The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were outclassed, outplayed and outcoached at every level by the Tennessee Titans yesterday. As a reminder: the Titans went 2-14 last year. This was not some unstoppable juggernaut the Bucs faced -- just a team coming up from the same depths the Bucs are rising from. Which makes the Bucs' performance even more pitiful.
All of that is on Lovie Smith. Not just because as the head coach, he's ultimately responsible for what the Bucs trot out there, but because his area of expertise was where the Bucs failed the worst: on defense. The team stopped Marcus Mariota just twice, allowing him to drive down the field for a touchdown on five of his seven drives. Coverage breakdowns were a constant, and none of Lovie Smith's hand-picked players played up to snuff. In short: the team looked completely unprepared. For a rookie quarterback!
One big point of emphasis this offseason was to start fast. The Bucs couldn't have started more slowly if they'd tried, both in this game and for the season. The fact that that the team couldn't live up to the head coach's main goal for the season is a sign of bad coaching, but it was far from the only one. The team gave up 12 penalties for 97 yards. They forced only one takeaway. They blew coverages and couldn't get anything done on offense. They just did not look ready for the NFL season to start.
Ultimately, games like this are how coaches get fired. Lovie Smith can't let this happen too many more times if he wants to keep his job. But more importantly perhaps, games like this are how you lose fans. Who in the stands will feel encouraged about spending money on this team? How many more sellouts will they see this season if they put this kind of performance out there?
Lovie Smith failed to prepare his team last night, as he did so often last year. And that had better change quickly.