Editor’s Note: I was very late in reviewing and approving this. I am sorry.
My name is Jon, aka “Deez Bucz”, and I’ve been a die-hard Bucs fan for most of my life as I was born, raised and still live in the Tampa Bay area. I’m writing to you out of concern for this team that I and so many others love so much.
It’s only been about 8 hours since the game ended in New Orleans and I wanted to address what I and every other member of Buc Nation witnessed tonight, which was our beloved team…quitting. They quit on their head coach. They quit on each other. They quit on us fans. They quit on the season. They just flat out quit. I don’t know any other way to explain it. It was noticeable. It was obvious. And it was sad. I haven’t seen it happen since 2011 when the team did the same thing to Raheem Morris losing their last 10 and 11 of their final 12 games. After starting the season 3-1, they finished 4-12 on the season. At this point, after watching them play today, I’m just hoping and praying for two more wins this year. I’m not so sure it will happen. These players are lost. These coaches are lost. This team is lost. This season is lost.
As I said, I’ve been a Bucs fan for almost 30 years. I’m not new to watching bad football teams or losing games. I’ve been through plenty of that crap before. I’ve only seen 10 winning seasons and 6 playoff appearances since I became a fan in 1990 so it’s not the losing that concerns me. It’s the loser mentality that this team seems accustomed to that bothers me.
What I saw today was disheartening. Or maybe it was what I didn’t see that discouraged me so much. I did not see any sense of urgency despite the fact that this was their third “must win” game in a row. I did not see any hustle or effort. I did not see any heart or pride. I did not see any will to win or desire to play. I did not see any love for the game or for each other. I did not see a football “team”.
What I saw today was bad coaching, bad tackling, bad blocking, bad quarterback play, bad fundamental football and bad attitudes. I saw a group of grown men who get paid lots of money to play a game acting like children. And not in the good way. I saw the defeat on the players faces and I saw the season end after just 8 games. That’s not what I like to see from the team that I love so much. The team that I spend my hard earned money on every season. The team that I spend my valuable time cheering for every season. The team that I put my heart and soul into every season. Do you have any idea what it’s like to put so much into something and never get anything back in return? It’s like being in a really bad marriage. Trust me, I’ve been through one of those too only I was smart enough to leave that bitch.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know what’s going on or how to fix it. I don’t have a clue. It baffles me how a team with this much talent on both sides of the ball can be playing such bad football. Is the coaching really that terrible? Every week we’ve heard the same thing from Coach Koetter and Coach Smith that it’s their fault. It all falls back on them. They didn’t have the team ready. They didn’t do a good enough job preparing. They didn’t do a good enough job coaching. They didn’t do a good enough job game planning. I realize that those are the politically correct answers that all coaches are supposed to give when their team plays shitty football, but is it really ALL their fault? Are these two proven veteran coaches doing that bad of a job? Is that even possible???
I’m not trying to lead some kind of witch hunt and call for coaches heads to roll or anyone to be fired. I’m a firm believer that this team could use some stability and consistency among the coaching staff for a change. I’m not a fan of the coaching carousel that we’ve had here in Tampa since Jon Gruden left. I don’t like bringing in new faces, new schemes and new systems every couple of years only to figure out that it’s going in the wrong direction. However, I also don’t see much of a point in beating a dead horse. This team was 9-7 last season. Yet somehow, after adding another year of experience in the offensive scheme and the defensive system and adding talent to both sides of the ball, this team has gotten worse. How does a team that should’ve gotten so much better, regress so much so fast? It has to be the coaching. Right?
Anyway, back to the point of this letter. If the players have in fact given up on the coach, then what point is there for the franchise to keep the coach around? Should the coaches stay and players go? If the players don’t believe in the coaches or the systems, then they won’t execute the game plans correctly. If they don’t execute the game plans correctly, then they won’t play winning football. If they don’t play winning football, then they won’t win games. If they don’t win games, then the coaching staff gets fired. If the coaching staff gets fired, then the whole cycle starts over again with a new coaching staff and a new system. Is that what this team wants? Is that what these players want? Is that why they quit today?
Today I actually teared up while watching a Bucs game for the first time since 2003 when I watched our team win the Super Bowl. Except then, it was out of pure joy. Today, it was from utter disappointment. I guess this year is different because of the high expectations that EVERYONE had for the team this season. The pass offense was supposed to be damn near unstoppable. The run offense was supposed to be hard-nosed and effective. The offensive line was supposed to be mean and nasty. The defensive line was supposed to be aggressive and suffocating. The linebackers were supposed to be fast, hard-hitting, tackling machines. The secondary was supposed to be shutting down receivers and picking off quarterbacks. The franchise QB was supposed to take the next step towards his greatness. And this team was supposed to easily win the division and get into the playoffs for the first time in 10 years. NONE OF THAT HAS HAPPENED. And it doesn’t appear as though it will anytime soon. Especially under this coaching staff. Instead, what we’ve had this season is an offense that constantly shoots itself in the foot and can’t score any points. We have a defense that’s soft and one of the worst in the league in almost every statistical category. And we have a coaching staff that doesn’t know what the hell is going on or why these things are happening so in turn they don’t have a clue how to fix it.
