Your Favorite Team Sucks: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I was going to write about Josh Freeman being really disappointing this week, but I’m not sure that I need to go into detail about it. Dude has 12 TDs vs 16 picks, his team has lost 5 straight, and his hair isn’t as awesome as it could be.

So yeah, there’s your favorite player sucks. Maybe I’ll expand if he tosses two INTs to the Panthers next week.

-  Nate Raby, 11/29/11

What about if he tosses two interceptions to the Jaguars? I feel like that’s worse.

At least he looks good in a suit

A lot has changed since I considered writing a “Your Favorite Player Sucks” column on Josh Freeman. Well, actually, that’s an out-and-out lie. Nothing’s changed. The team kept losing. But what changed was I saw the last two games, and I began to start thinking on a larger scale. Yes, Josh Freeman sucks, but he wasn’t even in the game last week against the Panthers. The lowly 3-8 at-the-time Panthers. Until a garbage time TD, they were losing 38-12.

This is not merely a quarterback problem. This is a problem that exists in the very core of the entire organization. Josh Freeman doesn’t tackle, doesn’t return punts, doesn’t call plays from the sideline. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, neither does anyone else on the team.

This week, your favorite team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And boy do they suck.

Doesn’t it seem like two months ago that we were talking about the Bucs as possible division champs? Well, it was exactly eight weeks ago when they had their last win. They had just beaten the New Orleans Saints in Raymond James, and had climbed into a tie with the Saints at 4-2. At the time there were a few pervasive thoughts concerning the NFC South:

1.)    The Falcons are done.

2.)    The Saints can’t compete with Tampa’s athleticism and youth.

3.)    The game between the Saints and Tampa could be seen as a passing of the baton of NFC South powers.

Yeah, well…no.

They haven’t won since that game. They’ve lost seven straight, four by more than 10 points. And most recently, 41-14 to the Jaguars.

To. The. Jaguars.

The Buccaneers suck for a few reasons, but every single one of those reasons can be boiled down to one simple fact: the Bucs had a really easy 2010 schedule, and it has been followed by a much harder 2011 schedule. That is the magnifying glass on every problem the Bucs have, because without that perspective, neither season is too impressive or disappointing.

One reason the Buccaneers suck is their key players are too young and not exactly ready to carry a team by themselves. Josh Freeman is in his third year, but more importantly he is only 23. The team’s number one receiver, Mike Williams, is only 24 and in his second season. And their bruising running back LaGarrette Blount is also in his second year, and just turned 25. So that’s the main offensive firepower for the Bucs: a bunch of young kids. Only one can rent a car without a premium, for Christ’s sakes. And if they were on any other team, it would be okay, because they would have some veteran leadership and the expectations wouldn’t have been that high.

In comes that pesky 2010 season.

Last year, Freeman had 25 TDs vs. 6 INTs. Williams almost had 1000 yards receiving and found himself in the end zone 11 times. And Blount, who only started half the year, had over 1000 yards rushing and averaged 5 a carry.

Those numbers inspired confidence in the front office, and it showed in the draft. The first three rounds were spent on defensive picks. It was clear that Tampa Bay expected their young trio of talent to continue producing.

Let’s look at 2011. Freeman has 12 TDs and 18 INTs. Mike is on pace for 850 yards, but has only caught three touchdowns. And Blount, who has started the entire season, would need three monster games to produce the amount he produced in only half of last year.

There are two ways of looking at this information. Either this is a down year, or last year was an aberration. We don’t know which one it is right now, but we do know that it appears the front office was satisfied with the offense, and that reluctance to build may have cost them a season.

The Tampa Bay defense wasn’t stellar last year. They were toward the back of the pack in rushing defense, which inspired the picks of Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers in the 2011 Draft. But what’s surprising is they were pretty decent against the pass. They were 7th in the league in passing yards allowed, and 9th in points allowed. This year, they’re 27th in pass defense, and second to last in points allowed.

Again, the difference is the 2010 season. The Bucs faced an interesting roster of quarterbacks last year. As they played the AFC North and NFC West, the competition wasn’t exactly eye-popping. Tampa’s impressive wins were against the following quarterbacks: an old Jake Delhomme, the great one-two punch of Matt Moore and Jimmy Claussen, Carson Palmer, a rookie Sam Bradford, another quality QB tandem in Derek Anderson and Max Hall, a non-Harbaugh-coached Alex Smith, an old Donovan McNabb, Charlie Whitehurst…and Drew Brees (on a team that had already clinched a playoff berth and had nothing to fight for). There is only one quarterback in that list that I want playing on my team, and I’m lucky because he does play on my team. Otherwise, the impressive Tampa pass defense were not exactly being challenged.

In 2011, they have faced the AFC South and the NFC North. And while some of the quarterbacks haven’t been impressive (especially in the AFC South), they have had to face players such as Aaron Rodgers, a Harbaugh-coached Alex Smith, and Matt Schaub.

In bringing up the quarterbacks has faced, I also brought up the teams they have faced, which is ultimately responsible for the difference in records the Bucs have posted in 2010 and 2011. Again, in 2010 they faced the NFC West and AFC North. And while the North has two good teams in the Steelers and Ravens, they also have two bad teams in the Browns and Bengals. In addition, they swept the NFC West (as any team should – DAMN YOU 2010 SAINTS! YOU LOST TO THE CARDINALS! WHAT THE HELL IS WRO—sorry), going 6-2 in their divisional-assigned matchups. This year, they have gone 1-3 in the stronger NFC South, and 1-3 in the actually-not-very-strong-at-all AFC South. Maybe that AFC South thing isn’t as indicative on how hard this year is, but all of that is invalidated by the fact the Bucs lost to the Jaguars. Come on. The Jaguars.

The bottom line is that Tampa is facing a tougher season, a lot tougher than they faced last years. And while neither season is indicative on what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are as a team, they both show that the Bucs are neither a playoff team nor a basement dweller. So in closing, the Buccaneers suck because they are inconclusive and confusing. And because Freeman needs to style his hair better.

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