An Open Letter to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Front Office,
September 13, 2015 was the start of what was supposed to be a new era in the Buccaneers franchise. Fans that attended today’s game in Raymond James Stadium were treated to a historic event, the first time rookie quarterbacks selected first and second overall in the NFL Draft were to square off in their respective first regular season game. The kickoff to the Buccaneers regular season was going to be a game filled with some intrigue, both the Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans finished the 2014 campaigns with 2-14 records and both teams drafted Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.
What those in attendance were treated to as Buccaneers fans, was a flat out embarrassment. After the end of preseason and training camp, head coach Lovie Smith told the media last week that if he had another week, he thought the Buccaneers might be Tennessee ready. That was obvious this afternoon. Uh, what? You have an entire offseason and he can’t get the team ready in time for the start of the season?
As a fan of the club since it’s inception in 1976, I’ve been privileged to watch some pretty horrible football. Outside of the Super Bowl season in 2002, it seems as if the team has come around full circle. Tampa Bay is 30-67 since you fired the only coach that took this club to the Super Bowl. It has now been 645 days since your organization has won a home game.
You kicked Jon Gruden to the curb after the 2008 season and then experimented miserably with Raheem Morris, a man that was in way over his head. You then fire Morris and hire a college coach, Greg Schiano, based on a reported reference from the Patriots ownership. Needing to bring some gravitas to the head coaching position, you turned to Lovie Smith. Smith was a Buccaneers assistant under Tony Dungy, but he has brought nothing to the table.
Smith produced a 2-14 season in 2014. The team was hamstrung with terrible quarterback play, line play on both sides of the ball languished. The club was plagued with penalties last season. And once again here after one game in 2015, we see more of the same.
Buccaneers fans were not expecting Jameis Winston to come out and look like a Super Bowl winning quarterback in his first professional game. I guess if we wanted that, the team should have drafted Marcus Mariota, who finished the game with a perfect passer rating, throwing four touchdowns and only missing on three of his attempts.
This is no dig on Mr. Winston. I’m sure Mr. Mariota will have his bad games this year as well but today’s loss isn’t squarely on Jameis Winston’s shoulders. Yes, he did play poorly but he had no help from a poorly designed offensive line. And the last time I checked, Jameis doesn’t play defense. In the first half, Tampa’s defense gave up 11 plays of 10 yards or more to the Titans, again, another team that was 2-14 last season and starting a rookie quarterback.
Tampa finished the afternoon with 8 offensive penalties and 3 on the defensive side of the ball. The problem just continues to manifest itself.
If you thought that just bringing a coach with a history tied to the club back to the team for name recognition would be the magical result, you’ve failed. The game has passed Lovie Smith by. While he was the head coach in Chicago, his offensive line led Jay Cutler to be the most sacked quarterback in the league for three years in a row, I hope Jameis is prepared for more of that same treatment. It’s going to be a long year for the former Heisman winner.
Your decisions over the last several years have alienated a lot of your fanbase. Shortly after winning the Super Bowl, the front office made decisions to move out players such as DT Warren Sapp and S John Lynch. These players went on to continue a successful career elsewhere. Then once the team was going to be out of salary cap handcuffs, you jettisoned head coach Jon Gruden. The team hasn’t won 1/3 of their games since you made those decisions.
When your father was in charge of this team, there was a level of excellence that was expected. Recently, it seems to casual fans as if the Buccaneers are just a cocktail party event team that you happen to own with all of your other business interests.
The 2015 version of the Buccaneers has serious offensive line issues. Twice, the offensive tackle lined up uncovered and the Buccaneers were called for illegal formation penalties. Both penalties were costly, wiping out big plays. This is squarely on the coaching. There is no defensive line pass rush. There is no depth at receiver.
You can discard the loss today and say it was just one game, but it’s an extension of what has been surrounding this once proud organization that used to field one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL for the last several years. Today’s loss was a complete embarrassment on every level.
If you wonder why half the seats are filled at Ray Jay, simply look at the quality of the product you are putting on the field.
I kicked the Tampa Bay Rays to the curb this season after their ownership decided they couldn’t afford Manager Joe Maddon any longer after following them since their inception into the league. I see that Mr. Maddon has the Chicago Cubs right in line for post season play while the Rays struggle to get to .500 and will be watching the playoffs at home.
I used to have season tickets for the Buccaneers. I get your promotional emails and mailers. You are not getting another dime from me until you prove that you are as committed to this team as much as I am. Since 1976, I think I’ve missed maybe a dozen games on either a television or a radio broadcast, I doubt anyone in the front office can claim the same.
Today ranks as one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from the Buccaneers, and that is saying something. This team was not ready to play and where should the blame be assigned?