It took half of the 2013 season, but the Buccaneers are emerging from the depths of the NFL to try to become simply a mediocre football team by season’s end.
Mediocrity is all the Bucs have to play for at this point.
If the Buccaneers play the best football of any team in the NFL and win the remainder of their games, average is all they can be. The Bucs record would end at 8-8, their draft pick would lie smack in the middle of the draft order, and they would not be considered the worst franchise in the NFL…at least for this season.
For some fans, a run of 8 straight victories would be enough to strip naked and run down Dale Mabry. Hell, some of those fans were already doing that after the Bucs 2nd win of the season on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
For most other Bucs fans, they realize that playing better in the 2nd half of the season will leave them with the exact same feeling heading into next season as they had entering this season. Expectations will be high with the hope of a playoff run. Those expectations and hopes were ripped from us with one coaching blunder after another to start the season, yet better play in the 2nd half of the season will make us believers again for next year?
The Bucs win on Sunday to make the Bucs 2-8 on the season already had the Bucs climbing the ladder out of the pits of bad football teams in the NFL. By beating the Falcons (2-8) and watching the Texans (2-8), Vikings (2-8), Redskins (3-7), and Jaguars (1-9) all lose, the Bucs could be on the fast track to exiting the top 5 picks in the 2014 NFL draft.
Yes, we as Bucs fans all like to watch the Bucs win games, but personally, I like watching them win meaningful games. The last meaningful game the Bucs won was on November 18, 2012, an entire year ago, on the road against the Carolina Panthers. The last meaningful home game the Bucs won was on November 11, 2012 against the Chargers.
I honestly do not remember what it feels like to exit Raymond James Stadium after the Bucs won a game of significance.
Sure, I can continue to show that I’m a “true fan” by going to Bucs games and supporting the team, but I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that the Bucs big victory on Sunday over the Falcons 41-28 got me jacked up. Actually, I couldn’t care less. I have felt less than zero emotion during the Bucs past two wins, and I wear my emotions on my sleeve when it comes to the football teams I root for.
How am I supposed to get excited about my team when my hopes were extinguished before the first month of the regular season ended?
Every time the Bucs have had a big play in their past two wins, the only thing that I have been able to think about were missed opportunities from their first 8 losses.
The Bucs offensive line is starting to dominate the line of scrimmage, but all I can think about is why Lavonte David hit Geno Smith out of bounds against the Jets?
The defense has been making sacks when they mattered most, yet all I can think about is why the coaching staff felt it was a smart move to give Drew Brees the ball back late in the 4th quarter when leading by one point against the Saints or why I thought the Bucs had any shot against the Patriots?
Darrelle Revis managed an interception to close out a game, but all I can think about is why the coaching staff allowed his rookie quarterback to throw the ball from his own zone with a 10-point lead late in the game against the Cardinals?
Gerald McCoy records 3 sacks in the 1st half against the Falcons, yet all I can think about is why the Bucs defense was torched by both the Eagles and Falcons or why the Buccaneers were not fully prepared for national TV against the Panthers?
Mike Glennon throws an accurate pass for a 1st down, but how could the Bucs blow a 21-0 lead against the Seahawks?
Bobby Rainey runs for more than 160 yards and 2 touchdowns while catching another TD, however, the only thoughts that consumed my mind were missed opportunities.
I understand that wins are supposed to erase all the bad things that have happened to a team throughout the course of a season. I’m struggling with this because of the mental errors which caused an 0-8 start and caused my expectations to be eliminated.
If you’re able to forget about the first 8 games and still get as excited for meaningless wins as you do for meaningful wins, then I’m happy for you. I can’t do that.
For me, I’ll have to wait until the 2014 season and hope the Bucs grace me with that feeling of winning a meaningful game.
The last 6 games of this season are already meaningless.