5 Reasons You Can Stick A Fork In The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 Reasons You Can Stick A Fork In The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This season started with so much promise for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Josh Freeman returned as starting quarterback, looking to recapture his mojo from earlier in his career and build on the promise he'd always shown. Doug Martin returned as running back, looking to build on a very successful rookie campaign. Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson looked like one of the best receiving duos in the league and capable of bringing Freeman back. The offensive line was revamped and the team went out and spent good money to fix their defense, acquiring Darrelle Revis to lock out the opposition's top receiver and bring Revis Island to South Florida. Sure, it cost them their first round draft pick, but picking up a top-flight corner isn't something a lot of teams have the chance at. If you're going to solidify your defense there aren't many better ways to do so than that.
With that kind of talent in their lineup, no one could have possibly predicted that it would take the Buccaneers nine weeks to pick up their first win of the 2013 NFL season.
No one could have predicted the turmoil that would surround head coach Greg Schiano, that Freeman would be gone mid-season or that this team would be in such disarray from top to bottom. It's hard to have success as a team when everyone isn't on the same page and to say that this team hasn't been on the same page would be putting it lightly.
So with the Bucs sitting at 1-8, here are five reasons why you can stick a fork in them.
5. Greg Schiano
This might be the biggest reason the Bucs are screwed.
Where to start? How about we start with the accusations that Schiano, who many believed didn't want Freeman as his quarterback, rigged a locker room election voting in team captains. Freeman went from captain to not and the rumors swirled that Schiano himself was behind fixing the vote so the quarterback wouldn't be one of his captains.
How screwed up does your team have to be to have your coach accused of that? I understand most coaches aren't the nicest or most friendly guy, but you don't hear them being accused of fixing elections to run down a guy they don't want. How is this team supposed to succeed with that kind of behavior from their head coach? True or not, the rumor does enough damage that it's going to affect the way things are going.
It all starts at the top, and this tire fire of a situation most definitely starts at the top.
You know what else derails a season before it gets started? Injuries. And the Bucs have dealt with their fair share.
Martin was already having a disappointing season before a shoulder injury derailed him for the long term. His backup, Mike James, is now done for the season after being injured in the win over Miami. Williams is done for the year after a hamstring injury that limited him for most of the season became worse in the form of a torn hamstring. That's just a few in the long line of injuries the Bucs have dealt with. Lesser injuries to Mark Barron, Davin Joseph, Jeff Demps and others have limited the Bucs' ability to field the best team they possibly can.
It's hard enough for a team to deal with issues like the ones the Bucs have at the head coaching spot, but taking their best players off the field with injuries just makes them Dead Team Walking.
3. Rookie Quarterback
If all of that wasn't hard enough to overcome, the Bucs added another dimension to their woes by starting a rookie third-round quarterback.
That's not meant as a diss to Mike Glennon. He's performed admirably so far in his short time in the league, even if he does stare down Jackson just a little bit. But hey, you can't fault a guy for throwing to his best receiver as often as possible.
But the fact of the matter is this team sunk its veteran starter (and eventually cut him) only to thrust a rookie third round pick -- not even a franchise guy like an RG3 or Andrew Luck -- into the starting lineup. You can't expect much with that kind of situation, and the Bucs should be doing all they can to ensure that Glennon doesn't get ruined.
It's just another poor situation for the Bucs but another they created for themselves.
2. The Road Ahead
And if all of THAT weren't bad enough, the 1-8 Buccaneers don't exactly have an easy schedule ahead of them. It would be bad enough if they had nothing but cupcakes ahead, but I suppose when you're 1-8 there's no such thing.
A look at the schedule down the stretch:
That is a brutal stretch right there. Four probable playoff teams -- and three legitimately good teams in Carolina, San Francisco and New Orleans -- plus no easy outs means a lot of trouble for the Bucs. This will be an uphill fight until the very end for Tampa Bay and it's up to them to make sure they go out with as much of a bang as possible instead of the whimper they've managed for most of the season.
1. Too Little, Too Late
More importantly than all of that is the fact that the Buccaneers are showing fight just a little too late.
Where was this early in the season when everything was still salvageable? Where was this when Freeman was around and Schiano wasn't being seared to death on the hot seat? I get that when things are rough you have nothing left to play for but each other, but the fact that it took them nine games to muster up their first win -- and they've had several that were close but ultimately given away -- says all you need to know about this team.
There's nothing left to fight for, guys. Your coach is likely going to be gone when the season ends. A new guy is going to come in and set up his own regime with his own guys and some of you may not be around.
It's unfortunate that a team with all the talent the Bucs have could implode so spectacularly. Bad things happen to teams, just maybe not on this scale. A little fight is great, but in this case it's far too late.