National exposure will lead to more recognition

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 25: Josh Freeman #5 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs with the ball during a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on September 25, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The title probably led most of you to say a more colorful version of "No crap sherlock."  The more opportunities you have in front of a large audience, the more well known you will be.  While it seems obvious, Monday night's game is a fairly important one for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  A loss certainly doesn't end their season just like a win doesn't guarantee the playoffs.  But the visibility will go a long way to not only shutting up the mainstream media but giving a chance for Freeman, Blount, Mike Williams (assuming he's still alive) and others a chance to be seen for the first time on a national stage.

Josh Freeman took a huge step last year and developed into a promising starting quarterback in the NFL.  Bucs fans saw it.  On a week to week basis Bucs opponents and their fans saw it.  Yet no one else seemed to understand the growth of a quarterback and franchise was happening in the same year that Stafford got hurt (again), Sanchez relied on a defense to bail him out, and Peyton Manning may have played his last snap of meaningful football.  Thats what happens when you are seen by almost no one, including local fans.

The return to the Monday night stage will let the world see where the Bucs have gone.  The last foray into the national spotlight was filled with disaster as the Bucs got destroyed by the Panthers, Ronde Barber got owned about 100 times, Antonio Bryant made a sick catch, Gruden prowled the sidelines, though he would never get another win as the Bucs head coach, and ultimately, our playoffs hopes crumbled.  Lets not forget that after that Monday night debacle, the Bucs did not win the rest of the year, we got trounced by the Raiders at home in a must win game, missed the playoffs, Gruden and Allen got canned, Morris came in, we all freaked out, Freeman was drafted, we all freaked out some more, 3-13 happened, many jumped ship, and finally, 2010 happened.  It's an interesting domino effect that probably sounded more interesting in my head than being typed in the article.

As I try to regroup here, this is a rare chance for Bucs fans to see a home game, which is a huge plus.  An impressive win on Monday against the Colts and perhaps ticket sales go up.  A solid performance and maybe the NFL and most of the talking heads start giving us some respect.  There are moments that define teams.  The Panthers Monday night game 3 years ago was such a time.  It told us the Gruden years were over.  It led to his current gig as an analyst and will see him back in Tampa, but this time in the booth.  Someone stated in another thread that the 2003 loss to the Colts on Monday night was the beginning of the end for the Kiffin led Cover 2 defense.

Well this Monday night offers a chance for the Bucs to mark a new beginning.  One where we show up in a big game, where Morris gets some respect as a head coach.  A chance for Freeman and company to be seen by a large audience.  And maybe, just maybe, the opportunity to announce that the Bucs are back, that we are playoff hungry (I refuse to say yungry), and a force to be reckoned with in the NFC South.  Of course, we could just take a dump on the field, but I digress.

It's not often we get to host a Monday night game.  With a 2-1 record, some divisional games on the horizon, and a share of first place, the Bucs have a chance to solidify themselves as division leaders and a force to be reckoned with on the way to the Lombardi Trophy.

I apologize for the rambling nature of the post.  It was more or less an attempt to highlight where we've been and where we could be. 

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