Observations of the 2011 Buccaneers Nightmare

1) This has the feel of a post-apocalyptic world: the living envy the dead. It's a good thing Lee Roy wasn't here to witness this...

2) The season opened with such hopes: our secondary was supposed to be good, Talib wasn't in jail, our top rookie players looked impressive, our offense was supposed to be good for once, and we had an honest-to-God Franchise QB that didn't give us migraines. What the hell went wrong?

Coaching. When a good team falls off the map as fast and as painful as the 2011 Bucs did, you gotta look at the coaches first.

2a) The offense for starters: beginning with Olson/Morris losing faith in our primary RB LeGarrette Blount, by pulling him half the time for Lumpkin on obvious pass plays. If opposing defenses didn't figure that out right quick, they deserved to lose to us (and by our London trip, opposing defenses didn't lose to us). The failure of matching our players to the plays falls on the coaches.

2b) Whatever happened to QB Josh Freeman's confidence and coordination with his wide receivers. In 2010, he threw deep and 99 times out of 100 Mike Williams came down with the catch. This season, Williams had a serious problem of the drops and Freeman started throwing to his third or fourth option on the checkdowns... which was usually a RB who was nowhere near reaching the First Down markers. Drives stalled: scoring dropped. And this was a problem even when the Bucs were WINNING, before the massive collapse. It looked as though the coaches did NOTHING in terms of reconfiguring the passing game, or coaching up the receivers and Freeman to where they could play deep again when it became obvious our offense wasn't working.

2c) While we had a young defense, the talent was supposed to improve from last season. It didn't. Our defensive line played well (having used the top picks over the last two drafts helped there), but still had gaps in the running defense. What made it worse was the failure of the linebacking corps to fill those gaps or tackle well: the rookie Mason Foster had a few shining moments but not enough of them, while our veteran OLBs Geno Hayes and Quincy Black regressed into epic failures. The whole team had a problem with tackling: when one guy can't tackle it's the fault of the player, but when 11 guys can't tackle it's the fault of the defensive coach failing to teach and enforce better tackling skills.

2d) And don't get me started on the secondary. Getting Tanard Jackson back seemed to actually make things WORSE. Ahem. The real problem was poor coverage: receivers were getting open with 5 yards space to run, some WRs were wide open in the end zones while three defenders were standing somewhere else covering nobody. Either assignments were getting mixed up, or players weren't paying attention. While the players can be blamed for the miscues, the coaching has to be blamed for the mangled defensive scheme that tried to force a man-to-man coverage on a team still staffed with guys versed in Cover-2 schemes. It was as though Raheem was trying to invent a new defense... which goes to show that not everyone's a defensive genius, coach...

3) That Raheem Morris has to go, and that most of the coaching staff has to go with him, is pretty much a given at this point: the fans will not turn out for next year if Rah remains in charge.

I don't entirely blame Raheem Morris for being the Head Coach to begin with: the Glazers had cause to dump Gruden at the end of 2008, and the coaching carousel that off-season was a bit crazed. Rumors that Raheem (who had only recently been named DC for the Bucs) was being courted for Denver's open HC spot forced the owners to promote Raheem too early in his coaching career. Raheem had only been a coordinator for what, two weeks? Now all of a sudden he was in charge of the whole team, with little experience to back up such a position. And it showed in 2009 when the team was just awful, clock management terrible, changes in coaching staff creating off-field disarray... What 2010 did to expectations for Morris, where he coached to 10 wins, made everyone from the owners to the fans believe that he was learning on the job, and getting better at it. Today... nobody believes that except for Raheem Morris.

4) The Bucs 10-6 record in 2010 *was* the result of a weak schedule after all.

5) Where does the team go from here?

5a) Firstly, fire the coaches that need to go;

5b) Interview prospective Head Coaches and hire one quick;

5c) Re-check how much cap room we have for the Free Agency period, and target decent OLBs, ROTs, Safeties and Cornerbacks on the market (if anyone's got the FA list by roster spots, please provide the link, thank yew);

5d) Draft smart: get the best available CB first, best available OLB second, best available RB third. If Robert Griffin III drops in the draft to our fifth spot, TRADE THAT MOFO SPOT for more mid-round picks (extra Seconds and/or Third Rounders would be sweet) and hopefully the second-best CB or OLB in the draft will be available later in the First Round (as long as we don't trade lower than 12th, I think we'll be sitting well).

5e) Coach the sh-t out of Freeman and the WR corps to where they can throw effectively downfield further than 20 yards;

5f) Cut down on the damn penalties;

5g) Lower ticket prices for the GOOD seats this time if you want sell-outs, Glazer boys...

5h) Also, free parking!

That's it for the Bucs this year: GO RAYS!

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