Behind Enemy Lines Week 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sep 16, 2016, 7:10 AM
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The Arizona Cardinals are coming off what general manager Steve Keim called an “unacceptable” loss against the New England Patriots in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football, losing 23-21.

With the Cardinals figuring out what went wrong against the Patriots, the young NFL season is rolling on to Week 2, where the Cardinals will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In season opener against the Atlanta Falcons, the Bucs came away with a 31-24 victory in the Georgia Dome. Quarterback Jameis Winston had a solid performance, as he went 23-for-33 for 281 yards and four touchdowns, along with one pick for a QBR of 90.3.

The Bucs won their season opener for the first time since 2012 and were the only NFC South team to notch a victory in Week 1.

All week, we’ll keep you updated on the Buccaneers and their preparations for the Cardinals as we go Behind Enemy Lines.

Friday, September 16

As Mike Evans’ psyche improves, so does the Bucs receiver’s game (

Something is different about Mike Evans. He got 5 yards behind the defense and was as alone as the goal post in the end zone on the first series against Atlanta on Sunday when Jameis Winston sailed a pass over his head, which is hard to do with a 6-foot-5 receiver.

Bucs seek rare 2-0 start on road to open season (

Just how rare is it for an NFL team to open a season with two games on the road and still begin the year 2-0, as the Bucs try to do on Sunday?

The NFL doesn’t hand teams back-to-back road games to start a season often — just four teams had that this year, and in their first 40 seasons, the Bucs opened with two road games just four times. Across the NFL, over the past five seasons, only one NFL team — the 2013 Miami Dolphins, no less — opened its season with back-to-back road wins.

Bucs turn to young players Jones, Lambert to fill pass-rush hole (

As the Bucs move forward without DE Jacquies Smith, lost to a season-ending knee injury Sunday, they’ll look to second-year pro Howard Jones and rookie DaVonte Lambert to pick up larger roles in the outside pass rush.

Shepard, Alexander ready for LSU reunion against Cardinals (

Bucs receiver Russell Shepard, the lone offensive player among the six, said he’s stayed close with his former Tigers teammates and is looking forward to the chance to go up against them on Sunday.

“I’m close with all of them,” Shepard said. “I spent two years with (Pat) Peterson. He was the model guy, taught everybody how to come in, be a pro, do certain things. Me and Tyrann (Mathieu) are pretty close. (Linebacker) Kevin Minter was my roommate for three years. (Cornerback) Tharold Simon, I worked out with him in Houston pre-draft when we came out together. Even Lamar Louis, who they just put on (injured reserve), I recruited him.”

Bucs welcome buzz created by opening win, vow to stay focused (

There is a buzz around town this week about their football team, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers players can feel it — even if a large majority of them can slip under the radar without being recognized. They pulled off a 31-24 win against the Atlanta Falcons, their first season-opening win on the road since 2005, and that already has people talking.

Bucs hoping for first 2-0 start since 2010 (

The Bucs are coming off their first Week 1 road win since 2005 and their first Week 1 division road win since 1990. They are hoping to go 2-0 for the first time since 2010.

The defending NFC West champion Cardinals are hoping to avoid their first 0-2 start in 11 years.

Winston Named Air Player of the Week (

After a standout performance against the Falcons, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been named the FedEx Air Player of the Week for Week 1. Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Buccaneers to victory, 31-24. He finished the game with a passer rating of 122.6, which was the third-highest of any quarterback in the league.

Thursday, September 15

TE Danny Vitale happy to be back with Bucs on practice squad (

The last two weeks have been difficult for rookie tight end Danny Vitale, who was waived by the Bucs in their final cuts, then claimed by the Bills, only to be waived on his initial physical exam over concerns about a shoulder injury.

So about that Bucs trade to draft Roberto Aguayo …(

As much has been made about the Bucs’ trade to move up 15 spots and draft FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in April, the deal took an interesting twist Wednesday that serves as a reminder of what a crapshoot the NFL draft can be at all positions.

