We're at 8 games in on the season with 8 games to go. Perfect time to call it a Mid-Season, which means reflection, contemplation, awards, gripes, tears, fears, and gears. ...what, it rhymes.
1) Best Game: Bucs at Vikings. The game that demonstrated the Bucs were gelling as a team under Schiano as Head Coach, Josh Freeman at QB, and Doug Martin at BOSS. A Thursday night game that gave the Bucs a national stage on which Doug Martin proved that Dom's trade-up in April's draft to snag him was a F-CKING STEAL OF THE DECADE. It helped that the defense showed off its' effective shutdown of opponents' running game... now if we could fix that effing porous passing D! mutter grumble...
2) Worst Game: Bucs at Cowboys. Our worst overall team performance, in a game we should have/could have won. The loss against the Saints was just as bad, but the overall offensive performance wasn't as bad as it was visiting Dallas.
3) Player of the Half-Year: Lemme ask you this question, when was the last time the Tampa Bay Bucs had an offensive player on the team that was a MUST-HAVE guy for fantasy football league owners? That's right, I can't remember either. But that's what Doug Martin is right now: one of the best running backs in the NFL right now, and the first real open-field runner the Bucs have had in ages. He's already wrecking team records held by the likes of James Wilder and Warrick Dunn: if Martin stays healthy and playing like this for the next two seasons, he'll move past both those guys to become the best RB in team history. If he stays healthy we're talking an All-Pro career until he retires.
4) Goat of the Half-Year: Aliq Talib. Even when he was playing, he had clearly lost a step and wasn't the shut-down corner he ought to be after 4 years in the league. And that was before his suspension for banned-substance use. Thanks to him, we're coping with a porous secondary made up of cornerbacks (except Wright, and HE'S facing suspension too) who barely qualify as back-ups for any other team.
5) Rookie of the Half-Year: Can we have a three-way tie? Sure, Doug Martin (First Round) is the clear MVP of the team right now, but Safety Mark Barron (First) has shown the talent helping keep our secondary from complete collapse and LB Lavonte David (Second) has taken on the defensive caller duties like a veteran while making tackles all over the field. We're looking at quite possibly the best Bucs draft EVER thanks to these three guys...
6) Veteran of the Half-Year: Kind of a three-way tie here, as Josh Freeman has improved after his early season miscues back to the effective game-managing, deep-threat throwing QB we knew and loved from 2010. And part of the reason he's back to form is due to WR Mike Williams returning to his 2010 rookie form and becoming the deep threat receiver Freeman needs. And the third Veteran of note is FA signee Vincent Jackson, the other deep threat receiver for Freeman that makes it impossible for defending teams to figure out whom to double-cover. The Bucs now have a serious WR tandem similar to great passing attacks like the 1980s 49ers and the 2000s Colts.
7) Best Play: any running play by Doug Martin going more than 45 yards into the end zone.
8) Worst Play: any running play designed to go up the middle, WHICH DOESN'T WORK STOP CALLING IT COACH! Grrrr.
9) Best Game to Watch in the Upcoming Second Half of the Season: vs. Atlanta, Nov. 25. The Falcons are the team to beat in the conference AND division right now, and how the Bucs play against them has serious playoff implications.
10) Worst Game to Watch Next: any game against a team with a wicked good Quarterback and at least one scary good Wide Receiver. Which is pretty much San Diego, at Denver, Atlanta (twice), at New Orleans... We are gonna have 120 separate heart attacks at each game if our secondary and our defensive schemes remain this weak...
Anything else to add, sirs?