As I stood there Sunday afternoon in the south endzone, watching the clock hit all zeros and looking at the jumbo scoreboard in Raymond James Stadium read “Redskins 16 Buccaneers 3”, I couldn’t help but ponder…
Why do I do this to myself week in and week out, year after year?
Why do I spend the money, that I earn risking my health and life as a firefighter, supporting this team year after year?
Why do I torture myself wearing that uncomfortable skull mask and costume sweating myself to the brink of dehydration every home game every season?
Why do I continue to love this team that constantly breaks my heart year after year?
Why do I do it?
WHY??? Can anyone tell me?
Especially as I watched Bucs players on the field laughing and trading jerseys with Redskins players while I was on the verge of tears and a mental breakdown following that loss. Why does losing hurt fans so bad, but doesn’t seem to bother the players at all? I mean they play like shit, lose the game, go into the locker room, take a shower, get dressed, give the usual “We just gotta get better” postgame interviews, head to their $250K car, drive home to their $1M house, play Fortnite instead of studying the playbook or looking at film from the game they just lost and the next day head to the bank to cash their six figure game check while laughing all the way. Meanwhile, it’s now Monday night and I’m still depressed and pissed off reluctantly watching the Giants and Niners play each other wondering if the Bucs can beat either of them in the next two weeks.
Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results”. Well, Bucs fans must be clinically “insane” in the membrane to stick with this team year after year expecting different results. I am 43 years-old and been a Bucs fan for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever left that stadium as dejected and disappointed as I was after that Redskins game. This was another “must win” game for this team. This was a winnable game against an overachieving, injury ridden, 5-3 Redskins team. This was an opportunity for this team to get on a late season roll and get things turned around with the 1-7 Giants and the 2-7 Niners coming up next. This was their chance…and they blew it. So if you weren’t already angry and embarrassed enough about the results from this game, here’s a few more statistics that’ll push you right over the edge.
1- Number of games (this game) this season that Dirk Koetter has done the offensive playcalling. The results were 501 yards of offense and 3 points scored, which by the way is an NFL record for fewest points scored with 450 yards or more of offense. The Bucs were inside the Redskins 30 yard line six times, including five trips in the redzone, and came away with just 3 points. THREE F-ING POINTS!!!
2- Number of missed field goals by kicker Chandler Catanzaro in this game. He has now missed 4 field goals (11 of 15) to go along with his 4 missed extra points (23 of 27) this season. Last year, he missed 5 field goals and no extra points with the Jets. If he still has a job in Tampa come Monday afternoon, I may start a protest outside of One Buc. (UPDATE: Catanzaro was waived by the team Monday afternoon and the team signed free agent kicker Cairo Santos to replace him) He’s not alone. Bucs kickers have missed 37 field goals since 2014 when Jason Licht took over.
3- Number of points the top ranked offense in the league managed to score against the Redskins defense while gaining 501 yards. They are now 1st in the league in yards per game (452.8 ypg) and 12th in points per game (25.8 ppg). The Bucs lead the league in Total Offense and have a 3-6 record, while the next four teams in that category have a combined 32-5-1 record.
4- Number of turnovers the Bucs offense had against the Redskins. They now lead the league with 25 of them for the season, including 19 interceptions. That puts them on pace for 33 interceptions this season, which would be the most since the 1998 Chargers had 34 with Ryan Leaf at quarterback. Combine that with only 6 turnovers caused by the defense and it gives you a -19 turnover ratio and a 3-6 record in 9 games this season. The Bucs defense has only 1 interception this season and has now gone 6 games straight without causing a turnover.
5- Number of Bucs players with over 50 yards receiving against the Redskins. Chris Godwin had 7 catches for 103 yards. Jacquizz Rodgers had 8 catches for 102 yards. DeSean Jackson had 5 catches for 67 yards. Adam Humphries had 2 catches for 53 yards. And Mike Evans had 3 catches for 51 yards. None of them had a touchdown.
6- Number of losses the Bucs now have in 9 games this season. At 3-6, they would have to win their remaining 7 games to have a shot at the playoffs, but they aren’t a playoff worthy team so why does that even matter at this point. In fact, I’m not sure this team will win another game this season at all. And I’m not convinced the players on this team even give a shit at this point. There’s simply a losers mentality in that locker room and a losing culture here in Tampa that kills the spirits of even Super Bowl winners like JPP and Vinny Curry.
7- Number of games left in this dumpster fire of a season. They are at the Giants, home for the 49ers, Panthers and Saints, then at the Ravens and Cowboys, then home for the Falcons. The home game against the Niners might be their best shot left for a win and I’m not even convinced of that. This team is terrible and we should abandon all hope of them clawing their way back into the win column.
8- Number of sacks Jason Pierre-Paul had in the first 7 games this season. In the last 2 games, he’s had 1 tackle and zero sacks. Not sure where he’s been, but I expect him to have a bounce back game against his former team on Sunday.
