying to find the one-on-one,’’ defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “They just kept switching protections on me. I was trying to find ways to free myself up, but collectively we just weren’t good enough.’’
Neither were the safeties. Chris Conte, who got his hands on a late pass into the end zone, but couldn’t come up with the interception. And Bradley McDougald allowed tight end Reed to beat him with a quick slant inside for the winning touchdown pass.
“When you get down close to the goal line, you make them throw a fade,” Smith said. “You don’t let them complete the easiest throw. We didn’t get that done today. And that’s normally what it comes down to, how you play at the end. And we had our opportunities. We just weren’t able to close the door.’’