It’s like this.
Saints 42 – Bucs 17
And so ends another dismal season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
To give credit where it’s due, Drew Brees? The Man. That dude is so much fun to watch, even though he was playing for “the enemy.” I still smile when I think of him after the Super Bowl a few years ago, when he’s hoisting his young son into the air and the kid has this look of utter joy on his face.
Meanwhile, the Bucs have some serious looking in the mirror to do during this offseason, which for them began about an hour ago. There are so very many questions to be answered. How does a team with the roster the Bucs boasted perform so incredibly poorly? Several of the games they lost were genuine heartbreakers, snatched from their grasp within the final minute. Others were embarrassing with the intensity of the blowout.
There were definite highlights. Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon is a definite positive, and I think he’s on course to be an amazing player if he continues on his present track. Yes, there were mistakes and bad decisions, but that’s what you expect from a rookie who’s fighting to learn a system after being thrown into the deep end of the pool, which included getting sacked by pretty much everyone including a gang of roving hot dog vendors in St. Louis last week. Give this guy some protection and some guys with hands, and the potential is unmistakable. He’s going to be one to watch next year, I think.
After a sluggish start, the Bucs defense managed to turn in some solid performances, regaining their status as a top-ranked unit and playing key roles in Tampa’s pitifully few victories, while also doing everything within their power to keep those aforementioned heartbreaking losses close enough to give the offense a chance.
It would be unfair to recap the Bucs’ season without mentioning the very definite impact of injuries to their roster. Kicker Connor Barth and running back Doug Martin were key losses, as well as injuries to three different tight ends and two additional running backs. It’s hard to craft a running attack when the players keep changing, which in turn translates to that much more pressure on the young, inexperienced quarterback.
Still, there’s plenty of good here. The problem facing the Bucs coaching staff is identifying and fixing all the things that need addressing. I figure that’ll keep them busy for a while.
Which brings us to the Big Question, doesn’t it? Will Greg Schiano remain the Bucs’ head coach? Rumors abound on all sides of that mystery. With all of the drama surrounding Schiano’s relationship with ex-Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, as well as the whole “Bucs Locker Room is a Plague Ship” thing that dominated the first part of the season, and…oh, yeah…the 0-8 start and eventual 4-12 record to finish out the year following a disappointing 2012 season, there’s plenty of reasons to let Schiano go.
He has his defenders, of course, who cite the “improved discipline” in the clubhouse he brought with him following his tenure as the coach at Rutgers University. Of, course, all that wannabe drill instructor bullshit didn’t seem to make its way to the football field, where the Bucs ranked third in both total number of penalties and yardage surrendered due to penalties. On offense, they come in at the bottom of the league, barely managing to stay ahead of me and some friends of mine who play that crazy 70s tabletop vibrating football game. None of that screams, “Well disciplined machine” to me.
The Bucs owners are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to discussing staff matters, particularly while a season is in progress, but they’re also known for attempting to engineer deals behind the scenes with an eye toward making fast transitions. If they elect to fire Schiano, who might replace him? Some folks are mumbling things about Lovie Smith as a possible successor. I think I might pee myself a bit if that were to happen…in the good way, of course.
So, another season draws to a close. The pirate ship ties up at the dock, the sails are furled, the cannons and flags are put away for another year. Guess we’ll do it all over again next September, right?
It’s a Bucs life, yo.