Many call them the biggest disappointment in the NFL so far this season and on many fronts it's hard to argue.
These Tampa Bay Bucs stepped out of Hard Knocks as one of the freshest faces in the league with loads of promise and potential and seemingly a boatload of talent--especially on offense. It all added up to a national narrative that this team was poised to take that next step----a trip to the playoffs for the first time in ten years.
As many who aggressively jumped on the Bucs bandwagon in the preseason are now just as quickly fleeing this Pirate ship in masses.
I'm not gonna sugarcoat anything--it's been bad football in all phases, but guess what......?
I'm not about to give up on these Bucs.
Despite the piling on recently, I still see a chance for a potential path to the playoffs where hope remains for this franchise to in their words.....Seige the Day?!
So here goes---I'm about to go all contrarian on all the haters and cynics who are now fully invested in the Lightning and the World Series.
Five reasons not to give up on the Bucs season---bare with me here:
(1) WE'VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE: The Bucs currently stand 2-4 so far but remember they were 3-5 a year ago only to win five straight and put themselves in position to make the postseason.
They did it with many of the same issues they currently own---a terrible defensive effort, spotty special teams and inconsistency on offense.
Going into this season with more help on both sides of the ball and banking the young players would take the next step seemed to bode well for this team but it hasn't happened yet. I'm not sure if they have another five game winning streak in them but the opportunity is in front of them.
(2) THE NFC IS WIDE OPEN: The Packers have lost Aaron Rodgers, the Cowboys seemed to have taken a step back and besides the high flying Eagles---who are you really scared of in the NFC?
On the eve of Halloween, the Buccos know many treats potentially still lie ahead as nobody is running away with anything in terms of the NFC's playoff picture.
Funny how the schedule works in the NFL---games like Green Bay now look more winnable and favorites like the Falcons, Cowboys and Seahawks are hardly jumping ahead of the pack.
Conversely, a better start for the Bucs would really have set them up nicely at this point, but with the NFC down--they still have more than a fair shot to make a move up.
(3) DIVISION GAMES: We are eight weeks into the season and the Bucs have played count em---ZERO division games.
That is about to change quickly where Koetter's Krew is poised to meet the struggling Panthers and the surprising Saints in back to back weeks.
Only two games separate the 2-4 Buccos with the first place 4-2 Saints---a two game NFC South Winning Streak would help turn things around in a hurry.
(4) THEY'RE CLOSE?! Despite the awful play on the defensive line, despite the slow starts on offense and once again the early kicking woes--these Bucs still remain "this close" to having at least two more victories this year.
The usually reliable Adam Humphries fumbles a ball for the first time in over 100 receptions? That could have secured a huge comeback win at Buffalo.
Nick Folk misses three field goals against the Patriots---a game the Bucs know they gave away on Thursday Night Football.
If the Bucs turn things around and barely miss the playoffs---those two games will likely keep them sleepless in the offseason. Yes this team has looked terrible in roadies against the Vikings and Cardinals but the majority of their games have been close calls.
Should be a cautionary tale moving forward where they need to finish strong which they proved they could do against the Giants.
(5) THEY HAVE A KICKER? This is my last but surely not least good omen for this team.
Patrick Murray finally got his feet wet against Buffalo and delivered something we've seen in the Koetter Era about as frequent as a playoff game in Ray Jay --how bout a perfect day from a Bucs kicker?!
Murray nailed both of his field goal attempts (including a 50 yarder) in Buffalo and was perfect on all three of his extra points tries.
Like the rest of my points above if the Bucs turn things around they need much more than this small sample size but with 10 games left---the opportunities are still there.
Many have given up on the Bucs ,but I haven't---there is still too much time left.