I expected many things this season, but I didn’t expect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be downright terrible. But that’s what we got this year: the Bucs are 4-7, have basically no chance of making the playoffs, and are the 24th-ranked team in the league in Football Outsiders’ rankings.
The Bucs are a bad team, but they should have been playoff contenders. Or at least, that was much of the narrative this offseason, and certainly one the Bucs themselves promoted: after going 9-7 last year, they were here to take the next step. To win that extra game, and finally get into the postseason.
To be clear, a playoff run was never a given. Too many things could—and did—go wrong for anyone to feel secure in the Bucs as real playoff contenders. The defense was buoyed by turnovers and played above its talent level in 2016, while the offense still featured some question marks along the offensive line and needed Jameis Winston to take a step forward.
So skepticism was warranted, but that skepticism might have led to, y’know, a middle-of-the-road team that would go 8-8 or 7-9. Not this 4-7 disaster of a team that struggles to beat even terrible teams.
We can point to many reasons for this collapse: injuries, coaching, age, decline or stagnation of some players, a bit of bad luck, kicking, and downright poor play. But whatever the case, this season was both unexpected and a massive disappointment—which, I guess, shouldn’t have been a surprise for Bucs fans.