I held off writing about the Bucs 48-3 thrashing at the hands of the 49ers until I could re-watch the game and actually look at a few things a second (third, fourth or even fifth) time. It was not a fun evening. There isn’t a ton worth writing about to hang your hat on outside of some technical stuff that doesn’t exactly make for an enthralling read. The bottom line is that the Bucs got flat out beaten at the hands of a team I still think they should have competed well against.
But, I also think there’s plenty of peripheral things that are also worth noting that played an impact on that game. The first two are obvious, perhaps overstated by now, but time and travel play a part. Last year the Bucs were able to handle the cross-country flight with aplomb. This year, on short rest after a physical game it was a lot different. Keep in mind this is still a very young team and one that did not play on Monday night last season.
That means this was a new experience for the majority of the roster. Not to throw anyone under the bus but there are players on the Buccaneers that struggle with install and game prep on a full week’s worth of work. Announcers and writers can’t come out and say that, but there are a lot of instances where if you read between the lines they’re saying that a player has a low football IQ. Typically when you hear a team has simplified a part of its game so a guy can be more comfortable and productive, that’s a tell-tale sign. Without naming names, just think about that a second.
So now take this young Bucs group that is still learning to be professional, and take a day out of the equation. A lot of people will counter by saying that players still have the same amount of time because they cancel the day off, that’s bunko. Most players are at the team’s facilities on their day off anyway, they’re getting treatment and a lot of them (hopefully in Tampa all of them) are putting in work.
Now remove that day and spread the treatment players are going to have to receive over the shortened work week and they have even less time for prep and install. Then toss in a travel day where the team has to account for a much longer flight (in terms of time and distance) as well as having to compensate for time change and try to mitigate jet-lag and it becomes challenging for a group that is not made up of battle-tested veterans.
The 49ers had a chance to put in a full week, they actually got to watch the Bucs play live on Monday if they were so inclined and they didn’t have to travel farther than from their homes to the stadium on Sunday.
Does that excuse a 48-3 loss? No.
But that was a great learning experience. And the Bucs got to see how a seemingly normal week can be full of adversity without having to involve a divisional showdown or playoff implications. In the NFL you can lose just because you’re tired and didn’t prepare well. It happens all the time.
This was a character forming loss. The Bucs came off a big win and got popped in the mouth by a team and some peripheral adversity. This team has been humbled.
And maybe that will be a good thing because after humiliation comes hunger. Hunger for redemption, revenge, whatever. This Buccaneers team is predicated on hunger. They’re self-dubbed ‘youngry.’ Maybe this loss will help improve their appetite.