Penalties have had an impact on the Bucs season in 2012. Mandatory Credit: Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

For the Buccanners, the 12th Man is Not a Good Thing

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I don’t think there is a medium of sports discussion that produces more frustrating and poorly fashioned opinions than talk radio. Without fail, sports talk personalities come to the mic with outlandish opinions that they might not actually totally believe in an effort to drive ratings and inspire discussion.

This morning on local Tampa area sports talk station 620 AM WDAE, Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times was discussing with Rick Stroud about the 12 men on the field call that has haunted the Buccaneers for two consecutive weeks. His opinion was that, as long as a player is moving off the field and is outside the numbers, there should not be a flag.

Rick Stroud in the studio, and Leo in his car both had the same reaction… “Do you understand football?”

Substitution strategy has become a serious part of the NFL game, and the rules are in place because football is an 11 on 11 sport, no questions asked. The possibilities of allowing a 12th man on the field, for any reason, opens up a can of worms that is completely unneeded and will only cause more problems.

Trick plays involving a man leaving the field or coming onto the field late would cause issues worse than the “Fail Mary.” More importantly, rules are meant to be followed and called consistently, and the NFL already struggles with rules that have absolutely no level of consistency (holding, block in the back, illegal contact and pass interference, even group celebration).

The underlying issue is that we are making excuses for a team that continues to show a lack of discipline. Under lame duck Raheem Morris last season, the Buccaneers were top 5 in penalties. This season, under “disciplinarian” Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers are just outside of the top 5, with penalties affecting the final drive of multiple games this season for the Buccaneers.

There might be a “Buccaneer Way”, but it’s not translating onto the field by way of discipline, and with Josh Freeman’s outbursts this past weekend, combined with the suspensions and accusations of illegal substances, maybe there’s still a long road left to traverse before a Buccaneer Way is truly in place?

I have shouted at my television multiple times this season to “Stop playing like Raheem is still there…” and I believe the Buccaneers have a ways to go to ensure that happens. A team that struggles to make consistent plays on either side of the ball will never succeed with a high penalty count, and discipline is something Schiano preached in the offseason. It’s time to practice what he preached.

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