Cardinals coach Arians has long admired Bucs QB Winston (

Jameis Winston was a sophomore in high school when he first left an impression on Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who met the quarterback at a football camp Arians ran with his son in Birmingham, Ala.

Dirk Koetter has long history with Carson Palmer, Cards (

The cool thing is that Koetter has been going up against Palmer since 2001, when both were in the Pac-10, with Koetter as head coach at Arizona State and Palmer at USC. In 2001, his Trojans beat Koetter’s Sun Devils 48-17 — he went 18-for-26 for 295 yards and three touchdowns; a year later, it was a 34-13 USC win and he threw for 214 and two scores, giving him five TDs and no interceptions in the two meetings.

Jameis Winston: Bruce Arians ‘inspired me to go after a Super Bowl’ (

“He really motivated me to go after a Super Bowl,” Winston said. “He showed me that Pittsburgh one (from when Arians was offensive coordinator with the Steelers, coincidentally won in Tampa after the 2008 season)… it was gorgeous, so he really inspired me to go after a Super Bowl.”

Wednesday, September 14

Bucs Jameis Winston named NFC Offensive Player of the Week (Tampa Bay Times)

Perhaps just as impressive was the fact that Winston’s four touchdowns were to four different receivers — Brandon Myers, Charles Sims, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Mike Evans. In fact, Winston connected with eight different players in completing 23 of 33 passes with four TDs and one INT. His 122.6 passer rating was the third-highest of any quarterback in the league.

Series bragging rights on the line Sunday (

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken on the team known as the Cardinals in three different states and five different stadiums over four decades of head-to-head play…and they really haven’t decided anything. After 18 thunderous clashes with that not-too-heated rival from the NFC West (late of the NFC East), it’s nine up and nine down for the Buccaneers.


Tuesday, September 13

Buccaneers sign RB Jacquizz Rodgers to one-year deal (ESPN)

One day after losing pass rusher Jacquies Smith for the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed running back Jacquizz Rodgers to a one-year deal, a source tells ESPN. The move reunites him with Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith, his former offensive coordinator and head coach, respectively, with the Atlanta Falcons.

Alan Cross returns, Buccaneers add LB (

Tight end Alan Cross, one of four undrafted rookies who originally made the 53-man roster, has returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a member of the practice squad.

Why Bucs coach Dirk Koetter’s office is decorated with one framed jersey- Pat Tillman’s (Tampa Bay Times)

Tillman is still revered in Arizona, 12 years after his death. Koetter has coached football for 34 years, but his longest stay anywhere was at Arizona State, and he was on the sideline when Tillman’s jersey was posthumously retired in 2004.

Monday, September 12

DE Jacquies Smith (knee) out for season (Tampa Bay Times)

The Bucs have lost DE Jacquies Smith to a season-ending knee injury, placing him on injured reserve Monday after he was injured in punt coverage in Sunday’s win against the Falcons.

Bucs linebackers Alexander, David have look of stardom (Tampa Bay Times)

The NFL should prepare for this: Alexander and Lavonte David are budding superstars and on the verge of becoming the best tandem of linebackers in the league.

Jones: Bucs’ feelings for Dirk Koetter flow in victorious locker room (

“This game is over. Clock ticks zero and it’s over. Now we move on to Arizona. We beat Atlanta, but … now we have to move on to the next one. We have to have that mentality. We have to move on to the next game.”

Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald will challenge Bucs’ secondary (ESPN)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Arizona Cardinals this week in Glendale. The Bucs are coming off a 31-24 win over the Falcons while the Cardinals were narrowly beaten by the New England Patriots in a 23-21 loss.

Bucs will continue to use WR Shorts on kickoff return (Tampa Bay Times)

The Bucs’ season opener saw all but one opposing kickoff go for a touchback, but coach Dirk Koetter said he’ll have new receiver Cecil Shorts back deep again Sunday when Tampa Bay plays at Arizona.


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Behind Enemy Lines Week 2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers