By Eric Schmidt

Cue HBO Hard Knocks, and the media hype that comes with that exposure. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the darlings of the media this offseason as a trendy pick for post season aspirations. Remove the media hype, actually start playing some games and reality sets in. This was supposed to be the season the Buccaneers re-wrote the record books offensively. QB Jameis Winston was showing strong signs, WR Mike Evans has been a beast in his few years in the league, add in speedy WR DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries at the slot Cameron Brate at tight end and the addition of rookie O.J. Howard  in the draft, and this team looked poised to become the darling of the NFC this season.

Not so fast.

As a disclaimer, I have been a life long Buccaneers fan since 1976. I listened to games broadcast on the radio with Gene Deckerhoff calling the game when they weren’t broadcast locally. This season, I believed that the steady coaching staff would help Jameis Winston progress. As the defense last year turned everything around in the second half of the season, I believed that retaining defensive coordinator Mike Smith was a good thing. My opinions show why I write from my desk and do not have a position of power at any level in the NFL. The 2017 version of the Buccaneers are a joke.

The offense is basically offensive. 9 turnovers in 5 games. Always playing from behind. One offensive touchdown in 8 quarters of football. Against the New Orleans Saints this afternoon, they were down 9-0 after two 3 and out series and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown and the team never recovered. This is a clunky looking offense. 3 and out possessions are the norm. 29 plays in the first half this afternoon resulted in 111 offensive yards. Penalties, stupid penalties, grasp this team every single drive. False start. Offensive holding. Offensive pass interference. This is not a cohesive unit, you have to look at the coaching staff once again.

Patrick Murray misses another field goal attempt. Now yes, it wasn’t a game changer, but what is so difficult about having a kicker in Tampa that can actually kick the ball? Matt Bryant? Conner Barth? Remember those guys? They wore pewter once in their careers and are still kicking for other teams.

Defense? I was very happy when the Buccaneers retained defensive coordinator Mike Smith this past offseason after what I saw the Tampa defensive unit do in the second half of last season. The defense has been downright offensive this year. Coming into today, the Buccaneers had allowed 4 straight 100-yard rushers and had only recorded 7 sacks in 7 games, the fewest in the NFL. The turnovers the team was known for last year are vacant.  Pass rush? What is that. The defensive line is abysmal.

Post game reports suggest that QB Jameis Winston will be getting an MRI on his throwing shoulder in the morning. If there is damage, shut him down for the year. Tampa is going no where this season. Let Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith know that Two Guys and a Truck move things at an affordable rate. It will be another re-do in the coaching circles in Tampa after the 2017 season. This team will be lucky to win 5 games this season.

Dirk Koetter will go down in Buccaneers history as another in the long list of failed head coaches such as Leeman Bennett, Ray Perkins, Sam Wyche, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith. Koetter is not just the head coach but the offensive coordinator as well so all this lack of output falls squarely on his shoulders.

I have a framed poster in my office celebrating the Buccaneers 2002 season winning the Super Bowl signed by a member of that team. I look at that and remember that afternoon watching the game with my father. I cried that afternoon when Tampa hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. I no longer shed a tear for Tampa because this franchise is a joke. At least I got to see a World Championship once in my lifetime.

 

 

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