MINNEAPOLIS — Here's the Tampa Bay Times' Bucs coverage team's instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday.
The Bucs can't beat Case Keenum. He is 3-0 against them in the last three years as a starter and 7-16 vs everyone else. Injuries hurt the D but where was the offense?
— Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud
MINNEAPOLIS — On the Bucs team charter flight Saturday, receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans sat next to each other and became outraged reading the comments that President Donald Trump made at a political rally in Alabama a night earlier.
Trump referred to NFL players who protested the national anthem as "sons of b------" and encouraged team owners to fire any player who would not stand for the Star-Spangled Banner....
TAMPA — Vikings QB Sam Bradford was ruled out for Sunday's game against the Bucs with a knee injury.
That means Minnesota will start Bucs killer Case Keenum, who has beaten Tampa Bay each of the past two years with the Rams. Keenum has passed for three touchdowns of 43 yards or more in those games. In the Bucs' other 31 games since the start of 2015, all other opposing quarterbacks have totaled three touchdown passes of 43 yards or longer....
TAMPA — The last time the Bucs had a top-five defense also happens to be when they last appeared in the postseason.
A decade has passed since 2007, a decade without that rock to lean on.
Now, fortified by a couple sterling draft classes and led by former Falcons head coach Mike Smith, the D in the Bucs DNA is back.
"I get so excited playing with these guys because at every level there's something special, at every position," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said....
TAMPA — It was only minutes after the Bucs had demolished the Bears 29-7 Sunday when quarterback Jameis Winston tried one final time to connect with receiver DeSean Jackson.
"You never want to leave anything out there on the field, and I told DeSean, 'We left a lot out there. I missed you a couple times, and we've got to connect on those,' " Winston said of his locker room conversation with Jackson....
TAMPA — Coach Dirk Koetter spent a lot of time before this year's draft evaluating RB Dalvin Cook. At one time, the Florida State star and former teammate of QB Jameis Winston was considered the player the Bucs most likely would draft 19th overall.
"He's a really good back," Koetter said. "He can run with power. He can run with speed. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, and he's demonstrated all that the first two weeks of the season. He's a really good football player."...
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) and LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. DT Chris Baker and DE Jacquies Smith with out with an illness. CB Brent Grimes (shoulder) was limited. LB Devante Bond (knee) had full participation....
How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?
It nearly happened. Tampa Bay was set to select Cook in the first round, but Alabama tight end O.J. Howard unexpectedly tumbled to them with the 19th overall pick. Howard was one of the cleanest players in the draft due to his production and character and was projected to be gone with the first 10-15 picks....
How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?
It nearly happened. Tampa Bay was set to select Cook in the first round, but Alabama tight end O.J. Howard unexpectedly tumbled to them with the 19th overall pick. Howard was one of the cleanest players in the draft due to his production and character and was projected to be gone with the first 10-15 picks.
The Bucs were very familiar with Cook, who as a teammate of quarterback Jameis Winston at Florida State. Had he come to the Bucs, running back Doug Martin may not be on the roster instead of serving a three-game suspension. Cook lasted until the ninth pick in the second round, most likely due to some off-field concerns....
TAMPA — What happened to Victory Monday?
"That's what I'm trying to figure out, man," Bucs tackle Demar Dotson said. "Dirk (Koetter) took it away."
Typically in the NFL, when a team wins a game, particularly the way the Bucs curb-stomped the Bears 29-7 Sunday, players are given an extra day off and return to work Wednesday.
But despite the four-takeaway performance against the Bears, players were back at One Buc Place on Monday being shown all the things they did wrong. Koetter, the Bucs head coach, took the whole dominating victory thing with a pound of salt....
TAMPA — They were fast. They were flashy. A bunch of the new guys stood out. One made his debut by scoring a touchdown. The scoreboard was lit.
Not the Bucs offense, mind you.
Like the cannons in the north end zone of Raymond James Stadium that were quiet because of a mechanical issue, Jameis Winston and all his new weapons lacked firepower Sunday.
That may have been the most surprising thing about the Bucs' 29-7 rout of the Chicago Bears. It was the Bucs defense, which has gone largely overlooked, that made a statement....
TAMPA — Even though he has the arm for it, the long ball was one of Jameis Winston's few short-comings.
But deep passes, defined by those that travel at least 20 yards through the air, will be back for the Bucs this season.
Tampa Bay was the only team in the NFL that didn't have an offensive play of 50 yards or more last season. That led to the signing of DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $30.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed....
TAMPA — A look at some Jameis Winston mistakes that were nearly miracles, and some miracles thatwere almost mistakes:...
TAMPA — "I'm a risk taker."
That's what Jameis Winston told Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer last month in a postgame conversation. It was a candid moment that sums up the Bucs' dilemma with their quarterback.
Coach Dirk Koetter laughed when he saw the exchange on HBO's Hard Knocks.
"Yeah, duh!" he said.
Winston has never met a play he didn't like, never attempted a throw he thought he couldn't make. Those attributes have served him well....