Well, so much for that. Three weeks into the season and Buccaneer fans can start looking toward the draft. Three weeks in and we can start our pool on when Mike Glennon will make his first start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Three weeks in and we can start wondering who would be the best fit for interim head coach if the Glazers are so inclined.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Josh Freeman was supposed to be better, not worse in year two of Mike Sullivan's offense. Revis was supposed to lock down all of the top wide outs. McCoy and Clayborn were supposed to reek havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Namely, the Bucs were supposed to win...and win a lot this season.
Instead, the season opening loss to the Jets has divided the locker room and sent this season spiraling out of control. The players hate the coach. The coach hates his quarterback. And the quarterback just wants his time in purgatory to be over so he can move on.
It all came to a head Sunday in Foxboro where all the elements of FAIL were on display.
Did we lean anything?
1. We learned the Bucs are every bit an 0-3 football team. I admit it, I thought the 0-2 start was a fluke. Two weird games with heartbreaking finishes. The offense looked bad but defensively, Tampa Bay was getting the job done with the exception of some penalties. Get rid of those and you're going to start winning. Well the Bucs did eliminate the penalties for the most part, only 4 for 48 yds (although one was a big pass interference on rookie CB Johnthan Banks). It didn't matter, did it? Not when poor coaching, poor catching and poor quarterback play get in the way.
2. I picked the Bucs this week and I must have been high on Nyquil (been sick all week). I mean seriously, you give Bill Belichick 10 days to figure out a Greg Schiano coached team? It was amazing it was as close as it was. The biggest thing we learned this week was the difference between a Super Bowl winning head coach and one who probably be coaching in the Big East or whatever they're calling that conference now.
3. I think the most disturbing thing we saw was as soon as the score became 17-3, the Buccaneers stopped playing hard. Tampa Bay had every chance to get back into the ball game but they lacked the fire we saw last week against the Saints - the desire to compete. They were resigned to the fact that they were going to be 0-3 and they got there. The Bucs have all the talent in the world - they probably have one of the most talented rosters in the league. But they lack belief in themselves, in this quarterback and in this coaching staff. They aren't a mentally strong group and when something goes wrong its the old "Here we go again" syndrome. Losing is a disease that just eats at your soul. Your desire to compete at your highest ability. Tampa Bay has lost eight of their last nine games. If that's unacceptable for Raheem, it's darn sure unacceptable for Schiano.
4. I've been accused of being a Freepologist. I still don't place the blame for the loss on Josh Freeman. He can't catch for his receivers. Vincent Jackson, lauded by many as one of the most reliable receivers in the game, dropped a key third down catch and a touchdown pass. Rutgers reject Tim Wright had a beautifully place ball go through his hands, taking away another touchdown. They weren't alone.
But let's face it folks, three weeks into this football season and Josh Freeman has yet to complete more than 50% of his passes. They weren't all dropped. In his last 8 starts, Freeman is 1-7 as a starter, completed just 150 of 303 passes (a 49.5% completion pct), 1875 yds, 8 touchdowns and 13 ints for a QB Rating of 60.
That's a lot of bad football, folks. You can blame the receivers, you can blame the o-line and you can blame to coaching. At some point, you have to accept that maybe this quarterback just isn't that good.
5. The season is over. Make no illusions that this football team can rise from the ashes, rally behind their coach and suddenly finish the season on a 10-3 run. We've seen this team. We know this team now. It doesn't have that kind of streak in them, especially with the daunting schedule they face. Right now I'm struggling to find four games on the schedule where I think the Bucs have a good shot at winning. Arizona? Perhaps but their defense is decent. Philly? Can the Bucs keep pace? Carolina? Look what they just did to a desperate Giants team. Buffalo? They have been playing competitive all season. The Rams on the road? It's going to be a long, long year folks.
6. So if you accept that the season is over - where do we go from here? Well, we need to find out what Glennon has. If he's any good, maybe the Bucs can focus on finding a tight end or a pass rusher in next year's draft. If he's terrible, then we know the Bucs need to find a QB in the first round. Even if Glennon is average, the Bucs still may look for their Andrew Luck. They may not lose enough to get past Jacksonville and be in the Teddy Bridgewater sweepstakes. I am an Aaron Murray fan. I hate the Georgia Bulldogs with a passion but I respect the heck out of Murray who reminds me of Drew Brees. I just don't know if he's the leader Brees is. The last thing the Bucs need is another mild-mannered QB.
7. Barring an epic turnaround, I don't see Greg Schiano as the Bucs coach beyond this season. Schiano did a lot for this franchise after the comedy that was the Rah Regime. He restored order, got rid of a lot of the bad apples and is putting together a decent defense. But General Manager Mark Dominik has spent a lot of Glazerbucks on fielding a competitive team.
This team is better than a four win football team. They're too good to be this bad. There are stars all over the football field. A lot of the problems can be attributed to Schiano's coaching style - which is fine when you're winning - but you can quickly lose your team if you're getting your cans kicked. His schemes are not very innovative and his in game management has cost this team ballgames. He'd be great for a college team. He's not an NFL Head coach.
8. Can someone please explain to me why the Buccaneers brought in Darrelle Revis? I understand he is the best CB in football. However, if you're going to play primarily zone with Darrelle Revis instead of letting the man do what he does best - what in the world is the point of him? Only the Bucs would take a player who is one of the most physical press corners in the NFL and line him up 10 yds off the ball.
9. It was great to see Adrian Clayborn finally get off the snide and get himself a sack. He's been close the first couple of games. Rookie Akeem Spence also had a nice day. Overall, I thought the defense played well I just had some confusion over the scheme. Why when you've spent a gazillion dollars on your secondary do you have Adrian Clayborn covering a speedy wide out near the goal line? It's just stupid and a quarterback like Brady will make you pay for those mismatches.
10. One thing I think we all must accept is over the next 14 weeks, there's going to be a lot of frustration. The Glazers have never made an in season coaching change so it's likely Schiano will complete the season out. I think the only scenario in which Schiano goes early is if he pulls a Bobby Petrino/Nick Saban and jumps back to college or if the players outright mutiny on the head coach. That never happened with Raheem, they just quit on him (or more accurately, his assistants). They didn't mutiny against him.
If the team leaders head up to Bryan and Joel's office and say "We can't play for this guy anymore," it may force their hand. Players are professionals though, I don't see that ever happening. So unless Schiano quits, we're stuck with him for the duration of the season.
Bonus: Mark Dominik should be sent packing, too. The Bucs have been terrible under his watch and let's face it - did he do everything he could to help this football team? In his chase for the White Whale that was Revis, he let a lot of DB talent head to other teams. Brent Grimes has looked mighty good for the unbeaten Miami Dolphins. A pass rushing defensive end surely wouldn't have hurt. Neither would a pass catching tight end or a left tackle. There were plenty of receivers who could have been Freeman's security blanket in the middle of the field.
Yet we have a $16 million dollar cornerback playing zone. Dominik, Schiano and Freeman should all be sent packing, bring in a veteran GM like Bill Polian and let him choose his coach and his QB.
You don't have to blow this thing up, you just have to get the right people in place to make the smart decisions.