I Have had a constant bad feeling about this season.
I wish I could say I didn’t see this coming. I wish that losing three of the last four was a surprise. I would have hoped we would look much better against a depleted, floundering Steelers team. The fact we did not was almost expected. For whatever reason, even before we started losing offensive linemen and receivers left and right, I had tempered my expectations for the 2022 Buccaneers’ season. The brutal schedule doesn’t help much. While a team or two isn’t as good as expected (mainly the Rams), that doesn’t give much relief when you are only playing better than the worst on the schedule, and even those games should be in doubt. A Steelers’ team that got dismantled by the Bills and couldn’t score more than a field goal last week surely looked like a rejuvenated and inspired opponent at home against us Sunday afternoon. The lack of effort in this game reminded me of the time, after losing a game many seasons ago, John McKay was asked what he thought of the execution of the offense. McKay replied that he was all for it! I said that to say this, the team is not executing on either side of the ball with any consistency.
After every loss, it’s the same old song and dance.
After another loss, we are all getting used to the same excuses from the same coach and players. “We’ve got to get better; cut out the mistakes.” “Watch the tape” blah, blah, blah. You can only say those things and not do them so many times before it becomes a routine of failure, a culture of underperformance. In the same way that you create a winning culture and buy into it, you can fall out of that and drown in complacency. There is no hunger in their play, no determination in their eyes. They are going through the motions right now, a shell of their 2020 and even 2021 selves. The injuries don’t help the situation. However, I wouldn’t expect much difference with all those guys healthy and in the lineup. The team just seems hollow and listless.
The 2022 Brady Effect.
The choices that Tom Brady has made concerning his participation and dedication to the season must now be somewhat in doubt after Fox reported that Brady again left the team and missed Saturday’s practice sessions. This time to attend Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s surprise wedding. We all know what Brady has accomplished during his career. There’s been no one more successful or as accomplished; as Brady. We all know he’s 45 years old and stays in excellent physical shape. Does that grant the individual special treatment within a team sport? The correct answer to that question is No! Not when Brady’s play on the field has been subjecting. Players can say that it isn’t a distraction, or it doesn’t affect the cohesion of “The Team,” but with each added occasion that the G.O.A.T. leaves the team for individual purposes, the more of a chance there will be that team-mates could take exception to it. Obviously, the fact the Bucs are losing to teams that they should not surely exacerbate the situation. You crush the Steelers at their home, and this probably isn’t an issue.
How much is coaching to blame?
There was another issue with the Bucs this season that had me wondering if it would show its head. That is the head coach, Todd Bowles. The man has a great defensive mind and has had continued success as a coordinator. His struggles as a head coach are well known. He was with the Jets in that capacity for three seasons before being relieved of his duties. He was an interim head coach in Miami during the 2011 season as well; but wasn’t retained and moved on to the secondary coach with Philadelphia in 2012. The situation he was dealt with by the Jets was far from optimal, and failure was all but a formality. Bruce Arians stepped down in Tampa after Tom Brady un-retired, ceding the position to Bowles in order to give him a strong situation to begin his second full-time Head Coaching job. I don’t know that anyone has ever questioned Bowles as a person. He’s known to be a great guy. Sometimes, some men just aren’t of the right cloth to be the head man in charge. Is Todd Bowles one of those guys? It’s hard to say, but this head coaching stint isn’t going a lot better than the one in New York so far. Things won’t get much better for him when Brady probably retires again, after the season is over, and we have no experienced starting quality players at quarterback. Any player that settles into the starting role is going to be a downgrade from Brady, at least in the early going, of course.
All is not lost, but it’s getting closer to that.
There are some things broken on this team. Whether it is with the mentality or culture remains to be seen. It seems, at this point, not even Brady knows exactly what the problems are. The season is still young, and I can remember in 2020, I was a bit troubled with their performance in the first six or seven games. That feeling soon was fleeting after the team’s bye week, and they rode the wave all the way to the championship. Nothing is impossible in this game. Coaches, and players, have the ability to adapt and change. The talent is certainly there, even with the injuries. So truly all is not lost. Just gauging the situation on the first six games of the season, the outlook is beginning to look grim. The Bucs next draw the Carolina Panthers. If the Bucs cannot find a way to take down this poor excuse of an NFL franchise, then you can pretty much throw in the towel and call it a day. After this loss in Pittsburgh, it’s clear that any team on our schedule has a decent shot at beating us. We’re going to see what this team and Brady is really made of in the coming weeks. My fingers are crossed, and I’m trying to be optimistic. Chin up! Go Bucs!!