The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rounded out the 2011 NFL season and kicked off 2012 in forgettable fashion, losing 45-24 to the Atlanta Falcons. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated either, with Tampa down 35-0 as early as the second quarter.
The Buccaneers offense may as well have just stayed in Tampa, the run game was absolutely dismal and the passing attack was hampered by turnovers and the predictability that comes with getting blown out and not being able to run the ball. If you didn’t get a chance to catch this game on television you didn’t miss much. In fact your year started better, as Josh and I will discuss tonight on the podcast, than anyone who watched that game and lost three hours of their lives and several football IQ points.
In some ways this will be a good blueprint for the offseason as every single flaw the Buccaneers had was on display Sunday afternoon. The safety play was lousy, the tackling was bad and the interior defensive line was abysmal. Offensively the run-blocking was poor and the play-calling was off all afternoon. If you were looking for positives on Sunday there weren’t many.
Tampa surrendered 428 yards including 251 on the ground. Matt Ryan only had to attempt nine passes before he got to relax for most of the second half. If you’re getting nauseous reading this I can tell you it’s not much better to write it. The Bucs were an absolute embarrassment on Sunday as they were for the last half of the 2011 season.
It’s one thing to go out and lose, it’s another to quit. These Bucs have shown an alarming amount of quit over the last several weeks and frankly, that’s why heads need to roll. I’ll get into issues with coaching changes and personnel changes in another post, but with the exception of Josh Freeman there shouldn’t be a single player, coach or executive that feels safe right now.
It may have been naive to enter the season expecting playoffs or even to improve over last year’s record, but it wasn’t too much to expect that the level of effort and the tenacity of this team continue to be consistent. This was a team that at the outset of the season dubbed itself “youngry” as in “young and hungry.” By the end of Sunday, after ten losses in a row that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The hunger was gone, replaced with complacency and at times a seemingly lackadaisical sense of accomplishment as if just being in the NFL was somehow enough.
The Falcons (and every team the Bucs have faced since the end of November) saw that side of the Bucs and took them to the woodshed for it.
This should be a very interesting off-season.