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Bucs finish season in last place in NFC South … again

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For all the talk of Rookie of the Year, for all of the flirtation with the NFL rushing leader, for all the discussion about a playoff berth, the Tampa Bay Bucs concluded their 2015 season in familiar fashion Sunday evening. Once again, they lost. Once again, they finished in last place. The Bucs were blown out by the Carolina Panthers (15-1) to take over the cellar for the fifth straight season. Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead in the first…

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Bucs expected to turn their attention to defensive ends, corners

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For the Tampa Bay Bucs, upgrades are needed. As the Bucs prepare to close out their 2015 season Sunday against Carolina, there are several positions where the team simply has to be better. Of those, defensive ends and the secondary appear to be two of the main ones. Tampa Bay improved from two wins in 2014 to six this year, but for some, that doesn’t appear to be enough, particularly with the Bucs playing a weak schedule. The Bucs, who…

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Lovie Smith: Tampa Bay’s defense “isn’t a finished product” yet

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The Tampa Bay Bucs couldn’t finish down the stretch of the NFL season. Perhaps it’s because the Bucs are not a finished product. Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith, in his day-after news conference, suggested that a weak pass rush and poor coverage might be partly because of the players he has. “It’s not a finished product,” Smith said. “When I say it’s not a finished product, the way you get a finished product is, first off, you have to have the…

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What else is new? Bucs find another way to lose a game

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The Bucs lost again Sunday. Of course they did. The Bucs lost because, pretty much, that is what they do. They have lost nine times this season, 23 over the last two and 75 times over the last seven seasons. Why? Because they aren’t good enough to avoid it, that’s why. The Bucs struggled on both offense and defense in a 26-21 loss to Chicago that wasn’t as close as it seemed. The Bucs scored on a 43-yard Hail Mary…

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Should Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston win the Rookie of the Year?

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He has won three times the number of games as the team won the year before he got here. He has led. He has become the face of the franchise. Now, can Tampa Bay Bucs’ quarterback Jameis Winston become the NFL Rookie of the Year? According to Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith, he should. “As a rookie coming into this league, top pick in the draft, quarterback,” Smith said. “We made Jameis our starting quarterback right away. We saw that. He…

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Saints’ beat-up secondary braces for Bucs’ James Winston

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As far as Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro can tell, the rematch of New Orleans’ beleaguered secondary against rookie Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston could be more challenging than their first encounter. Winston has become more consistent, more decisive and more productive since posting his first career victory in the Superdome of Week 2 this season, Vaccaro said. “He’s not turning the ball over. He’s making good throws, making smart decisions — everything you want in a first-round quarterback,” Vaccaro said.…

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Buccaneers, Falcons hoping to make strong stretch runs

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Jameis Winston relishes the challenge of helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers become relevant again, a process the Atlanta Falcons are intent on slowing down. The NFC South rivals meet for the second time in just over a month Sunday, with both teams hoping to launch a strong stretch run that will produce a playoff berth. “I’m excited,” Winston said. “This is the time football matters.” “It’s a big deal. It’s almost like win or go home right now. You know…

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