By Eric Schmidt

Any thought of post season play this season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is over. Honestly, heading into this season after watching the Pewter Pirates on the field last year, did you think there would be the possibility of discussing playoffs surrounding the Buccaneers after the month of September this season? The discussions were there. The month of November brought back memories for Buccaneers fans as the upstart team, led by a rookie head coach after they  achieved a 6-4 record.

It was a great ride for a while. Watching this year’s Buccaneers was like taking a trip from the Bay area over to Orlando for the day to ride a roller coaster. It’s fun, but it wasn’t rooted in any sort of reality. The Buccaneers have several issues on the defensive side of the ball and Greg Schiano and the coaching staff will have to address this in the upcoming offseason.

On Sunday, the Buccaneers were shredded, much as they were in the late season swoon of last season 41-0, not able to score a single point against statistically the worst defense in the NFL. Exactly who has the worst defense in the NFL? The Buccaneers have to be considered in that discussion.

In the midst of the Buccaneers scoring outburst against poor teams, members of the Tampa Bay media scribed columns about how the team should extend a new contract to QB Josh Freeman this year. How has Freeman worked out since Week 11?

Last week, he completed just 41% of his passes against an Eagles team which had lost 8 straight games. On Sunday, he threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in a 41-0 loss to the Saints.Freeman seems to be throwing the ball all over the field. The only reason he didn’t have interceptions in the Philadelphia Eagles game last week, was because no one was in the area he was throwing most of his balls. He looks like a professional ball player that has lost his confidence.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Buccaneers need help. Pass defense was an issue at the start of the season when Tampa had Eric Wright and Aqib Talib in the lineup, but they are gone and things have just gotten worse in their absence. The Buccaneers are going to have to spend some serious money in the offseason on at least one cornerback and draft for serious depth at the position because it appears that no one on the current roster is capable of covering a mushroom with a kleenex, let alone defend against opposing NFL quarterbacks.

381 yards surrendered to Philadelphia rookie QB Nick Foles. The Cincinnati Bengals held him to 182 yards last Thursday night, last week, the Buccaneers made the rookie in his third start look like Joe Montana.  On Sunday, the Buccaneers surrendered 307 yards and four touchdown passes to Drew Brees. Even more disturbing, the Buccaneers allowed the Saints to rush for 149 yards, run defense has been a strength this season.

The early on misguided playoff talk surrounding the Buccaneers is over and with two weeks remaining in the season, it’s time to start looking forward. Rookie head coach Greg Schiano needs to pull off a win in one of the last two remaining games in order to keep players engaged in his “plan”. A final 7-9 record would be a significant improvement over the 2011 campaign, with an offense showing signs of becoming dynamic in 2013.

Hopefully, the 41-0 blowout on Sunday is going to be a wakeup call for this current squad, a squad that has been competitive all season long, but is short on experience.

Greg Schiano is walking a fine line with the current Buccaneers roster. His hardline approach either energizes or turns off players. Players that have not bought into his scheme, have been moved out of Tampa. Sunday’s loss was a complete embarrassment and it will be interesting to see if he can get the squad motivated enough to garner another win or two at the end of the regular season.

 

 

 

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