Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not made the playoffs since 2008 and have not won a playoff game since they hoisted the Lombardi trophy on January 26th, 2003 (3,695 days). I know, you knew this, it keeps you up and night, and I’m a jerk for bringing it up again. But it got me to thinking, “Why haven’t they won a playoff game in 10 years? Why haven’t they been truly relevant since they won that Super Bowl? What are they doing wrong?” The fact is, I don’t know the answers to these questions. If I did, or you did, we wouldn’t be reading this, we would instead be in the Patriots’ front office. But I have a crazy way to make this change.
When free agency begins we all look at the list of players and start dreaming of some of these guys wearing red and pewter. Myself, being a dreamer, I always hope the Bucs land the biggest fish in the group. And this year the most explosive offensive player to hit the open market is Mike Wallace.
Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
If the Bucs were running a normal organization, which I believe they are, they would not want Mike Wallace. Simply put, the Bucs do not need a Mike Wallace type of player, and he will mostly likely find a different home this offseason.
However, I’m here to pose a different perspective. The NFL is a copycat league and has been for a long time. When a concept works, a third (or more) of the league jumps on to the idea and runs with it. Case and point, the read option craze that has emerged in recent years. Copying other teams styles works, provided the right teams are being copied. But what works even better is being the team that others are copying.
Right now, the Buccaneers do not have any portion of their game that teams would copy and to be fair there are only a few teams out there that do. My proposal is to do something creative. Do something no one has done before. Something that will make every defense have to adjust to.
The Bucs and Greg Schiano have proven then are not afraid to think outside the box, do something different than any other team, and challenge the norm. The most obvious example is the Bucs going after the quarterback on the kneel down play. Teams hated it, and it didn’t even work. But we all know if it worked once, and won the Bucs a game, every other team would have jumped on board.
So that’s where Mike Wallace comes in. No team has put together three great receivers and a great tight end, who are all in the prime of their careers. Imagine if a team were to put all its available assets into one function of the game. Imagine something like Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams (and maybe replace him with an even better free agent next year), and Jared Cook. That would be a high-powered offense with 4 of the most dynamic pass catchers in the NFL. I’m not going to guarantee this would work, because it’s impossible to predict with no information to base it on, what it would do is make the Bucs relevant. It would make the Bucs ultra-exciting to watch. It would also cause defenses to have to figure out a way to stop all of these pass catchers, which would be a tall task. Another huge plus, it would probably garner national media attention, and likely make the team more popular not just in Tampa, but across the nation. People talking means people in the seats, and we all know that’s been a concern lately in Tampa Bay.
Is this going to happen? No. Are the Bucs the right team to do something like this right now? Probably not. But there’s something really intriguing about doing something so different that it becomes unlike to any other roster in NFL history.
Why copy? Why not try to be the one everyone else is trying to copy? I mean honestly, what’s the worst that can happen? I guess other than getting fired and probably never getting another job in the NFL. (Okay, so maybe that is bad, but still!) It makes sense to me in theory, but for as long as I live, I can’t see any team being bold enough to try something like this. And after my last article about how rational Mark Dominik has been since getting here, it’s about as likely as Ray Lewis going through an entire interview without referencing the Bible.
Yeah, it’s crazy, irrational, and probably a bit stupid. But so is not winning a playoff game for 88,680 hours… and counting. So it may come to a point where the Buccaneers have nothing left to lose. But for now, let’s stick to the plan.