In my time watching football I’ve seen many things, tremendous highs and devastating lows. I’ve seen teams ride a wave of almost magical pre-destiny (I’m looking at you, Ravens) and teams who couldn’t get anything right. Dynasties have risen and fallen. Miracle catches and heartbreaking drops.
The most common thing I’ve seen happens when a team gets beat on. When things are uncertain. When nothing is going right and even the officials seem to have it in for you. One thing has been a constant. That one thing? Drama! Dressing room unrest. Arguing and even open fights on the sideline. Players ragging each other and now, in the days of social media, becoming keyboard warriors.
In Tampa, something is different. The defense is leaking points worse than the Titanic leaked water, and it feels like Mike Smith is sharing the defensive game plan with the opposing team. The name Penalty appears to play against us every week, and so far he’s having a Hall of Fame career. The offense couldn’t run the ball on a Pop Warner team, and the O line appears to have turned into a turnstile. These are the things I see.
What I’m not seeing? Players getting on each other’s backs. Fighting amongst themselves. Instead the Bucs are still playing for each other and supporting their team mates. Urging each other on, even in the face of poor coaching. Make no mistake; this isn’t the “Youngry” Bucs who didn’t give a rat’s ass and quit the first loss they took. This is a new breed of player in pewter. A group of guys who believe in each other. The current crop of players knows the team has talent. This is a playoff caliber team. The stars of this team have grown together and are coming into their prime. The fans need to get behind them and accept that in the NFL, teams will lose games, and sometimes they’ll lose ugly. What is important is what comes next, and I can’t think of anything better than getting behind this crop of players and being the 12th man on the field. We’ll take the bye week to lick our wounds and then set off looking for the promised land of post-season football.