Because there’s no more righting this ship at this point. It’s just hoping to find a spot on the lifeboat and lasting long enough to get picked up. For the second straight weekend, I skipped watching the Bucs game, although much of the choice in the matter was removed by the game being blacked out. Last week, I was pretty sure it would be a slaughter. which it turned out to be. This week, I was sure it would be a frustratingly close game that the Bucs would either win in uninspiring fashion or boot away by playing down to their competition. Not being in the mood to see either, I gave the game a pass, but my phone kept me up to date on the continuing downward spiral.
I’m convinced this is a team that can handle neither adversity or success. When they play well, as they did during the four-game winning streak earlier this year, they eventually let it get to their heads and start to think all they have to do is show up and teams will roll over for them. When that fails to happen and they lose a game, it’s as if they forget all the things they’d been doing right, and one loss becomes two becomes three. They don’t have that mental toughness yet to realize nothing comes easy, yet nothing is as bad as it seems either. I have a feeling Greg Schiano is taking note of who’s caved in and who’s playing hard, and some of those on that first list won’t be Buccaneers next year.
And I’m really starting to wonder if Josh Freeman won’t be on that list. I keep hearing talking heads say that he needs to get more comfortable with the offense, that he needs to take some steps and he’ll be fine. But we’ve been waiting for that for four years now, and it feels like every season it’s the same set of excuses. He’s got all the tools, but his head just doesn’t seem into it. Especially when you look at rookies like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson who don’t seem to have any problems getting comfortable with their offenses. If those three can have their teams in the playoffs in their first years, what does that say about Freeman being 12-19 over the last two seasons? Yes, the pass defense is a mess, but you’d be surprised what a good offense can do to help a defense out.
The season ends next week against an Atlanta team that has nothing to play for. Even with a win, it won’t feel like one. All it will do is mark the beginning of a very important off-season for Schiano. He needs to figure out who’s bought in, who hasn’t, and what he needs to do to get this team to take the next step. Back to back losing seasons aren’t going to cut it, even if he wasn’t responsible for what happened last year. There’s been some good done this season. It just needs not to be squandered the way it has been over the last five weeks.