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Lighthall: Bucs Are the Best of the Worst in the NFL

By: Jim Lighthall
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(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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I don’t want to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lose another game. I really don’t. I don’t care about draft position or Greg Schiano’s job or even momentum going into next season. Having worked in and around USF football all season, I’ve relied on the Bucs to save my weekend on countless occasions. A Buccaneers victory makes my Sunday a little bit better and gives me hope the Buccaneers are not the worst team in the NFL.

So, despite winning four of their last five games, why don’t I feel better about this football team?

An easy 27-6 win over an awful Buffalo Bills team on Sunday should have had me all smiles afterward. But the more I think about it, the more I think the Bucs recent string of success is more a byproduct of their opponents than of any kind of Buccaneers resurgence.

At least when the Bucs were 0-8, we knew where they stood. Sure there were some close games, but it was mostly spotting coaching decisions, penalties, lack of a pass rush and struggling to put the ball in the end zone that doomed them every week. Have all of those things magically been solved? I don’t think so.

I think it has more to do with finally taking advantage of some very beatable opponents. Miami, Atlanta, Detroit and Buffalo are a combined 21-31 this season. No wonder the coaching looks better, the pass rush is getting to the quarterback and the team is scoring touchdowns. And yes, you’re correct if you noticed that I didn’t bring up the penalties – it’s still a problem.

The Buccaneers defense plays good opponents tough and dominates bad ones. In their four wins, they turned over those teams a total of 14-times! By setting up the offense with short fields and scoring points on their own, this defense is making the offense look better than it is.

If the Bucs can take down the 49ers next weekend or possibly the Saints at the end of the year, then maybe I’ll buy in. But for now, all I can think of is that of all the lousy teams in the NFL, maybe the Bucs are the best – or in other (grammatically incorrect) words … the least worst.

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