9- Number of players on the Bucs Injured/Reserve list this season, 8 of them are starters or key reserves on defense including Kwon Alexander, Jack Cichy, Chris Conte, Maurice Fleming, Mitch Unrein, Vernon Hargreaves, Stevie Tuikolovatu and Kendell Beckwith. The 9th player is wide receiver Sergio Bailey. (UPDATE: Evan Smith and Shaun Wilson have now been added to the IR bringing this number to 11 players total)
10- Number of coaches that need to be fired after this absurd season. They include Dirk Koetter (head coach), Todd Monken (offensive coordinator), Mark Duffner (defensive coordinator), Nate Kaczor (special teams coordinator), Mike Bajakian (QB coach), Jon Hoke (secondary coach), Brett Maxie (DB coach), Tim Spencer (RB coach), George Warhop (OL coach) and Brett Steele (TE coach). The only coaches that I would even consider keeping would be Brentson Buckner (DL coach) and Skyler Fulton (WR coach) and I’m not even 100% sure on them. If it was up to me, I would just wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.
This team is bad. There are only six teams in the league with a worse record than the Bucs right now. They include the Bills (3-7), the Raiders (1-8), the Jets (3-7), the Cardinals (2-7), the Giants (1-7) and the 49ers (2-7). There are another four teams with the same 3-6 record which are the Browns, the Broncos, the Jaguars and the Lions. I would say that the good news is they’re going to have a top 10 pick in the 2019 Draft, but since they apparently don’t know how to scout college prospects that doesn’t mean a whole lot.
This team simply has too much talent on the roster to be playing this type of bad football. Tampa has invested $53 million into their defensive line this year, the most in the NFL. They were facing a Redskins o-line who was down three starters and had a fourth starter playing hurt…they only recorded 2 sacks for this game. The most expensive d-line in football couldn’t get to Alex Smith against an o-line where three of the five starters were bagging groceries and selling insurance two weeks ago?!? That’s just laughable. I thought Buckner was going to unleash this “new and improved” d-line and “wreak havok” on opposing offenses. That hasn’t happened yet this year. And it doesn’t look like it will happen.
Of course, this team isn’t new to losing. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2002, they’ve gone 98-151 winning just 39% of their games with 10 losing seasons in 15 years and no playoff wins. It has become the norm here unfortunately. It’s almost expected from the fans. So why do we do it to ourselves? What keeps us coming back year after year after year putting our hearts through this pain and misery? I have no idea why. This team will once again finish with a losing season after entering it with high hopes and expectations. This team will once again change regimes, fire it’s coaching staff and bring in a new GM. Fans will roll around in self pity for a month or two bitching and moaning about who was let go, who was brought in and who wasn’t brought in.
Then comes March. Free agency begins. Fans get excited and start begging for this player or that player. Then comes the draft and discussions about what positions should be addressed and what players they should pick. Fans start getting hyped up. Expectations soar and hopes get high. Then the regular season starts and the annual let down begins. What keeps us coming back for more? Why do we continue to believe in this team or this franchise? No matter what they do, who the coach is, who the QB is, what free agents they sign or who they get in the draft this team just continues to lose. And yet, we continue to be fans. We continue to spend our hard earned money on season tickets, jerseys, hats, clothing and merchandise. We continue to show up at Raymond James, cheering them on as the team plays poorly and loses while we buy $12 nachos and $9 beers to drowned our sorrows.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
So who’s the bigger losers here? Is it the team who’s had 29 losing seasons in 42 years? The team with an overall record of 261-413 for a .387 winning percentage? The team who once had 15 straight losing seasons? The team who’s only played in 15 playoff games in 42 years of existence? Or is it the fans who stick with them through thick and thin? The fans who keep coming back after each losing season? The fans who seem to care more about losses than the players do? Evidently the losing mentality isn’t just contagious among the players, it’s infected the fan base as well. Maybe not to the same extent, but we’re infected nonetheless. Losing games still hurts, but losing seasons don’t seem to bother us. When it comes to being a Bucs fan, there’s a thin line between love and hate. The distinction between pathetic and devoted is often blurred. It’s not easy being a fan of this team. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with Buccaneers fandom is a never-ending, bone-jarring, neck-snapping, nauseating, thrilling, exhilarating ride that scares the crap out of me and keeps me wanting more at the same time. Unfortunately, I’m in this for the long haul. Pewter and red til I’m cold and dead. It’s the reason that the organization uses the mantra of “It’s a Bucs life!”.
This team will likely lose in New York on Sunday to a 2-7 Giants team. They will likely come back home to lose to a 2-8 Niners squad. From there on they play the Panthers (6-3) and the Saints (8-1) in Tampa and could easily be 3-10 by the end of that stretch. It’s not unrealistic that this team who had serious playoff hopes coming into this season ends up with a 3-13 record, which would be their worst since the 2014 season when they were 2-14 under Lovie Smith. The team that just lost to the Redskins isn’t the same team that gave the Saints their only loss in the first week of the season. So we’ll see which team shows up in New York this Sunday. And even though this team ripped my heart out and stomped all over it last Sunday, I’ll be glued to my TV watching every snap and screaming my face off!
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!