By Quinne Lowe @sports_qa on May 4, 2014
Tampa Bay fans enter the 2014 season with high hopes as former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith was brought in to be the new head coach after two frustrating seasons under Greg Schiano. And while the team will be better, those optimistic fans will soon find out that this team still has too many holes to have any legitimate playoff hopes.
The last time the Bucs introduced a new head coach he too opened against the Carolina Panthers and while the Greg Schiano era did not have many successes, defeating the Panthers that day gave the fanbase hope. Smith continues that trend by catching a Panthers team who is still trying to find its offensive bearings with no Steve Smith.
Tampa Bay 23-16
The Bucs face an improving Rams defense that got even better after adding some key pieces during the 2014 draft and Tampa Bay fails to get an early jump on the season and move to 2-0 when Josh McCown throws a costly interception to give the Rams the victory.
St. Louis 20-14
Tampa Bay hit the road to face another division foe in Atlanta and this is not the same 4-12 Falcons team from 2013. Matt Ryan has rebounded from a disappointing season by playing well early in 2014 but the Bucs defense shows toughness by limiting the Falcons run game and the offense takes rides Doug Martin to victory on the Georgia Dome turf.
Tampa Bay 27-20
The Bucs hit the road again to face another team looking to rebound from a disappointing 2013 in the Steelers. However, unlike against Atlanta, Pittsburgh flexes its "Steel City" grit by forcing Josh McCown into three turnovers that Tampa could not overcome.
at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 30, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Another tough road challenge for Tampa Bay has given many of Bucs fans anxiety and doubt that this will be a successful season. Unable to contain Jimmy Graham, Lovie Smith leaves the Superdome looking for answers on how to end this early losing streak and also determine if Josh McCown is truly the answer at quarterback after another lackluster performance.
New Orleans 27-17
The Bucs limp back to Raymond James Stadium but get no sympathy from their next opponent the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco is making the most of his new weapon Steve Smith early in the 2014 season and it continues in this week 6 game. The Bucs cannot stop the former Panthers receiver as he scores two touchdowns and Tampa loses its third straight game.
Baltimore 27- 17
Coming off a needed bye Tampa looks like like a totally different team and may have finally addressed their early season issues. Gerald McCoy led a defensive charge that forced the Vikings offense into mistakes the entire game and a key fumble recovery by Mark Barron helps get Tampa back to its winning ways.
Tampa Bay 21-16
Tampa continues its simplistic approach to getting the job done as they continue to focus on being a power running team that allows its talented defense play to its strengths. The victory over the Browns is the second straight game in which the Bucs running backs had 30-plus carries and continued to take the pressure off Josh McCown.
Tampa Bay 23-17
The Falcons came into Raymond James Stadium looking to avenge the week 3 loss but Atlanta walked out frustrated after suffering a second loss to Tampa Bay on the season. Doug Martin has finally regained his 2012 season form as he helps keeps the dangerous Falcons offense off the field most of the second half.
Tampa Bay 20-17
The Bucs head to Washington DC looking to continue its hot play and are treated to another good performance by its defense as Tampa sacked RGIII five times and forced two turnovers.
Tampa 31- 20
The winning streak comes to a screeching halt after Tampa Bay faced a determined Bears defense that took advantage of the tendencies of former teammate Josh McCown. The pass offense was forced to throw more after the Bears defense stifled the Bucs rush game to the lowest output since early in the season.
Tampa finds itself in another losing streak as teams have begun to adjust to Jeff Tedford's offensive scheme adjustment of focusing on the running game and not wanting the quarterback to be exposed. Andy Dalton throws for over 300 yards and is giving the Bengals fans hope for a deep playoff run on the season.
Two teams heading in the opposite directions meet at Ford Field and Tampa Bay finds itself in a second three-game losing streak of the season as Matt Stafford picked apart the Bucs defense. And despite Doug Martin rushing for 127 yards, the offense never seemed to get on track against the Lions defense that attacked Josh McCown all afternoon.
Another road game another road loss for the Buccaneers. Carolina used the athleticism of Cam Newton to buy some time against the attacking front four. The Panther defense bottled up Doug Martin and with the Bucs struggling to not be one-dimensional, the offense continues to have a Jeckyll and Hyde persona on the field.
Tampa Bay went from starting the season with high hopes to just trying to end this disappointing season. While the Green Bay Packers were the road team, Raymond James sounded more like a mini Lambeau Field as Aaron Rodgers found success early and often. The one bright spot of the game was Doug Martin who rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown.
Green Bay 34-21
The Bucs get a gift as New Orleans rests a lot of their starters after having clinched the division the prior week. Throughout the game the Bucs play with an energy and determination that head coach Lovie Smith later admits impressed him as his staff was looking for something to build upon for the 2015 season. Lavonte David finishes the game with 15 tackles and forces a fumble as Tampa Bay wins 26-20 to end the 2014 season 7-9
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