Where Do We Go From Here?

Buccaneers Gab featured expert contributor Chris C

I suppose the best way to begin a comment on the Bucs’ performance in their loss to the Packers on Sunday is to say this: How one feels about it will probably depend on the expectations one brought to the game.  There’s a cynical proverb that says, “A pessimist is someone who believes things can’t get any worse; an optimist is someone who believes that they can.”  Along those lines I was a pessimist before the game, so on the whole I feel pretty good about what I saw.  Not great, but not horrible.

To harp on this a bit more, it’s hard for us fans to get a proper perspective on what’s happening with this team week-to-week.  The expectations have been so distorted by so many factors – a soft schedule and a lot of luck last year, epic collapses in several games this year, puzzlingly bad play by our leaders, and head-scratching decisions by the coaching staff, to name only a few – that we might, as I did this week, expect total failure, which unfortunately leads us to swing back into rosy illusions when we manage to play somewhat better than god-awful.  Like poor souls with dependency issues, we fans swing violently with the swings of those we depend on.  One week, the team seems incompetent – and we judge them so.  The next week, they seem immature – we judge it so, again.  Then, at last, they seem to give up, and suddenly we have swung from high hopes to mere hopes to complete despair at the prospect of an incompetent, immature, heartless team.  Forget buying up tickets; the Glazers should fund a counseling center to help the fans his team has driven insane.

After all, it is kind of insane to find oneself asking: “Is not feeling sick afterwards really a good standard by which to measure a decent game?”

Instead of flat-out throwing up like last week, this week I merely throw up my hands.  I have no idea whether this game represents the beginning of a trend or a momentary fluke.  I have no clue clue whether the team can sustain a string of games played with this level of passion.  And I haven’t the foggiest notion if they can bring even more passion.  Beats me.

That being said, I come not to bury the Bucs, but to (cautiously) praise them.

Taking account of the distortions in judgment that result from the emotional rollercoaster of this team, it seems to me that what we witnessed on Sunday was a team getting back to its baseline.  This level of play is where we should have started this season, but instead we started bad, got a bit better, flamed out into ashes, and then rose again like phoenixes – to where we never should have fallen from in the first place.

For instance, rather than a complete team meltdown it appears that our good players played well enough, thereby allowing our intrinsic weak spots to stick out more clearly: linebackers, cornerbacks, and redzone offense.  Olson called his best, most complete game of the season – maybe of his career – and the defense looked about as stout as they’re capable of being.  Talib had a pretty good game; Biggers and Lewis did not.  Blount had a very good game; Lumpkin did not.  Our passing game and offensive line were both better than they have been all year; yet they were not good enough.  The tacking was a solid B+ if not an A-.  In short, this team looked promising, which, again, is how they should have looked in week one.  And I really don’t know what to say about a team manifesting the potential that was theirs in September only in late November.  Good job?  What took you so long?  Keep it up?  All of that, I guess.

This week it was our weak links, a couple of brain-farts, and a few iffy playcalls that did us in, not a lack of effort or want-to.  From a psychological perspective, the team seemed to genuinely believe that they could win – a very good sign, and I hope coach Morris can build on this and continue to cultivate a winning mentality.

But who knows.

All one can say is: Good job; What took you so long?; Keep it up.

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