Stick a fork in them, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are done. The season began with the highest of expectations and after just 12 weeks, Buccaneer fans are wondering what happened. It is almost as if 2010 never happened, this season is a mere continuation of the 2009 campaign and as the regular season winds down, it’s time to cue the all too familiar chorus in the Tampa Bay area, where do we go from here.
After 2010, it appeared that the youngest team in the NFL had put some great pieces in place to build upon. After 11 games in the 2011 season, Buccaneers fans are wondering if the team should even keep any of those pieces. The string of futility continues each week. For the eleventh straight week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers failed to score a touchdown in the first quarter. In four games this season, the Buccaneers have scored one offensive touchdown.
Head coach Raheem Morris wanted to take the blame for the defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans and then came out last week and wanted to put the blame on this season’s schedule. Well, the Tennessee Titans aren’t exactly the New England Patriots, this is a game the Buccaneers should have won. I put the blame for this loss squarely on the desk of the coaching staff. Perhaps 2010 was a mirage and they just aren’t that good. The Kansas City Chiefs won 10 games and a division last season and look where they are this season.
Simply put, this team is not coached very well. There appears to be no discipline. There is little understanding of the basic fundamentals for the game such as tackling. The team is committing too many penalties and turning the ball over too much. Mr. Morris wanted to take the credit for the 10 win season last year, he has to take the blame for the trainwreck of a season the 2011 campaign has become.
Great teams know how to finish games, this team barely knows how to start them.
Nursing a four-point lead with 8 minutes to go in the game, the Buccaneers had the ball on the Tennessee 28 yard line and could have put the game away. Instead, the Buccaneers went into self-destruct mode.
A first and ten becomes a first and 20 after a Kellen Winslow penalty. Then it becomes first and 25 after a Jeremy Zuttah false start. Throw in an incompletion, a tackle for a loss on an ill advised screen pass to Kregg Lumpkin and it’s suddenly 3rd down and 28 on the Bucs side of the field. Another penalty on Jeremy Zuttah was waived off and the play on 3rd and 28 was a handoff to Lumpkin and then an upcoming punt. Three penalties in five plays.
Tennessee takes the ball right down the field and scores the game winning touchdown. Did the Buccaneers even have a full compliment of players on defense for the final drive? On the game winning Damian Williams touchdown throw, it appeared as if the Buccaneers only trotted out about five players.
Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson has struggled mightily all season long, posting only two 100-yard games. He nearly doubled that yesterday, by rushing for 190 yards on just 23 carries. His rushing total wasn’t inflated by an 80-yard run, his longest of the day was 34, the Buccaneers defense is just that bad.
Do the Buccaneers even carry linebackers anymore? The top four tacklers on the day were Ronde Barber, EJ Biggers, Tanard Jackson and Sean Jones, that tells you how often the Titans were playing in the Buccaneers secondary.
The Buccaneers had an opportunity to get back into the game, down by three points with just under three minutes remaining. The first play? A draw to RB LeGarrette Blount. How predictable has this offense become? Stopped for no game, the Buccaneers decide to go up top and QB Josh Freeman threw yet another interception, giving the Titans the ball right back.
Tampa Bay had yet one more opportunity with 1:30 remaining. On a third down play, Kregg Lumpkin appears to reach the first down marker, but no one calls for a measurement? So, out of time outs and with the clock running down an ill-conceived fourth down quarterback draw is called which results in a fumble. Game over. Season over.
A Few observations from Sunday’s debacle-
– DT Brian Price. A great comeback story but he was carted off the field once again yesterday. Price cannot be counted on from game to game.
-DT Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth is the best interior defensive lineman on this team right now. A scary thought.
-CB EJ Biggers– Maddeningly inconsistent.
-RB Kregg Lumpkin– Most likely would not make the roster of 25 other teams in the league.
– QB Josh Johnson– Is it just me, or has anyone else figured out that whenever he enters the game, he’s going to run the ball. I’m sure opposing defensive coordinators haven’t spotted that trend. Way to keep defenses on their toes.
–Detroit, Buffalo and Tim Tebow all have more wins that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
–RB LeGarrette Blount. Does the coaching staff send Blount out to fetch coffee somewhere around the start of the third quarter? Several times this season, he starts a game strong and the play calling shifts away from him. He had 43 yards on 11 carries in the first half yesterday and virtually disappears from the Bucs game plan.
The schedule that Raheem Morris has been complaining about is going to get much easier the next few weeks with games against the Carolina Panthers and at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Those are easy games how exactly? Both of those teams have just one less win than the Buccaneers. There is no such thing as a certain win for this team.