1) I've been seeing a handful of posts on the post-game threads by fans (and/or trolls) berating us Bucs fans for giving up so quickly on this team, that "it's only one game" or that "we're terrible fans."
Thing is, the outrage and anger of the fan base isn't some trivial, spiteful thing. This isn't just about one game: this loss to the Jets encompassed every last thing that has gone wrong with the Bucs over the last 5 years since the epic 2008 collapse. And you shouldn't be blaming the fanbase for a team the owners have put together in a haphazard, what-the-hell fashion in terms of the front office and coaching sideline. If the team is a lousy product on the field, we have a damn right to complain about it, and we shouldn't be on the freaking hook for things like poor game turnout and diminishing merch sales.
2) Here's a list of all the things that went wrong:
2a) Poor planning and coaching on the part of the team when it came to handling the breakdown of Freeman's audio gear in his helmet. We burned through two time-outs and caused two delay of games because they didn't have a quick Plan B to get the signals in to Freeman, nor give him a set of plays he could call on his own in case the system broke down.
2b) Rusty line-ups and placement on offense on snaps, leading to C Zuttah snapping the ball when Freeman wasn't ready, leading to an embarrassing safety.
2c) General rustiness of the team in the First Quarter, yet another hangover from a preseason where the Bucs simply didn't get prepared. This has been a problem the last 5 years or so: the Bucs are NOT coming into Game One of the season with their heads on straight.
2d) Obvious signs of a patchwork offensive line unable to give Freeman enough protection. If there's one defensive guy in the backfield that can be explained away. Two guys, maybe it was a serious blitz. Three guys, on a near-regular basis? Breakdowns.
Donald Penn isn't able to handle the Left Tackle spot anymore: he's getting beat more often. And his frustration is showing.
2e) The previous woe of the offensive line has to do with the fact that the Bucs haven't drafted for an offensive lineman since 2009. Zuttah is the last guy we did draft in 2008 that's still with the team: other than signing G Nicks in free agency two years ago, the front office has been signing in UFAs and cast-offs from other teams in that all that time. We're not exactly talking about getting the cream of the crop, guys. And Nicks himself has been out with injuries too often to have contributed to the offense.
2f) Terrible play-calling on offense. Their idea of the running game was apparently to have Doug Martin pound it up the middle 20 times and hope for a Jets player to fall down so he wouldn't get wrapped up for a measly 2 yard gain.
Can someone tell me how many times was Martin forced to run up the middle where there were no gaps and how many times the Bucs called for an off-tackle or outside sweep to get Martin more running room? 'Cause I didn't see a lot of off-tackle tries.
Did it have something to do with the loss of FB Lorig to help with blocks? Or the lack of a reliable TE to help with blocks? 'Cause there's the other issue with player acquisition the front office has to answer for...
2g) The overall sloppy play of the team. Which meant penalties. I don't care if two or three of the penalties were questionable. We HAD THIRTEEN PENALTIES. When you get into the double-digit count on blown plays, you are giving your opponent too many fresh opportunities to keep their drives alive or to kill your own.
And the penalties that DID kill us today - CB Johnson's defensive holding, LB David's unnecessary push of QB Smith when he was already into the out-of-bounds chalk - were clearly boneheaded.
And while the penalties were committed by the players, it's THE COACHES JOB TO TEACH THEM TO NOT GET PENALIZED. Whatever discipline Schiano is trying to deploy doesn't seem to apply to teaching the players how to discipline themselves when the game is in play.
3) Were there ANY positives to be had in today's nightmare?
3a) Freeman wasn't a total disaster, if it came to anything. It's not entirely his fault he doesn't have an offensive line protecting him well enough. Once he got used to the idea of trusting his main two WRs - Jackson and Williams - he threw with a bit more confidence and played well. Problem is that Jackson and Williams are all he has: there is no TE to throw to and no Number 3 WR stepping up to help out.
3b) The passing defense improved for the most part over last year. They didn't give up anything over 30 yards and the D-line provided some solid pressure for most of the game. CB Revis was tested often and didn't miss much.
3c) I counted the most sacks in a game in a long time, 5 total. And 4 of them were from the linebackers, which was an interesting development. LB Foster forced a key fumble as well, and had one of the best days he's had as a Buc.
3d) P Koenen is still a GOD AMONG MEN. Although the Jets punter got off an 84-yarder, but seriously 30 of those yards came from a wicked long bounce into the end zone for a touchback...
4) In other NFL news, Jacksonville may be willing to sign The Tebow to play QB after all. If any team's fanbase is feeling worse than the Bucs, it's the Jags fans. All twelve of them.
4a) Thank GOD Carolina lost. One small mercy in that we're sharing the schadenfreude around...
5) In other news, the Rays are struggling to stay in the Wild Card race, the South Florida Bulls are no longer able to beat Division III schools, hockey is still two months away and the Lightning looks like they're one bad game away from seeing Martin St. Louis retire, and I don't give a damn anymore.
Just name the next team franchise here in Tampa Bay the goddamn Eeyores, alright?
Next up: If the Saints game is a sellout it's only because of the Saints fanbase turnout. I doubt there will be more than 2,000 Bucs fans willing to pay for lousy coaching anymore.