CHARLOTTE NC - SEPTEMBER 19: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drops back to throw a pass against the Carolina Panthers during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 19 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
I don't write near as often as I would like, which means my opinions are less published than they were in previous years. My stats pieces (though they get fewer and fewer each week it seems) don't give me a real chance to say what I think. With few opinions out there, it makes the predictions stand out that much more.
Based on those few sentences, you would think I'm about to brag how I predicted a 16-0 season with the Bucs winning away games by two touchdowns, give or take an extra point. While I did predict two Bucs wins (shameless self plug), I also predicted a 6-10 season. That prediction seems to be getting a ton of heat. The comments being heard the most are "As a Bucs fan, how can you predict a losing season" (I'll let you guess where that one comes from) and "They're 2-0. You were wrong!". Two other favorites are "You hate the Bucs" and "Why predict 6-10? You should've said 10-6 and then let the season play out."
Let me address each one.
Let dive into these questions/quotes in order. First up, the "How can I predict a losing season." First off, it doesn't bring me any enjoyment to say that my favorite team will finish with a sub .500 record. I don't get paid anymore to be pessimistic or optimistic. I evaluated the team from my perspective. I looked at our average-at-best running attack, young quarterback and volatile offensive line. I also coupled that with a young defensive line, rangy linebackers, and an "in flux" secondary. The talent level is higher than 2009 and the schedule is easier for sure. But I didn't see a Super Bowl contending team. I also saw a very easy open to the schedule (Cleveland, @ Carolina, neutered Pitt) followed by rough Weeks 9 -14 (@ Atlanta, Carolina, @ San Fran, @ Baltimore, Atlanta, @ Washington). A good start seemed likely followed by giving some games back. No shame in that, it's a tough gauntlet to run.
My prediction of 6-10 was not due to anything other than my perception of the team and schedule. I also take great pride in being correct as often as possible. The fan in me wants 19-0 every year, but hubris brings me back o Earth and leads me to be more realistic. Maybe I underestimated the team, but 6-10, 7-9 is still possible given the schedule.
Next up is the "They're 2-0, you were wrong." Actually, I wasn't wrong. These first two games were penciled in as wins given the opponent. 2-0 can lead to 6-10 just as much as it can lead to 10-6. Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Enjoy the two wins. Relish the fact that a young team is winning, is building a blueprint for success, and able to beat teams that they should. That hasn't always been the case. When they get to 9-10 wins, tell me I'm wrong. I will gladly man up, admit it, and celebrate.
My personal favorite "You hate the Bucs." You're right. I absolutely hate them. That's why I write for a Bucs blog, thats why I own a few Bucs jerseys, thats why I have season tickets, thats why at 1 PM on Sunday I'm planted on the couch for away games, and why I spend the water cooler hours discussing them. Did you catch the thinly veiled sarcasm? If you think I hate the Bucs, you are sadly mistaken. Am I critical of them? At times I am. But they are by far my favorite team. Just because my predictions are somewhat downtrodden doesn't mean I hate the team. Lets face it, people pick games all the time. They pick winners and losers, because in sports your team falls into one of those categories every week (lets ignore ties). No one will predict games correctly 100% of the time, otherwise they'd live in Vegas, run a website guaranteed to pick winners and make tons of money. So those of us who make picks will be wrong at times. Sometimes we pick the Bucs to win, sometimes we pick them to lose. Its funny, last year I had them at 5-11 and everyone called me a homer who was blinded by the team. Now I pick 6-10 and I hate the Bucs. Funny how some people just can't make up their minds.
The last one I'll just say as I've said before. I like being right. I don't throw picks out there just to make picks. I'm competitive and want to win. If I think a team is 6-10, I'll say that. I'm not gonna adjust my picks just to appeal to a few people who want to hear nothing but upside.
Now that my rant is done, let me say this. I'm pleasantly surprised with the Bucs thus far. Freeman is making strides in his development. Mike Williams is a man child. Quincy Black and Geno Hayesare solidifying themselves as impact starters. I've been pretty impressed thus far and am glad to see steps in the right direction. There are definitely some bad areas (run blocking), but the team is on pace in the rebuild process. Congrats to the team for a nice win and lets keep building. Oh, and a note to Raheem Morris and company. Feel free to prove my 6-10 prediction wrong. I'll gladly step up and tell you I underestimated the team if you outperform that record.