It’s over. It’s done. The Bucs have finally released us from the pain of having to watch a pitiful performance from a bunch of past-their-primes has-beens try and beat other incompetent football teams.
We can finally enjoy our lives now. We can spend time with our families, do laundry, mow our lawns, whatever else we were neglecting during football season.
But before we do, here’s a look back on the good (few and far between), the bad, and the nauseating aspects of this past year in Bucs football.
Dean has had an… inconsistent career to this point (to put it kindly). Drafted out of Auburn, his time in a Bucs uniform was filled with pass interference calls and getting burnt to a crisp on a weekly basis by opposing receivers. But this past season saw a transformation into a competent cornerback, a development I did not see coming. And not a moment too soon; Dean is entering free agency this offseason and will now command a pretty penny due to his solid play this season. Sucks the Bucs won’t be able to afford him.
Godwin suffered an ACL injury last year that some worried might temporarily derail what has otherwise been a very productive career for CG up to this point. Nope. Godwin came out and set a career high in receptions and racked up another 1k yard season.
Mr. Consistent, a future HOF, whatever you want to call Mike Evans, he broke the 1k yard mark for the 9th straight season (he’s been in the league for 9 years). While his TD numbers fell off considerably due to a struggling offense (we’ll get to that), he was still able to put up solid numbers that will only further his case of being a first ballot HOF player.
This is not to say Bowles didn’t do a pretty good job in his area of expertise; the Bucs were one of the more consistent defenses in the NFL as far as points per game and yardage. They stopped the bad teams, but they weren’t very good against the potent offenses like the Cowboys (in the playoffs) and Kansas City. Overall, it was just an inexcusable, disappointing season for Bowles and the Bucs, and as the head coach, you’ll take most of the blame. In this case, rightfully so.
The Bucs O-Line
Everyone knows the loss of Ryan Jensen for the year did a lot of damage to an offensive line that already lost Ali Marpet to retirement and Alex Cappa to free agency, but goodness gracious. This was a truly lost group. Donovan Smith was one of the most penalized offensive linemen in the game, and was graded out as one of the worst tackles in the NFL. Every time you would think the Bucs would get something going, “Holding. Offense, Number 76. 10 yard penalty, repeat 1st down.” Over, and over again.
The Run Game
This team was on pace to break records for the worst run game over the course of a season in NFL history. That’s impressive in its own right. Despite failing at that feat, they still put out the worst running game in the league this season, and everyone is to blame. The coaching, the stale gameplan, the offensive line, the running backs, all of them. They’re all incompetent at levels that we might not see for a while.
Offensive Game Planning
Byron Leftwich has been fired because of this reason, but let’s not kid ourselves; Tom Brady had to be just as involved in creating this offense as anyone else. The offense lacked any sort of modern motion that the most successful offenses in the NFL feature in today’s game. The offense had zero creativity when it came to running the football. And Tom Brady’s reliance on checkdowns and getting the ball out quickly was absolutely abhorrent. It brought to mind the Drew Brees-led 2020 Saints, where Michael Thomas slants and Alvin Kamara screens seemed to be the only 2 things that offense was capable of doing. At least they cracked double-digit wins and managed to advance to the divisional round. This year’s Bucs team didn’t fucking do that.