It’s that time of year again Bucs fans. The eggnog is ready and Santa has his reindeer rearing up for another crazy night come December 25th, but there’s another staple for BucsNation that’s almost seemed inevitable as of late; it’s the feelings of grief, disappointment, and loss as the NFL season slows down. Unfortunately, it looks like our Tampa Bay Buccaneers will miss the playoffs again, and this year many fans are wondering just how bad the Buccaneers are as optimism isn’t so easy to find. Have no fear my friends, as I have constructed the perfect wishlist to cure our holiday woes.
Greg Olson Fired
This joker has seen his last days in Tampa. If it wasn't for the desired continuity of an offensive system for Freeman then he would have been gone last season. That strategy has proven this year to be faulty as Freeman has regressed in his ability to read plays and throw an accurate ball. Continuity only works if you are following someone who legitimately knows what they are doing. The truth is he simply abandons the run far too quickly and has never had sustainable success with the Bucs, or really with any team for that matter (unless you count his development of stud QB Joey Harrington in Detroit success). Santa... the easter bunny... Christ... someone... fire Greg Olson.
Upgrades: Norv Turner (OC only), Alex Van Pelt (QB Coach), You, Me, Everyone we know
Despite Gerald McCoy's development on the field, it serves the team no good if he gets hurt like this. I hate to say it, but he might very well be a bust, and the only thing we can do is hope and pray that when he comes back from his second torn bicep that he is still ready to develop as a player and won't end up on the IR in 2012. If anything, these injuries need to fuel his fire, motivate him to stop talking so much and develop that angry motor that you see in guys like Suh or even Adrian Clayborn.
A No. 2 Back
OoOooO Santa!!! This one is extremely important! Earnest Graham is aging, and Cadillac wasn't a real threat besides the occasional draw play anyway. Also this Lumpkin guy is a bit of a disaster, wouldn't you think? I am still trying to figure out how he made the team. We have a fleet-footed, yet powerful back in Blount, but we don't have that slasher. The Buccaneers need the guy that can run 50 yards and make it look easy because of his speed. When you look at Blount, he is not a great blocker but he is getting better. Coach that up, and make sure all the backs learn how to protect. Hell, use Luke Stocker a little more and keep him in, but give us some speed in that backfield.
Suitable No 2 Backs: LaMichael James (All Oregon backfield?), Cyrus Gray (TAM), Jerious Norwood
Does this one really need explaining? I threw up in my mouth a little bit after that drive late in the game against Tennessee that was ravaged by penalties and effectively cost the Bucs the game. Raheem can't allow for stupid holding calls. He can't put up with false starts. He needs to punish those who do these things and get rid of the "Yungry" moniker. There I said it. I think the most important thing to do is to find out where the disconnect is between the players and the coaches and attack it. Perhaps Dominik is picking the wrong players, maybe Raheem isn't getting the point across, or maybe the team just needs time to mature.
When you see a run game struggle as much as the Buccaneers has, there are a lot of questions that pop up. Steve White would suggest it's because the defensive line has abandoned their gaps, playing a reckless, selfish style of defense. I agree that it starts with the big guys up front, but what happens if they can't trust the guys behind them to make a play? I think our fragile outside 'backers are playing a bigger role in the struggling defense than we give them credit for. There is a reason Geno and Quincy have sat out for times this season. We might hear "injury" or "lack of splash plays" but the truth is they both are not talented enough to be the faces of an elite defense. The jury is still out on Mason Foster, but I like what I see so far.
Gimme da 'backers: Zach Brown (UNC), Bruce Irvin (WVU), Levonte David (Neb)... Just draft a backer in every round 1 through 7. Then just to be safe sign a few FAs too.
A nasty streak to the offensive line
I do like our offensive line, but consistency has been an issue. They are getting paid like a veteran unit that knows what they're doing but there are games where holes just don't open up for Blount, and there are other games where Free is getting pounded into submission on the regular. Maybe a new face would help things, maybe a surprise cut, maybe a new offensive coordinator (Santa, see Item #1). I just think the key to a great offense starts with the line and our inconsistencies can be attributed to them as much as anyone on the offense.
