Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Niner-Envy

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​C’mon Buccaneers fans, admit it. Yes, it will take some self-reflection. The thought of it is frustrating and quite honestly, a little embarrassing.

​Yet, you are battling a serious case of Niner-envy.

​Forget Freud. This isn’t theory. This is John Lynch and his San Francisco 49’ers improving from 4-12 a year ago to 13-3 this season, winning the NFC and a spot in the Super Bowl.

​Fans of the Buccaneers have been pining for a season like this since winning the Super Bowl almost 20 years ago. If the Niners can pull off a turnaround like this, why can’t the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

Buccaneers’ Playmakers or San Francisco’s?

​Is running back Raheem Mostert that much more explosive than Ronald Jones II?

​Take George Kittle as an example. Is he really more dominating than either Buccaneer tight end OJ Howard or Cameron Brate?

​Few would, if any, would take Deebo Samuel over Mike Evans or Chris Godwin.

​The Niners had the NFL’s second-best offense in 2019, the Buccaneers were third. When you look at the 49ers defensively, they are now among the NFL’s best, but the Bucs made major strides in 2019, especially after the halfway mark of 2019.

​Go on down the list and the stats don’t scream the six-win difference …until.

​You guessed it. Quarterback.

Quarterback Play

​Jameis Winston laps Jimmy Garoppolo in every passing category. Yet, the majority of Garrapolo’s passes end up with teammates.

​Niner-envy.

​All you have to do is look at their season-opener. The Buccaneers had more yards, more first downs, more drives, more plays and Tim McGraw in a pre-game concert.

​But …

​Jameis threw a pair of pick-sixes in the second half and that truly spelled the difference in a 31-17 loss.

​Big Fat Niner-Envy

​The Niners took advantage of that road victory to jump out to an 8-0 start and cruise into the playoffs. The Niners beat the Bengals, Browns, Redskins, and Cardinals in that start and simply didn’t beat themselves with mistakes. The Buccaneers have turned “beating themselves” into an art form.

​The NFL is built upon transforming a 4-12 team into a conference champion. The Niners and Titans proved you don’t need a fantasy team to make a deep playoff run. Do what you do well and don’t make stupid mistakes. And we all know the Niners and Titans took advantage of the Buccaneers’ miscues in getting wins this season.

​Not one of the NFL’s top 5 passers made the playoffs. Of the NFL’s top five offenses, only the Niners and Baltimore made the playoffs. The three that didn’t; the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Falcons were the most frustrating teams in football.

As for the top five defenses, four of the five made the playoffs. And yes, the Niners were ranked second in defense. For all the flash and hype, the team with the best-coached big guys win.

​Smart works in the NFL. It keeps you in games. It can get you to the playoffs and maybe even the Super Bowl.

​Niner-envy.

Photo credit: San Diego Union-Tribune

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