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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lovie Smith and Josh McCown Set for Return to Soldier Field

November 20th, 2014 at 11:04 PM
By Michael Compton

The 2-8 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the road for a Week 12 clash with the 4-6 Chicago Bears on Sunday in a matchup that features a pair of familiar faces returning to Soldier Field. Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith and quarterback Josh McCown return to Chicago to take on their former team for the first time.

If the game has any extra meaning for Smith, the former head coach of the Bears, he didn’t let on in Thursday’s press conference.

“This is how I really feel about it: we’ve got an NFC opponent, a chance to get a win,” Smith said. “I used to coach there a while back, like I did at Big Sandy High School, Arizona State, Kentucky, Ohio State, Tennessee and St. Louis [Rams] and have a lot of friends there, but we need to get a win. What’s the rest of the story?”

Smith coached the Bears from 2004-2012. During his tenure, the Bears finished first in the NFC North three times (2005, 2006 and 2010) and made it to Super Bowl XLI in 2006, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith was fired after the 2012 season when the Bears failed to reach the playoffs after going 7-1 to start the season.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans Proving Best of Deep Rookie Class of Wide Receivers

November 18th, 2014 at 3:42 PM
By Michael Compton

Wide receiver Mike Evans vaulted to the head of this season’s rookie class of wide receivers with a career-best performance in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Since Tampa Bay’s bye week in Week 7, Evans has been more than simply a standout rookie; he has been one of the most productive pass catchers in the NFL.

In his first season out of Texas A&M, Evans has recorded new career highs in each of the past four games. His 536 receiving yards lead the league during that span, while his five receiving touchdowns are tied for the second-most during that time. Against the Redskins, Evans racked up 209 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns.

Armed with size and soft hands, Evans is also displaying dangerous speed. He often outran coverage on Sunday, catching passes of 34, 36, 51 and 56 yards against Washington.

“He’s not your typical wide receiver, he’s a big guy, a big target for the quarterback to see, and it’s hard to not see him,” said head coach Lovie Smith. “He has excellent hands. He’s a big physical guy too and for a rookie, he’s a smart player. He’s been playing wide receiver for a long time. He has some great body control.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Spring to Life with 27-7 Win Over Washington Redskins

November 16th, 2014 at 4:51 PM
By Michael Compton

Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans had a career day against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday, pacing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a lopsided 27-7 victory. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bucs, who improve to 2-8 on the year.

Surprisingly, the Buccaneers are just two games out of first place in the NFC South and are back in the race for a potential playoff spot if they are able to win out. The New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, both 4-6, reside at the top of the division with six games remaining in the season.

For the first time this year, the Buccaneers pieced together a complete game on both sides of the ball. Head coach Lovie Smith preaches a defense-first approach, and that’s exactly what the veteran coach got on Sunday.

The Buccaneers’ defense generated pressure on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III all day, sacking him six times. The constant pressure rattled Griffin, turning the dual-threat signal-caller into a frustrated, one-dimensional passer. The defense also forced three turnovers and even got in on the scoring when cornerback Johnthan Banks intercepted a pass from Griffin and returned it 19 yards to the end zone.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prepare for Stern Road Test Against RG3, Washington Redskins

November 14th, 2014 at 12:29 PM
By Michael Compton

Following a disappointing 4-12 campaign a year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered this season with a new coaching staff, big-name free-agent signings, and renewed optimism. As the Buccaneers prepare for their Week 11 test against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field, however, they find themselves at the bottom of the NFC South with a 1-8 record. A series of close losses this year only compounds the frustration.

Despite the tough losses and five relinquished fourth-quarter leads, head coach Lovie Smith continues to find positives to build on.

“I definitely think if you’re looking for the glass half-full, you can see signs,” Smith said. “Going back to the Cleveland game, we had a lot of opportunities. We missed some, but were able to move the ball fairly well. This past week, we’d like more points. Most of the teams you see throughout the league, if they have a lot of points, they’ve been set up for a couple. We need, on the defensive side, to set the offense up a little bit more.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Continue to Search for Answers as Losses Mount

November 12th, 2014 at 9:10 PM
By Michael Compton

Head coach Lovie Smith’s first season at the helm of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has gone awry in more ways than one, and the 1-8 Buccaneers are in the NFC South cellar as they prepare for their Week 11 test against the Washington Redskins.

The reasons for the dismal record are many. The Buccaneers have been decimated by injuries. They have repeatedly failed to establish a running game and clearly are unable to close out games, as evidenced by the fact that they have given up fourth-quarter leads five times this year.

On defense, the banged-up front seven hasn't been able to pressure opposing quarterbacks and the secondary has been ripped regularly. Despite inconsistent efforts on both sides of the ball, Smith, ever the optimist, said at his Wednesday press conference that the team still believes that a turnaround is imminent.

“I know a 1-8 team is supposed to be really down and just—it is hurting that we’re there, but guys are showing up,” Smith said. “It’s one thing to be getting blown out; we see that we’re close, and I think that helps. Every man is just trying to do a little bit more. You’ve seen the guys in the locker room, they’re staying the course is what they’re doing, and eventually, it will change.”

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