The ship is sinking. The 2011 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been a complete disaster. Some people will point to our record and say we’re only 4-5. Still others will say our schedule is really tough this year. Youth, inexperience, injuries, discipline, execution, the list goes on. People will have an array of excuses as to why the Pewter Pirates are playing more like pirate wenches.
The fact is though, that none of these excuses matter. These things happen to most teams in the NFL to some degree or another. What matters is how the team responds to the things that happen. To that end the Buccaneers have failed. A loss to Detroit that was nowhere near as close as the score indicated to open the season, was followed by one of the single worst halves of football I’ve ever seen in Minnesota. Thankfully the Vikings completely abandoned their game plan and we got it together enough to pull that game out, however that is not the way a team should respond after an embarrassing defeat.
The Buccaneers, all year, have looked out of sync and haven’t stuck to a game plan for more than a quarter all year. Of course when none of your game plans have worked in the slightest so far I guess that’s to be expected. Regardless we cannot look only at the 2011 season. We have to begin looking beyond the 2011 season. As the stars of this team come into their prime our team should be well positioned to compete year in and year out. However before that can happen the Buccaneers must make several changes.
First and foremost the coaching staff must be replaced. Yes Raheem Morris is included in this. As the defensive coordinator he has failed. Our defense has failed to improve from year to year. We still give up the big play way too often. We haven’t improved at stopping the run and overall we just give up too many points. Our pass rush still doesn’t do enough despite all the new talent we have accumulated along the defensive line.
More than that Raheem Morris has lost his team. Since he became the head coach he has touted his teams as physical and disciplined. More recently he invented a new term to describe the Bucs. Youngry was his mantra for 2011. I cannot think of a term that describes the Bucs less. Young would be accurate but I do not see any hunger in this team. Worse this team does not seem to respect their head coach. Repeated incidents with Aqib Talib have shown that Morris does not have the stones to do anything about his hotheaded nature nor his general disregard for his teammates. If he’s not willing to discipline Talib for his transgressions I doubt he’d be willing to do much to anyone else. The team sees that and I’m sure have less respect for Morris’s authority because of it. A head coach who does not have command and respect of his players cannot effectively do his job. Therefore Morris must go.
Greg Olsen is a no brainer. He is without doubt one of the worst offensive coordinators I’ve ever seen. He has no feel for the game nor situations that his team are in. He calls plays willy nilly with no thought to their consequence, or so it seems. His biggest failure though comes right at the start of the game. Did you know this team has only scored 21 points in the first quarters of games this year? Only 12 of those points were actually scored by the offense. None of those points have come from touchdowns. The one and only touchdown that was scored in the first quarter this year came from an Aqib Talib pick 6 in week 1 against the Lions.
When your offense is that bad over a sustained period of time responsibility falls on the offensive coordinator. Olsen is useless and I believe he has been a big reason Josh Freeman has regressed so badly this season. If Freeman is our quarterback of the future as I believe he can be, we need to bring in a coach who has an established track record of working with and improving quarterbacks.
Once the current staff is disposed of we need to bring in a coach who will establish discipline and order among the players and really help them improve. Jeff Fisher is my top candidate. He is a well respected feisty head coach who will be able to exert a level of command and respect over these young players.
We also need to take a good long look at GM Mark Dominik. He has been great in drafting players thus far however he has shown an inability to pull the trigger and go after free agents that could help his team. I agree that a team should be built through the draft however when the opportunity is there to improve your team with a free agent or 2 you cannot hesitate to make a move. Dominik has so far shown he is not capable of this. I’m not saying he has to go but he needs to amend his philosophy of draft, draft, and more draft.
Last but not least the Glaziers need to go back to buying the unsold tickets at Buccaneer home games so that no further games are blacked out in the home market. In the Tampa market it’s important that the city be able to watch their team on TV. It’s a smaller market that lacks the storied history of other successful small market franchises such as the Green Bay Packers. We could be on the cusp of one of the greatest periods in Buccaneer history, however if no one can ever watches or cares about the team they’re not going to be driven to excel. What team wants to come out and play hard in front of a half empty stadium? Playing at home is supposed to give that team an advantage. It doesn’t for the Bucs. That needs to change.
All in all I feel like our team could go in one of two directions. We’re either on the fringe of a golden age for Tampa or we’re on the cusp of oblivion. I don’t see mediocrity for this team being an option. Either we’re going to be really good for a long time or we’re going to be really bad for a long time. If we don’t make a move I think we may be in a lot of trouble. What do you think Bucs Nation?