The season is barely halfway over and it's safe to say that the first half (plus one game) of the season has been an utter embarrassment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday against the Houston Texans was no different as the Bucs came out flat and never recovered, getting beat in every phase of the game ten times over. Each play on both sides of the ball seemed to bring a new sense of frustration as assignments were missed, players took plays off, and we got our butts whooped going in both directions. The problem lies with the players as they aren't executing, the schedule as its easily more difficult than the JV schedule we had last year, but the problem also lies with the coaching and structure of the team.
The Bucs are a franchise, that over the last 15 years were founded on strong defensive principles. Flow to the ball, wrap up the ball carrier, get after the quarterback and create turnovers. Those principles are long gone, as are the days of the heralded Tampa Two defense. We are now left with a defense that excels in nothing and struggles with everything. The Bucs D can't stop the run, they don't rush the passer well, they are bad in coverage and can't tackle anyone. That's a terrible recipe for any NFL team. Making matters worse is we have no defensive coordinator to fix this. We instead rely on head honcho Raheem Morris to pull double duty. Believe it or not, I'm a fan of Morris and I believe that he can be a good head coach. However, for the millionth time, I will say he has too much on his plate. He is trying to go from DB coach to head coach and defensive coordinator. No matter how bright he is, that's a lot to take on. He would better serve the Bucs franchise by giving up one of those roles and focusing on the other. As for which one he should give up on, I'll let you guys debate that.
The defense just flat out struggles to do anything well. But what compounds this problem is the poor tackling and lack of discipline. Blown assignments happen occasionally but are far too common for the Bucs. The missed tackling is just awful to watch and brings up memories of the day the glory years died (for those that don't know, it was the Week 13 game against Carolina in 2008. That was the day the defense died in Tampa). Morris wants to talk about accountability, but every week we trot out the same guys who fail to make the simplest of plays, the wrap up tackle. I won't get into individual performances, but guys like Quincy Black (thanks for stealing our money) have to figure out how to do what 10 year old players are learning, tackle the dude with the ball.
On offense, I don't even know where to start. The same lack of discipline haunts us with dumb penalties but it gets even more fundamental than that. The Bucs talk week in and week out about being a physical team, yet fail to run the ball. My issues with Olson are well known, but I find it absolutely puzzling that we have only given Blount the ball more than 13 times a game twice this year. If you want to make use of the weapons we have, you can start by giving them the ball. Just when Blount was getting going today (two runs in a row!), Olson goes pass heavy 3 plays in a row and we punt. Typical playcalling. Don't let the offense get in a rhythm and fail to utilize our weapons.
We also fail to hold players accountable on offense, as is seen with the multiple dropped passes and missed blocks (Trueblood). Guys on both sides of the ball are just being idiots and some are giving up on plays (see Foster's long reception where we just flat out gave up).
Freeman, along with the entire offense has regressed. I maintain he has too much on his plate and misses the assistance of someone helping him call out the assignments. But rather than focus on helping our quarterback, the Bucs continue to tell everyone we just aren't executing. Hey guys, news flash, even when you do execute, nothing is happening. There is a fundamental problem with this team right now and it starts with the coaching.
The biggest embarrassment is the slow start every single week. For 9 games now the Bucs have come out and taken a dump on the field early on in the game. We generally get going with a late field goal attempt in the first half, but something has to change. Whether it be getting to the stadium earlier or changing up the warm up routine, something has to change. I will mention this although let me state that this probably means nothing. The Bucs have been the last team out on the field to warm up (at home at least) each week. Maybe we need to warm up earlier?
Morris has to try something different to wake this team up. I don't care what it is, but the garbage first halves that we've seen have to stop. Good teams don't spot teams 14+ points every game and in a competitive league, teams can't come back in the second half every game. These slow starts are facilitated by the players and their attitudes, but are the responsibility of the coaches. One week is an anomaly, nine weeks is a huge issue. The Glazers need to be concerned with this as it's an issue with the culture of the team, starting with the coaching staff.
I would have never though I'd say this 9 games in, but I believe that the Bucs coaches are now coaching for their jobs over the next 7 games. Some players are probably fighting for their jobs too. There should absolutely be changes coming for the Bucs in terms of system, personnel, and makeup. As fans of the team, which we all are, this is unacceptable. The Bucs are embarrassing to watch. Plain and simple. Something has to be done.