The long-suffering Bucs Fan.
From the outside looking in, it’s not surprising that most of the big shots in Sports Journalism are predicting the same old dog and pony show from one of the most-consistently underperforming franchises in the NFL. It hurt to type that last line. Nobody that loves their team, wants to hear, read, write, or say that their team is a constant disappointment. Season after season, no amount of wishing it were different, can change a single snap that has already taken place. Bucs fans have gotten good at leaving losing seasons in the rearview and resetting their hopes, and expectations back to optimistic for the next season. When you do anything enough times, it gets easier. It may be true in practice, but not to heart, not in the pit of your chest. We ignore that special kind of Buccaneer-heartburn, and trudge on, chins high. We get a new jersey, a hat, a flag, I know some of you are still waiting for that damn flag you were supposed to get a season ago, a mug, some wall decor for the Pirate cave, etc., etc.! With almost childlike wonder, we approach the coming season as we did during Christmas when we were 8 years old. Sparkles in our eyes, well one eye anyway, a black patch hugs the other one, annually believing that this next year is going to be the one that brings respectability back to Dale Mabry.
History lends to negative outlooks.
NFL Journalists, don’t play that. They are the complete opposite. They don’t have to do a single bit of research/homework, spend time at practices, or anything else when covering a Bucs Preseason prediction. If they predict the Bucs to play just good enough to tease the Bucs fans with a wild card spot, and then blow it over the home stretch, they would be almost dead on every single year. It is easy to believe why most are counting the Bucs to finish in the basement of the division once again.
For reasons that should be obvious.
So in the Bucs tradition of resetting for the following season, I declare bullcrap! Let me adjust my patch before I proceed. All joking aside, this year should be different. Even those with only a little common sense should be able to look at the draft, the coaching change to a real winner in Bruce Almighty Arians, and the fact that last year we had a ball boy starting on defense because of all the injuries, and predict more wins than last year. But most aren’t. From where I stand on the ship, I can see a defense that was a liability for most of last year, transforming into a group that can become a huge asset, and dare I say by midseason, should be striking fear into receivers who dare to cross our line of scrimmage. I don’t believe that the defense will be a little better, or just show improvement, I’m expecting a group of guys with a completely different mindset, a new attitude, a little bit of nastiness. After all, Suh is sporting a Bucs Jersey this year, and he’s wearing #93, that’s nastiness from the git-go. Can I get an Amen? A defense playing in a better scheme, for significantly more talented position coaches, and coordinator, faster, stronger, and younger, by the first snap of the regular season, dare I say they will have developed a new Bucs swagger that we haven’t seen around here since Dungy and the early Gruden years.
Yes, I expect it to possibly be that dramatic of a turnaround. If our turnover ratio doesn’t go drastically in the opposite direction from last year, I’ll print this page and eat it! Hold on one moment, I think my shoulder parrot just flew into the sliding glass door. Let me state here that I know it’s possible that Tampa could just show marginal improvement, but deep in my gut, I’m expecting just what I’ve described, and I haven’t felt that way in a long time.
For another thing!
So far I’ve just talked about the defense. Offensively, this team last year slung the football all over the damn field between the 20-yard lines. One thing that was a constant all year, is that if you went to a Bucs game last year, you were going to see a lot of passing yardage being piled up, and this was the brainchild of a man, who in my opinion, should never be a Head Coach in the NFL again. It was almost like the years that the University of Houston, BYU, Boise State, Fresno State, or any of those schools out west sometimes had. But those teams scored a crapload of points, unlike our offense. Not much of an offensive line, and no running game to speak of, they just dropped back and just slung it son, and then slung it some more. “Peyton don’t get excited, Jameis is going to throw it again.” I’ll bet Koetter said that at least 20 times a game, but I digress.
Not the Bucs average coach.
It’s no secret that Arians has had repeated success whispering to Quarterbacks, helping QBs overcome their weak points, and being successful in this league. The man was close to taking a Cardinals’ team to the Super Bowl, for the Love of God, and he did it quickly. It only took him five years to become the Cardinals All-Time Winningest Coach. In 2014, he was the NFL coach of the year, for the second time in three years, with two different teams no less. It speaks to his ability to go into different situations, players, ownership, etc., and lead those teams to a very high level of play. Certainly, it would be possible, especially with our o-line, that the offense could stink it up. But that would be against the grain and not the norm for the pattern Arians has established with good, and even bad teams. The feeling should be that the offense will be better, maybe much better, but easily conceivable that they will be distinguishably better than, what I perceived to be a somewhat arrogant, Dirk Koetter and his version of an offensive game plan.
Wrapping it up in a nice tight cannonball.
So there you go, my take on what a lot of so-called “Experts” are predicting. Is the 5 or 6 win season, that most of them predict, a fair judgment on the 2019 version of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? In my opinion, I don’t think it is fair at all. On the other hand, it is the expected prediction just about every year. Usually, they can’t go wrong betting on the Bucs to fail. But this year, though, I say, as I once again adjust the eye patch and dig a hole for the parrot, it’s going to be different. Too much has changed. To what level of change that will occur, I can’t for certain say, but much better than last year by leaps and bounds, in so many different ways. It should equal more wins than last year, and more “Experts” should be reflecting on that improvement with their predictions. As it is for a loveable loser, the perennial underdogs, the slow, fat kid on the block, you’re going to have to step up and prove it. March right up to that kid that steals your lunch money and gives you wedgies on the bus, and just knock the snot out of his nose, bloody em up a bit. When they see their own blood, they will learn to have respect. Get to swinging Bucs, we believe in you! Pretend you hear a volley of cannon fire erupting as the Jolly Roger flaps violently in the wind.
Hey, Hey, Hey were the Buccaneers. Ho Ho Ho we’re… Throw ’em in Tampa Bay. Go Bucs!!