Reporting Chris Dingman
The Bucs take on the Carolina Panthers Thursday night on national television. When they looked at the schedule before the season, this game is one that was highlighted for many reasons: national stage, division foe, and playoff positioning. Well, this season couldn’t have gone any different than expected.
They suffered a tough loss in Game One to a Jets team with a rookie quarterback that they should’ve won, except for a late costly penalty. Five losses later, here they are. Is it a must-win for head coach, Greg Schiano? It’s definitely a must-win for team morale. There is an old saying; “losing is a disease—it’s infectious.” And it’s true. When you’re winning, you feel like you can do anything. Bounces go your way, you win some games you maybe shouldn’t, get some lucky breaks. Ask any current or former player and they will all say the same. They can’t pinpoint exactly why that is, but it is.
There is another saying; “little things turn into big things.” This is also true. In hockey, the one time you don’t get the puck out if your zone (a little thing), it could end up in your net (a big thing). In football, a penalty, missed block, wrong route (little thing) could turn into an interception, sack, or fumble (big things).
The Bucs need to go back to basics, to simplify, and believe in what they’re doing, the systems in place, because when teams are losing, players start to question that. This is where the Bucs are in dangerous territory. Greg Schiano has said, “we’re doing the right things, the team is getting better.” Maybe, but the bottom line is seeing results. Wins. Personal stats, passing/receiving yards, rushing yards, tackles, sacks. His guys will buy into what he’s saying only for so long, but sooner or later if there aren’t results to back it up, they will start to question him (as a coach). And that’s when he will have a mutiny on his hands.
Teams and individual players are known to have shaky confidence at times. On a bad play like the early fumble last game, you can feel the collective wind go out of their sails. What the Bucs need Thursday night is something positive early: a sack, touchdown, field goal, kick or punt return, to build some positive momentum. If not, it will seem like a game we’ve already seen this year.
Here’s hoping that the Bucs can get this thing turned around. It’s as simple as one little thing that turns into another, that turns into another. A win will be like a Christmas or New Year’s celebration post game, at this point! With a loss, the questions will only multiply.