After reading that headline, you might think this old man has lost his mind.
Let me explain.
So many positive things transpired in this 9-7 season that it is worth feeling good about.
Power Rankings: Playoff addition
QB Rankings:: Who’s riding highest into the playoffs?
Winners and Losers:: Who came out on top to open up 2017?
Here are a few.
We are YOUNG, very very young actually. With age comes maturity. With maturity comes less mistakes and this transpires to less penalties. Last year we shot ourselves in the femur multiple times with dumb penalties. This year although we weren’t perfect-no team is-we committed less flags.
We seem to have found a running game-albeit late. And this one is two fold.
First, our beloved Veteran Running Back has acknowledged and addressed his addiction issues. We all assumed he was either still hampered by his most recent injury or perhaps “something else” was holding him back. Whatever the future holds for Doug Martin whether in a Buc’s uniform or elsewhere, we wish him well in his recovery.
And the second part to this-when one player is sidelined it gives another a chance to show what he can do. Jacquizz Rodgers seized the day and carpe diem’d his way to a starters roll next year. He needs to be resigned now. This guy is special. Rogers, Charles Sims, and Peyton Barber can easily fill any hole left by Martin.
The offensive line isn’t as bad as we thought. The offensive line is graded on how many yards our Backs can muster. Last year, our starting Running Back rushed for over 1,400 yards behind this same line. When the running game was non-existent early this year, people assumed it had to be the offensive line (why it makes more sense to blame 5 guys instead of one made zero sense to me). When other backs were brought in, they had success. While pass blocking can be improved, we don’t have a “panic mode” situation at Offensive Line.
Another was the emergence of Tight End Cameron Brate. A smart, heady young man with a knack for getting open, Brate was given the starters role by default when starter Austin Seferian-Jenkins was jettisoned for internal issues and lastly by a DUI. Brate has shown his multi-dimensional abilities in both pass and run blocking and catching virtually anything thrown to him.
On the same token, Adam Humphries and Russell Shepard have filled holes left by Vincent Jackson’s IR stint that lasted all year and the early loss of Wide Receiver Cecil Shorts who had become Quarterback Jameis Winston’s number two Wide-out option. Adding Freddy Martino and Josh Huff will also be options for Mr. Winston. Hump’s Kick Return abilities have greatly increased as well.
Mike Smith’s Defense showed up. Some may argue they showed up late-but a new scheme and new Coordinator will come with some growing pains. I for one am once again able to say Tampa’s Defense is back. Our Line started pressuring opposing Offenses and our young (there’s that word again) Linebackers are perhaps the best squad in the NFL.
I will save my Special Teams critique after our YOUNG Kicker has another year to grow. But Punter Brian Anger is an amazing young man, Pro-Bowl bound.
Our YOUNG twenty two year old Team Leader is coming along. He has a cannon for an arm, but has learned a 40 yard bomb over-thrown is not as good as a 10 or 15 yard completed check down. He needs to control his emotions, getting flagged or two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this year. He will work on his accuracy and timing, and again, all this will come with age. He is our youngest player. Our starting QUARTERBACK is our youngest player. We (me included) need to be a little more patient. I know I know, it’s not easy. GOD KNOWS it isn’t. He is our franchise Quarterback, he isn’t and shouldn’t be going anywhere. He throws for a ton of yards-but the interceptions are there as well. Again, this will be honed and fixed under Dirk Koetter’s tutelage and guidance.
Lastly, Dirk Koetter’s Coaching has been exemplary. One or two more wins and he is in the conversation for Coach of the Year. We are lucky to have him.
As a 41 year life-long Buccaneer fan, we have unfortunately grown accustomed to losing. The callousness of futility have grown thick on us.
Well, you can shake it off. We are a young talented team with a savvy Head Coach.
The sky is the limit people.
A message for the rest of the National Football League- prepare to be boarded!