It's just two games
Yes, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 0-2 -- but it's just two games, and they're not even at the bottom of their division. And with one of those losses coming against an AFC opponent, they aren't even hurt badly by tiebreakers.
Sure, just 11.6% of 0-2 NFL teams manage to make it to the playoffs, but that's not an insignificant percentage. More importantly, that number includes a lot of genuinely awful teams. It's so low because if you lose your first two games, you are likely to be bad. But the Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't genuinely awful -- they have an incredible amount of talent on both sides of the ball.
Unless this coaching staff really loses control of the team, the Buccaneers have the talent to go on to win a slew of games this year. Yes, those turnarounds happen. Look at the 2009 Tennessee Titans, who started 0-6 but managed to win the next five games and ended the year with an 8-8 record. They were genuinely close to a playoff spot -- and they started in a much worse position.
The Buccaneers can still make it to the playoffs, and it's much too early to give up on the team.
Always look on the bright side
This defense is dominant
I haven't had this much fun watching a Tampa Bay defense since Warren Sapp left town. The Buccaneers are flying around, shutting down passing games and destroying the run. That four-play goal-line stand at the end of the first half against the New Orleans Saints? That was amazing and exhilerating!
Not just that, the Buccaneers are tied for the league lead in sacks with 9. They managed just 27 all last year and haven't topped 30 since 2007. They have four takeaways on the season, and Mason Foster returned one for a touchdown in a play that was almost as amazing as Eric Wright's return last year.
The defense has a ridiculous amount of talent, too. Darrelle Revis is the best player at his position by quite a distance, Mark Barron looks much improved, Dashon Goldson is a two-time Pro Bowler and heavy hitter, and Gerald McCoy is destroying every guard in sight. Adrian Clayborn is slowly getting back to form and even Da'Quan Bowers and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim are adding some pass rush.
Doug Martin is a beast
Doug Martin struggled against the New York Jets, but with Erik Lorig back he went off for 144 yards against the New Orleans Saints. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a very good running game, and that can be the foundation of their offense.
Let's not forget that the Buccaneers do have plenty of talent in their passing game, too. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are outstanding receivers, and Josh Freeman despite his problems has as much arm talent as any quarterback in the NFL.
Plus, there are reasons for Josh Freeman's struggles. He's faced two Ryan brothers defenses in a row, and they specialize in making quarterbacks look bad. His receivers haven't helped him much, and he's been somewhat unlucky. Freeman may be inconsistent, but that also means he can have a good game at a moment's notice. And in both games, he led a late comeback drive to put the Buccaneers in position to win.
The Bucs can win with Freeman at quarterback. They just have to start doing it.
Carl Nicks and Tom Crabtree are returning from injury
Carl Nicks was close to returning last week and is likely to suit up on Sunday, which should give the running game and passing game another boost. But the return of Crabtree may be even more important. He's the receiving tight end the Buccaneers lack to attack the middle of the field.
With a bit of luck, the return of those two players will give the Buccaneers offense a much-needed shot in the arm. And let's be honest here: it doesn't need to get that much better for the Bucs to start winning games. They just held one of the best quarterbacks and most prolific NFL offenses to 16 points in a game. And while the passing game has been putrid, a little improvement would go along way.
Yes, Buccaneers fans, there is a bright side. The season's not over. We may be enduring some tough times, but with a little luck, that will pass. And it could start on Sunday with a win against the New England Patriots.