Same old Bucs. I can’t escape the feeling that I’m rewatching the same movie every year. One where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some hopes early on in the season, pick up a few wins with ugly play but glimpses of good play, before falling into either mediocrity or bottom-of-the-league performances.
Yesterday, these Bucs put up one of the worst first-half performances I’ve seen, and I’ve seen them put up some absolutely absurd stinkers. And they did so against a team that Football Outsiders ranked as the number 30 team in the NFL. It was dispiriting, especially in a season that has seen them have just one good game so far.
The Arizona Cardinals should have been an easy opponent, but then the Minnesota Vikings with Case Keenum at the helm shouldn’t have posed a challenge either, and that New England Patriots defense should have been easily defeated, too. But five games into a season where they’ve faced mainly weak opponents, the Bucs are just 2-3—and they have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL going forward.
In other words: the Bucs can forget about a playoff appearance this year, barring some magical turnaround. And that’s not even touching Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury, which thankfully seems to be short-term. Same old Bucs, for the most part.
There’s one difference this year, though: you can’t count out the Bucs in any single game. They proved that last night, when they almost turned a 31-0 deficit in the third quarter into a win. Almost, but not quite. And that’s new: in previous years, these would have just been blowout, write-off losses. Now they always have a chance.
But that isn’t good enough for the seasno as a whole. The Bucs have had a decade of having a chance. They were close to the playoffs in 2010, and missed out on a tiebreaker. 2011 was supposed to be them taking that next step. Instead, they ended the season with ten straight losses and a fired head coach.
This season probably won’t be anywhere near that dramatic. But seeing these Bucs lose winnable games against bad opponents, yet again, is dispiriting.