There comes a time when the losing has to stop. When the finger-pointing, pouting and self-inflicted pity comes to an end. The NFL is a man’s game but yet there are many childish acts being played out on the field and behind closed doors. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are examples of how a proud franchise can go from champs to chumps in a blink of an eye.
We can skip pass the Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Gruden and Tony Dungy era and skip right to the issue at hand. The state of the Bucs for 2016-17 is optimistic for football fans but a recurring nightmare for Bucs fans.
Under the guidance the former head coach Lovie Smith the Bucs were moving in the right direction. He was awarded the 1st overall pick in last years draft and selected QB Jameis Winston due to a record of 2-14 but even that was a bit misleading. The Bucs lost 7 of those games by 10 points or less as they were dealing with multiple injuries to key players plus learning a new system under a new staff.
In 2015 expectations still weren’t too high as they had to let the rookie play caller get his feet wet in the league. With Winston and Lovie at the helm the team improved their offensive ranking from 29th to 20 in points and 30th to 5th in yards, even the defensive ranking improved. To further the case of Lovie making the right decisions he also improved the teams wins from 2-6 but still got the boot. Go figure.
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In 2016 the Bucs will likely be favorites to challenge the Carolina Panther 3-year run as NFC South champs but to do so they must stay healthy and pray the players can either bounce back from a bad season, injuries or just finally have that breakout year like RB Doug Martin did in 2015. The candidates for such is Winston as he did compile a stat line of 4042 yards, 22 TD’s and 14 INT’s and 6 more rushing touchdowns. Another reason for their offensive success was due to the legs of Martin as he rushed for 1402 yards and 6 TD’s.
But, yes there is a but when concerning the Bucs.
2016 was almost a wash as they stalled in getting Martin resigned and held him out for bait during free agency. This is why you can’t fully blame Lovie. The team can’t be winners on the field until the front office learns how to be winners themselves. Martin had his best season and yet they almost managed to screw his signing process up.
The Bucs have potential, they just need to believe and trust in the system. There were rumors that there may have been a bit of backstabbing going on with the Lovie to Dirk Koetter process but what’s done is done and now they must focus on the present and improving off those 6 wins from last season.
Can it be done? Yes, depending if the players believe they have a shot on the field and trusting the vision of a confused front office.