In wake of Buccaneers latest loss, the first sign of dissension appears
Roy Cummings, Florida Football Insiders, published 23 October 2017

In the wake of two difficult losses, the latest a 30-27 set back at the hands of the Bills, it seems a bit of dissension may be setting in within the ranks of the Buccaneers. A clearly disgruntled T.J. Ward said late Sunday that he’s not happy with the fact he’s being used as a part-time player inside a defense that has now surrendered 68 points the last two games alone.

“I mean, that’s not why I came here,” Ward told reporters. “I did not come here to rotate. I did not come here to be a part-time player. I came here to make this defense better, be on the field 100 percent of the time. I destruct offenses. That’s what I do. I need to be out there. You got me in one minute, one minute. Last week, I didn’t even play the first half.’’

On Sunday night, shortly after the team flight from Buffalo landed, defensive tackle Chris Baker, who signed as a free agent in March, sounded off on Twitter agreeing with Ward and implying that he’s not being used enough either:

Ward, who only came to the Bucs after he was let go by the Broncos at the end of the preseason, has spent the season so far serving as the third safety in what has largely been a three-man rotation at the position. Going into Sunday he had played 110 snaps, which was three less than fellow safety Keith Tandy, who had missed each of the Bucs previous two games with a hip injury.

A lack of playing time isn’t the only thing upsetting Ward. The failure of the Bucs defense to close out a game it led 27-20 with 3:14 to play didn’t make him happy either. “We are not a good football team right now,’’ Ward said. “Good football teams close those wins out. We have to find a way to close these games out.’’ The Bucs lost their 27-20 lead in a matter of 46 seconds when the Bills put together a three-play drive that culminated in quarterback Tyrod Taylor throwing a 7-yard TD pass to LeSean McCoy.

The Bills later won the game on a 30-yard Stephen Hauschka field goal that came after Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries fumbled the ball away on the first play of the Bucs ensuing drive. The turnover was the third of the day for the Bucs but on a day when the Bills converted 10 of 16 third-down tries, the Bucs biggest problem, Ward said, was their inability to get off the field when they needed to.

“We started out a little better than last week, but we’ve got to finish better,’’ Ward said. “It’s going to take a complete game for us to get a win. It’s not going to be easy but the prospects for this team are going to be based on that.’’

 Right now the prospects for the Bucs don’t seem very good. They now stand at 2-4, two full games behind the Saints, who took over the lead in the NFC South on Sunday when they beat Green Bay 26-17. “We’ve just got to find a way to put a good game together, and be consistent throughout,’’ Ward said.

But, clearly there are two disgruntled new Bucs, who are airing their gripes publicly, and that can’t make coach Dirk Koetter or the front office very pleased.