Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024
NFL: Tampa Bay Bucs at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

No one gave the Bucs a chance to win in Minnesota, but they come away with the 20-17 win over the Vikings

Football is back!! And for a team in Tampa that pretty much everyone and their mother gave zero chance this season – especially on the road in a tough environment week one – the Bucs were quick to quiet the doubters, haters, and nay-sayers.

It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t pretty. But that doesn’t matter. It was a win and the Bucs will come home tied for first in the NFC South.

I think it’s time to Pick Six for the first time in the 2023 NFL season.

Six Topics Suitable For Conversation

1.) Baker Gets It Done. Baker Mayfield was under a lot of duress all day long and had a stretch of six straight incompletions, but things started to get figured out late in the first half and to open the second half. Down the stretch, he came up big when it counted – including some hard fought rushing yards to move the sticks. Most importantly, he protected the football. No interceptions, no fumbles, only sacked once – and finishing with two touchdowns on the day. Not a bad way to start the Baker era in Tampa.

2.) Growing Pains. Dave Canales’ debut as offensive coordinator and play caller was all over the place. Early on, he was trying to be way too fancy. Then, there was an overcompensation to way too conservative. What happened to the motion, the movement of the pocket, the designed bootlegs and rollouts we saw in the preseason? Once Canales started to find a nice groove, so did Mayfield and the rest of the offense. There’s going to be games like this as Canales gets more experience playing the chess match against opposing defensive coordinators, but the second half showed that he’s willing and able to adjust – which is exactly what you want to see.

3.) Old School Bucs Defense. That’s what the Bucs were missing last year. On Sunday, they got tons of pressure on Kirk Cousins, forced three turnovers, laid out vicious hits – even Vita Vea laid out Lavonte David – and in the end, it was the difference. Devin White played like a man possessed and was not interested in anything but teeth rattling hits, regardless of who it was. Antoine Winfield Jr. used his homecoming as a way to put the world on notice that he’s right back to his All-Pro caliber form and even Calijah Kancey and second year lineman Logan Hall were getting into the backfield to disrupt things. Outside of a few busted coverages, it was about as good of a performance as you could have asked for.

4.) Nope…Don’t Like That. Speaking of Calijah Kancey, it was discouraging that the Bucs announced after halftime that he re-injured his calf and would not return to the game. Early on he was a spark plug that put his speed and strength on display. Instead of being able to build off that, it appears he was rushed back and now may miss even more time. Really frustrating for him and the Bucs defense.

5.) Have A Day, Young Man! A lot of fans were left scratching their heads when undrafted rookie safety Christian Izien was named the starting nickel corner. Now, everyone sees why. Izien came up big on a few occasions, but none bigger than the play of the game when Izien ripped the ball out of the hands of Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn’s hands for an interception at the end of the first half. With the game tied 10-10 and the Vikings in the red zone looking to take the lead, Izien put the team on his back and forced Cousins’ third turnover of the half to keep the score tied. The Bucs then opened the second half with a nine minute scoring drive to go up 17-10. Without that interception, it’s hard to say how that game would have played out.

6.) It’s The Little Things. Two of the things that I’ve harped on the most has been the penalties and the turnovers. On Sunday, the Bucs won both battles. The Bucs didn’t turn the ball over once while forcing three takeaways then they were flagged just three times for 19 yards while the Vikings had six penalties for 45 yards. Yes, the Bucs were flagged twice and the calls were declined – but the Vikings also got away with a blatant hold on Cade Otton when the flag was inexplicably picked up then got away with tackling Mike Evans on the sideline for a clear pass interference that went uncalled, even though Izien was flagged for a pass interference that was a soft as 12-ply. So, no matter how you look at it, the Bucs played a cleaner game than Minnesota and in the end, it made all the difference.

Six Numbers To Consider

10 – Sacks by Antoine Winfield Jr. since 2020 – most in the NFL by a defensive back

54.5 – Jake Camarda’s yards per punt average, second highest in team history (minimum five punts)

7 – Tackles by Devin White in the first quarter, third time in his career he’s had seven or more tackles in a single quarter

6 – Number of Bucs who had an interception in their first career game, now including Christian Izien

15 – Consecutive games Chris Godwin has five or more receptions, longest active streak in the NFL

93 – Percent of moneyline bets on the Vikings to beat the Bucs. Oops.

Six Best Tweets

Author’s Note: Yes, I tweeted this out as a joke. No one is actually saying Baker is better than Joe Burrow – but this was just flat out funny. I regret nothing. The end.

Six Ways To Prepare For Bears Week

1.) New York Style Pizza Only. Chicago pizza is lasagne. Knock it off.

2.) No Listening To Pearl Jam. Yes, they’re a “Seattle band” but Eddie Vedder is from Chicago. Adjust accordingly.

3.) Do Not Watch List. The League, Shameless, The Good Wife, Family Matters, E.R., Married…With Children, The Bear, Chicago Fire/P.D./Med, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Blues Brothers, High Fidelity, Home Alone, The Breakfast Club, Adventures In Babysitting – heck, even The Dark Knight was filmed in Chicago so that’s a no go. It’s only a week, you’ll be okay. This is a full blown boycott.

4.) Bust Out The Ketchup. And smother every hot dog you can find in it.

5.) Maybe Not. I was going to say no shopping at Sears…but are there any around anymore? If so, stay out.

6.) Enjoy A Nice Laugh. Courtesy of Justin Fields’ attempts at playing quarterback against the Packers and realize that this defense is preparing to feast on his ineptitude.

Six Super Bowl Bets

1.) Philadelphia Eagles – Tough win, but they’re still the class of the NFC

2.) San Francisco 49ers – Holy domination on defense, Batman…

3.) Kansas City Chiefs – Kelce will be back, Chiefs will be the Chiefs

4.) Buffalo Bills – Haven’t played yet, but they’re still among the best in the AFC

5.) Cincinnati Bengals – The Browns are to the Bengals what the Saints have been to the Bucs. Burrow will be fine and they’ll win 12 games

15.) Tampa Bay Bucs – Going to quiet and embarrass a lot of critics this season

Six Final Words

Wasn’t Perfect, But It’s A Win

For more on this and all things Tampa Bay Bucs check out James Yarcho and David Harrison on the Locked On Bucs Podcast!

By admin