In 8 games, this team has gone from being a potential Super Bowl contender to the laughing stock of the league. And for the first time in a long time, I’m embarrassed to be a Bucs fan. I’m ashamed of my team. I’m disappointed in this franchise. I’m discouraged about this team’s future. And I don’t know what to do about these feelings.
There’s still 8 more games this season and four of them are home games. As a fan, I want to be there in Raymond James Stadium cheering on my team until the clock hits zero as usual. I don’t know any other way to be with my Buccaneers. But why does this team and this organization have to make that so damn difficult? How come it doesn’t seem to matter who is coaching or who is playing quarterback or who they sign in free agency or who they pick in the draft? NONE OF IT EVER MAKES A DIFFERENCE. It’s always the same old sad story, year in and year out.
It’s not just that they’re playing bad or that they’re a bad football team. This is one of the worst products that this longtime Bucs fan has ever seen put out on the field. And I just don’t understand it. How do 53 men forget how to play football all at the same time? This team has so much talent, that they should’ve accidentally won five of these first eight games without batting an eye. This offense should be averaging 30 points per game in their sleep. Maybe that’s the problem right there. Maybe these players bought into all the preseason hype. All the Hard Knocks crap. All the love from Good Morning Football every day. All the experts picking them to win the division. All the talk about how good this team SHOULD have been. I know all of us fans fell for it. Maybe the players did too.
So, Brian and Joel, it’s your move. Are you guys going to clean house now that the head coach’s 2-yr lease is almost up? Is Jason Licht in the hot seat now? I mean, he is the one who filled this roster with talent. Is it his fault that this coaching staff can’t figure out how to utilize it? Or is it his fault for promoting Dirk Koetter and hiring Mike Smith in the first place? Hmmm…interesting. Either way, I’m sure that you Glazers are getting pretty itchy trigger fingers after this 2-6 start. Especially when you look around the league and see the Eagles sitting at 8-1 with a second-year head coach and a second-year QB or the Rams sitting at 6-2 with a first-year head coach and a second year QB. It has to be infuriating. I know it is for me. What do those teams have that the Bucs don’t? They’re not more talented. So what is it then?
I don’t know what this team needs to do. I don’t know what this franchise should do. What I do know is that this fan base is growing impatient. Losing 5 straight games in a season where they weren’t supposed to lose 5 games all year is beyond frustrating. What’s worse is that we continue to hear the same old, tired ass excuses after every game each week. I don’t wanna hear it anymore. Don’t tell me what you need to do. Just go fucking do it. If you need to get better, then get better. If you need to be more prepared, then be more prepared. It’s just football. Fundamental fucking football. It’s tackling and blocking. It’s a sport that 6-year olds play every day in this country and yet these grown ass men can’t figure out how to play it. Did you forget??? Maybe it’s too hard to study your playbook in between trips to the bank to deposit the game checks that you didn’t earn. Here’s an idea, Glazers. How about no game checks if the team loses? If ya don’t win, ya don’t get paid. How’s that sound?
Unfortunately for us fans, none of it matters. Nothing we say. Nothing we write. Nothing we do. Nothing will change. We love a team that apparently doesn’t love us back and couldn’t care any less about our feelings. We will continue to spend our money on this team. We will continue to spend our time on this team. We will continue to pour our heart and soul into this team. And we will continue to shed our blood, sweat and tears for this team. And for what? One Lombardi Trophy every 42 seasons? How about for 12 winning seasons in 42 years of existence? Or maybe it’s for the 10 playoff appearances since 1979? I’m not even sure why I do it anymore. At this point, it’s just a habit. It just comes so naturally that I can’t help myself. A week from now, I’ll be standing on the rail in the south endzone of Raymond James, dressed in my usual game day garb and screaming til I almost pass out. What else can I do? I love the Bucs. And even though they’re probably going to lose to a shitty, talentless Jets team at home, I’ll be there til the bitter end.
Okay, my rant has gone on long enough. Just remember this. It’s because of us blindly loyal fans that your team exists in the first place. It’s because of Buc Nation that your players are getting those game checks they don’t earn. It’s because of us Buccaneer faithful that this franchise is still around. So show us a little gotdang respect. Show us some freaking gratitude. Prove to us that this isn’t a one-way relationship and figure out how to put a better product on the field for us. We don’t care what you have to do or how you have to do it. Just start winning games. Start playing good football. Start living up to the hype and expectations. Start giving us a reason to stick around or we may decide to find a new love somewhere else. The Jags are looking pretty sexy over there in Jacksonville. Haha, just kidding. Seriously though, just get it done. Thanks.
What can I say…It’s A Bucs Life!
Concerned Citizen of Buc Nation