John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor
For the first time since 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers embarrassed themselves. In a game that wasn't competitive for a moment, they got manhandled by a bad New Orleans team.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were truly blown out for the first time this season. Josh Freeman was inconsistent, threw four interceptions and failed to take advantage of the opportunities he was given. The offense as a whole was stuck in a rut, as even Doug Martin couldn't get going against one of the worst defenses in the league. The team's leading rusher was defensive back Keith Tandy, who converted a fourth-and-one on a fake punt.
The defense, meanwhile, was worse. Despite another impressive game from the defensive line, the Bucs simply couldn't cover anyone. The Saints produced bad matchups time after time, getting Jimmy Graham on Lavonte David, Marques Colston on Danny Gorrer and Darren Sproles on Lavonte David. The Bucs simply do not have the talent in the secondary to stop Drew Brees and his group of receivers.
Yet today's loss was worse than that. We saw a defense that had trouble tackling, was taking bad angles and getting outflanked even in the running game. The defense in no way resembled the defense we've seen for most of this season. Well, except in the secondary.
Josh Freeman was awful and inaccurate, but the offensive game plan deserves some criticism, too. Dallas Clark was the team's most-targeted receiver, even though the New Orleans cornerbacks are awful and the Bucs have Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson. That's not a winning strategy.
The result is a fourth loss in a row, losses that have come in increasingly embarrassing fashion. A team that was 6-4 and looked bound for the playoffs is now 6-8 and has been eliminated from playoff contention. This was a do-or-die game, and Tampa Bay decided to die.
This was the first time this season, where the Bucs truly had no chance of winning the game. The first time they resembled the 2011 team that got blown out through ten straight games. The first time Greg Schiano's team has really looked lost. We're on to looking forward to next year, when Danny Gorrer and Leonard Johnson should no longer be starting. We'll get to speculate about the draft and free agency and dream about a better team in the future.
For now, though, all I can think about is an embarrassing loss.