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A few reasons to be optimistic about the Buccaneers

A bad start doesn't guarantee a bad ending. And the Bucs have some reason to be optimistic.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were embarrassed yesterday. For the second week in a row. That's ugly. I'd prefer that doesn't happen again, but most fans seem fairly pessimistic about the team's chances going forward. But because I'm a contrarian at heart, I'm going to make the opposite argument: the Bucs are going to be just fine, and they have plenty of time to right the ship.

Let's start with the obvious: starting 0-2 is bad...but a win on Thursday will put them in second place in the division. That's good, right? And they're only one game behind basically everyone in the entire conference, except for the Carolina Panthers. That means winning the division is going to be difficult, but a wild card playoff spot is far from out of the question.

And the Bucs' schedule isn't that strong, either. The Steelers got toyed with this week. The Saints are 0-2. The Vikings have Matt Cassel at quarterback. The Browns are and always will be the Browns. We can go on like that: there are plenty of winnable games on the schedule -- this is the NFL, after all, where tides turn quickly and any team can win or lose on any given Sunday, or Thursday, or Monday, or Saturday if it's that one week when we have NFL football on Saturdays.

The Bucs' season isn't over. Not yet. And they have some reasons to be optimistic about the next few games, too.

At least the injuries won't get worse, right?

The Buccaneers lost the first two games in fairly excruciating fashion, but injuries were partly to blame for both losses. Especially yesterday's loss, when the Bucs were at one point missing six defensive starters, including three defensive linemen and their best overall player.

It's kind of hard to play good defense and win when you're missing that many players. The good news is that most of these players should return fairly quickly. Michael Johnson's ankle injury appeared to be fairly short-term, and he played through it after he suffered it. Mason Foster also returned to play during the game, so he should be okay fairly soon. And defensive linemen generally play through broken hands with a cast, so McCoy shouldn't miss too much time.

The bad news is that Mike Jenkins and Adrian Clayborn are already on injured reserve, and the Bucs play the Falcons on Thursday -- which means they're likely to miss most of those players I mentioned above in that game, too.

The offense actually looked pretty good

Okay, so, 17 points is nothing to write home about. But the offense as a whole was actually really efficient. Josh McCown completed 76% of his passes, at 8.5 yards per attempt and produced twice as many touchdowns as turnovers. The offensive line gave up just one sack. Bobby Rainey ran for a very impressive 144 yards on 22 carries.

So why did they only get 17 points? Conservative decision making, which settled for field goals several times when they could have gone for touchdowns. A blocked field goal doesn't help. And one stupid red zone interception by Josh McCown.

This is not an explosive offense. But it's good enough to win games, if coupled with solid defensive play.

Those backup quarterbacks actually played well

Yes, the Bucs faced two backup quarterbacks in consecutive weeks -- and lost to both of them. At home. not good. When you think of backup quarterbacks, you think of errant throws, flustered decision-making, an inability to handle pressure. You know, the things that make bad QBs, well, bad.

But for whatever reason, this simply didn't happen. Derek Anderson and Austin Davis were both accurate, with very few errant throws. They were both poised and calm under pressure. They were both decisive with their throws. They, quite simply, played well -- and sometimes this just happens, and that makes your defense looks bad even if the defense didn't play particularly poorly.

The Bucs' defense allowed 37 points over two games, even though the Bucs' offense and special teams gave the Rams good field position several times. That's not a stellar performance and clearly they have issues (most notably: no pass rush), but that's not the end of the world either.