Monday, January 02, 2012

Plundering The Pirate Ship

Well, the 2011 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't end like I thought it would.  At the beginning of the season, I had hopes for a wild card birth in the NFC playoffs and possibly making it to the divisional round.  And at 4-2, I could see that the season was going well.  After all, we had beaten the Falcons and Saints, the two major rivals in the NFC South.  Then we let the game against the Bears slip away and all of our flaws were exposed.  We had 9 consecutive losses after the Bears loss.  The team didn't show up for the last four games of the season, ending against Atlanta where we fell behind 42-0 in the first half.

The team has fired head coach, Raheem Morris today, after 3 years on the job.  It was time.  And now the Buccaneers will come in and hire an experienced coach, trying to reverse the situation that Coach Morris found himself in.

RANT I:  Um, there is such a thing as skill in the skill positions.  If you aren't a fan of the Buccaneers, you probably don't know the Wide Receivers that the Buccaneers have.  There is a reason for that.  The skill level of that position isn't what you would call All-Pro.  In fact, after Williams and Benn, there isn't lots of production.  A third or fourth receiver that you might of actually heard of would be nice.  And can we figure out how to get a backup for LaGarrette Blount that has basically the same running style?  I think that the QB position is taken care of with Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson as the backup.  Kellen Winslow Jr. hasn't been bad, but hasn't been the player that most of us fans thought that he would be.

RANT II:  With a new staff coming into One Buccaneers Place, maybe we can have an offensive coordinator that can figure out that we are not a 50 pass per game team.  We run the ball.  There were games where we would run the ball 10 to 15 times.  That is not the way that we can win.  Grind out the ball because the defenses are becoming more and more designed to stop the pass.  Make them react to what you do on offense, not allowing them to play their defenses that they love.

RANT III:  The GM, Mark Dominic, needs to hit more on those high round draft picks.  He has some decent drafts but not one that makes you think that this is the draft that will be one of the all time greats.  The past 3 years has netted 6 picks in the top 2 rounds.  2009:  Josh Freeman.  2010:  Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, and Arrelious Benn.  2011:  Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.  He also needs to identify the free agents that the Bucs should try to retain and ones that might make a difference for the team.  Letting Barrett Ruud go was a mistake in many people minds and allowed the linebacking corps to take a step back this past season.

RANT IV:  This one is about the ownership.  Figure out what you want.  If you want to be a high and mighty owner for Manchester United, then be the owners of Man U.  If you want to be the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then be the owners of the Bucs.  But stop trying to do both.  The division of attention isn't doing either team any favors.  Oh and since you are rich and stuff, let's figure out how to start paying for talent on the American Football Field.  We weren't even close to the Salary Cap.  Spending that additional $10 Million per year might bring in some better talented players which in turn might bring more wins and in turn might start getting the fans back to the stadium.  And if you are still having financial difficulties, then sell the team to a person that will make the Buccaneers the priority.

RANT V:  For the past 3 years, I have heard from the talking heads of the organization that we will be committed to stopping the run.  The last time I checked, the defense is still like a sieve when it comes to run defense, and it is mostly the defensive line that takes the brunt of this.  Gerald McCoy hasn't been able to stay healthy for his career so far.  Brian Price looks like he might turn into a bust after two unproductive seasons.  Da'Quan Bowers coming off microfracture surgery didn't look so good this year.  The first round draft choice of Adrian Clayborn is looking good though.  8 sacks in his rookie year and 3 forced fumbles.  It got so bad this past year, that we actually had Albert Haynesworth starting for us.  The new Defensive Coordinator better figure out how to get these high draft choices on the defensive line to become a force to be reckoned with.

RANT VI:  In the first game against the Falcons, the Buccaneers fought (literally) for the win.  The team was hungry and played like it.  The last part of the season, they acted like dogs and played half-assed.  Whoever is on the coaching staff needs to tighten up the ship and have these guys play with passion.  I wouldn't care if the team went 1-15, if they were out there each and every game fighting until the final seconds trying to win the game.  Real Bucs fans are used to losing seasons, what we cannot stand however is the lackadaisical play that we saw this year.  For us, those players that just came in for the paycheck and didn't care about the losing need to be shipped out immediately.  We want heart and drive in our players.  We didn't see enough of that this year.


Zebster said...

Love that logo. So what do you think is the reason things changed from last year's team and early this year? It seemed like Morris had created a culture of hard work and tenacity, then it all went poof. Or is it that that can only cover for other deficiencies for so long before it comes apart?

Brent said...

According to some of the players, when he went to bat for Taliq Alib, he lost the respect of some of the players in the locker room who thought that as long as they were starters, they wouldn't be punished for transgressions. And when that happened, the players took advantage of the close relationship that Morris had with his players.

In the end, even with the suckitude of our offensive and defensive sysytems, it was the players that decided not to perform. The rumors were that the discipline wasn't there from Morris and the coaching staff. At age 35, morris will learn from this and become a better head coach in the future.

tpubgu said...

Great post, Brent. Granted, I don't follow the Bucs like I used to when they played in the NFC Norris Division; but I like your rants and passion.

Question, why are the Bucs trying to build a run stopping team in a passing era? Certainly, you have to get better run defense, but in a division with Brees, Ryan and Newton, they'll only run to keep the defense honest.

And I admit, I'm not a big fan of Freeman. I view him as a middle to bottom tier QB who regressed this year. Granted, his WRs didn't help, but he bears some of the burden too.

Brent said...

The reason is that the NFC South teams run the ball more effectively than almost anybody else in the NFL. Michael Turner had the second most attempts in the league this year for Atlanta. The Quad headed monster in New Orleans of Ingram, Ivory, Sproles, and Thomas had just shy of 400 rushing attempts. In fact, the Saints rushed the ball more times than the Giants. That fact surprised me greatly. And for Carolina, they rushed over 400 times this season. The Panthers were third in rushing yards while the Saints came in 6th this year. Atlanta is in the top 10 in attempts.

Tampa was dead last in rushing defense this year giving up an average of 156.1 yards per game. The leader of rushing defense was the San Francisco 49ers who gave up an average of 77.2 yards per game. The rush defense needs to improve greatly for this defense to have a chance at stopping people. The pass defense gave up around 238 yards per game. That was good enough for 21st in the league.