A ying to Aqib Talib's yang
...So, I have never been to one of these things before. How do I start? Oh. Okay. Hey guys, I'm Survivor and I am an Aqib Talib homer. I get it, he takes risks. He drops interceptions and gets burnt far too much to have an island named after him. He is also a hustla, and could be in prison this time next year... but we all have to admit that he has the talent to be up there with the best. His form lately has proven that to be true as he shut down Greg Jennings and Nate Washington entirely in the past two games, along with having an interception for a touchdown last Sunday. I don't think our secondary is in the trouble that everyone else seems to think it is. Myron Lewis is a bust, his only memorable moment was getting burnt on THIS play (If you can spot me right outside of Nelson's Lambeau Leap I'll give you a nickel). Biggers, Barber, and Mack are all solid for nickel/dime situations, but what we need is a true compliment to Talib. Another guy who has the swagger and confidence to go up against the leagues best teams and succeed.
But Survivor, who?? : Tracy Porter (last year of his deal in NO), Richard Marshall, Nate Clemons, Alfonzo Dennard (Neb)
Leadership... and accountability
Raheem is a good guy. A real players coach and a real joy to hear speak, but sometimes it feels like he is a little bit too much of a players coach. He sticks up for his guys to the media, he makes excuses. I want him to come out and be like "Yeah Freeman has been playing like sh*&" I want him to challenge his players more. I want them to know the pressure that is on them, and that each week could be their last on the team.
Santa, if you could have Raheem cut the next player, regardless of standing with the team, who commits a false start I'd be very pleased with my Christmas. (Don't worry Bucs Nation, odds are it's going to be Trueblood)
An elite athlete on each side of the ball
The great teams in football have discipline, they have an overall talented group of players, they have chemistry and great coaching, but they also have those elite athletes who make you drop your jaw in amazement of what they can do. The Patriots have Rod Gronkowski who has proven to be a freak. The Packers have guys like Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson who are consistent studs on defense. These are guys you can usually rely on to make the routine play but often times take it a step further and do things to help their teams win. Am I saying I would be okay with drafting an elite WR in the first round next year, like Justin Blackmon? Abso-freaking-lutely. Am I saying I wouldn't complain if we traded up to get a beast safety like Mark Barron from Alabama? You wouldn't hear me complain one bit. Because these guys make you forget your team has holes. They take attention away from the weak spots because so many people have to focus on them. We need that kind of player, as Blount might be the only one close on our roster.
A young developmental Quarterback
Will I get flamed for this one? Probably. Freeman is our future. He has shown that he can be a all pro quarterback, but he has also shown the uncanny ability to throw interceptions at the worst times. Make any excuse you want, but he has regressed. As an optimistic fan, I'm going to just take this as a true sophomore slump that is recoverable, but you must always plan for the worst case scenario. Josh Johnson is a great athlete and a terrific gimmick play guy, but every chance he has had to perform at the QB position results in something that looks sort of like the love child of Michael Vick and Captain Check-Down.
Draft a quarterback late, let him set at third-string, and let him digest everything. Call on him if the house burns down.
Hey Raheem. Your team lacks discipline so much I asked for it twice. Take that.
Fans with testicles
Now this is a sore subject for me, because most of the people reading this site aren't the fans I am referring too. You see, I'm not from the Tampa area but have traveled to games in Tampa several times, comparing that to the other stadiums I've been in, Lambeau and Arrowhead, the fans barely have a pulse. This is no disrespect to you, readers, but rather a wake up call to get those lethargic corps out of Raymond James. We need tailgaiting like they do in Wisconsin or Kansas City. We to change the atmosphere surrounding the games. We need to demand Olson's head on a platter and spit on him every time he walks through the gates before a game. We need to show that we expect to win and anything less is a disgrace. But we don't do that by apathy or simply not showing up to games. Maybe it is the economic situation in the Tampa area, and maybe it's simple demographics (too many retirees), but I think that anything can happen if you stick your mind to it.
So what do you say guys? Let's support our club through and through but let's not be patient and accept the current play. Let's show them we deserve better... and we can get better. Thanks Santa, so if you could give me a few of these things for Xmas I'd be very happy (See Item #1).
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