I’ve started my latest article before I have seen episode one of Hard Knocks, which began this week in the US. I’m really keen to see how the story plays out, but I’m mindful that it is exactly that, a story. I really enjoy the show. I’ve have watched it the past few years as education, but now I’m watching my team, as a Bucs fan I’m a touch wary of how we will be portrayed in order to entertain the masses.
Hard Knocks Hype
The reason I have not watched the new Hard Knocks before writing this, is because I didn’t want my content to be biased in any way. As I have mentioned in previous articles, my access to Bucs news can be a little limited. There has a been quite a bit of hype surrounding the Bucs on shows like GMFB, but it’s all shown as part of the bigger NFL picture. I’m not as fortunate as the guys in Tampa who can head down and see in person how the team looks in training camp. I rely heavily on sources such as WhatTheBuc to tell me how the Buccaneers are looking.
Hope or Expectation as a Bucs Fan
Until last year my entire back-catalogue of history as a Bucs fan has been a losing one. Having seen us take a step forward, I’m excited for the new year more than any other since I’ve been a Bucs fan. One of the huge things for me as a sports fan is progress. If your team is not moving forwards, they are probably moving backward. In my most recent article, I talk about the differences between UK football and American football. A key thing in the UK is that if you do start to decline, you will quickly find yourself in a position where you are a) relegated or b) slipping into mediocrity and challenging neither the bottom or the top. It’s at these times where hope often comes into play.
With what I have seen and heard so far, coming out of training camp, the moves in the draft and some of the excellent free agency acquisitions – right now I’m leaning towards expectation. The expectation that we will be better. Quite how to define “better” is a different question. I don’t want to predict our record for the year, it would be a poorly educated guess right now. We are better (on paper) than last year. So are many other teams, but progress will be defined closing the season with a winning record.
Progress will also be defined by fixing the little things that cost us wins last year. A prime example of this is the kicking situation. Reports suggest that Aguayo is looking better, now that he has someone breathing down his neck. I guess we are all pretty sure that the Bucs want to make that situation work. Proactively setting a fire underneath him by bringing in a veteran in Nick Folk, is a clear sign to me that their expectation this season is for our kicking to improve.
The expectation might be highlighted by the crowds swarming to One Bucs place for training camp. If every Bucs fan turns up and we take back the Raymond James this year and pack it out, it will be an addition to the team that could really make them thrive.
I’ve been a fan in the UK, at a game where the atmosphere is dire. The fans have arrived because they felt that they had to be there, or worse because they wanted to complain about the team. Don’t get me wrong, if you pay your money then, by all means, have your say. A big, strong, vocal crowd is the clear benefit of playing at home. It can be the difference between sneaking a narrow win or slipping to another defeat. If expectation drives 60,000 people to 8 home games this year, MAYBE they will be rewarded with a bonus game in the post season.
Let’s be realistic, our division is a tough one. We are showing the signs of being a tough team, our rivals should be saying the same. The media hype is real, as they say – there is no smoke, without fire.
My hope for the season is that this Bucs team plays up to its apparent potential. With the talent on the roster, we ‘should’ be better than last year. My expectation is that we have learned from our mistakes. Early indications are that we have, or are at least trying to. Finally, my hope is that this Buccaneers team gives the fans a year to enjoy. (Also I hope that by the time I visit in December, the season is still ‘live’)
It’s often said in sport that it’s that hope that kills you. Last year we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Now we just have to hope it’s not the train coming towards us.
Be sure to check out all of the excellent content on WhatTheBuc.net, including recent insight into the Stick Carrier movement and a fond farewell following the loss of WTB family member Richard Zeller.
I’ll be back soon with another entry in my “From the outside, looking in” series. Until then, go Bucs!