10 Lessons from Ira Kaufman from Bucs-Cardinals - JoeBucsFan.com


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The Bucs are one win away from making Week 18 irrelevant.

With a winning effort next Sunday at home to Carolina, Tampa Bay can take a break this season and rest up for the first round of the playoffs against America’s Team.

It wasn’t easy for the Tampa Arizona team, where the Bucs scored the game’s final 13 points in an OT triumph, as the Cardinals finished 1–8 at home. Once again, the defense kept the Bucs close before Tom Brady found a way.

There were times when Brady looked lost on Sunday night as one of the worst defenses in the NFL only allowed one touchdown. Steady Ryan Succop kicked four field goals, including the game-winner for the 7-8 Bucs, which snapped a 4-game losing streak on the road.

If Tampa Bay can defuse a Carolina ground game that Brady duly noted “ran out of the ball” against the Lions on Saturday, the Bucs will likely repeat as NFC South champions. If the Panthers prevailed, they would tie the Bucs at 7–9 and have the tiebreaker advantage by virtue of a season sweep.

Nothing was easy on Sunday night, as Brady threw two more interceptions to continue a disturbing pattern. Although the running game was productive, Brady pitched 48 times. Most of them were quick, short passes, as Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin hit 17 of the 20 shots sent his way.

Trace McSorley, making his first NFL start, had decent moments for Arizona at center, but averaged less than 5 yards per pass attempt. Todd Bowles did a good job of disguising coverage and mixing in some effective blitzes in an effort to confuse an inexperienced QB.

Against a better opponent, the Bucs likely would have lost on Sunday night. Falling behind and going on a 2-minute drive helped snap Tampa Bay out of its lethargy and Brady responded with late magic – just as he demonstrated against the Rams and Saints.

See how the Bucs did just enough to avoid a setback that would have ensured Brady’s first losing season:

Sean Murphy-Bunting gets some love from Ira.

* Tampa Bay secondary deserves credit for an overall job on DeAndre Hopkins. Yes, it was McSorley delivering the ball instead of Kyler Murray, but Hopkins was targeted 10 times and caught a pass for four yards. Sean Murphy-Bunting, in particular, had a strong game.

* Special Team bugs continue to be an issue. Andy Lee downed the Bucs on a fake punt and Tampa Bay also allowed a 28-yard punt return. On the bright side, Succop has been fantastic.

* Brady has been busted at least twice in each of his last three games. Carolina’s defense is clearly better than Arizona’s and the Bucs can’t keep short-fielding their opponents.

* JJ Watt was a force, especially in the first half. 3-time Defensive Player of the Year finished with 2 tackles for loss and 2 QB hits. Five years after his retirement, he will have a golden jacket.

* Tristan Wirfs wasn’t close to 100 percent – and it showed. That flabby ankle robbed him of a step, but he destroyed it on a left tackle night. Josh Wells was out with a knee injury. Edge protection can be a problem against Panthers.

* Carolina’s offensive line dominated Detroit and the Panthers ran wild. That’s a problem because James Conner just hurt the Bucs on the ground, averaging 5.3 yards on his 15 carries, including a 22-yard TD that put the Cardinals ahead 16-6 with 10:47 left. The defensive game plan for Bowles is obvious: stack the line of scrimmage and have Sam Darnold beat him in the air.

* Mike Evans and Brady have no chemistry… none. Evans was targeted 8 times, but finished with 3 receptions for 29 yards. In the last five games, Brady has completed less than half of the passes to Evans. Evans’ streak of consecutive games without catching a TD is now 11. How is that possible?

* With Lavonte David and Devin White leading the defensive drive, the Cardinals went just 5-of-19 on third down. They would not score in overtime unless Arizona made another argument.

* The league somehow refused to ease the Panthers-Bucs game, sticking to the 1:00 pm start. Wasn’t a divisional matchup and the presence of Tom Brady enough to move the matchup to primetime and make Bruce Arians wait a few more hours for his Ring of Honor induction ceremony?

* If the Bucs win on Sunday, there’s no reason to play Brady in Atlanta the following week. Tampa Bay would be locked in as the No. 4 playoff seed in the NFC, so let Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask do it. Brady needs a break more than he needs to work on this tough night of a season.

Ira with his good friend and JoeBucFan.com draft guru Sean Sullivan, general manager for Bill Currie Ford and host of the Best In Class podcast. Sean will personally help you in any way he can. Just ask!!!