Okay, I’m gonna try this again.
Bucs 48 – Saints 40
My “Bucs Blog” bits have been a part of my blog for going on a decade now. Every week, I’d analyze the latest game and offer up the casual, not-at-all-expert, sometimes giddy and sometimes frustrated viewpoints of just and other Bucs fan. I’ve followed the team since their inception in 1976. Aside from a couple of years when my father and I had season tickets (the early, sucky years), I spent most of my childhood falls and winters working as a vendor at old Tampa Stadium. Aside from my family, it’s one of the few things I still miss about living and having grown up in Tampa. It’s a little slice of my hometown that I can take with me wherever I go.
Last year was the first time I gave up on the Bucs Blog entries before the season ended. I stopped on Week 12, by which point the Bucs fell to 4-7 on the year. I guess they decided to smack me for my faltering loyalty, as they proceeded to win the next five games and only just missed the playoffs due to a tiebreaker.
All righty, then. I’ve learned my lesson. Onward!
Over the spring and summer, I didn’t pay too much attention to Tampa’s off-season goings-on. I don’t typically get excited by the draft and all the “drama” accompanying it, so I was out of the loop so far as who the Bucs acquired, either through that venue or via other means. I did hear about quarterback Jameis Winston’s 3-game suspension which would kick off this new season and gave brief thought to how that might affect the team’s stated goals of improving offensive production and so on and so forth.
What I did remember was that last year, backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick did a fine job holding the line when called upon to step in for Winston. He’s proven to be a reliable #2 during his time with the Bucs, so I wasn’t too worried but at the same time, I didn’t set my expectations too high so far as getting the new season underway.
Well, hush my mouth.
Fitzpatrick was a beast today during Tampa’s season opener on the road against their NFC South Division rivals, the New Orleans Saints. 21 pass completions on 28 attempts, notching over 400 yards in the air and four touchdown throws? And he ran in another one? No sacks? Who is this dude?
Fitz benefitted from an embarrassment of riches, completing passes to six different receivers including an absolutely beautiful 58-yard frozen rope to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Tampa’s ground game was decent, with four different rushers racking up 112 yards. Fitzpatrick was responsible for 36 of those (along with his aforementioned rushing TD. Beast, yo.)
On the other side of the ball? Tampa’s defense had its moments, recovering two New Orleans fumbles, tacking on an extra touchdown for the Bucs’ side of the scoreboard, and managing to claw their way back to Saints QB Drew Brees once. They also stuffed the NO running attack by giving up only 43 yards, though they did allow Saints running back Alvin Kamara to slide into the end zone twice. As for pass defense, well…this might be something that needs addressing in short order, as they let Brees pull down 430+ passing yards along with three TD passes. So, yeah…some things to work on.
But hey! An opening day win on the road against a division opponent? Hell yeah, I’ll take it. Nice job, Bucs.
So, Tampa begins the new season at 1-0, claiming first dibs on the top of the NFC South ladder. The Carolina Panthers are in second place after grabbing a 16-8 win over the Dallas Cowboys, which just breaks my heart. Bringing up the rear are the Atlanta Falcons, who lost on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Next up for the Bucs? At home to face off against those same Eagles. Given the low score Philly grabbed against Atlanta, I’m hopeful that this could be another fun one for Tampa.
Raise the sails and prime the cannons. It’s a Bucs Life, yo!